Busan is a coastal city, so it should come as no surprise that several of its most popular attractions have something to do with the sea. There are its famous beaches, of course … which I avoided like the plague, since I hate beaches. No matter – there were other views to admire and sights to enjoy, even for a sand-loathing chap like me.
After a hearty breakfast at my hotel, I crossed the street and boarded the first available BUTI Blue Line loop bus. Note that the BUTI stop near Busan Station (which happened to be the closest one to my hotel) is actually on the Red Line, but the first three Blue Line services of the day can be boarded from that point, and the last three of the day also terminate their routes there.
The hop-on-hop-off service, nicknamed BUTI, shuttles visitors around the city on three intersecting lines (more like two full lines and a spur), with scheduled stops at many of Busan’s best-known tourist attractions. KRW 15,000 buys you a one-day pass for unlimited use across all 3 lines.
And I should probably throw in this extra quote as well:
I’ll refer to specific BUTI stop numbers in the remainder of this post, but do bear in mind that the operator may change their routes (including the order and number of stops) at any time, without prior notice.
All right, enough with the boring legalese. Off I went to my first destination of the day: the seaside temple of Haedong Yonggungsa (해동 용궁사), which according to the BUTI website is currently stop number 5 on the Blue Line (it was number 4 as of the day of my trip).
A couple of things to note – though bear in mind that these were as of the date of my visit (05 June 2017), and could well be different by the time you read this. First, Haedong Yonggungsa is a fairly long walk from the bus stop, with uphill stretches along the way. Second, this particular BUTI stop is split between opposite sides of the road: disembarking passengers (on their way to the temple) get off at one point, but embarking passengers (heading back from the temple) need to cross the street and board at the shed across the street from where they’d gotten off earlier.
The long walk from the stop was a mostly featureless slog along a motor road. Closer to the temple, I began to see lively splashes of colour from the market stalls arranged on either side of the path.
The approach was lined with a variety of votive objects. Some traditional, like these guardian sculptures…
…others not so traditional, like this so-called “Traffic Safety Prayer Pagoda” (complete with a stone reproduction of a black rubber tyre).
The temple’s still some distance away, but at least the walk is a bit more interesting now. The route runs past a variety of vistas and decorative features that make the stroll seem longer than it actually is.
There she is. A hodgepodge of architectural styles, none exactly to my taste (except perhaps the main hall), but the seaside setting and the terraced layout – all set against the rich green hues of the forested hill behind – make this compound a veritable feast for the eyes.
The views of the rocky coast are outstanding, and it’s also possible to go down as far as the water’s edge if one is so inclined (though this should of course be avoided when the waves are rough).
Back to my hotel for a late lunch, then onto the BUTI network again for my next stop of the day. As with all normal trips on the BUTI Red Line (including the ones I took the previous day), the bus took me across the Busan Harbour Bridge (부산항대교), though I was seated in another part of the open deck this time and the views I enjoyed were a little different.
I got off at Red Line stop 4 (“Yonghoman Sightseeing Boat Terminal”) and transferred to a Green Line bus, which shuttles passengers between this point and its only other stop: Oryukdo (오륙도)
My Korean language skills are next to nonexistent, but I knew enough Japanese to render the hanja version of “Oryukdo” – 五六島 – in my head as “Five Six Island”. Apparently, the name came about because it’s possible to see the same group of islets as having either five or six members, depending on one’s vantage point and the prevailing conditions.
Now I didn’t boat out onto the islets themselves, preferring to appreciate them from a distance … and the Oryukdo Skywalk (오륙도 스카이워크) offered a nice, elevated viewing point from which to do precisely that.
From the BUTI bus stop, there was a bit of an uphill route to negotiate, although this too gave me great views of the nearby coastline.
The Skywalk is a glass-floored observation deck that juts out from the cliff face and over the crashing waves below. After donning the mandatory cloth sacks (meant to protect the floor from visitors’ scratch-making soles), I gingerly ventured out onto the structure…
…snapping a couple of shots as I eased myself further forwards…
…before what little courage I had completely failed. Scared out of my wits, I neglected to appreciate the fantastic, uninterrupted views from the very end of the Skywalk and quickly shuffled back to the starting point, keeping my gaze firmly fixed towards land.
In the end, I took these shots from the viewing area outside the Skywalk itself.
Cowardly retreat aside, I quite enjoyed this day’s sightseeing haul.
Now for the last retreat of the day – this time to my waiting hotel. (^_^)