Giant Golden Buddha's at Manbulsa Temple

When I think of giant golden buddha's, I think of Thailand.  I think of Bangkok, I think of the Thai countryside.  I think of buses overflowing, a monk in orange robes sitting in my lap, or me sitting in his, the bus is so crowded I can hardly tell, buddhas rising from mountain tops, looking over valley after valley, looking over roads, and me, jammed into my seat, the heat from the monk and the air sending my head swimming, and then the buddha, out the window, out of the corner of my eye, something I've never seen before, one of the things I got on an airplane to see.  

The more I travel in Korea, the more under appreciated I think the place is.  No, there's no Pai, there's no Ko Sahmet, the guesthouses are more expensive and transportation's not as easy as Thailand or Vietnam, the tourist sites not quite up to Angkor Wat or Halong Bay.  But for the longest time I thought Korea had nothing.  Or almost nothing.  I knew that Seoul had a certain draw, but I didn't know about the Korean countryside.  I didn't know about the hikes and the temples and the waterfalls and the restaurants.  I didn't know about the beauty of the rolling mountains - the entire country is covered in mountains!  I didn't know about any of that, but now I do.  And now I get why one might strap on a backpack and make sure Korea's a stop on the journey.  It's worth it.

Manbulsa, or the temple of ten-thousand buddhas, is massive, and literally covered in Buddha's.  Tiny hand carved buddha's tucked into corners, to a 33m Buddha overlooking the entire temple complex, to a Buddha in the middle of a pond, there are Buddha's everywhere and in every size.  The most Buddha's, the tallest bell tower, this temple was designed to be something special, in a Guinness Book of Records kind of way.  While the Buddha's and the ostentatiousness of the place do take a bit away from the solemnity of the place, it's a sight to see and a great place to spend the afternoon.  For another take, check out's review of the place.  If you haven't seen it before, is a great resource for figuring out where to go, what to see, and what to look for when you get there.  Manbulsa also has an English language website at  Both are excellent resources for this awesome temple.  As always, here's 10 pictures and some foolish comments.

Here's a 40 picture panorama of the temple and the statue.  The temple complex is so big, the 33m statue actually looks small.
A massive reclining buddha.

The detail on the feet of the reclining buddha is impressive.

A dad and his son were racing through these lines that on special days people walk through and pray.  

Korea's largest bell tower, they claim.  Very cool.

These buddha's line every road and every park in the complex.

Here's the 33m buddha.  Really, really tall, bigger than any buddha I've seen in Korea.

These little babies are really cute, but I read that each one symbolizes a child who died.  Manbulsa is also a very active cemetary.  We saw a funeral happening and much of the complex is burial ground.  

Each one of these had a name and a date, of birth and death.  The walls of the main temple building were lined with hundreds.  

This green buddha statue is one of the most unique I've seen in Korea.  Behind it, you can see the walls lined with the smaller statues, each representing a person who has died.  A beautiful place, but a sad place.
Manbulsa was a totally new temple experience, due to its size and the sheer number of buddha's.  Later that afternoon we headed to Unmunsa, a more traditional temple not far from Pohang.  

Our Chuseok trip was basically a bust, with more time spent in traffic than doing anything, but we did manage to stop at a temple overlooking a river in Miryang.  Now that Chuseok's over, we're headed into fall.  Should be a great couple of months before winter descends and we stay in our apartment waiting for spring.

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