Roundup: Naked tourism in Angkor

An AP story rounds up the recent spate of incidents involving tourists taking nude photos of themselves and talks about Cambodian reaction to the affairs (Naturally, they are offended). One of the perpetrating Frenchmen who was deported for taking nude photos made a puzzling statement by saying that the case demonstrates the “endemic corruption” in Cambodia – I fail to see how that is connected to his inability to keep his pants on.

Angkor Wat

Anger at Angkor: Cambodians upset over naked western tourists at temples
AP, via The Guardian, 27 February 2015

Cambodia’s most popular tourist attraction – the complex of ancient temples that includes Angkor Wat – is suffering from a form of overexposure. At least five foreign visitors have been arrested and deported this year for taking nude photos at the sacred sites.

Authorities have no tolerance for people stripping off at Angkor archaeological park, a sprawling Unesco World Heritage Site that drew 2 million visitors last year. The incidents are also upsetting to ordinary Cambodians, for whom the Khmer-era complex, built between the ninth and 15th centuries, holds enormous spiritual and historical significance.

“Angkor Wat is the most famous sacred … temple in Cambodia, where everyone, not only tourists but also Cambodians themselves, has to pay respect,” said Rattanak Te, an administrative assistant who lives in Phnom Penh, the capital. “It definitely upsets me and all Cambodians, because outsiders will think we Cambodian people are careless and do not take good care of this World Heritage [site] by allowing these tourists to do such an unacceptable act.”

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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