“Orienteering Weeks” in South China: 8 events in 2 weeks—deadline approaching fast!

Christmas is near and it’s hard to miss with the winter cold and all the Christmas carols around! When darkness and snow fall and foot orienteering gets a pause—do you know there’s two weeks of orienteering adventure coming in subtropical South China?

Orienteering on Christmas Day, where there is no snow!
Orienteering on Christmas Day, where there is no snow!

If you want to be in (and avoid the snow and cold) keep in mind that the deadline is fast approaching! See the map below and click on the orienteering markers for more info:


Find tours with Urban Adventures

First, excuse me for the lack of posts recently—I am working on an app which will be launched very soon—stay tuned!

ORIEN.ASIA is now an affiliate of Urban Adventures, a tour provider of sustainable local travel in over 90 countries and 1200+ itineraries! Book here: http://www.urbanadventures.com/?aff=2205

Don’t forget to join the large orienteering events of December—Historical Road Orienteering (Guangdong) and Asian Championships (Hong Kong)Merry Christmas!

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Beijing O-Week—how was the terrain in the Chinese capital?

Orienteers who have checked Facebook should know that the Beijing O-Week cum PWT has ended just last weekend. If you don’t know, here is how the terrain looks like (with help from Yannick Michiels’ Facebook posts with maps):

Day 1 (21 Oct) sprint

Chinese parks are usually quite detailed, with many footpaths and impassable gardens. This park has however large forests and open ground, which provide an experience with technical challenges and route choices. Although there is a big lake in the middle, the route choices are not bad (at least not 10 times across the lake like sometimes the course goes!)

Day 2 (23 Oct) Middle distance WRE

The only middle distance of the whole week, which is in a forest but with many manmade features. It looks like a park with paved footpaths.

Ah, and orienteering through a cemetery!? Excuse me!?

Day 3 (25 Oct) sprint

Very, very detailed!

By the way, there are many “Garden Expo Parks” all over China.

Day 4 (26 Oct) sprint WRE

Olympic Forest Park in Beijing. It looks more like middle distance terrain than sprint terrain. Doesn’t look like terrain and course suitable for sprint WRE (but good for middle distance).

It’s in a park, anyway.

Day 5 (27 Oct) sprint

This is a suburb park with something like colony gardens (or homes?) in the northeast. (I cannot find any photos of the area.) Great job with two different scales—but it’s better to have the larger scale (1:1500) coming after the smaller scale (1:3000), since it makes the race more exciting, rather than before as it happened. It looks like a great finale to the O-Week with different kinds of terrain, anyway!

Conclusion

In China orienteering is special but probably different than the Swedish way—orienteering is supported by the government and municipalities (communists anyway). Orienteering is part of the People Liberation Army’s training, elite orienteers can enter university through athlete admission channels (however not in Hong Kong where I grew up), but the most important is that the municipalities want to use orienteering as  promotion (I have heard about events on rice fields, even if it causes inconvenience to farmers!) An important factor for sprint orienteering is to attract spectators, and although details in maps, courses and areas can be improved, the venues are well chosen to create excitement, challenge and enjoyment.

Hong Kong has high speed rail now

The much debated project is now done: Hong Kong has high speed rail now to the rest of China since 23 September this year. With the inauguration, MTR and CRH are offering direct services to Guangzhou (2 hours) and shuttle to Shenzhen (14 minutes). There are also a few direct trains to other cities in China, like the daily train to and from Beijing for less than 9 hours.

Border control is done at West Kowloon (both Hong Kong and Mainland China).

If you want to try the high speed night train, you can take the Beijing to Shenzhen night train and change in Shenzhen. Probably much more comfortable to take the train from Sweden to Hong Kong through Siberia!

Timetables are available at MTR’s website.

Höghastighetståg till Hongkong (N509FZ@Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA 4.0)
High speed train to Hong Kong (N509FZ@Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Orienteering app tutorial: ORoute Share

One headache I have after every orienteering event is that QuickRoute (the popular route drawing software by Mats Troeng) doesn’t have a mobile version. Which means that I have to wait until back home to draw my route. Which means I’m not gonna do it (read: procrastination).

An orienteer from China, Xian Chengbin, has written an app to help you share your route on your Android mobile phone! Now you can draw your route, complete your evaluation and share it online just minutes after finishing (or after getting back your map, whichever comes latter). For the meantime, however, it comes with only a Simplified Chinese version and only via private APK download (i.e. you won’t find it on Google Play). Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/647618042241873?view=permalink&id=684041575266186 (A handy reminder for APK downloads: you need to set your phone to allow APK installations first—see this external guide)

To guide you through the sometimes confusing sea of Chinese characters (for many Westerners, I suppose), here’s a tutorial to guide you through the app:

1. The menu

Click (+) to start a new course.

2. Basic course info

Choose date and time of event.

Date, name, place, result, class, comments. Then click on the pen.

Choose how you will import the map.

3. Draw route

Zoom to start, then click on the pen.

Start drawing your route on screen. When you reach the next control, click on the circle at the top.

You have reached your first control. Click A to add comments.

Comments and splits.

Continue above steps until you reach the finish. (There is no separate finish symbol in this app. If your course has 15 controls, your finish will be Control 16—don’t cringe!)

Done with the route!

4. Share

Click on the map to enter the page below. You can share your map as an image.

NOTE: The cloud option does NOT seem to work at this moment. (Appears to be server connection problem)

Done!

Back to the menu: there’s your new course!

The author of the app is from China, so the contact links are all Weixin and QQ which you might not use. Still, there’s the Facebook Group from the download link at the top! (Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/647618042241873 with export examples)

Now my comments…

It’s a very handy app which might prove to be a real game changer—provided that some of the following improvements are done:

  1. There needs to be an English version
  2. Add GPX-import capability from GPS watch, like what QuickRoute has
  3. Fix the cloud; if there is integration with map server packages like DOMA, that’s a plus

The best things about this app—

  1. All done on mobile, of course!
  2. Can add comments to each leg, exported with the map
  3. Easy export of images that are upload-ready to Instagram, Facebook, etc.

Give it a try—decide if this is better than your usual QuickRoute!

Why Asian orienteering?

This post explains the rationale behind this website. You can also find the text at About us.

Orienteering has traditionally been centered on Europe, with the highest concentration of orienteers in Scandinavia and strong activity across Europe. Unfortunately, orienteering on the other continents have not yet been able to match that of Europe whether in activeness or in performance. European ways and terrains continue to dominate the definition of orienteering to this day.

Things are changing, however. In Asia, the Americas, Africa and Oceania, orienteering activity has increased and performance improved. Asia, in particular, is the most exciting place for orienteering growth—as adventure sports and travel gain momentum in Asia, so has orienteering become one of the newest trends in many Asian countries. In places where orienteering has been around for a while (like Hong Kong), the dynamics of the sport have been reinvigorated by a new generation of innovative orienteers. New championships are started and international events are springing up quickly.

Orienteering in Asia is very different from in Europe. While European-like forests can still be seen in the temperate areas of Asia (which China, Korea and Japan are privy to), the particular focus of orienteering development in Asia has been sprint orienteering. The cosmopolitan and urban-savvy populace in Asia’s metropolises are eager to take on the sport and discover their cities in a fun and engaging manner. The speed of sprint orienteering also has what it takes to make the sport trendy in fast-moving Asian cities. Trail orienteering is also seeing much growth in Asia, extending beyond its traditional base of masters and disabled persons. Not to ignore forest orienteering—places like Hong Kong are known to offer thrilling orienteering experiences with complicated terrain and breathtaking scenery just steps away from the city!

Just steps away from the city
Just steps away from the city

With more and more Europeans choosing Asia for holidays, among them orienteers, there is much potential for orienteering to grow even further in the cities, towns and resorts where the sport has not yet been a hit. Moreover, by encouraging interflow between orienteers far apart, we can make orienteering a truly worldwide sport with competitive events in all corners of the globe. ORIEN.ASIA aims to achieve this by bringing Asian orienteering to European orienteers online. We hope you will come and enjoy a unique orienteering experience in Asia.