Thai authorities hunt for 'Chinese tourist' filmed kicking sacred prayer bell at 14th century Buddhist temple... and threaten to give him etiquette classes

Daily Mail, Feb 24, 2015

Chiangmai, Thailand -- Police in northern Thailand are trying to locate a presumed Chinese tourist who was filmed kicking a prayer bell at a Buddhist temple.

Thai officials have threatened to ban the tourist over the incident at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a sacred site near the city of Chiang Mai.

The footage shows the man ringing a bell with his hand as he poses for a photo and then pausing for several seconds before kicking a bell hanging several feet off the ground.

The incident at the 14th century temple, a popular tourist site, has caused outrage in Thailand and added another layer to the strained relationship between locals and Chinese tourists.

Major General Bundit Tungkhaseranee, a local commander, told the Bangkok Post that immigration and local police are looking for witnesses and examining CCTV to identify the man after the video went viral on social media.

Police have been interviewing Chinese guides and travel agents, and have been checking outbound Chinese tourists as they arrive at border checkpoints.

The police commander told the newspaper that authorities are keen to apprehend the man, introduce him to the public and give him a lesson on Thai culture and manners.

He said the man will be banned from Thailand if he refuses to listen.

Chuan Patwan, an administrator at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, urged tour operators to educate their clients about temple etiquette.

He told Khaosod: ‘It will take some time to say whether the tourist is actually Chinese. But judging from his style, he was kicking his feet with so much agility, it was like kung fu.’

The incident comes a week after Thailand’s tourist board announced that it would be handing out etiquette manuals to Chinese tourists who were visiting during Chinese New Year.

The manuals outlined how the holidaymakers are expected to behave while they visit Thailand.

They were created after the Thai government received complaints from locals, who accused Chinese visitors of defecating in public, causing traffic accidents with reckless driving, and defacing tourist attractions.

Chinese tourists were temporarily banned from even entering Wat Rong Khun, the Buddhist White Temple in Chiang Rai, after complaints that they had ruined the toilets.

The Tourist Authority of Thailand estimated that at least 90,000 tourists would arrive from China over the holiday, with Wat Phra That Doi Suthep a popular destination.

Earlier this month, photos surfaced online showing a Chinese tourist’s underwear draped over chairs at Chiang Mai airport, angering fellow travellers and drawing complaints about inappropriate behaviour on social media channels.