K is for Korea (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

Korea is full of experiences…

It's "K" Day for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge

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It's "K" Day for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge

 

There are really two things that always come to mind when I think of Korea, the food, because let’s face it that’s true for me anywhere, and temples.  I love a Korean temple…during the daytime, anyway.

One of my “once in a lifetime experiences” was staying at a Korean temple overnight.  One night.  One long, hungry, sore muscle-y night.

Upon arrival, we were given our clothes to wear for the two days.  These were suspiciously close to the uniforms that U.S. criminals are issued when they enter prison.  This should have been my first clue.  We were then trotted off to the communal dining facility where we were given boiled vegetarian fare and rice.  This I expected and was fine with.  It wasn’t the tastiest meal, but, for a change, I really wasn’t there for a culinary experience, so that was okay.

After dinner, and dish cleanup which we all rightly participated in, we meandered the grounds to an evening session of chanting, prayer, and prostration.  This is where the sore muscles come from.  It is believed that 108 prostrations is the perfect number, and many people old, and young alike, were making their way through them.  I think I made it to 19.  And I felt every bit of those 19 prostrations, let me tell you.  A devout Buddhist, I do not make.  However, I was here for this experience, and decided to get out of the way, sit in the back and listen and look, but not participate.  Of course I also did not take photos, because I thought that would be invasive.

Soon after, we went to bed.  We slept on Korean futons which were quite comfortable.  It was only about 8:30 PM, but we knew we were required to wake up at 4:00 AM to sweep the grounds.  Again, this I was happy about.  And we did.  And we swept, and unlike the prostrations, I felt more zen sweeping and removing the tree litter from the path.  It was an exhileratingly pensive time, and we all worked up an appetite for breakfast.

Breakfast, I’m sure, was the exact same food as dinner.  Really.  No change at all.  One meal okay, two is pushing it, but we knew we’d be done by lunch so no big deal.

Overall, it was an interesting, cultural experience.  One that I would tell people to do if they are interested.  Fun?  Not really.  Interesting, and for me a truly once in a lifetime experience!

Korea is full of great things to do!  Have you been there?  Are you going?

Korea

 

 

36 Comments

  1. You have done so many interesting things, traveled to so many places I’ll never go, partially due to the time and cost. I agree with you’re not taking pictures, seems somehow disrespectful; though it would have been interesting to see. BEAUTIFUL temple, so colorful. By the way the sign on the door looks like a Swastika? Can you tell me what it is, and it’s meaning?

  2. Hi Corinne, I haven’t been to Korea and would love to go. What an interesting experience! I’d love to this when I visit Korea. I’ve stayed in Buddhist monasteries for retreat before but your temple stay sounds more traditional to that extent that you were provided prescribed clothing. I guess it takes a lot of practice to complete 108 prostrations. I agree, sweeping and any kind of cleaning up is meditating. Thanks for sharing this experience,

  3. I haven’t been to Korea – and I’m not sure you are selling it here! Asceticism is not my thing…..

    I have witnessed prostrations in Tibet. They seem to lead to a scabby forehead?

    1. Anabel, You are making me laugh. Korea is a fascinating destination with good food and friendly people. I’m just suggesting visiting the temples during the day, though.

  4. Never been. Have a friend who has just come back from spending a few years there. He was doing very well but was apparently homesick. I think he is nuts. He married a Korean girl and appeared to be having a good life.

    1. Hi Jo, We made quite a few friends among the expat community. So many people go to Korea for a year to teach English, but they end up staying on for several years.

  5. Does sound like a rather strange experience, staying in the temple. Worth the aches and pains for being able to say ‘I stayed in a temple’ 🙂

  6. I lived in Korea for a short time in my childhood, but I don’t remember it at all. I don’t think I would be interested in doing something like this, though. I think an hour of zen-like activity is my limit. But, I’m glad I got to read about it first before thinking that the food would be a typical bolgogey and get excited and sign up!

  7. I’ve been to Korea twice and enjoyed it immensely. Your stay at the Korean temple sounds very interesting, tiring and I must admit, not very appealing. But I have never been able to make it through a yoga class so I suspect I wouldn’t have been successful at the 108 prostrations! I love how you’re game for different experiences but then again, that’s the joy of traveling, isn’t it?

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