Tourists are the worst. They are slow. They are obnoxious. They get in the way of people just trying to live their lives. They are like ducks meandering around city sidewalks, causing frustration and confusion while being completely unaware of either. But as their vacation dollars are a valued part of tourist-destination economies, we locals will suck up a certain amount of their nonsense with only minor complaints. As long as they’re not—say—spray painting graffiti on centuries-old landmarks. That’s when tourists go from being grumbling-under-our-breath the worst to “fuck you, fuck this, I’m calling the cops” the worst. And that’s the story of twenty-something tourists Brittney Schneider and Lee Furlong, who will face trial and potentially jail time for defacing the Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Around 4AM last Thursday, the Canadian Schneider, British Furlong, and two others were drunkenly walking back to their hostel, when they approached Tha Pae Gate, which has a towering brick wall that encompasses Chiang Mai’s inner city. Schneider told the press they found a can of spray paint in the street. The Independent reports Furlong used the paint to write “Scouser Lee” on the brick wall, parts of which date back to the 13th century. “Scouser” is a term for someone from Liverpool, so Furlong basically scrawled his name and hometown on the wall. Schneider admits she intended to follow suit and wrote a “B” underneath to begin her own name.
She told CBC Calgary:
Me being really drunk, [I] decided to join in and write my name. I came to as I finished the letter B. I realized what I was doing. I realized it was wrong. So I stopped. I had no idea that it was an ancient wall.
Here’s an image of the vandalism, via Twitter:
Free scouser Lee ! Soon home 🙏 pic.twitter.com/RDsB4he68e— Aaron Fontenot (@akfont19) October 19, 2018
Their crime was caught on surveillance video, and the next morning police were at the hostel to arrest them. Schneider said of the three days she spent in jail, “The sleeping sucked. We slept on the floor. The toilets were awful. And the food was awful. I didn’t eat the whole time I was there.”
Both Schneider and Furlong are now out on bail. They are being charged with “vandalizing an archaeological site,” according to the BBC, and could face up to ten years jail time plus a fine of a million baht (roughly $30,400).
Alberta tourist Brittney Schneider is free on bail after vandalizing an ancient brick wall, but she must remain in Thailand until her trial. Here's part of her conversation with @CBCEyeopener. https://t.co/1AToDo2I0c pic.twitter.com/JIJ621AG2G— CBC Calgary (@CBCCalgary) October 23, 2018
While the 23-year-old Furlong has been tight-lipped to the press, 22-year-old Schneider has been pleading her case, which boils down to: she was “ridiculously drunk” and is really sorry. She told Calgary’s The Star “I’m terrified for my life. I’m so sorry for what I did, beyond sorry… I’m just so overwhelmed and just want to go home.”
It remains to be seen how either defense will play out to a Thai court. Colonel Teerasak Sriprasert, chief of Chiang Mai police, said of the pair, “They admitted to the crime, saying they did it because of the thrill and they were also a little bit drunk. When people visit somewhere they should know not to (leave) graffiti.”
Yeah. Look. If I were asked for advice on how people could be better tourists, I’d suggest they remember that they are guests. So be considerate, as if you’re in someone’s home. It would never occur to me to specifically tell someone “don’t paint your name on things,” but the home analogy would still work there. Still, let’s be clear: “DON’T PAINT YOUR NAME ON A FRIGGIN’LANDMARK!”
Header Image Source: Getty