Who hasn’t dreamed of discovering the Buddhist monastery life?
Numerous temples in South Korea now offer the possibility for travellers to attend Buddhist rituals and activities.
With the help of our friend Eun-Kyoung, the Yakcheonsa Temple accepted to host us in order to promote its new type of lodging that we can easily fit into the responsible tourism category.
The program? Yebul, a ceremonial service which takes place three times a day, Zen Meditation (at any time of day), monastery meals (vegetarian), tea ceremonies, education sessions and creative workshops.
Having just arrived, we are already dressed in a light brown tunic, attracting the looks of the curious tourists. Chon Bo, manager of the TempleStay program, indicates the direction of the restaurant. It is 5:30 PM, and its already time for delicious vegetarian diner. Meat eaters, be ready to be converted!
The first ritual takes place at 7:00 PM in the huge temple (the biggest in the country). Chon Bo explains the respectful attitude to adopt during the ceremony which last 30 minutes. Before going back to our room, we head for a short meditation session in a cave located behind the temple. Mystical!
The traditional-type rooms are equipped with a heating system that functions only during certain hours of the day, and automatic movement-sensitive lighting, eco initiatives that made quite an impression on us. The composting, the usage of LED lights, and more importantly, the management of a centre for the disabled on the property, demonstrate the will to engage in a sustainable future for all. Their next project? Equipping the temple with a solar system!
It is still dark when the sound of the drum indicates it is almost time for the morning ceremony. It is 4:30 AM, we are sitting with our legs criss-crossed, accompanied by 8 monks (an one other traveller). We go through a series of inclinations while listening the the beautiful Buddhist chants.
The morning is then dedicated to meditation and a bracelet making workshop. Our experience ends early evening, after a last interview with the manager of the program, who, by chance, speaks perfect english.
This type of program is unique in its genre. People from all types of horizons are welcome, each given the chance to regenerate body and soul while benefiting from a total immersion into the Buddhist culture.
A Hop-Tour dedicated to the visit of a «Temple Stay» in South-Korea? Why not!