To be a responsible geocacher, players must follow the guidelines listed on geocaching.com and respect the environment. “Cache in, trash out” means geocachers should pick up the rubbish at “ground zero” and help keep the place clean for the next player to enjoy. “A cache owner should bring people to interesting places but [a cache] should not be on private property, or in a police station or any dangerous place,” says Arius Saniel.
Dave Robinson, who lives in Thailand, often goes geocaching with his family. He has already found most of the caches around his neighbourhood. When Varsity met him, Robinson, who works as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, was on his first day to stop-over in Hong Kong.
Being a flight attendant, he has been able to visit geocaches in different countries. Among the caches in Hong Kong, he recommends the view from “I LOVE HONG KONG”, a cache hidden at Ocean Terminal.
GPS signals become jumpy between buildings and the caches in Hong Kong tend to be tiny. The solution to the challenge is to read the logs beforehand and plan thoughtfully. A map and a compass are recommended for country park hunting.
Sometimes it is especially hard for a foreigner to be walking around, looking up and down in every corner at a ground zero location. Most security guards will be suspicious and muggles are curious.
With the widespread use of smartphones and hi-tech products in Hong Kong, more young people are able to participate in the game. Geocachers in Hong Kong can expect the distribution of caches to be localised because new players tend to hide caches near where they live.
Paul Wong Kwan and Xenia Wong Yuen-ting are second-year students from the University of Hong Kong. They started geocaching three months ago and are part of a younger generation of geocachers.
“Even though you can’t take away the treasure at the end, you can learn more about the place you live in,” says Xenia.
She got a special view of Victoria Harbour from the top of the China Hong Kong City complex when she was looking for the “Golden Gateway” cache in Tsim Sha Tsui. Another favourite spot is the street opposite the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. Xenia found food stalls there with well-prepared and delicious snacks, a treasure of another kind which would have remained undiscovered but for a cache search.
But while Xenia and Paul are enthusiastic about their newfound hobby, they have had a tough time getting their peers to join in. Paul says he tried to introduce geocaching to his friends but few have shown any interest. He guesses it may be because they cannot afford a GPS; and even if they had one, Hong Kong people prefer shopping to hiking.
Still, if you happen to have a smartphone and are prepared to step out of the mall, you might re-discover a sense of advenuture in your neighbourhood. “Geocaching will lead you to a place worth visiting,” says Xenia.