The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #187


A reader writes:

Okay, if that ain’t the angel Moroni on top of that spire in the distance, sitting on top of a structure looking very much like a Mormon temple, then I don’t know what that could possibly be.  The surrounding area looks a lot like San Jose, Costa Rica, but given that the temple in that city doesn’t look anything like the one in this picture (according to the LDS website), I’m going with Tegucigalpa, Honduras, looking south towards the temple from the Colonia Ciudad Neuva, off Calle de Los Alcaldes.


The LDS temple is first big hint. The church is growing/recruiting heavily in the South Pacific. Quick search of LDS temples in this region returns Apia, Samoa as a pretty close match. Not that many tall buildings in Apia, so perhaps the photo was taken from one of the hotels on the water.

Another Samoa entry:

This LDS temple looks closest.  So I’ll guess that the photo was taken from the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel at Beach Road, Sogi, Apia, Samoa, 7th floor.

Another reader:

I’m a low achiever with these contests. I basically just ask myself, “Does that look like Brazil? No? Well then, who knows.” But this was one of the ones that did look like Brazil, in particular, southern Brazil, and I even noticed that, hey, that’s a Mormon temple! So I googled for a minute or two and decided Curitiba, Brazil. Good enough for this week.


Mountains in the background and a Mormon temple a few blocks away?  Provo, Utah, OBVIOUSLY (they must be having a mild winter).  Try to make it difficult next time!

Another continent:

This is Kiev, Ukraine, looking toward the newly constructed Mormon temple.  Angel Moroni clad in gold on the spire is a dead giveaway.


Though I’ve never seen any photos of the city before, it took me two minutes to determine it is a view of Accra, Ghana. A Mormon Temple in a non-US tropic setting is a huge clue, needing only a cross reference to an LDS temple photo site. Pinpointing the window’s location is a little harder. I’ve decided that it is a view east looking toward the rear of the Temple from the area of the Accra High School, probably the Alisa Hotel North Ridge 3rd or 4th floor which I see is between the school and the temple on Google Maps. I can’t get more exact than that.

Another gets a tad frustrated:

It’s official. I hate you.

I spotted this one and thought, “This’ll be a snap. I won’t win, of course, because I won’t create a map with animated arrows and GPS coordinates and a story of how I recovered from dengue fever in a room on the floor below.  But at least I will have the satisfaction of getting the location right.”

Why did I think it would be an easy one?  The Mormon temple.  Having been married in one (the first time), it popped right out at me.  Mormon temple, tropical setting in developing country … how many can there be?  Too many as it turns out.  I went to and looked at photos of every temple they have that was even a remote possibility.  Wasn’t as easy as I thought.  Looked at every damn tropical spire where Moroni would be sweating in the tropical sun and NONE appeared to be a match.

Hence my hate – enticing me to waste two hours looking at pictures and Google Earth and getting basically nowhere.  You’re an awful man.

Guayaqui, Ecuador seemed the closest.  But I don’t think it’s right. Fuck.


I used the helpful LDS world map to figure out where this might be. The closest match to me looked like Cochabamba, Bolivia, possibly taken from the Instituto Americano. The map is an interesting look at where the Mormons have been more (or less) successful. Africa only features three active temples, for example, while Oceania has 10 and South America 15 (with 7 under construction). Asia only has 9 temples, with none in China (unless you count Taiwan) or India. Anyway, if I’m not right, I know more now about the Mormon global presence that I normally would have, and those kind of random learnings are what I enjoy the most about the VFYW contest.

Another nails the right city:

OK, I have enjoyed this contest for years and continue to be amazed at how your readers meet the weekly challenge. First clue in the Jan 11, 2014, image is the greenery. No Polar Vortex. Second, the white spire in the center of the image. It looked similar to the LDS temple I have seen here in Albuquerque. The Google search “white Mormon temple” brings up the church’s locator map, which kindly furnishes an image for each existing temple. From there, it is deduction. Not South America, not Central America, not Mexico, and not the Caribbean.  A journey to Asia puts us in the Philippines, and … Oh, hello, Cebu City.

Next, it’s a matter of locating the rooftops and streets on the Google Map satellite image. The image is taken from a high vantage point, and the websites for the area budget hotels didn’t appear to have the same window frame as the one in the contest image. So, guessing on the exact location, I wager it is the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino, from the, um, lucky 7th floor.

Mormons and gambling. Nice one.


After a couple weeks of near-impossible ones, this was a nice reprieve. The Mormon temple in the middle was the dead giveaway. I did my undergrad at UCLA and there’s a Mormon temple in West LA that looks strikingly similar in style. The scenery screamed Asia to me, so on a hunch I googled “Mormon temple Philippines” and voila, our beautiful temple showed up:


I’ll bet I’m not the only one who made the Mormon connection, so something tells me you’re gonna have a host of correct answers this week!

About 200 in fact. Another Cebu City entry:

That view of the lovely church just screamed out to me, “Mormon Temple!” perhaps because just a few days ago I saw the raucous (and highly offensive – in a good way) “The Book of Mormon” in San Francisco. And the tropical feel of the surroundings led me in just a few clicks to the Mormon Temple in Cebu City, Philippines, which can be seen clearly from the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino. A similar photo was posted on Trip Advisor by someone staying in room 803 last August:


Based on the perspective from that room, I’m guessing the VFYW hotel room was on a higher floor and to the north, so I’m guessing Room 1127 of the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel.


I’ve never been any good at solving these VFYW locations, but the scenery looked vaguely like some of the towns I used to travel to when I lived in the Philippines as a child. We’re talking 35 years ago, so my memory is very fuzzy, where to begin? The church in the background didn’t look familiar to me, but with so many beautiful churches across the country, I thought a Google image search might yield something. Nada. Upon closer inspection of the photo, I thought the building looked more like something the LDS church would build, so I googled “LDS temple Philippines”, and found several photos of an LDS temple in Cebu City that looked like it could be a match:


I actually visited Cebu City in 1979, but as you might have guessed this temple hadn’t been built. Apparently the temple was completed in 2010. With the address in hand (Gorordo Avenue Barangay Lahug 6000, Cebu City, Central Visayas, Philippines) it was on to Google Earth, where I see a hotel just a mile or so southeast of the temple. I believe the photo was taken at this location, The Waterfront Hotel, 1 Salinas Drive Lahug,, Cebu City, Cebu, Cebu, 6000, Philippines. My best guess is the photo was taken from a guest room on the eighth floor or above.

Win or lose, it was fun to take this little trip down memory lane. Thanks!

A visual entry:

Cebu map

Only one reader guessed the exact room number, and his entry was short and sweet:

Window is in the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel in 1 Salinas Drive Lahug Cebu City, Philippines. Nice view of the LDS Temple. Just guessing the room #1417.

Great guess! From the submitter:

I’m in Cebu City, Philippines for my brother’s wedding tomorrow. This view is from the 14th floor (room 1417) of the Waterfront Hotel and Casino City Center, looking west towards the mountainous interior of the island. It’s my first time in this country and seeing the widespread poverty surrounding the pockets of wealth is shocking.  Cebu City is the “headquarters” of typhoon relief, with an international airport able to handle cargo planes and relief workers (and John Kerry – insert joke about his ego). My flight on Monday had a group of workers from Hungary. Oh, and the city was affected by the earthquake a few months ago, too.

By the way, here’s the entry from Chini, who basically has a permanent place in the contest at this point:

The last time the VFYW contest was in the Philippines (VFYW #153), it was an absolutely brutal challenge to find the right spot. But this one was far easier, thanks mostly to the Mormon temple sitting smack dab in the middle of the frame. This week’s view comes from Cebu City. The picture was taken from the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino from, let’s say, the 12th floor. The view looks west north west along a heading of 296.5 degrees. A marked overhead view and a pic of the possible window are attached:

VFYW Cebu City Overhead Marked - Copy