Weekend Temple Stay

This weekend it’s hit us…it’s really time to let go of summer and reluctantly say HELLO to fall!

As we have mentioned the past few mornings have really let it be known that Fall is truly here to stay. We wake up and the morning air is so crisp and cool. The leaves and bright shades of mountain greens are noticeably fading and taking on red and yellow hues.

Mr. B mentioned that the summer morning birds and bug sounds have quickly lulled. He said fall and winter to him is more of a calming time because it’s so quiet. What an interesting perspective… I guess he’s right… We tend to typically “nest” during these next upcoming months.

So yesterday on a beautiful early fall morning we woke up to catch a bus to Gongju City. We were invited to experience an overnight stay at the Magok Buddhist Temple and take a tour of the city. The city of Gongju paid a portion of the trip for foreigners! How great is that?!

Gongju is located in the center of South Korea and is south of Chungcheong Province. The city is best known for being the capital of Paekche kingdom from 18 B.C to 660 A.D.

Today Gongju features artifacts and replicas that depict the historical and cultural places. These are, the Buddhist temples, parks, museums, villages, tombs, fortresses, and so much more! The city takes great pride in extending a hand to outsiders and foreigners to see just what their city has to offer.

On our trip we spent the night at the Magok Temple. The temple is a 300 acre facility that can house 200 people at a time. (wow) Also we were warned that we may not have beds as most Buddhist monks do not. Our group is was interested to see what was in store!

Once arriving at the temple we got off the bus and headed down a beautiful stone path lined with tons of wild flowers. It was just magnificent! Breathing in the clean country air, taking in all the secluded wilderness! Ahhh!! What peace! We walked until we came to the various temples. We were told a story about a little bell that was affixed to the side of a statue. The tour guide told us that the bell only rang once. That only time it rang was when Japanese were invading.

After we spent sometime walking around the area we went to check into our temple stay. We were really surprised to see that the temple complex where we were to stay was very modern and sleek looking.

We were given our room keys, again shocked, we had individual rooms with a private bathroom! We were given our monk attire for the temple stay. Sooo the monk attire, Mrs. B’s was to way big and short and Mr. B’s was a tad to small. It was very obvious that these were Korean sizes.

After we danced around in our room with our new attire we unpacked a bit and headed back to meet up with the group. We started out with a nice welcome and an overview of the temple stay. We then made lotus flowers. Mrs. B’s lotus ehhh not so nice, we now know her future isn’t in the lotus making industry. Mr. B, of course was the Martha Stewart of the table and kept getting complements from the Monks.

After making lotus flowers we went upstairs to the mediation room. Here we learned some yoga moves, and how to meditate. We also eventually learned fighting moves. Oh yeah! Watch out!

We took a break and went for dinner. Our group was rather pleased with the dinner buffet in the cafeteria. We had all types of different Korean dishes. What a treat!

After dinner we went back to the meditation room and learned about the 108 beads that Buddhist monk wear. We also learned how to properly preform 108 bows.

After a long day we were beat! We headed off to bed on our floor mats. Maybe it was a long day and we were drained, or maybe it was actually comfortable? We both agreed we slept great on our floor-mats!

7 AM came rather fast and we went down for breakfast, hung our mink attire up, turned in our keys, and loaded back up the bus with our baggage and body’s.

We departed for the tour of King Muryeong’s Tomb and ceramic shop. We learned the tomb was excavated in 1971 and also featured various real artifacts. We were impressed with the huge tomb mounds! Check out the pictures.

After touring the tombs we then took a tour of the Gongju museum. The tour included a royal fortress experience where we partook in the Paekche Royalty costume fitting.

Back to the museum.. It housed 2,906 artifacts from the excavation of King Muryeong’s tomb! It was really neat to see all of the gold and metals that were found from that era.

Next we went to the Gongsanseong Fortress. The Fortress featured a mud castle that is 400 meters long as well as a stone castle that is 2,260 meters long. During our time at the fortress we were lucky enough to witness the change of guard ceremony and of course snap some pictures and video. We decided we want to go back at night to see the grounds and gather a different perspective of the area.

After touring we went for lunch and ate at a bulgogi restaurant for lunch. It was actually delish! We typically don’t care for bulgogi because it can be overly sweet. This place had it perfect! Plus they treated us to a shot of the areas well famous chestnut makkoli (instead of the regular rice wine makkoli).

After lunch we went to Seonggok temple. Seonggoska mountain park features the tallest Buddha statue in Asia! It ranges 177 feet!! It was HUGE! Plus we got to see an arena of 1000 golden Buddha’s. What a sight!

After Seonggok we loaded up and were on our way back to Dongducheon. We stopped once at a rest stop. We grabbed some strawberry gelato and hodduk. Mmmm! What a sweet ending to an awesome weekend!

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