Setting out on our around the world journey we had made many personal goals that we wanted to accomplish while living & traveling abroad. One of our goals was to go on an FTF Geocaching Adventure. Some were simple, like witnessing a sporting event in a foreign country, eating with locals and trying the local cuisine (even if that was pig brains in China), Geocaching on Top of the World, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, and spending the night on the Great Wall of China. The list is long, and seems to be constantly getting longer! This is the same for our Geocaching Bucket List.
One of our biggest goals since we began Geocaching years was to find an FTF (and do the FTF dance!) which we found extremely difficult to do in the States. So much so, that we had to make it a goal of ours when we began traveling abroad. After nearly one year living and traveling around the world, we finally had our Geocaching FTF Adventure in Macau, but it did not come without heartache.
What is an FTF and Why Is It “Cool”?
What is an FTF? An FTF is a First to Find. Meaning that once a geocache is made “live” then it is available to be found…and sometimes that means it’s free for all! Being the first to sign the log and have your name on it forever is a source of pride for many geocachers. To some this might not mean that much, but for others, it means everything.
To think that some caches are now turning 10 plus years old, having been the first to discover it is a nice feather in the cap of your geocaching accomplishments.
FTF Hounds: 1 – Peanuts or Pretzels: 0
While living in Atlanta, we shared this FTF obsession with several local cachers. There are many smartphone apps and sites that will notify you instantly when a cache near you becomes live. Once that happens, it is not rare for some people to drop everything and zoom directly to the new geocache.
I vividly remember one time that I got a notification on my phone about a cache that was released literally less than a mile from my house. It was right before dinner time and before Liz could ask where I was going, I was out the door and starting the car.
Check out the Oldest Geocaching Club in the world – Georgia Geocache Association (GGA)
Time to go on an FTF Geocaching Adventure
She came outside and yelled at me “Where are you going?!” I smiled and yelled back, “FTF half-mile from here!” She just smiled and said ”Good Luck!” and I’m sure she shook her head, but I was already down the driveway by the time she got finished.
I knew that I was up against some stiff competition in our neighborhood. And sure enough, as I was pulling up to the cache our friends I hunt for fun was already at the cache and had just signed and replaced it.
I mean where in the world did he come from? I was less than a mile away from the cache!
Soon 3 more cachers pulled up in hopes of an FTF, but to no luck. IHFF is a lawyer by day and FTF hunter by night, day, and morning. He literally dropped everything and left his office in search of this FTF. Just one of the hundreds he and his family have found over the years. They are great friends and are big reasons why the Going Caching Mega Event in GA is what it is… AWESOME!
A Chance to do the FTF Dance in Macau Leads to Disappointment!
Several times we had gone after FTFs in the States, and we always just barely missed out on being the first to sign the log and do the FTF dance. With all the competition in the States, we began to wonder if it would be possible to complete this quest while living and traveling in other countries.
For us, Geocaching while traveling in another country is exciting on its own. So finding an FTF in another country is the icing on the cake…and a pretty awesome story too!
Luckily for us, while traveling around Macau, China we had our chance for an FTF at a local park. We had actually just finished geocaching the Historic Portuguese Walking Trail and wanted to continue to do more caching.
When we looked up some caches near us, we saw that there was a recently posted cache that did not have a log entry. This was a great indication that it might be an FTF opportunity! So we rushed over to the park in hopes of discovering our first FTF in a foreign country.
GC5Z5ZC – Jardim da Gruta de Camoes 白鴿巢公園
We came to Ground Zero in the park and started our search. While we were both searchings, I was building up my mind with the thought of signing a clean log and finally acquiring that elusive FTF. After a bit more poking and prodding around, Liz finally made the discovery.
“Here it is!” she says! “Is it an FTF?!” I yelled with excitement. “I don’t know. I just grab it. But it looks like a new cache.” She said back.
We sat down and opened the cache. We pulled out with excitement and I started to do my dance, then… “Third to find,” Liz said. “NOOOO!” Initially thinking that cacher hadn’t logged their caches, but come to find out our pocket query of Macau was not up to date.
After this disappointment, we discovered that our drive to find an FTF on the road only became stronger. “This is gonna happen” I told Liz. Fortunately, it would be only a couple of months later when we would come back to Macau and have another FTF possibility.
Geocaching Tip: Update your Pocket Queries before going out Geocaching
Geocaching the Beautiful Taipa Village in Macau
A couple of months later Liz and I found ourselves back in Macau, and back at another FTF possibility. After exploring a bit more of the city of Macau, we were ready to do some geocaching. So we headed to the beautiful old village of Taipa, where we discovered some great caches and a one really cool Multi-Cache around the beautiful Taipa area of Macau called I love Taipa!!!.
Afterward we were taking a break from the heat and eating some yummy traditional Portuguese food in Macau for lunch, while I did some searching around on our Geocaching App to see what other caches we wanted to try for.
And there it was.
A brand new cache was just released 2 days prior to our arrival in Macau…and no one had logged the cache yet. Of course, we quickly remembered our disappointing third-to-find a few months before, so we tried to keep our excitement in check. But we knew that we had to try for it if we ever wanted that FTF and to accomplish that goal of an FTF in a foreign country.
Setting Out On Another FTF Quest in Macau
The newly published cache was located near the world-famous Venetian Casino and Hard Rock Casino, on the growing strip of casinos in Macau. Luckily, it wasn’t far away. So we hopped on the bus and headed over that way in hopes of an FTF.
We arrived with a really good feeling about this one. “This is it.” I kept telling Liz. We talked about our different geocaching goals and accomplishments on the way over there, and it only built up our excitement even more.
GC6437W – Casino Royale
As we neared the GZ we noticed how new everything was. It was a brand new walkway, which is a good sign for an FTF possibility. We followed our Garmin GPS and read the description on the cache page. We started searching right where we thought the cache would be.
“Found it!” I told Liz. I quickly opened it. “Is it a clean log?” Liz asked.
As I opened the cache and pulled out the log, I couldn’t say anything… I just started dancing.
I was doing the FTF Dance. “YES!!!” we both said to each other. High fives and hugs were given. A geocaching goal was achieved. An FTF in a foreign country.
After many pictures and a short video re-enactment, we signed the log and replaced it with the hopes of it being discovered by many other cachers and travelers from around the world for years to come.
Our First FTF in a Foreign Country!
We walked back down to the main street and I told Liz that I felt so good right then, that we should head to the casino and bet it on RED! She quickly brought me back down to reality. Instead we went to Macau Tower to watch people bungee jump off the building, and we enjoyed a nice sunset over Macau.
Nothing feels better than accomplishing something that you set out to do. Geocaching gives us this sense of accomplishment and is one of the many reasons why we love this hobby — especially while traveling. Finally achieving our first FTF geocaching adventure in a foreign country seems only fitting for these two global geocachers. And it has sparked even more geocaching goals to add to our travel geoccaching adventures around the world!