Thai woman defends trespass at Yellowstone Park

PHOTO: The Nation/Asia News Network

A Thai woman has defended her walk around a fragile, off-limits thermal area at Yellowstone National Park in the United States after a video clip featuring her apparent trespass appeared online.

"No, I didn't violate any rules. Had I broken a rule, I would have received a warning from park officials," she said in a phone interview yesterday with the Thai Channel 3 Tieng Wan Tun Hetkarn TV programme.

She said she did not think the area was dangerous because the warning sign was very small.

"Had it been dangerous, there would have been a big sign or fence to prevent tourists from going into the area," she said.

The women appeared in a video clip, which was recorded by a non-Thai on July 27 and posted online. The clip shows several tourists gathered around a small pool, with the last two women leaving seeming not to know the area was dangerous.

While the clip shows a sign posted warning of dangerous conditions, it was relatively small and installed almost at ground level. The sign reads: "Danger. Fragile Thermal Area. Stay on officially marked and maintained trails."

One of the women in the clip even smiled at the camera and said she was Thai.

Several netizens have commented that she and her group should have realised that the area was off limits to tourists. Several Thais have criticised the women online, saying they were embarrassed to see people from their country "acting like idiots".

Others had a kinder response.

"To be fair, that's a horribly placed sign," one commentator wrote on the website that posted the clip. Another said: "There is a bit of a language barrier here and that tiny sign is basically on the ground. I might not have noticed it either."

There were no reports of any of the Thai tourists being arrested.

Last year, it was reported that three Canadians were caught trespassing in the ecologically sensitive area. One of them was ordered to pay a US$3,500 (S$4,781) fine after he pleaded guilty to creating a hazardous condition and walking in a thermal area.

Two others pleaded guilty to additional charges for commercial photography without a permit, the use of a drone and riding a bike. They served seven days in jail and each paid a $2,000 fine. A number of deaths have been reported in the park after people fell in thermal pools.