Friday, June 26, 2015

Wishes at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

On the morning of my second (and last day) in Busan, my friend and I stood at the curb near the hostel waiting for SangCheol to drive up. I spotted him walking down the street with a shiny black car slowly rolling along, keeping pace with him. We loped over to meet SangCheol and he motioned for us to hop in the car (it was at the same no stopping area as the day before).

SangCheol settled himself on the front passenger seat—the day's self appointed guide. On the wheel this time was ByeongUk (he had arrived the night before, back from a work trip). No rest for the wicked. In this case, no rest for Mustachio's friends. (Hey, don't look at me with accusing eyes! It was their kind and hospitable souls that volunteered to show me around.)

It was a long way to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Made even longer when the self–appointed guide snoozed and missed to tell ByeongUk to get off at the right exit. My friend and I laughed and enjoyed the joyride, while ByeongUk sweated bullets trying to figure out where the next expressway exit was so we could go back, and SangCheol squirmed in his seat trying to hold back his pee. (We eventually found a stop with a toilet.)

When we finally reached Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, SangCheol switched on his guide mode: he led the way. (It was also ByeongUk's first time at the temple.) SangCheol told us that at least one of our wishes would be granted if we pray at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple.

86 Yonggung-gil, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan
4AM to 7PM

Directions to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple: Take subway line 2 to Haeundae Station, exit 7. Then take Bus 181 and get off at Yonggungsa Temple (용궁사).

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is unique in that it is by the sea.
Most of Korea's temples are on the mountains.

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple faces the sea

Buddhas everywhere

Somebody is showing his butt

Across the temple, SangCheol prodded us to go down a short set of steps into a cave and encouraged us to make one wish and drink the water from the spring. SangCheol always cracks jokes so I didn't know whether to believe him or not. But we went along anyway. While waiting in line, I tried to observe what people were doing: they lit a candle, then when it was their turn at the spring, they picked up a plastic cup and drank some water from the spring, and then paused a bit to say a prayer. We mimicked them.

SangCheol brought us to another part of the temple where he told us to make a wish and throw a coin. If the coin goes into one of the two bowls, our wish would come true. I was sure whatever I would wish for here would not be granted: I have very bad aim. But I made a wish and threw a coin anyway. Yup. Bad aim.

So far, whatever SangCheol told us, we followed. The third area he took us to was to a Buddha with a big pot belly. He told us to rub Buddha's belly....and we would be granted a son. No. Pass. None of us wanted a child as of the moment. Thank you very much.

I had a wish the night before though. When SangCheol asked what I wished to eat for dinner, I said japchae 잡채 (stir–fried glass noodle). It boggled his mind. Japchae was just side dish!!! He racked his brain and asked for help from his friends on where we could find japchae. No one could think of a place. So we ended up having bossam 보쌈 (thinly sliced pork belly boiled in broth with ginger and onion) and really spicy noodles (very spicy it made me cry) at Dongnae area.

Bossam and so many side dishes (but no japchae)

But today, that wish for japchae was granted. SangCheol remembered a restaurant near Haedong Yonggungsa Temple that had japchae as one of their side dishes. After pictures and wishes at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, we went to this busy restaurant that I didn't know the name of and ate a huge feast of duck and pork and a ton of side dishes, including japchae.

Eating like there's no tomorrow. Spot the japchae.

We ate like it was our last meal...which it kind of was for me, for we would be heading back to the hostel at Nampo with just enough time to pick up our bags and go to the airport at Gimhae to catch our flight back home.

감사합니다 SangCheol and ByeongUk!

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

South Korea Quickie 2014
Wisdom from the Road #22
Seoul: Lessons From My Seoul Airbnb Experience
Seoul: Gwangjang Market
Seoul: Namsan: Park, Tower, and Village
Gyeongju: Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto
Wisdom from the Road #29
Busan: Mr Egg Hostel (Nampo)
Busan: Scenic Sites of Busan: Taejongdae and Oryukdo
Busan: Wishes at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (you're here!)
Busan: 40gyedan–gil and Beyond
Busan: Gamcheon Culture Village
Busan: An Ignoramus in Busan
Daily Dose of Kindness in South Korea
Squeezing Three Cities and One Wallet in Five Days
Busan: What's in a (Business) Name? Busan

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