San Diego Couple Arrested For Bare-Butt Photos At Buddhist Temple In Thailand
It's one vacation selfie that Joseph and Travis Dasilva won't soon forget.
The American couple, who The Los Angeles Times describes as "minor Instagram celebrities from San Diego," snapped a photo of their exposed buttocks at Bangkok's Wat Arun, or "Temple of Dawn," one of the country's most popular tourist landmarks.
According to the Times, the two were apparently hoping to get some exposure for their feed, titled "Traveling Butts." Since deleted, the account had 14,000 followers apparently interested or amused at seeing the Dasilvas bare their behinds at tourist sites around the world.
The San Diego Union Tribune quotes M.G. Perez, a friend of the Dasilvas, as saying, "That's how they express themselves artistically."
But signs advise tourists to "dress modestly" while on the temple grounds, and Thai authorities frown on such antics. As the couple was preparing to board a plane at Bangkok's Don Mueang airport on Tuesday night to leave the country, they were stopped by police and taken into custody.
Police Col. Jarupat Thongkomol said Wednesday that both confessed and had been fined 5,000 baht ($150) for "getting naked in public."
That might not be the end of it, however. According to The Bangkok Post, in an article headlined "Serious charges await bare-butts Americans," more charges are forthcoming "because they posted their photos on the internet and took photos of their naked body parts at a religious site."
The Post says they could be charged with violating the computer crime law for posting pornography online and breaching a law governing behavior "at a religious place that insults the religion."
Those offenses are more serious than the original charge of public indecency – together they could cost up to $4,000 and anywhere from one to seven years in jail.
Even so, Col. Choengron Rimpadee, deputy spokesman with the Thai immigration police, suggests that the two are unlikely to receive the harshest punishment, telling the BBC: "Once they are through with the charges, the Thai immigration police will revoke their visas and push for deportation," adding that they would also be blacklisted from returning to Thailand.
The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News quotes San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez as saying the men had contacted him for help.
"Though I am very disappointed in their actions, I am talking to U.S. government officials to see what assistance we can give them," he told the website.
As theTimes points out:
"The Dasilvas join the ranks of several Western tourists who have been detained for inappropriate behavior at sacred Southeast Asian sites in recent years. In 2015, Cambodian authorities arrested, fined and deported two American women for taking partially nude photos at Angkor Wat, the famous temple complex.
"In June 2015, Malaysian authorities detained four Canadian, Dutch and German tourists for posing naked atop the country's sacred Mt. Kinabalu. They were sentenced to three days in jail and fined."
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.