Journal log 4: Temple and beaches
March 4th, 2015.
HaeDong YongGoongSa, Haeundae and Gwangalli.
After a day of rest on the 3rd of March, the sun was back on track on the 4th, so we decided to get closer to the seaside. Our first stop was at HaeDongYongGoongSa, a temple built on the seashore and which makes for a quite spectacular view. From Haeundae station, exit 7, all one must do to reach the temple is to take bus 181 and get down at the corresponding stop. Once off the bus, one must further walk about half a kilometer before reaching the temple’s entrance. A lot of small stalls, offering both food and traditional souvenirs, further pave the way. Once within the temple’s limits, you will be able to contemplate pine trees, stone carved Chinese Zodiac representations, stone lanterns and many Buddha and Bodhisattva depictions, while enjoying the wonderful shore line and its cliffs. There is no entrance fee to access the premises, although several banners invite visitors to make donations and offerings.
Haedong Yonggungsa Opening hours: 04:00 to 19:00.
Once back in the city, we decided to stop at Haeundae beach, perhaps Busan’s most famous landmarks. One thing I definitely loved about Haeundae was the very cheap Hoddeok (Korean pancakes filled with brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts) place along the main street leading to the beach, actually the cheapest I have ever seen in Korea: 500 won each! Back to the main street, you will find plenty of movie theaters there, Haeundae being one of the main locations of the Busan International Film Festival. Also, the street itself makes for a nice romantic promenade as all the trees are decorated with Christmas lights! Finally, you will find Busan’s huge Sea Life Aquarium right next to the beach.
Haeundae beach itself is home to several cultural performances each year, and we got quite lucky in the sense that we got to see people preparing a bonfire for the celebration of the first full moon of the lunar calendar! Although the festival itself was to be held on the 5th, with traditional dances being performed, we still got to visit the bonfire structure and hang a paper wish in there, which once burnt, ought to bring good fortune to its writer!
We then headed to Busan’s second most famous beach, Gwangalli Beach, which was by far my favourite! Less known by tourists and loved by Busan inhabitants, Gwangalli has a lot to offer, especially at night, with the beautifully lit Diamond Bridge spreading across the water. At around 8PM, the Bridge and the beach both become part of an art exhibition, with a very interesting light show, thus explaining the success of the place as a date location. If you walk further down the beach beach, you might also catch a glimpse of Gwangalli’s hidden gem: Gwangan Land, a small amusement park with a Viking Boat, trempolins and much more! We couldn’t resist the temptation of riding the Viking boat, which, in addition to giving us some butterflies, enabled us to get a stunning view of the Diamond Bridge!
All in all, we had an awesome day, which ended up in great laughter after realizing we had accidentally locked ourselves out of our room! In case you were wondering about our fate, we did manage to regain access to our room the following morning, with the help of a super grandpa, a twig and one hair pin! We did not sleep on the floor though, we were kindly given another room :D!