Sunday, February 7, 2010

Yonggun Sa (Temple)

As I mentioned before, there is an amazing woman at the bank who speaks a fair amount of English. One of the last times I went to take care of some bills she sat down and chatted with me for a few minutes. She wanted to know if I would be interested in meeting her family and doing some cultural site seeing with them. Every weekend they make a day trip to a temple, national heritage site or something similar. My philosophy of life these days seems to be 'why not?' After all, I didn't get any bad vibes from her and in general, I've found that if a Korean reaches out to you they are surprisingly genuine. Sunday afternoon I met her husband and two absolutely adorable sons. The eldest knew some basic English and delighted in asking how to say things like 'seat belt' in English. The other boy was only 29 months and seemed to get a bit confused by the fact that we were all speaking a language he couldn't understand. He called it 'making noise.'

We drove out to Yonggun Sa (sa means temple) which is a large Buddhist temple on the edge of a cliff on the water. The informational sign had some of the worst English I'd ever seen. There weren't spelling was just awkward beyond belief.
(Click the photo to view the larger version so you can read the silliness) I will admit though, the sign charmed me. I've gotten used to strange English after living in Asia for a year. The rest of the temple was absolutely gorgeous though the giant yellow signs advertising something kind of clashed with the beauty of the landscape.These are the statues for each of the 12 zodiac animals in the Chinese calender and a random family. I forgot to ask photo permission from the family I was with so any people in the photos are just random people.You put money on things for good luck/a wish. I didn't make a wish...I'm pretty happy right now.You can't really take pictures inside since people are actually praying/worshipping/lighting incense and it is generally frowned upon. Even if it was permissible I'd feel really uncomfortable doing it.Mini Buddhas hidden on the hillside.
Who doesn't want a giant gold colored Buddha? The oldest boy's favorite color is gold; he loved this statue.
Awesome ceiling post paintings.
Notice how packed that bridge is? The place was packed with tourists...and yet it wasn't overwhelming. People were respectful of the fact that it was an active place of worship and everyone just seemed to be enjoying the gorgeous weather.

After the temple we went out to dinner and I ate until it was painful, as per usual. I was also offered soju and since I've yet to fully master how to politely decline an offer for food or drink (which is generally pretty rude in Korea) I sipped at my soju and got far tipsier than I would have liked on a Sunday afternoon. I didn't have very much it just went straight to my head. In any case, they invited me out again for next week and I think I will go. I really enjoyed getting to spend time with a Korean family and see more of Korea.


Nancy K said...

What a gorgeous site! How far outside of Busan is this?

Alex said...

This is actually in Busan. Busan city runs along the coast.

Kyle Crum said...

I'm actually wondering if we should have chosen a smaller locale in Korea for teaching. Seems like the people are a little more friendly down there.

Alex said...

As a whole it isn't that they are friendlier so much as more curious. The Koreans I encountered in Seoul were pretty great overall but as a big city veteran I recognized a lot of the behavior simply as the Korean version of big city anonymity. It wasn't much different from how any random person would be treated on the street in New York or Paris. Last year there were only about 12 foreigners in my city. This year there are around 70 altogether and for the most part people are fascinated by us. They want to find out more, to spend time and have cultural exchanges. Sure I still get the occasional ajeossi yelling at me for speaking English but it's pretty rare. The reason I decided to change locales last minute was that I realized I wanted more exposure to Korean life than I was getting in Seoul/Anyang.

Errr I'm done rambling now. :-p

Rachel S said...

As humorous as the sign is, at least they had a sign in English, unlike many of the places that you have previously visited. Wonderful pictures, and I love the coastal shots.

Alex said...

This is very true. I did enjoy reading the sign though it left me vaguely confused. Definitely better than nothing!