When you're in a new place, a game, known as geocaching, is a great way to find new sights to see and places to visit. A geocache, is a container, placed at specific GPS coordinate. You find the container, and usually log your name in a log book provided inside.
Phuket has several caches, in some really nice locations. If you get time on your holiday come and play.
GPS isn't very accurate, so finding a cache isn't as easy as it may seem, and caches can be hidden or difficult to reach. I chose 3 easy caches in Phuket Island, and will take you through the basics.
Firstly a website (links below), lets you find and log geocaches in your area. This is your starting point for any geocache adventure. Find a cache on the website you want to visit.
Next up equipment, you'll need a GPS enabled smartphone or GPS tracker. There's an official app you can buy for Android and iPhone. But I used an Android tablet running 'GPS Geocachng Location Finder", a free, and simple app that lets you enter a GPS location and track to it, which is all you really need.
Cache GC24JCX, Kathu Waterfall. This waterfall I've always found disappointing. It's small, and the only thing that makes it worthwhile are the Wake Park and Shooting Range next to it. Otherwise it's quiet and dull and not very pretty.
Now however, I have a reason to visit and explore, a Geocache! First rule of Geocaching is we don't show where the Geocache is! It spoils it for others. So no, you won't find it where I am in the photo, and no, the rock I photographed it on below, is well away from where I actually found it.
This cache shows the first problem of wilderness geocaches, the trees block the GPS signal! I lost GPS and had to follow the instructions given on the website. So its a good idea to print out the geocache instructions. You may not have GPS reception, or even 3G, but printed paper always works.
On to GC1N3MP, Bangwad Lake. Not really a lake, this a reservoir and only open during the day. A guard at the gate ushers you through during day time hours, so don't worry, you are allowed in.
This illustrates the second problem with GPS: it's not very accurate. I went and explored the top of a hill to get great views, but no geocache. The lake is very very low, almost empty. As the clouds cleared and the GPS location improved, so finding this cache became very much easier!
As before, I don't want to give away the location, so I moved the cache to my bike, and since the box is a spoiler too, I won't show you it. People leave tokens of themselves in the cache, you can remove a token, but really should put some token from yourself back in its place.
Next up, I head to Phuket town, there's a large park in the center of town and it contains cache GC227BB. It's a holiday today, and the park has lots of joggers and visitors milling around. This illustrates the next problem with geocaching, you try to find the cache and place it back without drawing attention to it. Timing is the key here, I pretended to be looking at flowers on the ground.
This park is amazing, it's huge, has plenty of shade from trees, and plenty of exercise machines to play with. No wonder joggers like to run around here and use the equipment. Thankfully the cache is well away from the equipment and I found times when nobody was in sight.
This cache contains a trackable, a coin in this case. This coin is for you to take, and place in another cache. Add the location you placed it to the Geocaching website and the original owner of the coin can follow its journey around the world.
This coin started in Southern Germany and visited the Maldives, so I'm not sure how it ended up here so quickly.
I've taken it from the cache, and it will be inside a new cache I'm going to make myself. Who knows where it will travel to from there.
To get started on your geocaching adventure, visit Geocaching.com, create an account and looks for caches near you.
The GPS app I used was 'GPS Geocaching Location Finder" from H Marchand, available for free on the Play store.