CAMBODIAN social media was awash with criticism of a Thai hotel that built buildings resembling Angkor Wat and other Cambodian landmarks accusing the owners of “cultural appropriation,” Thai Rath newspaper reported today (Oct. 4, 2020).
Quoting Khmer Times newspaper, the mass-circulation Thai daily said that many Cambodians had expressed their displeasure at the hotel on Koh Phangan accusing the owners of having appropriated Cambodian culture and landmarks, such as Angkor Wat, for commercial purposes.
The report stated that the hotel built all its buildings to resemble Angkor Wat under the slogan, “Discover the pride of Angkor.”
The hotel’s website says, “Our hotel is inspired by the beautiful ruins of Angkor Wat located in Cambodia. All of our buildings, decorations and rooms are handmade to reproduce at perfection what you could see in Cambodia.”
Visitors are offered a choice of rooms, all bearing Cambodian names such as “The Angkor Rooms” described as “The aesthetic distinctiveness and its cultured surrounding, Angkor Wat is the most valued and admired of the Khmer Empire, The Palace of the King.”
Other rooms include “The Bayon Rooms” described as “Monumental smiling face, famous carving, Bayon is the last state to be built at Angkor. Over thousand large faces alias the famous smile of Angkor.”, as well as “The Bantey Srei Rooms” – described as “With elaborate carvings, refined building and its miniature scale for the ancient queen, Bantey Srei is known as the jewel in the crown of Khmer art”
Khmer Times said Cambodian social media commentators have reacted with a mixture of anger and bemusement, with some criticising the hotel for what they call “cultural appropriation.”
One commentator said “Angkor Wat is the property of Khmer people. It is not right that a foreign country steals our culture.”
Other comments include “This is the brand of Khmer, Thai must ask for permission from Khmer.” and “It’s really sad, a thief has stolen the culture of Khmer heritage.”
Other commentators have taken a more humorous angle saying “When I last checked, Koh Phangan was over 1,000kms away from Angkor Wat – why do they have these buildings!?”
Top: The hotel on Koh Phangan that has copied Angkor Wat for commercial purposes which has angered Cambodians. Photos: Thai Rath