The icy Baekyangsa Temple in Jeollanam-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
The beautiful Baekyangsa Temple is located in scenic Naejangsan National Park. With the jagged mountains looming overhead and the rolling streams running down its ridges, Baekyangsa Temple is situated in the centre of this beauty. With a handful of temple halls and stone monuments, I took my time and soaked it all in. After seeing the fifth temple of the day in Jeollanam-do, I decided to call it a day and retire to a neighbouring hotel.
I had prearranged to spend the night at Baekyang Tourist Hotel, but what happened was anything but planned. I had spent the previous night in a rundown dump in Haenam, Jeollanam-do. My room had three different types of wallpaper on the same wall (I don’t even want to guess), and a dog ran up and down the hallway at all hours of the night yapping the entire time. So I figured I would splurge and find better accommodations, which took me to Baekyang Tourist Hotel.
The view over-top the main hall at the surrounding Naejangsan National Park.
The hotel parking lot was pretty full, and with it being one of the recommended hotels for the neighbouring Yeosu Expo from the previous year, I thought it might be difficult to get a room. I was pleasantly surprised when the desk clerk told me he had a handful of rooms still left. So taking out my debit card, or what I thought was my debit card, I went to pay the 80,000 won fee. But instead of pulling out my debit card from where I usually keep it in my wallet, I pulled out my Jogye-jong card. The Jogye-jong card is a card where you initially make a larger donation to a temple, which is followed by an annual donation of 10,000 won. I might be the only foreigner with this card, because wherever I go, the temple ticketing office always looks surprised that I am a card-carrying member of the Jogye Buddhist Order.
An example of the Jogye-jong card.
The desk clerk suddenly became animated, and he kept repeating my Buddhist name: Bulwang. He was telling me things in Korean, in rapid succession, that I was pretty sure I understood. Because I had a Buddhist name, the head-monk at Baekyangsa Temple pays for any visiting monk. I was a bit taken aback, because I have all my head hair and I don’t look like a pious monk. But he was quite adamant that I pay nothing and enjoy my stay.
The only drawback to saving 80,000 won is what awaited me inside my beautiful room. Because the desk clerk thought I was a monk, he must have figured that I didn’t need a bed. So when I opened the door to my room, there wasn’t a bed in sight. Instead, I would have a free, yet uncomfortable, sleep on the floor with mats as my sole means of luxury.
Surprises, both good and bad, come in many forms.
The surprise “bed” fit for a monk.