Backpacker photo that sparked fury
A BACKPACKER has sparked fury in Thailand after begging for cash from locals in order to fund his trip.
A photograph shows two men, who have not been identified, sitting on the ground of a busy market next to handwritten signs, local site Coconuts reported. The signs contained identical messages, with one written in Thai and the other in English.
"My name is Alex. I'm travelling in Asia for 15 months. Sadly, I'm out of my savings, but I stay positive," the sign read.
"I'd like to ask for your kindness to fulfil my dream of travelling. Please donate for my trip. Thank you."
The image was posted onto Facebook by local Palm J. Sittichai, who was bemused by the sight he came across at Samkong Market in Phuket.
Sittichai wrote: "Wait a minute. They do this now? Farangs [Westerners] beg for travel money at Samkong Market. Is this right?"
It appeared to be working, with money visible in his donation container.
After the images emerged, Phuket local Naruemon Suthanan claimed to have seen Alex, pictured in the white tank top, begging at another market in the area weeks ago.
"I was surprised at first," she told Coconuts. "But when I read his sign, it just makes me think of foreigners who bike or sail across the world. I didn't give him any money. Lots of Thais and foreigners did, though."
"Beg-packing" - where shameless Western backpackers beg for travel money on the streets of South-East Asia - has become a rising problem and last year, Thailand began cracking down on it.
Thaivisa, an online forum for expats in Thailand, says it has learned of several instances where immigration officials at a number border checkpoints across Thailand have been asking people entering the country on a tourist visa to prove they have the funds.