The QiRanger Adventures

Posts Tagged ‘Adventure

One week to go!

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The weekend is quickly approaching and that means only one thing (well maybe more than that): It means that Jo and I are off for another adventure!

This time we’re headed down to the island paradise of Jeju. It’s going to be an action-packed trip that is sure to make for some great video footage, so stay tuned.

However, more importantly, I only have one more week of physio before my knee is evaluated again. I briefly spoke with the doctor on Friday and he agrees that things are progressing nicely, so hopefully next week, (just in time for September), I’ll be given a clean bill of health and I can resume trekking in the mountains again.

Also, I’ve begun recording the audio for my book. Previously this summer, I started writing a travel book for an online store. Not only was there a written version, but an audio companion as well. With the manuscript done, I’ve now turned to recording each chapter. One would think that with all the videos I do that recording the audio would be easy. I can assure that a simple 4-minute piece can take well into 30 minutes with all the flubs and noise that come from recording at home.

Since the audio book recounts a two-week trip I took through the National Parks, I’d like to know this: What’s the best trip you ever taken and why?

Have a great weekend and stay safe!

Written by Steve Miller

August 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm

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!

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.

The Bataan Death March

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For the United States, World War II started on December 7th, 1941 with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. What many don’t realize that the Japanese launched simultaneous attacks around the Pacific in near unison.
The Philippines, a territory of the United States since 1898, were under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. He was tasked with preparing the islands should Japan attack. As much as he did, Japanese forces quickly overran defenses and US and Filipino armies retreated to the Bataan Peninsula.

Here, the combined might of the US and Filipino armies held off the Imperial forces of Japan until April 1942. Once General King surrendered, those that remained alive were forced to march more than 100km in what is known as the Bataan Death March.

My Great Uncle was stationed here prior to World War II and survived the march. Join me in this special QiRanger Adventure as Jo and I travel to Bataan. We start off at Mariveles, the sight of the first of two 00km Death March markers and make our way through the peninsula all the way to Tarlac and Camp O’Donnell.

A date with Jack Sparrow…

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Tres Amigos

Since Jo’s been gone, I’ve tried to be good about going out each weekend with some friends. You see, during the week, time files because of work, but on the weekend it just drags. This past weekend, I made arrangements to go river rafting with Awesome Korea. I’ve been rafting several times over the course of my life, but when I discovered Awesome Korea on Facebook, I really wanted to give it a go.

But white water rafting is best shared with friends. So last month, I opted to try to get the entire male teaching staff to come along with me. Several were interested, but when the time came to commit, only John and Jeff were up to the challenge. Jeff also invited his longtime friend Michelle along, so the four of us set off for adventure and fun.

The package put forth by Awesome Korea was pretty nice. For W42,000, they’ll pick you up in Seoul, drive you to Yeongwll, give you lunch, get you on the water, and ship you home. I was sold, but didn’t know how good the tour would be.

I’ll say this, the tour was solid. Transportation was right on time and awesome. We had a great charter bus, complete with 3D TV and Noraebang. It takes about 3 hours to get to Yeongwel. Once there, we had lunch with everyone on our bus. The ran came down just a little, so the hot kimchi jjigae really hit the spot. With that downed, we were driven to the launching point.

Jeff, John, and I were kind of at a loss, since none of us thought enough to bring other shoes for the day’s trip. Only Michelle had extra footwear. Thankfully, they were selling aquasocks next to the river. Even better, they had my size. The three of us bought the shoes. They were a godsend.

Before we knew it, we were on the boat and paddling down the river. Jack Sparrow (from Awesome Korea) said that the rapids were medium. It would be more accurate to say nearly non-existent. Most of the river was slow and calm. Sure there were rapids, but nothing like I’m used to. In fact, in all the trip, I’d say there was one good set.

You might think by reading this, that I had a bad time or was disappointed, but the fact is I had a great time. Most of the day, we would row up to other rafts and engage in water fights. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. If you’d like to get away during the hot summer in Korea, this is a great day-trip.

Written by Steve Miller

July 19, 2010 at 4:30 am

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!

Little Travellers’ Seoul Scavenger Hunt

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Founded in 2005, Little Travellers assists the Hillcrest HIV/AIDS Center in South Africa. The Korean chapter held an exciting scavenger hunt in Seoul on July 10th to help raise funds. I teamed up with “Chris in South Korea” to tackle from of the more difficult tasks. It was an amazing day and we met some great people along the way.

Weekend Away

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Myogaksa Temple (Credit:

During the Lotus Lantern Festival, Jo and I participated in a number of booths in front of Jogyesa Temple. Several of the booths were manned by the kind folks at Templestay Korea. During the day, Jo and I visited a dozen booths and received stamps at each one. This was important, since the first 100 people who completed the process would earn a free Templestay (W50,000 value).

When it was all said and done, Jo and I were the 6th and 7th to turn in our forms. When we looked over the details, we were really excited that Templestay gave us three temples to choose from and two months to complete our stay. We decided to do it this past weekend and happy that we did.

Of the three temples we had to choose from, we settled on Myogaksa, in Jongno. It’s one of the few Templestays that offers an overnight experience, so that made it much more worthwhile. Most that participated in our group were English teachers, but we also had a mother-daughter team from Singapore and an exchange student from Thailand. Six Koreans also participated.

The Nun leading the session (여여) had a great grasp of English, but was faced with the challenge of having to switch back and forth to Korean several times, as many of the Korean participants couldn’t speak any English. That aside, I can tell you that this was the real deal when it comes to Templestays… this wasn’t the easy tourist version. This was for those that really want insight into a Korean Buddhist’s life.

We did just about everything listed in the program, except walking in the mountain (canceled due to rain). I found prostrating and making the 108 beaded prayer lanyard especially rough on my old knee injury. When I got home, I couldn’t wait to take some medicine to help quell the pain. I’m sure spending an hour in half-lotus this morning didn’t help things either…

I will say, that getting up at 4am was a bit rough, especially after the excitement of listening to Korea’s win in the World Cup. I’m very thankful Jo and I had this opportunity.

If you have questions about our stay, please post them, I’d be happy to answer them based on my experience. now that I shared with you how I spent my weekend, how did you spend yours?

Written by Steve Miller

June 14, 2010 at 4:00 am


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Borobodur Temple - Jogjakarta, Indonesia (Central Java)

My alarm went off at 2am.

Yes, 2am.

This was especially annoying since Jo and I had just gone to bed four hours earlier. However, it was a necessary evil that needed to be performed if we were going to be successful and be ready for the day’s pick-up at 4am.

Yes, 4am.

This morning, Jo and I were scheduled to make an hour’s drive to one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sights: Borobodur. It’s the largest Buddhist temple in the world and we were slated to see the sun rise from the top. That event was to take place around 6am and it was going to be at least an hour’s drive to temple. After traveling so far from South Korea, we were not going to miss this event. Thankfully, we had hired a car and driver, so we were able to get some additional rest on the trip out there.

Upon arrival, we secured our tickets and flashlights and then proceeded to the upper-most level and sat. Scores of additional people came as well, but since we were there early, Jo and I were able to pick out an unobstructed view for the magic that was about to happen.

As the morning approached, we each attempted to position our cameras and get some great shots (and video). In the image to the right, you can see the smoke from an active volcano. While most people were quiet and took in the sunrise, there was one Chinese tour group that periodically spoke as if they were the only ones present and ruined the event for some.

Borobodur is over 1000 years old and forms a perfect square. 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. Since we were there for sunrise (at the top), this was how we walked through the temple.

Reaching for luck...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. As you can see to the left, Jo gave it a shot.

In all, we spent a good 4 hours walking nearly every inch of the temple. I think I took well over one hour of video (and I have just now begun to edit). Equally memorable about this visit was the reception Jo and I had. Since this is such a massive and important site, several school groups make the trip out there. As we were walking around the temple grounds, it was very common for Jo and I to be stopped and asked to join in school photos. On one occasion, a university class interviewed me (you’ll be able to see some of that in the upcoming video – BTW the interviewer loves Korea’s SS501).

It’s an incredible place to visit and I highly recommend it. Be there for sunrise. You won’t regret it! Here are some photos to wet your appetite for the video.

Written by Steve Miller

June 9, 2010 at 8:23 am