efe-epaTaipei

On the busy island of Taiwan amid a daily hustle and bustle of fast and furious life, a 70-year-old man rides long distances daily with 24 smartphones on his bicycle to chase his passion: hunting Pokemons.

A large number of people of all ages are usually found playing Pokemon Go in the most unsuspected corners of Taipei, during the peak working hours or odd hours of the day.

And among tens of thousands of Pokemon hunters, Chen San-yuan stands out as the most popular.

Chen is Taoist Master of divination and Feng Shui - an ancient system which establishes rules about architecture and the arrangement of objects to ensure good fortune.

The Taiwanese grandfather, fondly called "Uncle Pokemon", has so far caught 45 million creatures since he began playing in 2016.

His entry into the Pokemon world was relatively late when he was 66.

He was introduced to the game by his grandson but soon he became so famous that it is hard for someone on the island not to recognize him.

"It all began when my son gifted me a mobile on my birthday, and my grandson taught me how to play Pokemon Go. It was a discovery," Chen told EFE.

From one smartphone, Chen kept growing his arsenal and had 11 of them a year ago.

He has now raised the challenge and is equipped with 24 smartphones. Twenty-two are fastened to the handlebar of his bicycle and two in his pockets.

Chen said he began using several mobiles because more devices mean more captures and needed them to go up on the levels of the game.

During the day, Chen works as fortune teller and Feng Shui expert in Taiwan.

In the evening, he rides on his bicycle and moves across the streets of Greater Taipei: especially towards the parks, in search of Pokemon characters.

"Before keeping the mobiles on his bike, he could be seen in the parks with several mobiles on a tray. He had a great idea of taking the bike, because now he can move wherever the Pokemons appear," Wang, one of Chen's neighbors, told EFE.

He has such an expertise that he can use nine mobiles simultaneously to catch Pokemons.

"Because we have only 10 fingers," Chen said.

He spends around 1,000 on telephone bills every month to play the game. But nothing deters him. Not even the physical strain or staying awake late into the night.

Sometimes he plays until 4 o'clock in the morning in parks. But this passion has its limits as Chen rarely participates in battles with other players, because he does not want to overwhelm them with his advantage.

Perhaps the "Uncle Pokemon" wants to imitate the warmth of his favorite animal from the saga, Snorlax, a friendly giant who blocks the way when it is asleep.

In February, Chen was named as the ambassador of Taiwanese brand ASUS. He not only participated in the presentation event of Zenfone Max Pro M2, but now carries more than 20 of those on his bicycle.

This game of augmented reality requires players to seek and capture characters - from the Pokemon saga, which are hidden at real places - and fight with them, which require wide movements and gathering of many players.

"In Taiwan now, it is no longer a game for kids, but for people of all ages, and sometimes one could find groups of hundreds of people," said one of Chen's admirers.

By Francisco Luis Pérez

flp/sk/ssk