Thai junta on Pokemon: ‘Use time wisely’
POKEMON Go’s debut in Thailand has alarmed the country’s generals, prompting the kingdom’s junta chief to warn youngsters against playing too much and the army to ban the game from barracks. The mobile app was made available in Thailand on August 6, delighting many in a country where Japanese subcultures have a significant following.
But the game – which encourages users to hit the pavements in search of digital monsters – has sparked safety concerns partly because Bangkok’s streets are notoriously pedestrian-unfriendly.
“Thai walking culture is not like Japan and there are limited pavements,” government spokesperson Sansern Kaewkumnerd told reporters on yesterday.
He said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who seized power in 2014, “does not want to ban the game”.
But the premier has urged players to know “their limits ... and use their time wisely”, Sansern added.
“The game could harm players with things like loss of money, their job, their education as well as the relationships they have with the people around them,” he said.
He added that parents should advise their children to be “self-disciplined” and use their time well.
His comments came as Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the game was banned inside military barracks and government security agencies.
A barracks in the northern city of Khon Kaen hoisted a sign warning Pokemon Go players they faced up to three years in jail if they trespassed onto military property, Channel 3 television showed.
Even when a pedestrian’s eyes are firmly fixed ahead Bangkok’s streets can be a veritable obstacle course.
Pavements are patchy and those that exist are littered with hurdles from street vendors and fire hydrants to potholes and tangled wiring. Thailand’s Public Health Ministry said the game should be welcomed for encouraging people to exercise but warned users to be careful near “roads, swimming pools, rivers and canals”.
Local media has been filled in recent days with stories of hundreds of players glued to their phones outside parks and malls. Some have even taken to using motorbike taxis and cars to get a head start as they navigate the traffic-choked city in their search for Pokemon.
Giorgio Taraschi, an Italian living in Bangkok, said he was lightly struck on August 8 by a man driving a car while playing the game. “Gotta catch ‘em all ... including the occasional Italian,” he joked on Facebook, using the game’s tagline. – JUST like countless other countries, Spain has been hit so hard by the Pokemon Go craze that travel agencies are seeking to cash in on the global phenomenon with specialised tours.
Such is the interest that Junior Travel, a company based in the southern city of Granada, has been overwhelmed with applications from players looking to work as guides for groups hunting the game’s cartoon monsters, just days after posting a job ad.
Candidates must be players who have reached level 20 out of 40 at least, and the firm has already received more than 2000 applications to guide tours that will take place in various parts of southern Spain and the cities of Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid.
“Every minute we get three or four applications,” said Antonio Barragan, manager of the travel agency.
“The HR guy is a little overwhelmed.”
The augmented reality game, which uses satellite locations, graphics and camera capabilities to overlay the cartoon creatures on real-world settings, has taken Spain by storm.
Cities nationwide have filled up with people walking with their eyes glued onto their smartphones, hunting cartoon monsters with the aim of collecting as many as they can.
Junior Travel’s tours will see customers driven around in a bus and given expert guidance on hunting Pokemon, for up to 43 euros (US$48) a day.
The routes are “so that people don’t get bored of the game in their city, and go hunt Pokemon in other provinces”, said Barragan.
The company’s first tours to Granada from neighbouring areas take place on August 12, and it also plans to launch Pokemon routes to Madrid on August 13 and 14.
But it is not the only company taking advantage of Pokemon Go in Spain.
Felices Vacaciones, for instance, offers an 11-night travel package for 1695 euros (US$1878) to hunt in the United States, which is reportedly one of the only countries where Tauros, one of the many Pokemon creatures, can be caught.
People in other countries have also taken advantage of the craze, with similar tours taking place in London, Edinburgh or Mexico City. –
No Pokemon allowed, at least for these photo-taking soldiers in front of the King Rama V statue and Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in Bangkok on August 8.