부산행: 해동 용궁사 The Water Temple
Back in May as previously mentioned, I was in Busan for a brief vacation with a close friend who was visiting South Korea. Since I oversaw the itinerary I decided to use the time to try to check out places I hadn’t seen yet. Busan is one of my favourite cities and there are a lot of hidden gems. However, most tourists tend to stick to seeing only the two main beaches, Haeundae and Gwanganli, both of which are fantastic, but Busan has so much more to offer. Since we travelled to Busan during Buddha’s birthday, a National holiday in May in South Korea, my friend and I decided that a quick trip to the temple would be in order. Haedong Yonggungsa was our favoured choice.
Travelling there took a while from our accommodation in Seomyeon, downtown Busan. We took the bus 181 from Haeundae Station exit number 7 and got off at the Yonggungsa Temple bus stop. We found the directions online and they were incredibly easy to follow. The only problem was that it took us the better part of 45 minutes to an hour in the traffic to get all the way down there from Haeundae station. We didn’t expect such traffic so if you are pushed for time or only have a short weekend spare, maybe skip this attraction.
After reading associated literature I found out that this temple is in the north-eastern part of Busan, hence the incredibly long journey to get there. Korean temples are famously situated in the mountains, which is why this temple is unique. It runs along the shoreline and was originally built in 1376 but has since been reconstructed from about 1970 (As everything in Asia is pretty much a reconstruction of what once was). I hear it is incredible to get there for sunrise but we were there around the time of sunset. This wonderful coastal temple was so unique and anyone who is getting tired of seeing the same colours and same shapes when it comes to temples in Korea should try to have a look here. Personally, I like any temple that is still being actively used because it has a sort of unspoken vibrancy about the place. There are many shells of temples that exist, particularly in mainland China where people no longer pray but tourists are encouraged to come by and take photos.
Overall the Haedong Yonggungsa was well worth seeing if not to see the sea in behind the temple’s brilliant architecture and the sun setting behind numerous pagodas and Buddha statues. My camera battery ran out long before I could take sunset shots but more reason to go there yourself and see it.