And no, that picture that led you here wasn’t taken in China or some other Asian country, it’s from right here in Gauteng! Bronkhorstpruit to be exact, but let’s start from the beginning 🙂
What can you do with R500,00 these days? Not much, right?
A challenge was set for me to explore my city and tick off something on my bucket list, all on a R500 budget and you might think it’s impossible given the value of our rand but hey I took up the challenge and did something really incredible. I partnered with Budget Rent A Car, hopped into one of their vehicles and drove to Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstpruit for a 2 day Meditation Retreat.
I had never heard of the temple before a conversation I had with a friend about some of the stresses and anxieties we are both experiencing, so when the retreat idea came up, it sounded like the perfect thing to do.
And just as I’m sure you are, I was shocked to find out that I could experience all that we did for R400. See, I still had a bit of change from my original R500 🙂
The beautiful Nan Hua Buddhist Temple is a non-profit organisation and also the African headquarters of the Fo Guang Shan Order, whose mission is to spread humanistic Buddhism all over the world. Their offerings include different type of retreats and I will tell you about the one I attended.
My reason for wanting to go on the Retreat was more because I struggle with mindfulness, anxiety and just being able to relax in general and meditation has been recommended as an alternative way to overcome anxiety without medication. It was really the best thing I could have done for myself.
I attended the Beginners Meditation Retreat which in essence is a beginner’s course in Meditation that takes place from a Saturday morning to Sunday lunch time. Participants are taught zen meditation and relaxation exercises, Tai Chi is included as well as Yoga. There are different kinds of meditation taught including sitting, tea drinking, music meditation and it was interesting being exposed to this whole world that is completely new to me.
There is an introduction talk at the beginning of the retreat to sort of explain how things are done and why and there’s a Q&A at the end for us to ask the Monk questions related to our experience and Buddhism in general.
The retreat is not at all religious, as you know Buddhism is presented more as a practice and way of life than it is religion. I was intrigued to learn about the story of the Buddha and how it all began for him. You can read it HERE.
Included in the R400 I’ve been throwing around are:
- Shared overnight Accommodation
- Meals – Vegetarian because no meat is allowed at the temple
- The 2 Day Meditation Course
I shared a room with my friend but if you are looking for a private chalet, you pay a bit extra and get your own place or room, depending on your preference and there’s even a “Silent” sticker should you want complete silence throughout the retreat.
The rooms were nice and comfortable and came with a lounge, kitchen, shower and en suite bathroom in one of the bedrooms. Not too bad neh?
What’s also included is a tour of the Temple at the end of the retreat and I laughed at how even my friends thought I’d gone overseas when they saw my pics hehe.
Unfortunately no pictures are allowed inside the Shrine but we had the pleasure of attending and witnessing the Monks’ early morning Chanting procedure. An enlightening experience.
There is also a museum inside the property so you can get a bit more information, I was more intrigued about how Buddha was Indian yet the practice was adopted more by the Chinese.
The tour of temple is free of charge to the public, and if you’re keen on joining the monks for lunch on a Sunday, it’s only R30 for the meal and I recommend you try it so as to observe their mealtimes, and don’t worry, if you can’t use chopsticks they have folks heheh.
We were actually advised in the guidelines that mealtimes are not meant for idle talk or socializing but they were times for contemplation and practice. And though it was hard to sit next to a friend during lunch and not be able to chat, I found that it gave us the opportunity to really enjoy the food and become aware of every bit of their texture and taste.
The point of this post is simple ; You do not have to leave your city to find interesting places and things to do on a budget. Adventure is often right at your doorstep. Or Bronkhorstpruit. Who would’ve thought hehehe.
Check out #BudgetBucketList on Twitter & Facebook to see what other folk are doing in their cities for less moola and please do let me know in the comments:
What awesome things have you ticked off your bucket list on a budget?