Woljong Temple Stay

KEY DEVELOPMENTS AND TRENDS IN ASIA

Brad doesn’t make too many site seeing demands in Seoul.  We’ve taken a few walks to get some photos on his request but that’s about it.  For over a year now he’s been suggesting we find a Korean Buddhist temple and spend a night there.  Many temples around Seoul offer courses on Buddism, lantern-making classes, cooking classes, etc.  But Brad harped on and on for a year about going outside of Seoul to a temple in the mountains and spending the night there.

We’re down to about 35 days left in Seoul and he finally made me go.  It’s a cold January in Korea this year and I was not excited to sleep in an old temple, and wake up at 3:45 a.m. to meditate and go to a morning temple service.

We took a bus from Dong Seoul Terminal to Jinbu in Gangwan province.  It was a small town that had signs anticipating the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games in 2018.  There was also a trout festival last weekend.  At least Brad didn’t make me go to that.

Kahului met us at the temple and showed us to our rooms.  It had beautiful sliding doors and heated flooring. That was a plus. We dressed in the temple clothes. (Think chain gang attire)She showed us to a room with 30 other Koreans dressed similarly and we listened to some etiquette about walking around the temple grounds.

Next, we all made lanterns.  Dinner was vegan. Boiled potatoes with soy sauce and bibimbap.  I saw some Choco pies back in the kitchen but didn’t want to be the only one to ask for them.

After dinner, we walked around the grounds and had tea with a monk who answered some questions about temple life and buddha’s teachings. Next we al rang the giant two-meter bell across from the main Buddha hall. Bedtime was a responsible 9 p.m. Which worked well because we were woken by a monk banging a gong at 3:45 a.m.  We proceeded to a morning service in the main temple and bowed 108 times.  Next, we threaded 108 beads on a prayer bracelet.  I haven’t done so many arts and crafts in one day since elementary school. We mediated with some monk. We did some community work cleaning the pathways which were already spotless. Walk in the fir tree forests that surrounds the temple grounds. Breakfast was the same as dinner, which would be the same as lunch. Cleaned up. Walked to the nun’s quarters and caught a cab to the bus station.