The QiRanger Adventures

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Changgyeong Palace

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I love a great many things about Seoul. Its people. Its transportation. Its history.

There are five Grand Palaces and I saved one of the best for my last visit: Changgyeonggung. It happens to be the oldest of the Royal Palaces and named Suganggung before King Sejong gave it its current name.

As with the other palaces in Seoul, it was completely destroyed by the Japanese and later rebuilt. Over the years, it has served a variety of functions, including as a zoo. What makes this palace different than the others in Seoul, is how relaxing the grounds are. Many families come here and relax among the trees and large lake-side benches.

When visiting Seoul, this is definitely one sight to see.

Written by Steve Miller

September 28, 2010 at 4:55 am

Independence Day

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Taegukgi Placement - Photo by Jo Miller

August 15th is celebrated as Korean Independence Day each year. I find the title a little strange, since most of the world celebrates it as V-J Day.

Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day, also known as Victory in the Pacific Day, or V-P Day) is a name chosen for the day on which the Surrender of Japan occurred, effectively ending World War II, and subsequent anniversaries of that event. The term has been applied to both the day on which the initial announcement of Japan’s surrender was made in the afternoon of August 15, 1945 in Japan and to August 14, 1945 in the United States when it was announced because of time zone differences in the Western Europe, the Americas, the Pacific Islands, and Australia, and to September 2, 1945 when the formal signing of the surrender was made. September 2 is the official V-J Day in the US[1]. The name V-J Day had been selected by the Allies after they named V-E Day for the victory in Europe. – Wikipedia

Each year as this time rolls around in Korea, public servants take to the streets and hang Taegukgis (Korean National Flags) on every lamppost. It serves as a powerful reminder that Korea exited from the brutal colonial occupational period. At my school this year, we took time to remember the events surrounding Japan’s surrender during the war.

All the events surrounding VJ Day mean a lot more to me this year after being in the Philippines and seeing where my uncle served and endured as a POW. It really makes you understand the sacrifices that so many made. Unfortunately, many younger Koreans don’t really learn what happened. That is a shame. It’s also a shame, that 65 years later, many Koreans can’t move past the colonial period. They are imprisoned within their own memories, waiting for apologies and compensation that will never come. To truly be free and independent, one must exercise forgiveness.

Written by Steve Miller

August 15, 2010 at 8:13 am

Rounding out the Philippines

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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

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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!

Our Stay on Corregidor

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Corregidor Island

Corregidor was an awesome adventure. It was something that Jo and I have been planning for some time. The day started off with a ferry ride across the bay and then a day tour on Corregidor. The tour was good, but rushed. The reason being, is that there’s only one ferry each day. So those not staying overnight, have to be back at the dock to head back to the mainland. Since there’s only one ferry, everyone is lumped into one group. So even though Jo, myself, and others had all day and night to explore, we were forced to cram everything in one afternoon.

We stayed at the Corregidor Inn. A nice little hotel on the island. Our room came with a rather large bathroom, king-sized bed, and excellent view of the Malinta Tunnel. The hotel also boasted a restaurant and bar, which we made good use of. The hotel also offers basketball and swimming facilities,too. In short, it’s a great little place to stay. I think in all the building there was one Television, but Jo and I opted not to partake in that, but enjoy the evening adventure package.

The evening tour starts out with a walk through the hospital ruins and then takes you out to one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. From there, you full explore Malinta Tunnel. It is a massive network of tubes originally built by Filipino prisoners in the 1920s. We pretty much explored all the main areas and even found one Japanese soldier’s femur bone. It was quire surreal to be inside at night. While the tour does provide flashlights, I recommend bringing your own, since the once provided didn’t last long.

The following morning, Jo and I slept in and treated ourselves to a great Filipino breakfast at the restaurant. From there, we went ziplining, right from the hotel to the beach. At the beach, we were met by the car and driver we had hired the previous day to take us around for a more personal view of the island. This was great, since it allowed us more time to explore some of the ruins in greater detail. It also allowed us to see some unexploded rounds, left over from WWII!

I have to say that this was a great experience, and if you’re in Manila, you should really take the time to visit Corregidor for two days.

Written by Steve Miller

August 10, 2010 at 4:06 am

Corregidor: Day One Video

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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

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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!