Jinhae Adventure

Jinhae is a well-known area in South Korea for couples to take in the picturesque cherry blossoms dotting the streams that gently flow down from the surrounding mountainsides. The town itself is located one hour west of Busan on the far side of a small bay. The town is also known for having a naval base where visitors can see South Korean warships, old and new.

Ash and I departed via 6:30 am bus, along with our fellow foreign teachers and a Korean friend (Courtney, Leah, Diana, Bryan and Won Seop), so we could enjoy an early hike before exploring the official Cherry Blossom Festival. We arrived so early, in fact, that we had a hard time finding an open coffee shop. Anyone that has been to South Korea can tell you that it is unheard of not to be able to find an open coffee shop. We did eventually find a small shop that was just putting on their first pot of the day and we all sat and enjoyed a few tasty pastries and joe.

We started our exploration by scaling the “365” stairs to the central temple, positioned atop a large hill in the middle of town. The funny thing is that there was also an electric tram car that shuttled people up and down the hill for a small fee. We decided to brave the stairs on the way up, counting the whole way.

The temple itself was surrounded by interestingly sculpted bushes in the shapes of animals and hearts as well as some festivities and vendors. We tried our hand at a few traditional Korean sports (basically a version of lawn darts with an arrow) and browsed some amazing wood sculpting pieces from vendors. From the top of the seven-story temple, we could see the surrounding town all the way to the outlying islands and warships in the bay. We also set our eyes on a small temple on a distant mountainside for our hike.

After making our way through town (which involved lots of questioning of locals) we came to the famous “love bridge”. This is a average, but nice, bridge over a small stream that is lined on both sides by cherry trees. Unfortunately, the cherry trees were not blooming!!! We could only see little buds on the trees. It was still nice walking down the pathway as it was lined by accu-pressure walks and foot baths. Another highlight was seeing the actress who plays “Sun” on the TV show Lost on an advertisement for a local musical.

At the base of the mountain, we found a wedding chapel that also doubled as a theme park – rides and all – and looked like Disney World from the outside. After a short time watching a rather odd dance by a Korean guy who was half naked/cross dressed and singing, we took a short break for a brown bag lunch.

The hike itself was pretty easy, but lasted a nice two hours. Jason decided to cut off from the group to reach the ridge (and the view) before catching up with the rest of the group at the temple. The view was amazing, looking over the outlying islands and the entire city, covering the valley on both sides of the mountain.

After Jason caught back up with the group, we explored the temple, which was precariously placed on the side of a very steep valley. The temple had the usually fancy gate, guardian statues, and statues of Buddha and other things.

We split for a dinner of Sushi before heading back on the bus to Busan. Great day!

J

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