While I meant to talk about our entire trip to Buyeo on the last post, I just went off on a tangent and couldn’t shut up about the Baekje Cultural Complex. Seriously, that place is amazing and was definitely the highlight, but I need to take some blogging lessons or something… Anyways…
What else is there to see in Buyeo? Plenty, and everything is walking distance as the town is so small. Let’s get this list started.
[Information on how to get to Buyeo is at the bottom]
1) Jeongnimsaji Temple
This once important temple happened to be next to our motel so we started here. It contains a 5 story stone pagoda, one of only two remaining from the Baekje Kingdom. It has been very well preserved and restored given it is over a thousand years old. Inside the building in the back (pictured) is one of the oldest known Buddha statues in Korea, too. The temple is not traditional in that it is only for tourism now and no actual monks live here.
The rebuilt temple also has a museum about the spread of Buddhism across the globe from India to Baekje and on to Japan. It also explains the meaning of pagodas and while I might have actually enjoyed it, there are no English translations at all, so let’s hope your Korean is better than mine.
2) Busosanseong Fortress
In two words, utterly disappointing. This was the main thing I was looking forward to and maybe it is my own fault by not knowing that Baekje didn’t make stone walls back then. The fortress is pretty much raised dirt on a hill and without a lot of imagination, it is just a nice walk, not something worth traveling to.
One interesting part was the Nakwaak Rock ,where legend has it that 3,000 loyal Baekje women jumped to their deaths instead of submitting themselves to the conquering force of the Shilla Kingdom and their Chinese Tang allies. Again, no explanation in English, but the rock itself is well marked.
3) Goransa Temple
There is a tiny little temple at the back of the fortress named Goransa. I know that after a while, all temples start looking, well… kind of the same. When I do find myself in one though, I try to find some artwork as Korean Buddhists tend to be fond of painting their places of worship. Here is what I found:
4) Gungnamji Pond
After walking through a labyrinth of stones and bridges between the water, you arrive at the center of the main attraction. This pond has a pavilion in the middle in one of the prettiest settings in town. Like anything in Korea, it has a mysterious legend:
The princes of Shilla and the prince of Baekje were in love and met secretly at this pond. They had to keep their love a secret since Shilla was at war with Baekje. There is a tablet in the central pond that tells the whole story (sorry, again only in Korean) but it is a little hazy as to whether there is any truth to it. Nevertheless, I am always a sucker for a romantic story.
To the east of the pond is a little park with a humongous monument commemorating the brave soldiers in the last battle of the Baekje Kingdom. Outnumbered 10:1, they didn’t stand a chance.
5) Buyeo National Museum (Sabi Maru)
While the museum is largely under construction (until August 2014), it is still worth a look. It has a bunch of artifacts, but none as important as the Baekje incense burner. Despite being beautiful and quite a large artifact, it also has great archaeological significance. Unfortunately… when I visited, it was on loan to the National Museum in Seoul so I don’t have a picture of it, but here, I googled it for you.
How to get to Buyeo
(Nambu Bus Terminal -> Buyeo Bus Terminal)
There is no train that goes to Buyeo. We took a 2 hour express bus from Nambu Bus Terminal in southern Seoul. Buses leave every 20 minutes, with some direct (2 hours) and others taking the scenic route (3.5 hours). Given how Buyeo is considered an important historical city, no one seemed to have arrived with us for the sights and the bus station was incredibly small.
There are no guesthouses, but plenty of motels around which can be seen from the station. Everything except for the Cultural Complex is walking distance from each other.
If you have any more questions, leave them in the comments!