~~~GOLGULSA TEMPLESTAY RECAP~~~
Five people attended last weekend's templestay. After arriving in Gyeongju, we took an hour-long city bus ride to the temple. We paid for the program and received our templestay "uniform", which consisted of a vest and very large, tapered drawstring pants. We had a private room and bathroom for our group, which was nice.
First up on our schedule was dinner, which was delicious despite there being no meat served. After that, we listened to chanting and learned how to bow properly. Later in the evening, all of the English-speakers doing the templestay went outdoors to learn Sunmudo (zen martial art) which was fun though quite difficult at times. We also watched a Sunmudo demonstration and then it was time for bed.
On Sunday, we woke up at 4am and went to take part in morning chanting. After that, we went to the dining hall to learn about (and eat) the "Buddhist Ceremonial Meal". The meal is served and eaten in silence, and you must eat any food that you take. You are given four bowls of different sizes. One bowl holds water while the other 3 contain food. After you finish eating, you must wash your bowls using the water from the 4th bowl and a piece of kimchi. The monks will collect any of the water that is clean and has no food in it, but if your water is very red from the kimchi and has leftover food from your meal, they won't collect it. If you have leftover water, you must drink it. After breakfast, we had tea with a monk and had the option of doing 108 bows or an excursion. Then we had lunch and the program was over.
Overall, the templestay was a unique experience and we learned many new things. The price of the templestay wasn't too bad since we got a private room and were served 3 meals, but it would have been nice to have had one more activity offered on the second day. It was quite a long journey to get to the temple, but it was nice to do a templestay at a place with a program offered in English.