Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Buddhist Spring Break

Josh Noel, Chicago Tribune (;
The Kalachakra Stupa is one of the architectural highlights of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Center (Josh Noel/Chicago Tribune/MCT).

Retreats for $65 a night
BLOOMINGTON, Indiana - No matter how I searched, the Wi-Fi wasn’t there. No television, either.

Even my phone, struggling toward two bars, conspired against modernity.

But that’s what you pay for at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and its 108 wooded acres just south of Indiana’s flagship university. Not that you pay much.

Renting one of the four yurts in these woods costs $65 a night. What you won’t get during your stay: what’s mentioned above. Or soap in the bathroom.

What you do get: an eight-sided, one-room yurt (plus bathroom) that’s nothing fancy but clean enough to walk across barefoot. You get a kitchenette, twin futons raised a couple of inches off the floor, a skylight and a small deck facing the woods.

And, oh, yes, inner peace.

I arrived for a weekend stay one Saturday afternoon, pulling into a parking lot long on cars with battered bumper stickers extolling President Barack Obama and freedom for Tibet. Sixteen University of Michigan students in sweatpants and ponytails were also arriving for an “alternative spring break,” as one told me.

“We’re staying here for the week while volunteering at a domestic violence shelter in town,” she said. “Wow,” I said. “Much more noble than getting wasted in Florida.” More
  • GETTING THERE: 3655 S. Snoddy Road on the south edge of Bloomington, about 5 miles from the Indiana University campus. (812) 336-6807, EAT: The yurts have kitchens...

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