We left our accommodations alittle way off schedule due to the laundry shenanigans. It is a bummer that our apartment only has a washer but not a dryer, so we have to figure that part out before we left. Thankfully, our host Frank told us about a laundry that is only a street away! (Thanks a million because Google Map isn't really great here). After a pretty long bus ride, we finally arrived at the road along the Haedong Yonggung Sa Temple. The best identifier would be the signboard when you're walking alongside the road, and you would find your way in.
You'll find yourself near the entrance towards the temple compound after a 10-15minutes walk. On our right is the food area, so that's where you'll get your cafe, convenient store and some street food with a proper sitting area set up.
However, as we walked long there is a long street (similar to the ones along Fushimi Inari in Kyoto), as there are stores for souvenirs, street food, all lined up.
We got a glimpse of the history of the temple, and it's former and original name, Bomun Temple. It was being rebuilt after being destroyed during the Japanese Invasion and how this place is a gem (namely being close to the sea, and you'll get the skies and mountains as well). We then started going down the stairs, 108 steps down, yes; which is a very significant number in Buddhism. For those who don't know, the 108 steps could mean the 108 steps of enlightenment, some said it is 108 feelings that you have to overcome, and so forth. But all in all, 108 is a special number, an interesting lesson that I'd learned here in Yonggungsa. There seem to be no way down except the stairs, so it isn't exactly wheelchair friendly.
We are rewarded with a beautiful view little higher by the coastline, each of a "mini cliff" which opened up the shore and the horizons. The view is breathtaking. We stood by the corner on an elevated ground, listening to the sound of the waves crashing in, and it felt like the rocks are the arms of the temple, welcoming lost souls into its embrace. It is particularly sad most people are there for the selfies, and they barely visit the temple.
Into the temple compound, there are several areas, from one which consist of simply just stairs to a higher ground, the main hall, several shrine area for other diety and an underground shrine. The underground shrine is one of my highlights as we are encouraged to drink the natural spring water from a pail. It is believed that drinking water could bring about good things and longevity. "Do what locals do, right?", I said as I sanitized my hands for good measures before drinking them from my palm after gently pouring the water out from the pail. I could taste mostly alcohol (from the sanitizer) and then the cooling taste from the spring water kicks in. I flick my tongue and smile while I muttered a prayer of gratitude before I left.
It is a nice feeling at peace again, with the main hall almost empty (me and an auntie). I prayed for wellness, for mental health, for my friends and family around me to be at peace and happy, to be healthy and cherish all the little happiness amongst us. As bizarre as it sounds, I prayed and said that I wanted to be a good person, and I asked the Universe and Buddha to show me the way. I meditated for a while, before departing the main hall. The place gets quieter the deeper we went, and I like how peaceful it is inside. We explored the rest of the place, saying my prayers in the different shrines, to which my brother jokingly said that I don't have any "loyalty" ahahah. We ended our adventure here with a cup of coffee before we head off to Oryukdo .
Name: Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사)
Address: 86 Yonggung-gil, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan, South Korea
Opening Hours: 5am–7pm