Thursday, August 8, 2013

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Songjeong Beach, Haeundae Beach and Yeongdo Lighthouse

We had another busy day in Busan. Jihyeon wanted to show us a heap of stuff, but unfortunately to the crazy traffic we didn't have time to go everywhere. Once it cools off a bit I will go back for sure. Busan seems like a really nice city. 

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

The first stop for today was Haedong Yonggungsa Temple which is situated on the coast of the north-eastern portion of Busan. Most temples in Korea are located in the mountains making this one a rare find. As you can see in the pictures below it has been built on the rocks right next to the ocean. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple was first built in 1376 by the great Buddhist teacher known as Naong. Like many of the temples in Korea, this one was destroyed by fire when the Japanese invaded Korea. It was reconstructed in 1970. 

This is kind of a sign post to the temple. 

Lots of market stalls lining the path to the temple. 

The gold dragon entrance gate.

Want a boy? Rub your hands on Buddha's stomach. 

Down the stairs to the temple. 

First view of the temple through the trees. 

Wishing pond. You can throw coins in here and make a wish. 

Up some steep, non standard compliant stairs. 

This is the Buddhist goddess of mercy who is believed to reside in the sea and is the main deity at Haedong Yonggungsa. Apparently she's appeared to people here and saying her name over and over again will result in good fortune. 

This guy is the divine god of the east sea. All the little figurines around him are mini Buddhas.

It was then time to head back across the bridge and back up the stairs. 

These statues are by the entrance near the car park. They are the twelve zodiac signs. We stopped for photos next to each of our signs. 

Songjeong Beach

Next stop was Songjeong Beach which is a short drive from Haedong Yonggungsa Temple and is considered to be Korea's best beach (but not as popular as Haeundae Beach). It was a busy day and the beach umbrellas were out in force. Something interesting I was told (which I am yet to verify is 100% correct) is that Korea doesn't have any natural beaches. All the beaches are man made (meaning, the sand was moved here). 

EDIT: I just had someone tell me that Korea does have natural beaches. One of them being Daejin beach

You don't see inflatable tubes or beach umbrellas at Australian beaches, but Koreans seem to love them. 

Another difference from Australia is that there were life guards on jet skis stopping people from going out much more than chest deep. In Australia you can go out as far as you want and no one will stop you. 

We walked out on the peninsula where there was a nice cool breeze and a shady pagoda to sit in. You can see Songjeong Beach in the distance. 

Haeundae Beach

After lunch we jumped back in the car and headed to Haeundae Beach. It was just a short drive from where we stopped for lunch (about 1km away), but we were literally stuck in traffic for close to an hour. Had I known it was so close, I would have suggested getting out and walking. Everyone in Korea seemed to be trying to get to Haeundae Beach. The car parks were full, the traffic was stop start and as you can see below the beach was wall to wall umbrellas and the edge of the water was yellow from all the inflatable tubes. 

There were a hand full of narrow pathways between the sea of umbrellas so you could walk down to the water. 

And under each umbrella were Korean families, and no bikini's in sight. 

I am never going to complain about beaches being busy in Australia ever again. 

The sea of umbrellas. 

We then headed west back into the center of Busan to go to our afternoon destination. This bridge is the Gwangandaegyo Bridge. It stretches over 7.4km and is the largest bridge over the ocean in Korea. It would be great if there was a pedestrian path along the bridge, but sadly there isn't. You could get some great photos of Busan from the bridge. It is a double story carriageway, the east bound traffic is on the lower level, while the west bound traffic is on the upper level. 

Yeongdo Lighthouse

Next stop, Yeongdo Lighthouse. Again, we got stuck in some seriously bad peak hour traffic and it took us forever to get to Taejeongdae Park (where the Lighthouse is located). We finally arrived and managed to find a car park after much yelling at Jihyeon's father (in Korean and English) telling him to back up, there are people about to leave and free up a car space.

It is a bit of a hike to the light house (a 5km round trip) so we decided to jump on the road train (costs 1500won per person) and enjoy the ride to the lighthouse. There are a few stops along the way (temples and various lookouts) but we were short on time so we headed straight for the lighthouse. 

And here is the lighthouse. I was expecting a huge magnificent structure perched out on a rock in the middle of the ocean, but it was just a stock standard modern lighthouse.

My guess is this is what a natural Korean beach looks like. Very rocky and no sand. 

We then headed back to our hotel. I noticed these business cards outside all the hotels/motels in our street. 

On close inspection they are for fruit and ice cream ;)

It was late and we had a big day of driving back to Iksan the next day, so we decided to head to bed.