From the Straits Times archives: Chinese tourists gone wild

Chinese tourists have been making headlines for their bad behaviour as travellers.

Last Saturday, German news agency DPA reported that a famous temple in northern Thailand will build separate toilets for Thais and other non-Chinese tourists after some inconsiderate Chinese tourists made the toilets unusable.

An official from Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple, in Chiang Rai said that the culprits had "defecated on the floor, urinated on the walls outside and left sanitary pads on the wall of the bathroom". This prompted the temple's designer, Chalermchai Kositpipat, to say in a television interview that it was "impossible" for other tourists to use the bathrooms, so he would have to build new ones.

Despite Chinese authorities urging their countrymen to behave more gracefully, and the National Tourism Authority saying early this year that it was developing a database to track bad behaviour by Chinese tourists, there was still a spate of incidents involving some Chinese tourists in the last few months.

We take a look at a few of the incidents over the years.

1. Using the plane's toilet sink as the toilet

A Chinese woman drew the ire of passengers last Saturday on a Beijing-bound Dragonair flight as she cleaned a one-year-old infant's discharge in the plane's toilet sink.

To top it off, she left the toilet door open, much to the dismay of the other passengers, who complained about the smell.

As the plane was taking off, crew members asked the woman to return to her seat, but she and her travelling companion, a 34-year-old man refused.

In the end, the police were called in and the recalcitrant couple left the plane.

The incident was the third reported incident in the Hong Kong media in a week which involved bad behaviour from Chinese travellers on planes.


2. Using the airport as the underwear laundry room

A Chinese tourist thought nothing of drying her wet underwear on seats at Chiang Mai International Airport's departure lounge.

The photos of the woman using her phone nonchalantly next to her pink bra and black panties prompted a flurry of criticism on social media. A public relations officer confirmed the incident and revealed that staff had approached the woman to tell her not to dry her clothes in public.


3. Scalding a cabin attendant and threatening to blow up a plane

Last December, China's state-run media blasted four unruly air passengers as "barbarians" after they scalded a cabin attendant and threatened to blow up a plane, allegedly because they could not be seated together.

On an AirAsia flight from Bangkok to the eastern city of Nanjing, a female Chinese passenger threw hot water and noodles at the cabin attendant, while online video images showed a male passenger threatening to blow up the aircraft following the row with crew members.

The AirAsia Flight with 174 passengers and six crew members on board was forced to turn back after the row, prompting China's National Tourism Administration to condemn the four, saying that they would be "severely punished" and put on a database of unruly tourists.

The passengers paid 50,000 baht (S$2,000) in compensation to the cabin attendant, the newspaper said, citing Thai reports, while the female passenger who threw the hot water was fined an additional 200 baht.


4. Brawling on a plane

Air rage seems to be a real problem in China. Four middle-aged women fought violently on an Air China flight from Chongqing to Hong Kong in December last year, nearly forcing the plane to turn back.

The incident started when two women reclined their seats to the fullest extent because they were angered by a crying baby. A brawl followed, which got out of control when one of the women was pulled out of her seat. During the fight, her head almost hit the luggage compartment, according to a photo from Beijing News.


5. Sliding off the plane

One Chinese passenger on a China Eastern flight seemed to think that the plane was his playground, as he decided to use the emergency slide for a quicker exit.

On Dec 12, the passenger, who had flown from Xi'an to Sanya, opened the emergency exit, prompting the slide to be deployed. When asked by authorities about why he opened the door, he responded: "To get off the plane faster."

Instead, he caused a two-hour delay, while the slide had to be replaced at a cost of 100,000 yuan (S$21,000), reported Sohu.

In a similar incident in Hangzhou, a Chinese man opened the emergency exit just before the plane took off to "get some air".


6. Vandalising an Egyptian relic

In perhaps the most globally notorious incident of bad behaviour from Chinese tourists, netizens were outraged that an ancient Egyptian monument survived unscathed for thousands of years, only to be defaced by 15-year-old Chinese teen Ding Jinghao.

In a temple dedicated to Amenhotep III in Luxor, on the banks of the Nile River, he scrawled his name in Chinese characters over an ancient sandstone panel lined with hieroglyphics, the Global Times newspaper said.

Angry netizens hunted him down and hacked the website of his school, forcing users to click on a sign parodying Ding's graffiti before entering.

The online furore prompted his parents, who said Ding had "cried all night" after learning of the cyber-attacks, to issue an apology in a local newspaper.


7. It's not just Chinese tourists

In a case of tit for tat, China has hit back with its own catalogue of foreigners' bad behaviour in China.

China's flagship newspaper, the People's Daily showed photos of foreign tourists behaving badly in China.

One picture showed a 2009 incident in which a group of foreigners camped overnight on the Great Wall in Beijing, disregarding signboards in English and Chinese warning that such activity was prohibited, while another example from 2013 showed a group of foreigners lined up in a row to pee on the side of a Shanghai elevated freeway.


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