Sometimes I sit back and wonder when my life took the turn such that it's not out of the realm of everyday possibility to spend a few hours exploring a Buddhist temple next to the sea. How'd I get so damn lucky?
Crystal and Nick's visit in March prompted Shane and me to do some sightseeing around town that after seven months in Busan, we still hadn't gotten around to.
Haedong Yongungsa is the most beautiful temple of the small handful I've seen. It sits next to the East Sea on the northeast coast of the city. After entering through a busy marketplace thoroughfare, serene temple grounds. Sweet strong incense. Bamboo stalks. Children touching statues.
I scan the rundown of Haedong Yongungsa's history. I read: "The most merciful Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara who reincarnated unlimited love and mercy was said to stay at such a lonely shoreside some times with a special presentation of riding on a dragon in a flame." The temple was originally built in the 1300's, but like others, was burned to the ground during the Japanese invasion of 1592. The sign tells me this is the "King's Dragon Palace" temple, a "floating Buddhism sanctuary showing a wonderful view of dark-blue seas and breaking white spilitering [sic] water just like fresh touching on your feet."