Tag Archives: Virtual Vacation

A Philippine Virtual Vacation

Luzon March 2

Recently I watched a World War II vet give a presentation on his involvement in retaking Luzon, Philippines from the Japanese. Being intrigued I decided to take a virtual vacation of the areas he described. These included landing on the beach in the Lingayen Gulf, marching through Binalonan, San Manuel to Lupao, San Jose City, Puncan, Carranglan, and ending in Santa Fe.

Virtual Philippines

My virtual vacation began with a Google Earth flight from Minneapolis to Angeles, Philippines mid January which is currently priced around $1,000. In my research January and February are the best times to visit Luzon as it’s the coolest time of year and the driest. After spending almost a complete day flying I anticipate needed some time to rest so getting a hotel and something to eat would be the next piece of my virtual vacation. There seems to be a wide range of food options to try while there.


The next day begins the trip of re-tracing the steps of this World War II vet in the present day. Going from Bonuan Beach which is pictured at the top the first city is Binalonan. There appears to be signs of war yet today just rusting where it was left mixed in to places rebuilt and expanded to what Binalonan is now.

Binalonan 3

Binalonan tank

Moving on from Binalonan, the next destination is San Manuel. I wasn’t able to find much for photographs taken in this area so I continued on to Lupao. This looks like a beautiful area with some mountains, farm land, and a nice city.Lupao 1

Lupao 2

Lupao 3

Nearby San Jose City is the next place on this tour re-tracing the steps of 75 years ago. This appears to be a nice city resting in the foothills of mountains which can be seen off in the distance of the second photo below. San Jose City looks like a nice spot to get acquainted with local culture among modernized buildings and vehicles. I can almost feel the warmth and humidity from the palm trees, moisture on the ground and clouds passing by. A nice break from winter weather in Minnesota.

San Jose City 3

San Jose City 2

San Jose City 1

On towards the mountains stopping in the Puncan area. I didn’t see any pictures of a town or city, just a few photos of the countryside which looks amazing. The dirt roads in the photo below may indicate difficulty in traveling through this area without a vehicle capable of driving over rough roads. Most likely a less traveled area.

Puncan 1

Puncan 2

Traveling to nearby Carranglan brings similar landscapes and significantly less development than San Jose City. A beautiful and quiet area to relax in without all of the activity of higher populated areas.

Carranglan 1

Carranglan 3

Carranglan 4

Santa Fe brings up the final city of this area as World War II ended for this vet. This seems to be more mountainous terrain with a small town winding through the hills and valleys. I wonder what the monuments in these photos are dedicated to? Again another picturesque and relaxing spot to take in the mountains of Luzon.

Santa Fe 1

Santa Fe 2

According to this World War II vet, Baguio was their final destination as they forced the Japanese out of the Philippines but thankfully the war ended before reaching this large city. I can only imagine what impact war would have on this city and how much rebuilding there has been during the past 75 years.

BAGUIO AT 104. Baguio, which has a land area of 57 square-kilometers and designed for 25,000 people, is now home to close to 400,000 people and has grown to become one of the highly urbanized cities in the country. Baguio celebrates its 104th Charter Day anniversary on September 1. 010913_baguio_05_comanda.jpg.</p>

After listening to descriptions of the terrain the military traveled over it’s nice to be able to view photos taken to get a better idea how much the terrain changed going from flatter, wet areas to mountains. It’s also nice to see that these beautiful places have been rebuilt from the ravages of war. Time to return to Minneapolis to the snow and cold.

Bonuan Beach

A Virtual Vacation

Getting Ready for Your Virtual Vacation

For any number of reasons it is not always possible to travel to that desired destination or dream vacation but that does not mean you should never visit a sought after place. Fortunately technology has given us another alternative – a virtual vacation. You can take a few hours or even more and travel the world from the comfort of your own seat and all you need is a computer and a fast internet connection. I’ve taken a couple of virtual vacations which have lasted 3 – 4 hours and give you a mental break from our daily grind without all of the costs and hours of traveling. Don’t get the wrong idea, this is still not a replacement for experiencing someplace new in person but it can be a good substitute until that trip becomes a reality.

Minneapolis International Airport   Nearing AustraliaLeaving Minneapolis   Sydney Airport

Let me take you through a trip I would like to take to Sydney, Australia which I originally wanted to take in 2015 but will have to delay it until a future date. The first thing I do is start Google Earth which is a free program to download and search for my nearest airport. I like Google Earth because it brings you down to street level and then flies up into the sky before landing again at the next destination giving the feel of actually traveling to that destination. Also, there are many places that are now created in 3-D so you can feel like you’re actually going through the streets and sightseeing. It sets the mood pretty well because it starts with a view of the whole globe and then zooms in towards the ground preparing you mentally for travelling.

Exploring the Sydney Opera House

Once over Sydney, Australia you can zoom into the city and begin to move through the city as if you’re walking or driving and view some of the landmarks. Once you’re close enough to the ground you can enter the street view in some areas and see exactly what you would be seeing if you were actually there. Of course the big attraction in Sydney is the famous Opera House. One of my goals is to be in Sydney during the New Years celebration so in order to take part in that on my virtual vacation I search for photos and videos to watch momentarily transporting me to that event.

2015 New Years Eve Fireworks in Sydney Australia

Another sight I have on my list of places to see is the Great Barrier Reef. Once again I put that into Google Earth and take a short trip from Sydney to the reef. Another benefit of Google Earth is that people have uploaded pictures taken of many highlights so you can click on those to see actual pictures from that location.

The Great Barrier Reef

If that is not enough you can search for more photos and videos to submerge yourself in the reef and see amazing sights for your virtual vacation. There are hours worth of videos about the Great Barrier Reef so you can feel like you’ve been there for a whole day.

Photos and Videos of the Great Barrier Reef

What about eating? If you want to really feel like you’re on vacation you can search for foods popular in Australia and make them yourself or try to find a restaurant to visit locally and eat as if you were actually on vacation. In addition you can search for images and videos of food and restaurants in Sydney.

Eating in Australia

If you desire you can end your few hours of a virtual vacation by going back to the airport and flying home although most people dread that portion of their vacation so I usually end before that point. Before I go I always like to catch an amazing sunset where ever I travel and why should this be any different? A search for sunset photographs in Australia provide beautiful images and videos once again. Thanks to all those that have taken the time to create these images and videos and for making them available to all!

Images and Videos of Sunsets in Sydney

That seems like a really good place for me to end my virtual vacation. You can add whatever you want to make a virtual vacation seem as real as possible with so many people carry cameras all the time to help make that possible. Maybe you want to see your hotel room so search for images of hotels. What other sights do you want to see? Look up things to do in Sydney Australia and there will be plenty to look at. Do you like to have a nightcap? I’m sure you can find information about doing that and photos of places to do that at in Sydney. Your virtual vacation can take a couple of hours or most of a day if you like. It all depends how in depth and how much time you want to spend transporting yourself to another location. And you can do it with little cost. Still, actually going on a vacation to Australia would be far superior to this virtual vacation but for now, this will suffice.

View of Sydney from Above