Saturday, October 2, 2010

It is Your Problem

During our visit to Angkor Wat today, I was pretty irritated.  The problem was in part the guide, and in part a shot that I was trying to take.  I won't go into all the details, but let's just say I wasn't really happy.

When we went to the jungle temple, I just left my camera in the car.  We were walking through the temple, and of course there were a lot of other tourist there.  A lot of people were trying to take shots by this large tree growing through the temple.  There was a young Australian (learned later) guy who was perched in a window frame, waiting to get his photo taken.  People from this tour group from Korea kept walking in front of him to pose for their photo.  Not only do they see him and fail to show him any courtesy, but the one woman taking the photo has no idea of what she is doing.  There are a fair number of people waiting, and she is taking minutes fumbling around with the camera.

I was standing next to the incompetent lady and when she was done I said to her "I hope that photo turns out badly."  She didn't react if she understood.  Immediately after, another Korean couple walks in front of the young man.  He doesn't say anything, but it is clear that he is frustrated and I can understand why.  He is already in position and his girlfriend is ready to take the photo; if people would wait twenty seconds he would be done.  But of course they don't.  They see him, but to paraphrase an old boss of mine, "its not their problem".

Perhaps because of my frustration and perhaps because I've been in similar situations, I decided to make it their problem.  I walked down to the rock where the people were posing, pointed to the guy behind them, and motioned for them to move aside.  The Australian guy started to move away from his window sill, saying "don't worry about it."  I motioned to him and said "no, wait, take your photo."

The Korean couple was looking at me, and I motioned to move aside and said "he was here first".  I spoke in a very polite, but firm voice.  I'm not sure if they understood my words or realized that arguing with me would delay their photo opportunity even longer, but move they did.  Its a good thing that they did, because I was prepared to either stand in their way for a while, or be a part of their photos.

We walked along the trail, and a few minutes later the Australian guy caught up to us.  He shook my hand and thanked me for helping, and expressed his wonder as to why people couldn't take turns.  Our tour guide told us that there is a common perception here that many tourists from Korea are perceived as rude.

After that incident, I really started to feel a lot better.

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