THE TOP TEN by THE TRAVEL ROOM
TOP 10 ACTS OF CULTURAL INSENSITIVITY OR VANDALISM
Now that we are back on the road permanently I think we have become more conscious and aware of the meaning of certain things to other cultures as well as how tourists and traveller's alike disregard the locals customs and at times trample all over them. It appears the mentality of 'this is how we do it at home so it must be right', or the ever more selfish, 'it won't matter if only I do it' is alive and well.
Here is our current list of 10 things we have witnessed first hand, current because we are fairly sure over the next few years of rambling we will be even more greatly outraged by peoples behaviour. Oh and as a final aside to this list, we are far from perfect, but as God/Allah/Buddha is our witness, we try damn hard to travel lightly and leave no footprint.
Overheard on a beach in Thailand, two Germans discussing Jakarta. 'I didn't like it, they are all Muslims and you can't get a drink and party, it wasn't a good place at all'. Response, 'Yeah they played all that weird music all the time (the call to prayer) it was really annoying'. A grand cultural exchange on the sandy beaches of Koh Chang by two savvy travellers.
Please feel free to comment on our article...and if we like it we'll put it up here too! Plus if you include your name and email we'll attribute it to you when we put it up - and we'll add you to our mailing list as well!
Flash, flash, flash. I could go on, but after counting 200+ flashes and watching the guards become overwhelmed at the Sistine Chapel, I just wondered if a single happy snapper realised the damaged each one of those luminescent bulbs was doing to this precious example of what one mans vision can be.
Walking down from the Golden Mount in Bangkok, which is described by both the signs and any Thai we have spoken to as the most reverent of Buddhist temples, we witnessed one culturally aware traveller entering the sight with his singlet (already inappropriate) proudly showing a picture of a naked blonde flipping the bird. Nice touch, or a strong statement on his opinion of Buddhism?
This has been covered very well in this article by manonthelam, but you see it everywhere. The offending scrawl of some small mind covering everything from a temple in Luxor through to the S21 death camp in Phenom Penh. As Manonthelam says, "Kevin from Cork, you suck!" Well said.
Walking through Angkor Wat, one of the guards asked his captive, tamed tourist whether she knew why the carvings in the temple were shiny? Because people touched them was her surprisingly insightful response. From Angkor to the Uffuzi in Florence, there is always some clown who wants to run their hands over an item of age and beauty and never enough guards to stop them. 'It's just one person' is their parroted refrain when caught. Yep just one person times 2 million as the stone becomes smooth or the bronze is worn away completely. I have a good theory for those 'touchers', throw 'em out, on the spot. Go somewhere else and touch yourself!
Yes you are on a beach with beautiful white sand, clad only in your bikini, yes the sun is shining, yes everything is relaxed in the predominant Muslim society, to the point where non Muslims can buy alcohol and sunbathe, but at what point did you think you could go topless to the shop, talking to the local men and women with your ample bosom bouncing around like two well inflated basketballs? As the local women bathe in long linen trousers and T shirts?
Speaking as a confirmed atheist I believe in nothing and worship even less, but I do know that when I enter a place of religious significance I make sure I am dressed modestly, don't take photos of those busy worshiping their god and generally grant the whole exercise an air of respect where talking at the top of my voice, trying to handle holy relics or just behaving in a way that 'my' religion, if I followed one, would be frowned upon is avoided. If there is a god, then some travellers really go out of their way to 'piss' him off.
You are in a place of great tragedy, from a concentration camp such as Auschwitz to the killing fields of Cambodia. Don't stand in front of a pile of skulls or a lamp made from the tattooed skin of the murdered and strike a stupid smiley pose so you and the victims remains can be forever immortalized. Why would you want to be photographed in front of these sad reminders of atrocious crimes? Take a photo to remind you, but out of respect, abandon the goofy happy snaps. And if you get the urge, think how you would feel if that was you Mums skull or skin on display and a group was taking happy snaps for their Xmas card picture.
Why is it that people think that talking louder will suddenly make people understand them better? Here's a hint, if someone does not speak English then yelling at them in English is not going to make them instantly learn it. And to the man on the bus in Thailand who, amongst other things, said with frustration to the bus driver "don't you speak English?", the answer should have been "no, but do you speak Thai?", because it is his country.
I had the dubious pleasure of meeting my number one vandal whilst in Naples. Striking up a conversation about Pompeii and all the ruins we had seen over Greece and Italy, he pulled from his pocket a small bag of stones, each one chipped or taken from a significant monument or site. His current favourite was the small coloured stone he had chipped from a Pompeii mosaic. Sometimes you just have to walk away...
T-shirt reads "I want you to speak English"
S21 Khmer Rouge Concentration Camp with the gallows in front of which many people had their holiday photos taken with happy faces.
Inappropriate clothing for visiting the Golden Mount in Bangkok, Thailand?
Hmmmm, I think so!
The vandalism we found at Angkor Wat (below) was not all in English!
The breasts on this relief at Angkor Wat had been made shiny by the touch of many tourists.
How much can you 'piss off' your chosen deity?