Tourist sparks furious backlash after stripping naked to rub herself on sacred rock
When visiting another country, it's important to respect that place's culture and traditions. In many locations, this might mean covering up a little more than you would in your home country, or perhaps paying close attention to your etiquette when eating out or introducing yourself to someone new.
On the island of Koh Samui in Thailand, however, it means not getting naked and rubbing yourself against a giant penis-shaped rock on the coast.
But apparently one tourist didn't get that memo.
An unidentified blonde woman was spotted yesterday as she pressed her nude body against the Hin Ta - also known as the Grandfather Rock - in broad daylight. While this might have seemed inappropriate in any context, it was made worse by the fact that the locals believe the rock is imbued with the spirit of an old man and is therefore considered sacred.
As a result, those who live on the island are understandably outraged and have demanded that police arrest the woman in order to make her apologise for her actions.
"Nobody should be naked in public here. That's offensive," said Suriya Promsri, a hotel boss on Koh Samui. "The police need to find her and prosecute her. It will warn other people not to disrespect the island."
Sutida Wongyai, a food seller based nearby, added: "The rock is very special and represents our island. It is an insult to do this to it."
"I felt very uncomfortable after seeing the picture. I want the police to take appropriate action to avoid this happening again," said Niwin Suksan, a stall-owner. "The grandfather rock has a long history and the people of Samui are proud of it."
The Hin Ta rock has long been a tourist attraction on the island, and people frequently visit it - along with the smaller Hin Yai rock, its neighbor - because they believe it holds a spiritual significance.
Legend has it that, long ago, an elderly couple visited the island in order to propose a marriage for their son, but their boat was capsized in a storm. As a result, they lost the dowry they had been bringing over for the bride and felt too ashamed to continue their quest. Not wanting to bestow shame upon their family, the couple threw themselves into the sea and were subsequently reborn as the two rocks seen today.
As sweet and as tragic as the story may be, however, it hasn't stopped tourists and pranksters from interacting with the phallic stone before. In fact, there have been dozens of incidents in which people ignored the warning signs in order to climb on or pose next to the grandfather rock.
Following up on the most recent incident, police confirmed today that they had received a complaint about the nude woman and were subsequently investigating the matter. "This is not acceptable and officers will investigate the images and try to find the woman," they said via a spokesperson.
If the woman is found, hopefully she doesn't get in too much trouble - but it's important that she (and everyone else) understands that other cultures have to be respected, otherwise there will be consequences to face.