Saturday, August 18, 2012

GEUMJEONG: 01 - Beomeosa's Temples

Oh no, it is another boring temple blog entry. Why do I frequent temples anyway? An agnostic Catholic like me has no business whatsoever visiting other religious structures. Well, to tell you the truth, I really do not know. I always toss in a temple in my itinerary whenever one is available and on the way. They somehow give me some sense of inner peace that I do not even want to explain. No, I do not want to dwell on this. Come to think of it, it is probably the atmosphere that fosters the said sentiment. If you look at those temples, they all look red to me.

Beomeosa is one of Busan’s more popular religious sites. Situated in the north, it is perhaps the perfect destination for you to start your day tour of Busan. Just hop on the metro and locate the station named after the temple itself. If I am not mistaken, it is part of the red line, near Pusan National University, which also has its own station. Once you exit Beomeosa Station, look for the sign saying “Beomeosa 3KM” (or 5KM?) and head up the street. After about five minutes of walking, you would be seeing the bus going to the temple’s entrance. That is not a free shuttle, so be ready with your 1,000 won bills. Buses do not accept 10,000 won notes.

What did I do at Beomeosa then? Die? Well, almost. It was so freaking hot and being the genius that I am, I did not bring any refreshments. There is a canteen of sorts which gives out water but I thought they were just for the temple-stay visitors. Yes, there is a temple stay option, but we are talking about my dehydration for now so let us skip that one first, shall we? Fine, so luckily there was a vending machine in there selling coke and that super yummy grape juice. Those machines do not accept 10,000 won bills either. Busan, why you hate 10,000 won bills? And so I ended up with nothing. As mentioned, there was free water, but then again I am a masochist.

The next event was the hike up to see more temples. Slowly but surely, I took baby steps until I got there with my tongue hanging out of one side of my mouth like a dog who has been deprived of water for a week or so. I would not surrender though; I have to take those photos!

Once again, you would witness how the Buddhists tend to be very well-exercised, what with their chanting and bowing and kneeling. Those guys are healthy, no doubt. And then you have the mantras and the beating. Hypnotic. What else is hypnotic? The foreigner holding a Starbucks plastic cup. I asked if there was one nearby. She answered on the negative, which meant no hope of drinking for me until I get on that bus and get off at the metro station. Baseless rants.

Another fascinating thing about Beomeosa is the stream, where the locals are merry, having a picnic, some bathing, most chatting. It was a Saturday when I went, which meant a lot of people everywhere. It was the opportune time for people watching though, observing how the residents spend their weekends. Fun!

I finally got my mineral water and grape juice at the convenience store after getting off the bus. Hooray me! Before that, I got a free ride courtesy of an old lady’s bus pass. I was asking her if she could change my 10,000 won to ten 1,000 won bills. Although my Korean is still a bit patchy, I think I still conveyed the message, otherwise she would not decide to treat me, right? Small talk ensued afterwards. I love Japanese and Koreans, they are so kind to strangers and some would even go out of their way to help you! Another chat in Korean, this time about the weather, was shared with the old man manning the convenience store’s cashier. I am getting used to this! Next stop, BEACH!!!

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