There is nothing better than waking up early on Saturday morning, with the entire weekend ahead of you and vacation just a few days away.
Since it was overcast today, we weren’t really feeling our usual beach routine. Instead, we decided to check out the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. It is unique in that it was built right on the ocean, which is why it is colloquially known as the Water Temple in Busan. This alternate name is so common, in fact, that when it came time to tell the taxi driver where we wanted to go, we didn’t actually know the real name. Some quick Googling and feeling silly later, we arrived.
After we were dropped off, we wandered through a touristy little market area. They had Buddha statues, bracelets, chimes, etc., which was a little surprising, because these types of tchotchkes are hard to come by in Busan. At the end of the path, we were greeted by this guy:
The path split, and you could either walk down to the temple or up through a wooded hiking path. We have a lot of hiking planned for Jeju this week, so instead opted for just the temple visit today.
The original temple was built in 1376 by a monk named Naong during the Goryeo Dynasty (which predated the Joseon Dynasty). A sea god appeared to him in a dream, instructing him to build a temple. It was believed that if everyone prayed here, the Dynasty’s hardships would disappear. After visiting the grounds where Haedong Yonggungsa stands today, Naong built the Bomun Temple.
This temple was (unsurprisingly) destroyed by the Japanese during their invasion of Korea in the early 20th century. It was rebuilt in the early 1930s, and the main sanctuary was restored again in the 1970s. Haedong is said to be protected by the Great Goddess Buddha, who rides on the back of a dragon.
There was a Buddha for every occasion, if you will. I saw a father playfully pushing his son toward the Buddhas for Academic Achievement, above. There was also the Traffic Safety Prayer Pagoda. Due to my experience as both a passenger and pedestrian here in Korea, I think they might want to erect a few more of those.
Our next stop was the Puppy Cafe in Jangsan, As the name suggests, it is a cafe in which you can pet and play with dogs while enjoying a cup of coffee. I sipped a cappuccino while hanging out with these furry friends:
While these pictures illustrate some normal looking dogs, there were a few in the cafe that had had some of Korea’s rather unfortunate trends thrust upon them. One dog had black eyebrows; another had pink-tinged ears and tail. The real kicker was this poor kitty:
Aside from her perma-sour puss, she had also been groomed so that it looked like she was wearing furry boots and a cotton ball tail. I tried to coax her out for a full body shot, but she wasn’t having it.
All in all, a very fun and busy Saturday. Looks like we’re seeing Pacific Rim tonight, which is supposed to be very good. At least, it is according to my class of twelve-year-old boys!