01 Aug 2012
The last time I took a trip in Cambodia, I almost missed seeing Angkor Wat as I did not dress properly enough.
On that day I wore a maxi dress and put on a scarf to cover my neck and shoulders. However, a security guide at the Stairways to Heaven level looked at me, shook his head and said: “No hat, no sun glasses, no wearing a scarf.”
Luckily someone lent me her jacket so I could cover myself up and enter.
I then recalled a tour guide I met on a Cambodian trip two years ago. At that time, we were about to visit the Silver pagoda and Royal Palace in the capital, Phnom Penh. Since he didn’t want to let anyone miss their chance to enter the site, before we departed the guide waited in front of the bus and told anyone who wore shorts, tank tops, or flip flops to go back to their hotel room and change.
Similar to Cambodia, Thailand also demands that tourists wear proper outfits on entering their temples and pagodas. They do it strictly and do not make an exception for anyone.
Seeing the tourism industries of neighboring countries, I cannot help but sigh when I think about our country. When I visited Phu Hai prison in Con Dao, I saw several people wearing tank tops and shorts, running around, and talking loudly. Some even put their hands on the prisoner figures to take photos, comparing bodies to see who is skinnier.
Besides, some museums, which are cultural tourist destinations in the country, do not have regulations on outfits for visitors.
In Cambodia, when asked to wear proper clothes, tourists themselves feel the sacredness of the place they visit, and thus act moderately and talk in low voices. Indeed when I visited Angkor Wat, I felt a tranquil atmosphere although there were many visitors around.
With just a small detail, Cambodia has made visitors respect their country, people, culture, and especially religion. If we do not respect ourselves, how do we expect others to do so?