My friend Vanessa told me about her trip to see with Jeong Kwan and how it was a beautiful spiritual experience for her. She went in autumn and that’s the peak season for the park and temple because everything bursts with color! I was there during winter so there were a lot less people, it was serene and solemn.
This is the website where you can book your stay in Baekyangsa Temple. Here you can see the different programs they have, the schedule, the directions, the location map, the price, and more information about the program.
The temple food experience with Jeong Kwan is around $150, including the overnight stay and meals. It only happens on Saturday. Sometimes she is out traveling, so they provide a calendar of the weekends when this program is available.
This is what the schedule looks like:
|16:00~17:00||Learn Buddhist Manners|
|18:00~18:10||Experience of Ringing a Big bell|
|05:00~06:00||Early morning ceremony|
|06:20~07:00||temple morning offerings|
|07:00~07:30||Sweep the yard|
|09:30~13:00||Experience of Temple food with chef|
If you want to stay for more than one night, you have to click on the separate program links which is just a “relaxing overnight stay”, worth around $50 a night. It was quite flexible, you can opt to join the activities or not. Except for the eating schedule. If you stay overnight for a normal night, breakfast is 6:30 – 7:00. Lunch is 11:30-12:30. Dinner is 5:00-5:30.
I stayed for 4 days and 3 nights. On the first night, I joined the ‘early morning ceremony’ at 5:00 am. It was 20 minutes of bowing, 20 minutes of singing in Korean, and 20 minutes of quiet meditation. But it’s not really required.
On Getting There:
Taking the train is faster, but more expensive. It would be best to reserve your train early. The train ride takes around 1.5 hours. Then you switch to take the bus for another 50 minutes.
The bus from Seoul city center takes around 3.5 hours. Then switch to another bus for around 50 minutes which takes you directly to the temple grounds.
This is one of the guesthouses:
The floor is heated, so it feels like a warm cushioned magnet on your back when you lie down.
Your view outside is this:
The temple is in a national park. You can take hikes around the area with views like this:
This is the view of the temple grounds from the mountain!
Cooking with Jeong Kwan
One of the greatest gifts this year is being able to share a meal and have tea with Jeong Kwan, in the middle of winter, in the mountain region of the Baekyangsa temple in South Korea.
She starts by saying that even before being featured on chef’s table or traveling the world, cooking has always been her form of prayer. Doing this is her way of sharing her practice to the world.
Temple food sounds so dull and punishing, but it was like a party for my taste buds. Korean food is so vibrant with its colors, spices and flavors.
She then explained that the menu is based on what is available during the season. We started with a red bean radish cake. She taught us how to make fresh noodles from scratch and how to julienne like a pro. The dishes were glazed squash and sweet potato, red bean with noodles, fresh seaweed, pickled plums, mushroom, and the super yummy radish tea!
There were only 7 of us, so it felt like having profound cooking conversations with grandma about the ingredients, the processes and all the stories in between. She taught me the gift of giving time to mindfully prepare what we nourish ourselves with. The atmosphere was engaging and intimate. I fell in love with the kitchen space and the backdrop of the forest and mountains outside.
Afterwards, we had tea together, and a moment to savour everything we’ve just consumed together. Before drinking tea, she shared the analogy that when you eat, you don’t exactly know where it goes in your body. When you meditate, you try to find yourself and sometimes you’re not sure where you’re going. Trust that journey and root yourself in your place on earth.
“Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment.” –Jeong Kwan Sunim
Copyright © 2017 Desiree Llanos Dee
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