Thursday, February 7, 2013

YongGungSa ~ Dragon Palace Temple

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Our last dragon themed adventure of the Black Dragon Year was fittingly a seaside temple on the outskirts of Busan. I'd really hoped to bring Cello, our little Black Water Dragon, here at some point during the year.

The path to the temple has a line of the twelve Zodiac creatures, where temple goers can pose next to their animal. Mine had a bright red sign at the base, letting me know that I'm currently in my three years of ill-fate. I'd really like to know at one point. Hopefully not the first!

After following the trail down the hill a short distance, you start catching glimpses of the ocean and the giant Avalokiteśvara statue overlooking the temple. Once you pass through a small stone arch, the path opens up to the open sea and the small temple complex nestled in the jagged rocks descending into the waves.

The throngs of visitors give it more of tourist site atmosphere, but that's pretty much what we were doing, anyway. It had been a few years since my last visit and a few things were new. The Dharma Hall was still under construction the first time I'd come but was now completed, with an interesting mural including a monk, a dragon and a couple of tea sets. There was a giant, more-than-slightly kitsch, and the beautiful natural bronze Jijang Bosal, sitting back to the ocean had been given a thick layer of gold paint that I doubt he'd asked for...

Over all, it's a very unique temple, one of the few seaside temples in South Korea and worth the long trip to get to, as long as you're not hoping for a more authentic temple experience. It still will be a pleasant experience.

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