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Angkor anger naked western tourists offend Cambodians at ...

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/27/angkor-archa...

Anger at Angkor: Cambodians upset over


naked western tourists at temples
A fashion for taking nude photos at the Angkor archaeological park has led to five
foreign visitors to the Unesco World Heritage site being deported this year
Associated Press in Siem Reap
Friday 27 February 2015 13.16GMT

Cambodias most popular tourist attraction the complex of ancient temples that
includes Angkor Wat is suering from a form of overexposure. At least ve foreign
visitors have been arrested and deported this year for taking nude photos at the
sacred sites.
Authorities have no tolerance for people stripping o 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 signicance.
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 denitely 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.
This month, guards arrested two American sisters after seeing them snap photos of
each others naked backsides in the temple of Preah Khan, said Kerya Chau Sun,
spokeswoman for the Apsara Authority, which manages the temple complex in Siem
Reap, north-western Cambodia. LindseyAdams, 22, and her sister Leslie , 20, both of
Prescott, Arizona, were each sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence, a ne of
1m riel (159), deportation and a four-year ban from the country.
In January, three French men in their 20s were deported after they were caught
taking nude photographs at Angkor complex. Another photo showing a topless
woman at the site has circulated on social media, but ocials believe it is fake,
according to Chau Sun. Three tourists were also caught riding a motorbike naked near
Phnom Penh in January, according to local media.
Reached via email, one of the Frenchmen, Rodolphe Fourgeot, said he did not want to
talk about the case. He said it demonstrated endemic corruption in Cambodia but

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27/02/2015 15:29

Angkor anger naked western tourists offend Cambodians at ...

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/27/angkor-archa...

did not elaborate.


A message on a mobile phone listed for Lindsey Adams said the voicemail was full
and not accepting messages. She also did not respond to a Facebook message. A
message was left on a number listed for the sisters mother.
This years incidents were not rsts for the Angkor temples, but Chau Sun said earlier
attempts by tourists to get naked had been thwarted.
Signs at the temples and ticketing booths urge visitors to behave respectfully, and
Chau Sun said the Apsara Authority planned to add posters warning them that taking
nude photographs could lead to arrest and deportation.
As a Cambodian, I am hurt I think especially to the poor Cambodians saving to be
able to come across the country to pray at Angkor, she said. They dont understand
why people could behave like that.
Angkor archaeological park is the biggest tourist draw for the south-east Asian
country still dealing with the legacy of the Khmer Rouge, the fanatical communist
regime behind a reign of terror from 1975 to 1979 that left an estimated 1.7 million
people dead.
The massive Angkor complex is a proud counterpoint to that painful legacy. It
contains the remains of capitals of the Khmer empire, which existed from the 9th to
the 15th centuries and controlled most of south-east Asia at its peak. For a time,
Angkor was among the worlds biggest cities.
The temples are renowned for their architecture and art, with countless intricate
carvings, including semi-nude spirits known as apsaras. Angkor Wat is the largest and
best preserved of the structures.
The temples are much more than stone ruins for most Cambodians, said Trevor
Soeld, a professor of tourism at the University of Tasmania. They are places of
Buddhist worship as well as a symbol of the Khmer heritage, he said. He added that
the Apsara Authority and Unesco should focus on educating the public about the
living, sacred nature of the site in addition to its historical characteristics.
Angkor is not the only world-renowned site that has had to deal with nude tourists. In
2014, ocials at Machu Picchu in Peru said they were increasing surveillance after
visitors were caught taking nude photographs or running through the ancient site
naked.
Amichay Rab, a 32-year-old accountant from Tel Aviv, Israel, was one of those tourists
who posed in the bu. Rab documented his nude escapades while on a nine-month
trip through Central and South America on his blog. Many of the photos were taken
early in the morning before there were crowds, he said, and local residents often
snapped the photos for him.
I was anxious sometimes but was never afraid [of] getting in trouble as I was very

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27/02/2015 15:29

Angkor anger naked western tourists offend Cambodians at ...

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/27/angkor-archa...

discreet, he said. I was waiting for the right moment in order to avoid hurting
someones feelings.
Cambodian Mollyda Keo said people there recognise that dierent cultures and
societies had diering views on the body and what was deemed acceptable.
Cambodian women, for example, will only swim in a T-shirt and shorts but are used
to seeing western women in bikinis, she said.
She said posing naked at the temples crossed the line. I just feel they dont respect
the culture, she said. You come from another culture. You should respect ours.

Topics
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Asia
Asia Pacic
France
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