By Siddhi Jain
New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANSlife) It’s no surprise that everyone is planning their next vacation with much anticipation. With tradition and modernity blending well in South Korea, calm and rejuvenating experiences in the Asian country make for an ideal post-Covid unwind.
After months of unprecedented hardships, a relaxed stay in these Korean spots can help you rediscover yourself and find true inner bliss.
Stay in a Korean Hanok
These traditional Korean houses are built in a specific architectural style designed to maintain balance with the surrounding environment (mountains, lakes, space, land contours) and are constructed using elements such as long curved roofs and alternating ondol and maru flooring that help keep the home warm in the winters and cool in the summers.
Recently, hanok houses have become very trendy as not only are they historical and beautiful, they are also very eco-friendly and sustainable using natural building materials (wood, clay, paper, stone) and harnessing natural resources such as the sun for heating.
The wonderful thing about a hanok stay is that there is something for everyone to do; kids can enjoy the surroundings aplenty with nature and beauty and traditional games. Mealtimes are so much fun as the food spread is diverse & enthralling and you learn so much about Korean culture just through how they cook and present and eat food.
Tea rituals are also as educative as they are calming to the mind. ‘Dado (tea ceremony)’ is one of the oldest customs in Korea that involves the process of boiling and serving tea. Traditional tea clears the body and mind, and the ceremony focuses on spiritual awakening which symbolizes purification, absorption, and meditation.
Through a templestay, you find an immense calm and inner happiness that readies you to face life’s most challenging aspects. As most Korean temples are located in the mountains surrounded by peaceful greenery, participating in a temple stay is a wonderful way to rejuvenate your soul and body.
What is it? Templestay is a unique cultural program which lets you experience the life of Buddhist practitioners at traditional temples which preserved the 1700-year-old history of Korean Buddhism. A short templestay including chanting, meditation, conversation over tea, Buddhist meals; will give you a new perspective on your life. It may be just the experience you need to release all pent-up emotions that have pervaded your life force during an unprecedented difficult phase.
In most temples in Korea, you must cross a bridge above a small stream, signifying the separation between the secular world and Buddha’s world.
Each temple will design its own program and activities based on its unique location and particular spiritual focus. Most programs start with a tour of the temple and includes learning about Buddhist rituals such as yebul (ceremonial service), gongyang (monastic meal), bae (108 bows), chadam (conversations with a monk over tea), and a walk in the forest.
Most official Templestay programs last for one or two days, including an overnight. During this time, you are completely immersed in the monastic lifestyle, right down to the simple comfy cotton uniform you’re expected to wear throughout the stay. You are expected to comply with the temple’s etiquette. You are usually offered a choice of activities designed to harness spiritual concentration.
Walks in nature
Nothing clears the mind and heals the soul better than the sunlight peeking through trees and resplendent forests, that radiate their healing magic. The air is clean and pure. And with each step you can sense you are closer to finding your true self than you ever imagined.
As an extension of nature walks, South Korea, offers a plethora of breath-taking parks and forests where you can wander and lose yourself. There is a focus on preserving the ecology and with that underlying theme, gardening and other eco-friendly activities are plentiful. A divine nature trail is all you need to leave behind the stress of 2020 and move forward.
(With inputs from Korea Tourism Organization)
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at [email protected])