That was when the beach was officially ‘open’, covered by parasols, thousands of people and beach police whistling at you when you dared venture into the water past your waist.
Now, not more than a couple of weeks later the beaches are officially wrapping up for the season. We are scratching our heads in amazement as the hoardes have suddenly disappeared but the weather still looks pretty darn amazing! So what does this tell us….
…but we digress….
Last weekend we decided it was time to not only take advantage of the waning beach season to enjoy the beautiful beach at Songjeong but also to check out the surrounding area. A friend had clued us up that a couple of kilometres up the road lay a pretty cool temple, the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple 해동 용궁사. Seeing as it was another glorious summer’s day, we took our friends advice and went for a stroll up the road.
After about 20 minutes, a couple of bottles of water and a lot of moaning from the male member of this team (“can’t we catch a taxi?!”) we finally arrived at the entrance of the temple.
The entrance was deceptively quiet but as we got closer there was a definite change as the hustle and bustle that is prevalent at so many Korean tourist destinations began to show itself. Two spritely fellows greeted us as we arrived to join in the fun.
The pavements that led down a gentle hill were lined with dozens of vendors peddling snacks, drinks, trinkets, dried fish, medicinal herbs and votive offerings.
Passing through the market we stumbled upon an area abundant with stone statues.Similar to what we saw at the Haesindang Park (aka The PenisPark) , this area contained more carved stone animals representing the twelve signs of the Korean animal zodiac. This time though, these animals were more suitable for children.
While not phallic like the statues a couple of weeks ago H-J still went straight to the cock…..
Just past the zodiac statues we smelled incense and noticed an increase of people praying, rather than shopping. While the area so far was pretty touristy and commercial it started to have more of a feel that it was actually a place of worship.
We followed the path past a lovely family statue…entered a tunnel….
headed down some stairs…
through the pine trees….and suddenly out of the cliff sprouts a stunning, sprawling temple.This place was the Tony Montana of temples! It had swagger, style, beauty, and shouted BOSS!Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (“Korean Dragon Palace Temple”) was founded in 1376 by a monk in the Goryeo Dynasty. The story goes like this; a monk had a dream where the Sea God showed herself and told the monk to construct a temple for the prosperity of the nation. He found this pretty cool spot overlooking the sea and bada-bing, one of the coolest temples we have seen in Korea! Choice!
The surroundings as you can see from our photos were spectacular. We could only imagine how awesome this place would be early in the morning, with no people and the sun on its way up (anyone reading this and planning to go… take the tip!).
From the bridge that led to the heart of the complex, folks were lined up making three pointers with coins. Dan hit the two out of two… H-J…well she needs some practise with her aim and at least 100,000 won worth of coins to make the shot (sad guy, but its true!)We crossed the bridge and arrived in the main temple. Pretty amazed at what was going on we both started running around checking stuff out and taking photos.Ah the beauty of multiple cameras…..
We found a bunch of lil’ Buddhas chilling…And a big golden one just happy to be there…Up some stairs took us to yet another impressive stone statue, along with some great views.
All this exploring was tough stuff, sun burn was starting to kick in (Dan, will you EVER learn?!) and the need for hydration was growing. Luckily there was a cheeky underground cave with a fresh water spring.And some really cool candles.Black and white… our cameras rule!!!!A full morning spent wandering the gorgeous grounds of the temple complex, it was time to head back to the beach to soak up some of more of the lovely summer day. So a quick costume change for Dan, a drink from one of the copious vending machines and back to the water for us…Ps. A big shout out to the lovely Sonya for the AWESOME Hello Tiki t-shirt that H-J is rocking in this episode. (You know me so well!)
Pps. A big apology for you all having to look at Dan’s not-so-stunning beach attire combo number 1. He looks like a pirate that got dressed in the dark while holidaying in Hawaii.