The day after my cable car ride up Apsan Mountain I took a day trip to the beautiful southeastern city of Busan. It was my third trip there this year. My train from Daegu took less than an hour and cost 17,000 Won.
When I arrived I realized that I didn’t have enough cash to use the metro, so I had to find an ATM first. After getting my cash, I went to the subway and took Line 2 from Busan Station to Haeundae Station.
During the 30 minute ride, a girl standing behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was an American. I said I was. She had come down for the holiday weekend from a small town north of Seoul, and was excited to meet a fellow foreigner.
Sarah is from North Carolina–with the accent to prove it–and is have white, half Chinese (her father was adopted from China). She taught in the US and now teaches at a private Christian school. She was sweet and funny. We had a great time talking about life in Korea. And as it turned out, she was going to the same station.
Upon entering Haeundae Station we discovered that we were taking the same exit. After walking out of Exit 7 we discovered that we both planned on taking Bus 181. I was taking the bus to a temple named Yong Gung, while she was taking the bus to a small beach. We arrived at the bus stop 4 minutes before our bus arrived. We stood and talked on the crowded bus for an hour.
This particular bus was frustrating because there was no visual or verbal announcement of what stop was next. Lucky for me, there was a group of people from Malaysia who were going to the same temple as me, so I followed them. I was sad to say goodbye to Sarah, but that’s a big part of being an expat: having an exciting connection with someone; then never seeing them again. She said she would give me her contact information, but didn’t feel comfortable doing that because she has a boyfriend in Texas. I said I respected her decision. She then said she would set me up with her friend Jessica if I didn’t live so far away. I appreciated the thought, but I’m content being single.
I followed the signs (and the people) to an area lined with food venders. Past that were statues representing each animal from the Chinese zodiac with boxes at the base to donate money (prayers). I was born in the year of the dragon, so I took a picture of that one.
Beyond that was a stupendous stupa.
Then I descended a flight of stairs to the temple. Because I went around the time of Buddha’s birthday, the place was packed with tons of tourists and locals alike.
I was informed that the bright colorful lanterns are designed to attract Buddha, so he will return. Even if you’re not Buddhist, you can appreciate their beauty.
Some people were there to take pictures. Some people were there to pray.
People prayed in different ways. Some bowed to Buddha.
Some tossed coins into a wishing well.
I explored every angle.
When I was finished exploring, I went back to the food venders and bought a cup of strawberries. Then I took Bus 181 back to the station and rode the subway to Gwangalli Beach for a late lunch.