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Koh Phangan hotel probed after complaints of cultural appropriation for Angkor Wat design

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Le Palais

A Koh Phangan hotel is saying sorry for using Cambodia’s culture and famous landmarks, including the popular Angkor Wat, in what looks to be a case of cultural appropriation, misusing or misrepresenting a culture and profiting off it. An investigation into the claims of cultural appropriation has been launched by Surat Thani Culture Office.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is also now reviewing the complaints about the hotel’s use of Cambodia’s ancient landmarks which also include UNESCO World Heritage Sites Bantaey Srey and Bayon Temple, the Khmer Times reports. Ministry spokesperson Long Punna Serivath says they will talk with the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to determine whether the hotel’s use of Cambodia’s culture has an effect on the country’s economy.

“The temples of Angkor Wat and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites are cultural resources that we are obliged to help preserve and promote.”

The hotel overlooking the island’s popular Haad Rin beach, an area known for its raunchy Full Moon Party, first opened in 2014. The Bangkok Post says the hotel is owned by a Cambodian couple. The hotel advertises temple-inspired rooms like the “Angkor Rooms,” saying in a description that the “Angkor Wat is the most valued and admired of the Khmer Empire, The Palace of the King.”

The Angkor Wat in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province is the most renowned temple in the country. It is featured on the country’s national flag and it was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The temple is part of the Angkor Archaeological Park with ruins dating back to the 9th and 15th centuries.

Cambodia’s Khmer Times reported the outrage and criticism over the Koh Phangan hotel’s use of Cambodia’s culture for commercial purposes. Here’s what some netizens said, according to the Khmer Times:

Angkor Wat is the property of Khmer people. It is not right that a foreign country steals our culture”.

This is the brand of Khmer, Thai must ask for permission from Khmer.”

It’s really sad, a thief has stolen the culture of Khmer heritage

The Le Palais Hotel wrote a post on Facebook apologising for the building’s design, saying they are “extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused you and would like to clarify the vision from our founder’s heart and intention.” They say the hotel’s design was inspired by the “greatness” of the Angkor Wat and that Cambodia is the “motherland” of Thailand’s founder.

“We launched the hotel humbly only for the admiration, appreciation and passion for the magnificent art. The construction, decoration here were handmade and heart-made by Thai and Cambodian teamwork. Nonetheless the greatness will always remain to the great Angkor Wat and will never be compared.”

President of the Tourism Association of Koh Phangan Vichai Khongmun says the hotel complies with building regulations, adding that Angkor Wat design might encourage tourists to visit the real place.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Khmer Times | Le Palais

Please accept our heartfelt apologies..We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused you and would like…

Posted by Le Palais on Sunday, October 4, 2020

 

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    9 Comments

    9 Comments

    1. Avatar

      Angy

      Monday, October 5, 2020 at 10:48 am

      now they can open thousand complaints from Venice, Rome, Paris. All kind of cultural approprations are made in Thailand but also in other contry. Big problem coming for Las Vegas soon.

      • Avatar

        Ling

        Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 12:58 am

        That’s exactly what I thought. Las Vegas is the perfect example.

    2. Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, October 5, 2020 at 11:04 am

      Absurd. It’s hardly pretending to be Angkor Wat.

    3. Avatar

      Jeff Jewel

      Monday, October 5, 2020 at 12:31 pm

      Oh gawd. Cultural appropriation….what a crock. People are dupes.

    4. Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Monday, October 5, 2020 at 2:15 pm

      Petty Thai officials. What happened did they not get their brown envelopes!
      Any chance they get they say: no you cannot do that.
      Cultural appropriation?
      There is a Mall in Pattaya. Terminal 21.
      It has the leaning tower of pisa. It has the Eiful Tower. Some New York bridge.
      Go after them for Cultural appropriation.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Monday, October 5, 2020 at 3:50 pm

        Actually it was petty Cambodian officials …..

        • Avatar

          Jilted John

          Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 1:48 pm

          Believing what you read on an online Thai media outlet then questioning it’s content isn’t the smartest of moves…

    5. Avatar

      Paul

      Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at 8:21 am

      I agree that almost all fuss about cultural appropriation is nonsense. Should we try to shame Japanese businessmen for wearing Western suits? Please don’t pay attention to the eternal complainers

    6. Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 12:49 pm

      Cambodia?
      Well: Petty Cambodia officials. What happened did they not get their brown envelopes – then.

      lol

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    Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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