After many, many hills and many, many wrong turns we finally found the right Buddhist temple after 2 hours of walking. We had assumed that… since everything that is located on a map in Seoul is within walking distance even though it looks far away on the map, it would be the same in Busan. Needless to say, we were wrong. In order to find the right temple, the Samgwangsa temple, we had to ask locals the way several times and they all told us to take a taxi. “No, no taxi- we are students- no money.”
At one point, another building on a hill tricked us into thinking that it was the temple. It turned out to be a (very small) temple, but not ‘our’ temple. So much for wishful thinking from desperation. The only positive thing about walking up that hill for ‘nothing’ was the water source. Then again, we had bottles of water so…
Once we saw it, it was instantly clear that we found the right temple. Buses with tourists were driving up, the buildings had the right size and we could see a staircase with the 12 zodiac signs from a far distance.
If I compare the Samgwangsa temple to the one we saw in Jeju (the Yakcheonsa temple) I have to say that the Samgwangsa temple looked more appealing to me. From a distance, the temple appeared to be larger and more impressive, but after exploring the temple grounds I changed my mind. The Samgwangsa temple doesn’t only provide an option for you to pray like at the Yakcheonsa temple, the temple also offers temple stays. This means that there are currently ‘tourists’ residing in the temple. You can notice the difference in the way this temple uses its buildings. Another minus point is that we didn’t get to see the Buddhist statue inside the temple.
The only building where we managed to go inside was one of which we believe to be recently built, painted and prepared. Inside, they did not even place any statues yet, which made it actually more interesting for us. How often do you get to see an ’empty’ Buddhist temple?
After our little exploring inside the ’empty’ building of the temple, we continued walking around the other buildings and headed towards the nine-tier pagoda.
We then left the temple behind us to eat some food. Initially, we planned to go to a food market afterwards but it turned out to be different from what we expected. Therefore, Ina suggested we’d visit the beach and take a look at the Gwangandaegyo Bridge, which is lit up at night.
I think we managed to do everything that we wanted to do in Busan. There really isn’t that much to do in the first place. Busan’s main attractions are its beaches and the Jagalchi market. Two days were exactly enough.