Ah, Busan. The last time I visited this city to the south was in October 2011, and now I was back again. The first time, I was sick and this time, my legs were aching with every twitch I made. I never had anything against the many stairs that Korea likes providing me with until now. Either way, when we arrived in Busan after our epic mountain hiking adventure in Jeju, we went straight to our hostel by the name of Indy House and settled down.
The next morning, we all woke up feeling as if we were put in a meat grinder and spit back out. It was going to be a fairly low key day, but I still forced them to pick some place to visit – we finally settled on Beomeosa – Busan’s famous temple. I had visited Busan’s Yonggungsa, which is a beautiful temple located by the sea, last time, but never got the chance to visit this temple. Before that, though, we stopped for some ice cream at Baskin Robbins (note: the American branches fails spectacularly when I compare it to the Korean ones).
Behold: a Wizard’s Halloween! One of my favorite Korean Baskin Robbins flavors, it has chocolate swirled with blue ice cream and throughout it all… are pop rocks.
We took the subway to the Beomeosa stop and then I tried to find the bus that would take us there. We ended up walking a ways down this alley and we stopped once we found the bus stop. Also since one of our party had a pained knee from all the unaccustomed walking and hiking I was putting her through. ^^; We took the bus and was dropped off to where we followed the lanterns and signs into the temple grounds itself. Yes, more walking.
Like all temples, Beomeosa had that calm and tranquil atmosphere. The grounds were large and the temple itself was old, having been built 1300 years before.
I enjoyed walking through and seeing the old architecture as well as two other tourists from Slovakia, though most visitors were there as Buddhist practitioners, since the temple is still used for worship. At one point, a middle aged Korean man with pretty good English came up and gave us a spontaneous History of Beomeosa lesson that left us feeling more educated. Thank you, Mystery Tour Guide.
The name of the temple, Beomeosa, translates to Heavenly Fish Temple. There is a story that on top of Geumjeong mountain, on which Beomeosa was built, there is a well in a rock that never dries up and one day, a golden fish that had obtained Nirvana came down and has lived there ever since. I believe there are hiking trails on this mountain as well. I wonder if there is one that goes to this legendary rock-well.
After we spent some time there, but as our injured member stayed near the entrance because there were a series of stairs to reach the rest of the temple complex, we headed back down and out.
On the way back to the bus stop, we spotted a woman practicing what appeared to be Taichi in the cold waters of the stream… barefoot. Once I got some Airpass (this awesome pain numbing spray I learned to love when I practiced taekwondo in Korea) and a roll of bandages and wrapped up my friend’s knee, we were off to Seomyeon to get some food from a vegetarian buffet I had seen on happycow. However, as we were a bit early, we did some underground shopping and then found a Daiso, a Korean/Japanese version of a dollar store, before heading in and gorging ourselves happily.
Afterwards, to make sure fair is fair, I took them to the famous Jagalchi fish market, but since it was on a weeknight and a bit late, it wasn’t as busy. However, my omnivorous friend did get some good pictures, but once we walked down, we headed back to our hostel as it started to get chilly. Before we retired, we went to Caffe Bene where I indulged in a cup of mocha latte and a blueberry yoghurt waffle (they have the best waffle mix) and my friend took out his 5,000 won pear and split it with us.
The staff was kind enough to give him a proper knife, but it looks like it was still hard work, haha. The next day, I took my 2/3 of my friends for a quick visit to Haeundae, Busan’s most famous beach, and a beach that we were within a 5 minute walking distance from. My remaining friend didn’t want to walk even more so she remained in our room.
After 20 minutes of frolicking around and running through the sand as best as I could, it was time to return and pack up for our last leg of the tour. Before we left though, I caught sight of a mural that was only foretelling the future. My trip was close to ending and that meant…
Then off we went to the small train station just a 7 minute walk away and off we went to Gyeongju for our temple stay experience.
Although our stop in Busan was pretty short, I have to make a note that Busan’s a city that doesn’t necessarily have that Big City feel to it that Seoul does. When I first visited in 2011, it was just for 4 days and it wasn’t nearly as enough, and as this visit wasn’t even half of that, you bet I felt like I should have stayed for longer. I love the people here and that Busan dialect you hear from time to time (but I can’t understand). People here also tend to be sticklers for manners – especially when it comes to leaving the reserved seating on public transportation reserved. Perhaps my third visit will be a lot longer… I’d love to explore this city more!