Rounding out the Philippines

Adventurer Jo!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back in Korea for two weeks! Time really flies when you’re working 12-hour days during the summer intensive season. That being said, I’ve been spending a lot of my downtime working on the Philippine Travel videos. Today, I present the last in the series: Corregidor: Day Two.

As I noted in another post, this was by far the best day. Hiring the driver and getting a more personalized tour really made the experience for us. In this video, you can also see Jo ziplining down to the beach, which was so much fun.

I’d also like to thank everyone who has been so supportive of my travel videos. It really means a lot. I simply enjoy making them and look forward to making more and more travel-vlogs and travel-shows in the future.

Corregidor at Night

The evening adventure package was amazing. Starting off with a walk through the historic Army Post hospital, the tour then takes you to Top Side and an unimpeded view of Manila Bay for one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. Then we were off to explore Malinta Tunnel. Walking through its network of tunnels was amazing!

Corregidor: Day One Video

Jo, Little T, and I ventured out from Manila to the island fortress of Corregidor. We spent two days exploring this incredible destination, filled with history, here are a few of the day one highlights.

Wongudan: Korea's Temple of Heaven

Wongudan Altar

The World Cup is over and Spain has claimed victory. I know it seems like a strange way to introduce this entry, but the World Cup played a major part in me discovering this hidden gem in the center of Seoul.

It was late in the afternoon, and after spending a few hours on the lawn of Seoul Plaza, I needed to empty my bladder. Seeing that most of the port-o-johns were occupied, I opted to cross the busy street. Upon doing so, something caught my eye: a large temple gate. I quickly debated on whether or not to continue my current mission, or take a side trip. Since I knew the gate wasn’t going anywhere, I decided to move forward with the public restroom.

Once my business was done, I inspected the gate and learned a little bit of history. As someone who’s traveled around Seoul quite a bit, I’ve never seen anything describing this, especially since it’s located directly across from Deoksugung.

What’s even more amazing, is that this treasure is on the grounds of the Westin Chosun Hotel. That makes it a nice and quiet alternative to some of the other sights in Seoul.

Wongudan is Korea’s Temple of Heaven. An altar used for ritual rights to ensure a bountiful harvest. The practice of these sacrifices dates back to the Joseon Dynasty, but ceased as China and Korea developed close ties. When King Gojong declared independence from China and set himself up as Emperor of the Daehan Empire, he created this altar in the image of Beijing’s Temple.

The grounds of the altar are a stark contrast to the highrise buildings that surround the quiet garden. That being said, visitors are treated to a fantastic experience. You can enter from Seoul Plaza or the Westin Chosun Hotel. What I fond interesting, was that the main entrance to the actual Temple was a small side gate, while the main, ceremonial gate, can no longer be used to gain access. (You can still step down and walk through and photograph this area though.)

The base and grounds of Wongudan are guarded by mythical haetae. Unfortunately, these fire-eating beasts weren’t able to protect the structure when Japan annexed Korea in the early 20th Century. However, the present three-story sanctuary is beautiful and well worth the few extra minutes for a visit. If you’re a photographer, you’ll have many chances to get some fantastic shots of the plethora of haetae that cover the grounds.

I think that this is probably one of the more memorable sights in Seoul, because so few people know about it. You can literally have the entire place to yourself. It made the experience, that much more special, since I could take my time and not have to worry about blocking someone’s view or getting in the way of a picture. It does present a problem though… no one to take your picture!

For the travel documentary, check out my video on YouTube!

Four Days in Jakarta

Our honeymoon was fantastic. We spent our time in Indonesia, and while we were on our own in Jogjakarta and Bali, we were fortunate to have locals to guide us around. After arriving, we promptly headed into the mountains to explore a volcano, but upon returning, it was time to explore Jakarta, the nation’s capital.

One might think that there’s nothing to do, but you’d be wrong. In the morning we headed off to National Monument. Due to it being a public holiday, we couldn’t get tickets to go up the spire, but the scenery around the place was fantastic.

From there we went to the National Museum of Indonesia. It was closed, but a few thousand Rupiah greased some wheels and we were able to go inside. True to form, it included artifacts from the entire archipelago. Not only that, the exhibit included examples of local cultures.

Then it was off to Masjid Istiqlal, the largest mosque in South-east Asia. it happens to have been designed by a Christian… and right across the street is the Catholic Cathedral of Jakarta.

Our day then took us to Mangga Dua for discount shopping. You can’t believe the deals here.

The highlight of the trip was authentic ox tail soup on Mangga Besar. The place with the green sign: Sop Buntut! The meal was fantastic, and if you’re in the area, make sure you stop by!

Our last stops in Jakarta were at Sea World to go SCUBA diving in the main tank with all the fish and Taman Safari. I love diving. It was Jo’s first time and she pulled through like the amazing woman that she is. Taman Safari is a wild animal park. The drive through the paddocks was a blast, but not as fun as holding the baby animals.

Borobodur: The Video Experience

Nestled deep in the Javanese jungle, about an hour away from Jogjakarta is Borobodur, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sight. It was constructed well over 1000 years ago and is still the largest Buddhist temple in the world.

Viewed from above, it’s said to resemble a tantric mandala and Buddhist cosmology. The entire structure was built from over 2,000,000 volcanic stones and pieced together without any type of cement. The structure was built on a mountain and constructed from the top down.

Along the lower levels of the temple, there are over 2,500 reliefs depicting Buddhist teachings and Javanese history. However, only a quarter have been deciphered. Also on the lower levels are over 500 Buddha statues. The hand position varies on each statue dependent on its location. On the upper most level are 72 Buddha statues inside honeycombed stupas.

It’s said that if you can reach through the opening and touch the hand of one Buddha (facing the morning sun) you’ll receive good luck.