Friday, August 17, 2012

Geocaching in China - Legal?

     Different countries have different laws.  Traveling abroad require learning the laws that may apply to us.  Right?  Geocachers may have a little more to think about then the average tourist or visitor. 

     Let's take China as an example.  This post from All Squared Up in 2011, has a lot of information to offer.  Check it out.

Is Geocaching in China Legal?

Geocaching in China?

No GPS allowed.
The Geocaching site is blocked.
No caches are allowed to be placed.

Legal, schmegal we did it anyway. And it got us off the beaten track and into a couple fun adventures, if not any successful finds.

Geocaching is something we discovered a few years ago. It is a fun way to get out and about to some places you normally might not. In a nutshell, a cache is a hidden container, usually containing a small log book and some little trinkets to give and take. The general location is found using a GPS, but then good old fashioned hunting comes into play. They are all over the place; you probably pass by them all the time in your jaunts around your town.

We have geocached in Texas, New York, Connecticut, Philidelphia, Seattle and all over California. We are disappointed when someone's idea of a good place leads us to an ugly patch of dirt in some parking lot, but when it is good it is good. Here are some of our more memorable ones:
  • On a mountain overlooking the Hudson River Valley with my brother and his wife
  • In the Reading Terminal Market in Philly with my sister, mom and friend Debbie. That was a clever one.
  • Soon after Ernst's heart attack, overlooking Lake Tahoe with a group of about 15 wonderful friends. Life is grand!
  • At the pier in Ventura, after Aaron and Becky's beach wedding, still in our dress clothes
  • Ernst and his friend Jason, finding an underwater cache in October in Lake Tahoe, brrrr
  • Any cache with our old dog Kodie, who thought we finally understood what a decent walk was all about: a little walking, lots of stopping, sniffing around and digging
What sign?

Just a little nibble before we put it back

 So of course we wanted to try this in China, we wouldn't let a little law stop us. It's a free country, right? Oh, yeah, not so much, but we were determined. So with our hosts looking the other way, as in going to do something totally more worthwhile that day, we set off. Because you can't use a GPS there, or rather it is illegal to use one, we just had some sketchy maps from the Internet. There was a long subway and bus ride, and then lots of walking. We were in a very westerny area with lots of expats. There was a big park and fancy new apartment buildings. Toto, are we still in China?

We walked and walked and walked, trying to figure out some really bad instructions. Or maybe my husband just copied them down wrong? We were trying to look so nonchalant as we snooped around the entrances to these fancy compounds. There were guards and gates and lots of construction going on. We lifted up many rocks and bricks and pieces of wood, but we knew the trail was cold. We pretended to be looking at the planted landscaping, so rare there. There was something in the instructions about a lion, and I was convinced it was near an apartment called Lion's Gate. How many times, though, can you walk past a guard, peering into the ground cover and not appear suspicious? If only we had a dog, it would have been so much more natural looking. It occured to me after awhile - this is illegal, we don't speak Chinese and what would I tell my mother if we got in trouble?

Geocaching in China with no GPS
Enough of that one, on to the next. This one was on some hill near a pagoda, near the Forbidden City. Again, more endless walking. We passed by the Forbidden City, not at all interested in entering, intent on finding this unnamed hill on another badly drawn map from the Internet. We walked down one street and were immediately stopped by some police officers, but we just acted lost. We're really good at appearing to be lost tourists, we have so much experience.

It finally occurred to us, we must give up on this one too or we will be terribly late for our dinner with our friend Mr. Pitt from the States. We got on a hilariously crowded bus, missed our stop and ended up getting a quick walking view of Tiennamen Square, a nice bonus. We were late for dinner, but full of images of parts of Beijing we wouldn't have seen otherwise.

 up to no good

 If you want to try it, bring your most comfortable walking shoes, really clear maps, sunglasses to hide where you are staring and a sense of adventure. If you get in trouble, don't call us. Geocaching in China? Who would do such a thing?

     Thanks to All Squared Up for this great article.  I think, just maybe, I would like to go caching in China with them. 

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