It's never a bad idea to start out a new year with a few extra good karma points... you never know when you'll need them. So, instead of spending New Year's Eve drinking too much in a crowded, overpriced bar in Seoul, I decided to ring it in at Golgulsa, a Buddhist temple located just outside Gyeongju, South Korea.
Templestays have been gaining popularity amongst tourists and usually involve a short-term stay in one of the 900 traditional Buddhist temples in Korea. Participants follow a rather strict schedule to experience a day (or two or three) in the life of the monks that reside there. A templestay was something that had been on my bucket list for a while, so when I found a special New Year's program
on the official Templestay website, I knew I had to sign up.
It was about a five hour trek from Seoul to Golgulsa Temple
that required two bus trips, a bit of waiting around, and a short walk to the temple grounds from the final bus stop. Once I had arrived, I was given a brief introduction to the program, a map of the complex, and special clothes that I was to wear during my stay. I was then directed to my room where I would be spending the night with about fifteen other women. The room was a rather large common area with pillows and blankets spread out on the floor for sleeping. There was a bathroom with a toilet, a few open showers, and sinks that were to be shared. I've become use to this arrangement after living in Korea for a few years but wondered how other Westerners not used to copious amounts of nakedness would handle the situation.