Quanhua Temple Stay
June 20-21, 2015
One of the more popular holidays in Taiwan is Dragon Boat Festival. This holiday is always on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Originally, I had signed up to be apart of a dragon boat team, but my injured thumb required me to drop out and I wasn’t approved to take the brace off until the week of the race. Without any practice sessions I would have no idea what I was supposed to do for the race. My plans tanked by injuries I decided to have a more relaxing weekend in the mountain.
My friend, Caitlin, told me about a temple stay that can be done in a temple area in Miaoli county. I invited Alex and Kristen to come along as we all didn’t have any plans. Alex and I spent our Friday off apartment hunting, but on Saturday morning we all met at the train station to catch a train to Zhunan Station. We stopped by the visitor information center for information on a bus and maps. We walked out of the station and were waiting for a cab when a Taiwanese woman came up to us and asked where we were going. She tried to convince us to take a bus there, but we thought it would take too long to wait. Well we ended up spending so much time trying to explain to three different cab drivers where to go that we went back over by the woman and got on the bus with her. She said we could either hike from the bus stop or she could give us a ride. We politely declined, but after spending 20 minutes in the heat we gratefully appreciated the ride. We were on the bus for about 30-40 minutes when we got off with the lady. We waited for 5 minutes and then squeezed into this ladies’ brother’s car. He drove us up to the temple and she helped us check-in. I think we would have gotten there eventually, but with the help of that woman we got there much more quickly. (Thank you random lady we do not know!)
At the temple we were shown the area to eat food and were immediately handed lunch. I was very appreciative of this because it was about 1:30pm.
Then we checked in and changed into hiking clothes. The minute we started hiking we instantly started sweating. It was a hot, humid day. We must have looked very flushed because every person we passed kept saying “Jiroo! Jiroo!” (Go! Go!) with a little chuckle. Despite the heat and the ache in our legs it was a good hike. At one point in our hike we stopped at a temple and were given books “What the Buddha Taught” by Walpola Rahula. Some of the monks in this particular temple could also speak English and had traveled to the United States. We ventured back down the mountain and walked towards a “cave”, which ended up being a temple that was placed more into the mountain. At this temple a small Taiwanese man explained who the goddess was and then proceeded to walk us up the mountain towards a different temple where there were tables of offerings and monks chanting. We thought it was a special prayer time but later found out that the monks just continue to chant for most of the day. He offered us some green bean soup, water, and some chairs to rest on. After awhile we walked back down the mountain to the main temple, Quanhua Temple, and thanked the man for his small tour. Since it was so hot we just lounged until dinner. We ate dinner at 5:30pm with the other visitors and monks and then retreated to our rooms. The rest of the evening was very low key. Alex went to bed early and Kristen and I just chatted until around 10:00pm, then we also went to bed. This was the earliest I had been to bed in weeks!
Sunday morning was a rather restless one. I woke up to the sun at about 5:00am, but kept on and off sleeping until about 7:50am. Alex had been much more adventurous. She had gotten up, went on a hike, took a shower, and was back in bed by the time we even got up. We ate breakfast of congee and then went on one last walk before check-out.
This began our unnecessarily long journey home. We checked out at 10:30am and waited for a bus until 11:30am. That bus took us to a different area where we had to wait until 1:00pm for a bus back to Zhunan Station. The long wait was entertained by a drum and dance performance by a group. I am unsure of the group’s name because it was in Chinese. They were awesome and I give them a lot of credit for drumming and dancing in the heat.
We took one last, crazy, bus ride back to the station where we had to wait another 30 minutes for our train back to Fengyuan. We didn’t have seats on the train, but 40 minutes went by quickly. We were all very happy to be back home.
Despite the huge amount of time wasted on transportation we had a really nice stay at the temple. Our day and evening was pierced with the sound of nature instead of cars and trains. It was peaceful and just nice to get out of the chaotic city. It was a much needed short getaway after the stress of trying to find a new apartment and seeing doctors about my thumb.
If you are interested in doing a temple stay near Quanhua temple here are two sites with information:
You can either make reservations or just show up. The rooms you stay in are like a hotel, so no need to bring a towel or toiletries!
2 – 122NT train tickets – 244NT
Temple stay room (includes meals) – 400Nt
Round-trip bus ticket – 100NT