Mar 162011

haedong yonggungsa temple complex

With some very notable exceptions, it often feels like if you’ve seen one Buddhist Temple in Korea, you’ve seen them all.  That’s not a knock on the temples here, it’s just pointing out the obvious.  They’re seemingly at the foot of every mountain.  They have similar layouts.  They’re all the same colors.  I still love them.  I find them to be very peaceful places to walk around and take some photos and feel relaxed, but a little variety is always nice.

Busan is fortunate to have one of the more unique temples in Korea in Haedong Yongungsa.  As opposed to being at the foot of a mountain, it’s set on the rocky coast of the East Sea.  It’s easily got to be one of the most picturesque spots in Busan.  Unfortunately this is no secret, as crowds of people seem to flock there every weekend.  At least the three times I’ve been there it’s been pretty packed with people, taking away most of the dream-like serenity an ocean front temple in East Asia might bring about to western minds.

Still, it’s definitely worth a visit.  It’s a nice way to kill a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.  An added bonus is the coin launching bridge, where you attempt to throw coins into a bucket being held by a statue.  Despite my prowess at quarters, I’ve failed so far.  Next time my gatorade jar of change is coming along.

There’s also a maritime fisheries museum pretty close by for all you maritime fisheries enthusiasts.  As well as all you strange museum enthusiasts.  I’ve never been in, but maybe next time.haedong yonggungsa temple, from above

Good trip idea:  Once it gets warm enough to camp, go to Songjeong beach, get drunk, camp out, wake up early (or more likely stay up all night), and take your cameras for some sunrise photos at the temple, minus the massive crowds.

Directions: The fastest way is to take the green line metro to Jangsan, then take a taxi.  Otherwise take one of the buses that goes to Songjeong (1003, 100-1, 181, maybe some others) then transfer to the 180 bus.  I’ve always had trouble finding a taxi out, so if you’ve got some Hanguel skills, you might wanna plan on calling a taxi for the ride back.

haedong yonggungsa temple, pagoda on the cliffhaedong yonggungsa temple, statue on the roofshaedong yonggungsa temple, figurines

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Mar 162011

The weather is getting warmer and the glorious summer beach season is quickly approaching.  Songjeong beach is among the most beautiful in Busan.  It’s really close to the city, but feels very far from the crowds that pack Haeundae and Gwangalli beaches.  It’s a great spot for flying kites, plus you can rent surf boards and kayaks right on the beach.

Songjeong is pretty easy to get to on buses, or the subway/bus combo, but if you’re looking to earn your day of laying around on the beach slowly getting hammered on Hite and soju/pineapple sunny-10 combos, you should check out this hike.

Take the green subway to Jangsan station.  Go out exit 1, then turn right and go up the hill.  Veer left and follow the bigger road.  Go straight through the intersection by the school.  Keep following that road through the apartment complexes until you reach the crest of the hill.  There will be an intersection with a nice beach view.  Keep going straight.  A few meters after the intersection there’ll be a set of wooden steps.  Turn left onto those.  You’ll see two tall, smiling wooden figures.  From there it’s maybe a four kilometer walk.  It’s not very strenuous and can easily be done in flip-flops (although some hungover friends that I’ve done this hike with may disagree about it not being strenuous.)  There are many nice beach views and a few exercise parks thrown in for you avid hula hoopers out there.

friends on the hill overlooking songjeong beach

Directions:  Follow the beach hike from Jangsan station exit 1.  If you’re feeling too lazy to hike, it’s about a 10 minute taxi ride.  You can also take 1003 bus or the 100-1 bus to Songjeong.

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