Chinese Tourists need Housetraining

On the summit of Jebel Hafeet, on the border of the UAE and Oman, I found this graffiti — the characters for “China” spray painted on the rock.

jebel hafeet graffiti

I saw similar graffiti in a natural valley in Sapa, Vietnam, back in 2005. As China grows richer, and its citizens find more opportunities for overseas tourism, I guess we should expect more of this kind of vulgar graffiti to pop up in the natural tourist sites of the world.

I’m happy that China’s economic development has created an upwardly mobile middle class that has the opportunity to travel overseas. I just wish they wouldn’t take out their lack-of-modern-empire-penis-envy frustrations on the natural environment of the world.

(It could be worse — at least the Chinese government doesn’t have management over tourist sites outside China, which would be a real disaster for human civilization).

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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34 Responses to Chinese Tourists need Housetraining

  1. Pingback: Mutantfrog Travelogue » Blog Archive

  2. James says:

    You missed the obvious answer, Curzon- that graffiti was clearly the work of a Japanese person who wanted to make China look bad!

  3. Curzon says:

    Obviously!

    (If it read 中國, we could blame Taiwan…)

  4. M-Bone says:

    I was done by a Chinese person disguised as a Japanese person to make it look like Japan is trying to make China look bad. 2ch-ers suspect that he was originally Korean.

  5. Aceface says:

    “that graffiti was clearly the work of a Japanese person who wanted to make China look bad!”

    Don’t tell this to anyone.But it looks almost exactly like what I wrote in calligraphy class back in ’78…..

  6. Sonagi says:

    中国加油!

  7. tdaxp says:

    Similar disrespect is shown in China to Chinese artifacts. It was disturbing to visit the Confucian Temple or Zoo in Beijing, because of widespread ignorance of many people to the proper treatment of the things they came to see. I chalk it up to culture ignorance — the proletarian culture that Mao did so much to encourage — as opposed to the ugly attitude that Sonagi seems to satirize.

  8. Thomas says:

    International graffiti is nothing new, of course. A number of monuments in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings bear French language defacements going back to the campaigns of Napoleon.

  9. Curzon says:

    Thomas, pretty bad analogy on a number of levels.

    - Invading soldiers, not fat tourists
    - Military occupiers, not guests/visitors.
    - 19th, not 21st, century

    It may not be new, but as we now appreciate the value of this kind of cultural treasure, you’d hope that we’d have moved past it.

  10. I would suggest that some local resident having scene these characters on an electronic device thought they looked pretty, and decided to duplicate them on the rock, not realizing what they actually meant. And yes, I am kidding. What did the other graffiti say. Recently in Nagoya I’ve been seeing a lot of graffiti written in a script I don’t recognize …

  11. “I was done by a Chinese person disguised as a Japanese person to make it look like Japan is trying to make China look bad. ”

    5GW?

  12. M-Bone says:

    We can go even further with this – Curzon let slip that he knows the tourists who did this were FAT. This means that he must have seen them. This means that he must have been sent to the Middle East as a Japanese agent to report on this graffiti. From this we can reason that it must have been a Japanese disguised as a Chinese disguised as a Japanese to make it look like Japan is trying to make China look bad in order to give South Korea a false impression that the two are on the outs so that they can launch a joint attack on Dokdo. I’m phoning Benjamin Fulford right now.

  13. Jing says:

    Care to do any pop psycho-analyzing on the English graffiti in black?

  14. Roy Berman says:

    I have a photograph I took at the Great Wall near Beijing that shows nothing but a sea of chiseled- in graffiti on every single brick. Lost amidst it it, one can also see the name “Etienne.” I also have a shot of another section with a big cluster of Korean language graffiti (just names I think), but this is written/painted- not carved. I assume there is some Japanese in there somewhere too, but this was taken back in 2004 with a pretty crappy digital camera, so it’s not really clear to make out most of the characters.

  15. spandrell says:

    If I had a dime from every one “Dae han min guk” hangul graffiti I’ve seen in Japan…

  16. Sonagi says:

    “If I had a dime from every one “Dae han min guk” hangul graffiti I’ve seen in Japan…”

    Or reminders that Dokdo is Korean etched in Hangeul on wooden prayer boards outside Japanese temples. Not vandalism but just as obnoxious.

  17. kushibo says:

    While there may be many reasons to bash the Chinese, with graffiti at tourist sites, I don’t think they particularly stand out.

    Or reminders that Dokdo is Korean etched in Hangeul on wooden prayer boards outside Japanese temples. Not vandalism but just as obnoxious.

    I guess they could follow their former overlords and, instead of leaving Hangul messages, they just take the stuff home with them. ;)

  18. Roy Berman says:

    I’ve never once seen Korean graffiti in Japan. Have you seriously encountered much of it?

  19. Sonagi says:

    ” guess they could follow their former overlords and, instead of leaving Hangul messages, they just take the stuff home with them. ;) “

    Or they could use the prayer boards for what they were intended. Just a thought.

  20. Aceface says:

    ”I guess they could follow their former overlords and, instead of leaving Hangul messages, they just take the stuff home with them. ;)”

    Well,actually you can take the stuff home with them since they paid for those prayer boards,just like many “former overlords”had done the same with Korean antiquities.

    “Or they could use the prayer boards for what they were intended. Just a thought.”

    They did which is why you could find the boards in the shrine.
    Those wishes on the prayer boards don’t materialize once they’ve been taken out of the estate of particular shinto shrine……

  21. Aceface says:

    ”I’ve never once seen Korean graffiti in Japan. Have you seriously encountered much of it?”

    Picked one from your neighbourhood.

    http://blog.goo.ne.jp/pandiani/e/e73c0c2a6ea1431a312c5608a00f198c

  22. kushibo says:

    I’ve never once seen Korean graffiti in Japan. Have you seriously encountered much of it?

    Not as much as I’ve read about it in K-blogs. I’ve seen quite a few non-prayer writings on prayer boards in Han•gŭl, but don’t ever recall seeing something about Tokto. I’d have taken a picture and blogged it if I’d seen it. Most of it is “I was here” kind of stuff, not unlike what people do with tiles at Buddhist temples in Korea (is it less offensive to leave that kind of message instead of a Tokto message?). The Korean-language graffiti I’ve seen elsewhere (in Italy, for example) has been of the same type or 정규 [heart] 민자 type stuff.

  23. kushibo says:

    Picked one from your neighbourhood.

    Aceface, when did you snap that picture?

  24. Aceface says:

    I didn’t.I picked that up on internet.

  25. Roy Berman says:

    Well, carving something into a bamboo pole that gets replaced regularly is definitely not as bad as the Great Wall. Still pretty funny though.

  26. kushibo says:

    Aceface wrote:
    I didn’t.I picked that up on internet.

    Is it common enough that you yourself would easily be able to spot some here and there to take your own picture of it? I didn’t see any during my recent trip to the Hiroshima area, and I was sort of keeping an eye out for it.

    Roy Berman wrote:
    Well, carving something into a bamboo pole that gets replaced regularly is definitely not as bad as the Great Wall. Still pretty funny though.

    I wouldn’t give that a pass. Bamboo may dry out or get replaced or whatever, but graffiti artists aren’t always particularly discerning about what biological material it’s “okay” (biologically speaking) to put a graffito on. Here in Hawaii, on the way to Makapuu Point, for example, there’s a bunch of cholla cactus that people have inscribed so-and-so loves so-and-so messages. That often spells the death of these things. (Some, but only a very tiny percent, are Korean or Japanese messages there.)

    At any rate, it is obnoxious to leave a Tokto graffito such as the one in Aceface’s picture, whether it will be permanent or not.

  27. Aceface says:

    “Is it common enough that you yourself would easily be able to spot some here and there to take your own picture of it? ”

    Hard to tell.I’ve only been to Kyoto twice in my life and both times my eyes were focused on temples,not graffiti.However,googling with “Hangul” “Grafitti”,”Japan” hits a lots of pictures.

    And I second with Roy on disposable bamboo poles.

  28. Curzon says:

    Graffiti anywhere on a historical or cultural site is an absolutel no-no, although there are of course varying degrees of badness, (Great wall v.s. bamboo pole). And the spray-painting of “China” and the carving of “Dokdo” are the same thing — taking out the “lack-of-modern-empire-penis-envy frustration” on tourist sites which doesn’t impress anyone and which looks mighty lame.

  29. kushibo says:

    Agreed, except “China,” “Tokto,” or “Polonia” are no different from “ゆき [heart] とも” (or “go to hell”), as far as the heritage site is concerned. Graffiti is graffiti when you have to refurbish the dang thing.

  30. Roy Berman says:

    “I wouldn’t give that a pass. Bamboo may dry out or get replaced or whatever, but graffiti artists aren’t always particularly discerning about what biological material it’s “okay” (biologically speaking) to put a graffito on.”

    I’m not saying to give it a total pass – it’s still quite rude and inappropriate – just that in relative terms it’s clearly nowhere near as bad as making a mark in an ancient piece of stone that is not supposed to be replaced regularly.

    “Is it common enough that you yourself would easily be able to spot some here and there to take your own picture of it?”
    I have no memory of seeing such graffiti at any temple in Japan and don’t seem to have any photos of it. Yes, there is graffiti in Japan, but as far as I have personally noticed is all seems to be done by Japanese kids, not foreign tourists. Maybe the wooden prayer cards do serve a useful function of providing a place for angry visitors to vent their frustration, in addition to the normal use as a place as a place to write your prayer?

  31. CityDweller says:

    Graffiti, if it’s old enough, becomes a historical artifact in it’s own right. Give around a thousand years and the graffiti might be more noteworthy then the site. Note the Viking runes carved in Maeshowe http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/maeshowe/maeshrunes.htm is one of the largest collection of runes in Europe and is one of the highlights when you visit Maeshowe. The graffiti is mainly along the lines of “Ottarfila carved these runes”, “Tryggr carved these runes”, “Thorni f*cked. Helgi carved” and so on showing just how little graffiti has changed over the centuries (and how little those who create it have to say). Have to say though that graffiti rarely adds anything to where it has been placed.

  32. kushibo says:

    citydweller wrote:
    and so on showing just how little graffiti has changed over the centuries

    Maybe if more Koreans had written “Tokto” graffiti here and there a thousand years ago, there’d be no need to write it today. ;)

  33. NaughtyFerret says:

    Obviously whoever did this had an ancient map showing that this rock was once claimed by some Chinese dynasty, and is thus forever part of the Middle Kingdom. That’s the basis for a lot of China’s diplomacy, isn’t it?

  34. hack says:

    We cannot rule out a Japanese person orchestrating the shlocky tourist crap outside the confucian temple linked to in order to discredit China in the eyes of visitors seeking cultural enrichment. But supposing that is not the case, I don’t think China is any different than anywhere else in this regard. We (most of us actually) share the same priorities when visiting cultural sites, and have run into the same problem in many places, including some that are very hygienic. I think it’s more a matter of degree.

    Can anyone explain Bend Over Buddha?