Sunday, 23 November 2014

부산 | Busan (Part 3)

One more shot of that fantastic wallpaper.
Final post for Busan! After the fireworks show, we had the majority of a day to do whatever we wanted, so we took a trip to Haedong Yonggungsa (해동 용궁사) which is an old Buddhist temple by the sea.

We took the subway to a place where we could hop onto a bus that would take us to the temple. Unfortunately, it was a weekend and the temple is a pretty big tourist trap, so the bus was packed.

A flattering attempt at showing you how full this bus is. Hi Erin.
By 'full' I mean most people were standing ear to elbow, with more people being squeezed on at every consecutive stop. After a while, you couldn't get on at the front so the driver began letting people in through the exit door. Nobody was getting off, because we were all going to the same place, save for one poor person who had the joy of grabbing a seat early on...but then had to try and squeeze through the press in order to get off.

I can tell you, we went round a reasonably tight corner and I'm amazed we didn't capsize.

We arrived safely, and after a slightly harrowing walk up a hill that for most other people was reasonably easy, we arrived at a sort of bustling marketplace crammed amongst some trees. There were people shouting and waving things in every direction, as well as traffic wardens, tourists, as well as the omnipresent pushy ajummas.

We didn't have all the time in the world to hang about shopping for trinkets, but we did pause to appreciate the 12 anthropomorphic statues of the animals of the zodiac, all lined up in various kinds of hanbok and armour. There were also a couple of skittish, grumpy cats lurking about, presumably disgruntled at their lack of representation in the astronomical committee of pseudo-deistic animals. (Try saying that 5 times fast)

Much to our amusement there was also this incredible shrine to "traffic safety"
We joined a worryingly long queue for the entrance and admired the little worship shrines dotted here and there for rather specific purposes such as "giving birth to a boy" and "exceptional results in school exams" while we waited.

It was all a bit mysterious because it was such a narrow, confined area, with no view to suggest how far we were or what to expect (save for Erin and Morgan's updates, because they'd been here before) but to me it felt a lot like queuing for a ride at a theme park. There was even traditional music leaking in from some hidden speakers and it was a weird feeling to have on the run-up to a temple.

We finally broke out into the main area and decided to avoid the main event and head for the more interesting coastal area nearby. It was less crowded, there was more air, and we got a great view of the whole temple without being crushed. Also there was the added bonus of a little stall there selling fresh hotteok and iced water. I know which option I preferred, really!

Once we'd seen enough and the sun was beating down a little too strongly, we headed back (which was much quicker) and took a taxi to the Shinsegae Department Store. The good thing about travelling in a 4 is that getting taxis is often a lot cheaper than other public transport.

We went to this Shinsegae because it is the largest department store in the WORLD, and it has the little Guinness stamp of approval to prove it:

Inside, it was just a standard department store, albeit a very large and fancy-looking one. We looked around a bit and went to the food court for lunch. Shinsegae stores have some awesome goodies lurking in their marketplace basements. (Think Selfridges or Harrods.)

I couldn't resist photographing the MCMxEXO pop-up store they had on the ground floor, with backpacks signed by EXO themselves and, inexplicably, a Foosball table.

After all that, it was pretty much time to head back, herd onto the coach, and drive back to Seoul. Ach, my legs! The views on the way were really lovely, with the light from golden hour settling on the Autumn leaves...sadly my phone died before I could take a picture ㅠㅠ

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