As we were traveling "internationally" last week, we kept current on world events by reading the daily Canadian newspaper and through Internet news sites as well.
No, we were not very far away, just across the border visiting friends in Canada. But our wireless carrier (and others possibly) consider our northern neighbor a "foreign" country and apply very high phone rates for outgoing and incoming calls. We solved that problem by turning off cell data and relied on wi-fi provided with our accommodations.
And, among the headlines in the Canadian National Post, I read this one:
Naked tourists blamed for earthquake
And the added subtitle: Canadians Doing 'OK'
For those of you who may not have read or heard of this news story, here's a synopsis as read in the National Post: Two Saskatchewan siblings were among 10 people (Canadians, Dutch, German, Asian) who were barred from leaving Malaysia after allegedly posing naked (and/or semi-clothed) atop Mount Kinabalu, the country's highest mountain, which local people consider sacred.
(Photo credit to Wikipedia.)
How sacred ?
The mountain's official website has a Tips section and under the Important Tips subsection has several areas including: Important Notes for Climbers of Mount Kinabalu that contains the warning: "DO NOT SHOUT, SCREAM or CURSE the mountain at any point in time." (Yes it is written in caps and boldface as displayed as is the heading for the "Important Notes section.).
How word spread . . .
A climber from Hong Kong, and a member of the group, posted "Time of my life" to his Facebook page which in itself wasn't a problem, but he also included photos of several men posing in underwear and topless women too.
What was he thinking . . .
Apparently, not much except displaying his own ignorance. Needless to say, the photos spread on social media and also news media. Apparently, a local park ranger discovered the act and made an official complaint to police. (Yes, you can find the photo online but I choose not to include it here; there is no need to do so.)
What happened . . .
While posing nude isn't usually blamed for causing earthquakes, scarcely a week after the FB posting, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake killed 18 climbers when it sent rocks and boulders crashing down trekking routes. The quake damaged roads and buildings in Sabah. Local officials blamed the disaster on the tourist's exhibitionism stating that they angered and disrespected the mountain spirits at the sacred site.
According to a legal counsel representing the Canadians before a Malaysian judge: "The group stripped because they challenged one another to stand the cold of the mountain as temperatures hovered around 0 degrees." The lawyer added that they were "ignorant of the culture, tradition and belief of the local people."
Outcome . . .The group of charged tourists pleaded guilty to public obscenity for the mountain top performance, fined $1,800 each, detained several days then deported.
And, the statement ended with a quote attributed to American humorist Mark Twain: "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society."
But, in this case that seemed not so true.
It’s also been reported that a special ritual will be held to appease the angered mountain spirits. (Perhaps an offering of the guilty offenders would be helpful?)
Equally interesting, and somewhat amusing, was a quote attributed to the father of the two Canadians: "Would you tell your parents you did this?"
As a general reply, most would not. But, as we know, things are different now and this event and others are being shared with the entire world through social media by the phenomena known as "going viral."
And with all due respects to Mr. Twain, who is one of my favorites, here's a preferred quote from another well-known American philosopher, Forrest Gump: Stupid IS as Stupid DOES.
What are your views?
(Please no inappropriate comments)