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Island Fever: Phuket bows to smartphones

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Island Fever: Phuket bows to smartphones | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Heads bowed in silence have always seemed to elicit a tacit sense of reverence. Be it from religious fervor, or perhaps a strict upbringing, but some one-on-one time with God, the J-man or whatever icon takes your fancy remains a voice heard around the world.

These days, though, tilted heads and quiet means only one thing: the invasion of the smartphone. No one thing in recent history has captivated humankind as much as this simple battery-operated device.

There is no need for the beads of the rosary, or chanting a mantra, as long as Instagram, WeChat, Facebook and the many other countless denizens of the net are just a few flicks of the finger away.
Heads bowed quietly around a dining table in a restaurant only mean one thing: Wi-Fi. Of course, heads pop up as soon as drinks or food arrive for the ritual pictures and permanent recording of plate-shots. In prehistoric times, cave people (give a shout out to gender equality here) carved pictures on walls that lasted millennia. The worry now is, will the Cloud always be with us? If not, our Instagram lives will have vanished into cyberspace forever.

My concern is not really the lack of dinner table chat, or the dying art of conversation, but a much more real and present danger which is a new generation of neck injuries. This is bound to happen. Forget Chernobyl, Agent Orange or any of those radiation scares. The fallout from stretched, out-of-shape necks is going to make Ebola seem like a play date for children at Disneyland.

I’m not a big one for evolution; the times I have spent with monkeys simply has not resonated with me. Sure, they are smart, but what about pigs, dolphins and those clever birds whose names escape me? Could the smartphone decade be a giant step back in evolution, in which we revert to creatures that can only look down and not ever stare into the sky to see a sunset or else the stars? Unless a selfie is involved, of course.

Perhaps talk is indeed overrated and staring down all the time does have benefits. You can spot dirt on a carpet, pick up lost coins and even make a fast dash home when you see your socks don’t match. My mind shifts to the image of a giraffe with a smartphone. How exactly would that work? Will they too become extinct sooner than later, like CDs, newspapers and big-hair rock bands.

My cynicism is on fire here, and yet, I have sat at the table of knowledge and slipped into the habit of lap surfing, or just checking in to see who is doing what on Facebook. Nostalgia remains a hobby of the old, and only ticks up on the fast track to the big sleep. Yet, this neck business has me really worried. I can see a whole new life for chiropractors, neck-brace manufacturers and a line of class-action lawsuits by television lawyers. It’s going to get ugly out there.

As for our new-found converts to the latest religion of smartphones, where does this place old-school Bible thumping? If there is a God – I’m certainly praying to one every time I fly a low-cost airline carrier – then why hasn’t he taken up a LinkedIn account or sent off a brief SMS from time to time? If those whacked-out crazies in Nigeria can send endless spam messages to me, where is the divine feedback?

Perhaps it’s too much to ask for, and yes, evolution could push us down the upcycle to become neckless creatures permanently crouched and huddled over like spastic upright turtles. It’s not a pretty picture, but certainly a better tale than X-Men. As for the sound of the human voice, frankly speaking, who needs it when you have WeChat?

— Bill Barnett

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Thailand

21% of Thai teenagers are gambling

Greeley Pulitzer

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21% of Thai teenagers are gambling | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Gambling, local style, Rai Et, north-east Thailand – Pinterest

Early in October the Thai Health Promotion Foundation met to discuss the gambling situation in Thailand in 2019. Also present were the Centre for Gambling Studies, Stop Gambling Foundation and related groups.

The meeting was set up after a report revealed that more than half (57%) of the Thai population, or 30.42 million people, gamble. The director-general of the Centre for Gambling Studies at Chulalongkorn University shared the report, which was based on data from a survey of 44,050 people across 77 provinces.

The figure is an increase of 1.49 million people from 2017. While most Thai gamblers are of working age, 2.4% of the total were aged between 15-18 years. This means that 21% of that age group are gambling.

According to California’s Council on Problem Gambling, youth, like everyone else, gamble for many reasons, including entertainment; socialisation; competition; loneliness, and boredom; to get rich quick; to impress others; be the centre of attention; make new friends, and because winning provides an instant, temporary boost of confidence.

“The California Council on Problem Gambling lists depression as one reason youth turn to gambling, noting that depression can just as easily be an effect as a cause. This is especially important to note in a country like Thailand.”

In an article in The ASEAN Post, it was noted that in December 2017, Thailand’s Department of Mental Health (DMH) reported that an estimated one million teenagers are believed to suffer from depression, many of whom go untreated, with two million more are at risk, making upward of three million among a population of eight million teens then.

The DMH said that stress and anxiety may affect a student’s ability to concentrate and perform well at school, and they may show several warning signs, such as lack of attention, loss of interest in daily activities, lethargy, sadness, and sleeping issues.

“It is clear from studies that depression and gambling go hand-in-hand: the unfortunate case in Thailand is that it is affecting children too.”

SOURCE: The ASEAN Post

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Bangkok

Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare

Greeley Pulitzer

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Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare | The Thaiger

A professor of Rangsit University has criticised the previous military government for focusing too much on tourism and not enough on the welfare of the Thai people. The professor was speaking at Chulalongkorn University at a seminar discussing street stalls and urban development.

She questioned the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy of clearing street vendors in all but a few areas such as Yaowarat and Khao San Road that mainly cater to tourists.

She claimed that the NCPO – in power since the coup of 2014 until this year’s election – was more interested in economic development through tourism than in the welfare of the public.

Having affordable street food options was not just about tourism, she said, it was vital for poor workers who have migrated from the countryside, adding that it was part of an informal rather than a formal economy.

“For years people had earned their living from selling goods and services, including food, on the streets.”

This in turn provided an affordable option to eat for workers who came to Bangkok on for large investment projects. The issue, she said, was not just about tourism but the wider economy that might benefit.

The professor noted that CNN had once called Bangkok the best place in the world for street food but this had changed with the sanitized food trucks that have appeared since stalls and vendors were banned from most areas.

The Thaiger notes that banning street vendors has divided the capital. Many are happy that the sidewalks are easier to navigate, but others – including tourists – have said that the lifeblood and character of the city has suffered.

SOURCE: Naew Na | ThaiVisa Forum

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