The Deserted Haeundae Beach
Busan is famous for its beaches as it is where Koreans come to in summer to escape from the hot sun. The most popular beach in Busan is Haeundae Beach. The hotel we stayed in is literally opposite Haeundae Beach. Having been in Busan for four days, we have not really stepped into the 1.5km long Haeundae Beach is famous for its white sand. We started our day by heading to the beach and took some obligatory photos before heading to our next destination. Haeundae Beach is deserted at this time of the year as the cold temperature prohibits beachgoers from coming here. There are only a handful of morning strollers walking along the beach. After taking some pictures, we headed to the bus stop to hop onto the bus that took us to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple – The Temple by the Sea
The bus ride from Haeundae Beach to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple takes only 30 mins. We alighted at the bus stop that the Naver Map app pointed, from there it is a 5 mins walk to the entrance of Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Before we can hit the entrance of the temple, we were swarmed with a flood of stalls selling souvenirs and street food. The small market outside the temple is a place where visitors stop by and saviour the delicious street food that South Korea has to offer. A little further from the stalls lies an eight tiered pagoda and an archway that marks the entrance to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Unlike most of the temples in South Korea, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is not buried in the mountains or forests, it is built by the coast next to the sea. The temple offers a great view of the sea in East Busan. Passing the narrow entrance that can only fit two persons passing through at a time, a stairway leads to the temple. As we were walking down the stairs, we got a glimpse of Haedong Yonggungsa Temple beyond the trees planted along the stairway. There she is, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple sitting by the Eastern shore of Busan as though she is guarding Eastern Busan against the elements. At one point, the path to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple split into two. My friends and I took the left path leading us to a coast where we came to a large statue of Buddha sat in front of the sea for visitors to offer our prayers. After offering our prayers, we took a moment and view the coastline. It is here where we got an excellent view of the entire Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Many visitors like us, came all the way out here to take pictures of the temple.
After taking some pictures, my friends and I headed back to the path which led us here and proceeded to the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Passing the intersection, we continued on the path that led us to a stone arch bridge linking the temple to the main entrance. There are several buildings at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, the biggest building is the main prayer hall at the temple with statues of three Buddhas installed inside. After offering our prayers inside the temple, my friends and I spotted a path at the side of the temple that led us to a small hill. At the base of the hill sits a large golden Laughing Buddha, as though he is welcoming visitors to the temple. A short climb up the hill, we spotted a large statue of Goddess of Mercy facing the sea. The view from the platform in front of this statue gave us a good view of the entire Haedong Yonggungsa Temple compounds. We also got a great view of the entire coast with the sea that stretches far out over the horizon together with the nearby buildings in this eastern part of Busan, the view here is liberating. After taking some pictures, we headed down to the main temple grounds and left the temple. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is rather small compared to Bulguksa Temple we visited the day before, we did not spend too much time here.
Shopping at Busan Premium Outlet
My friends and I spent the rest of the day visiting the shopping malls in Busan. After visiting Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, we headed to Busan Premium Outlet, which is about 20 mins walk from the temple. There are two premium outlets in Busan, we chose to come to this one as it is very close to the temple. The human traffic at Busan Premium Outlet was very thin at the time we arrive, maybe because the outlet is just opening up. Busan Premium Outlet is a large outlet complex with four levels. The first three levels are dedicated to numerous branded shops and the top level is where restaurants are located. My friends and I walked around and found the things being sold here does not command a bargain. We walked around like zombies and found nothing much worth buying. The only thing we found worth buying is the pair of shoes we got from Reebok shop for around S$30. After buying the shoes, we headed to the top level for lunch. Even the food options here are limited. After lunch, we walked around the entire Busan Premium Outlet a little more and headed back to the hotel to leave our shopping items.
Shopping at Department Store in Busan
After reaching the hotel, we rested for a while and headed out in the evening to the Lotte Department Store. We took the subway to Centum City station there are two department stores above the station. The exit from the subway station leads to both Lotte and Shinsaegae Department Stores. Lotte Department Store is large, however, we find nothing much to buy here (maybe we are not the shopping type). We walked around for 30 mins and did not even bother going to Shinsaegae Department Store, the world’s largest department store as we thought the stuff they sell is probably similar to that in Lotte Department Store. We left the area and returned to Gunam Street in Haeundae for our last dinner in Busan. We walked around Gunam Street to check out our options for dinner. My friends and I finally settled for a Korean BBQ restaurant as we saw quite a number of locals having dinner. We were perhaps the only foreigner in the restaurant at the time of our visit. The food here is good and the staff, like any other Korean BBQ restaurant, would BBQ the meat for us. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and pack up for our trip to Seoul the next day.