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October 2005
Ocean Lotus Farm
Review by John S. Hall


The vegetarian restaurant at
Ocean Lotus Farm

A few months ago, my wife and I (both lawyers, but don’t hold that against us) found ourselves able to take a vacation. We were especially interested in visiting a bed and breakfast. I’m vegan, my wife Yuriko is vegetarian, and I wasn’t sure I would find one that could accommodate us on such short notice, fell into our price range (I said we were lawyers—I didn’t say we were rich), and was less than a four hour drive from our home in New York City. After bopping around on the web for a while, I came across a vegetarian bed and breakfast charmingly named “Ocean Lotus Farm.”

On the website I saw pictures of goats, chickens and some lovely farm land. There were also pictures of the proprietors, two Taiwanese immigrants named Yuh-Hai (“Ocean”) and Hui-Lien (“Lotus”), hence “Ocean Lotus Farm.” The place looked idyllic, charming and inviting. Plus, it was only two and a half hours from the George Washington Bridge, in a rural town in northeastern Pennsylvania called Dallas.

Each of the rooms are arranged based on Feng Shui and Chinese medicinal principles and has a different theme: the Bamboo Room, for example, is wood-themed, which (according to Chinese tradition) is associated with spring, vigor, youth, and the smooth flow of Qi. In addition to the Bamboo Room, Ocean Lotus Farm offers the Flamingo Room (fire-themed), the Room of Rice Field (earth), and the River Room (water). The Room of Rice Field was $90 a night; all the others were $70. Although they all looked lovely on the website, we decided we would prefer the Room of Rice Field. This was a Japanese-style room with a tatami platform, a gas fireplace, and a private bathroom with a separate bath and shower.

We had told Yuh-Hai and Hui-Lien that we would like to have dinner there our first night, which is an additional $10 charge per night. We expected to be there by six o’clock, but we arrived three hours late—well past the suggested check-in time. Yet, our hosts didn’t seem to mind (we apologized profusely, of course). They were both welcoming and warm, and they had dinner ready for us in a matter of minutes.

They served several courses, including a mushroom miso soup, two main courses (one with tofu, one with wheat gluten), a variety of fresh vegetables, and pudding for dessert. If we had visited later in the year, the vegetables would have come straight from the Ocean Lotus garden. The meals were arranged beautifully, and our hosts explained each course as they brought them out.

The next morning, we heard roosters crowing, and when we got to the dining room for breakfast we were asked if we’d like a tour of the farm. After eating another multi-course meal, this time featuring delicious vegan omelets, we met the chickens, who were very happy and friendly. The two goats followed us around like puppies as we toured the grounds; they were sweet and playful.

Although the farm is not certified organic, it is chemical-free. Yuh-Hai explained that he and Hui-Lien follow most organic guidelines, and also “emphasize making harmony, and making friends with plants (including weeds) and animals (including deer and pests), which is not required in organic farming.” We also learned that our hosts both have advanced degrees: Hui-Lien got her MBA from Duquesne, and Yuh-Hai has a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Carnegie Mellon. Though they had no farming experience, they decided to start the farm/bed and breakfast after realizing that they didn’t want to spend their lives working in offices and laboratories.

Our hosts gave us some ideas about things to do while we were there. The first day, for example, we went to a nearby state park (Ricketts Glen State Park, which is known for its many waterfalls) and hiked. When we got back, I pulled into the driveway, and the chickens rushed toward the car to greet us. When I opened the door they crowded around, looking at me, as if to say, “Welcome back!” These chickens seemed so happy and well treated that I could have felt comfortable eating eggs for the first time in several years. Our hosts, like Yuriko, are vegetarians, but they completely understand and accommodate the vegan lifestyle.

The bed and breakfast itself is spacious and beautifully decorated with lots of Asian artifacts (including a very impressive sculpture of Kuan Yin). Ocean Lotus Farm offers its space for group or individual spiritual retreats. Yuh-Hai and Hui-Lien have practiced Buddhist meditation in several forms, including Tibetan, Thai, Chinese Ch’an (Zen), Pure-Land chanting, and Vipassana (insight meditation). Although they do not teach, they have invited masters to lead workshops there. They also see farming as a meditative activity: as Yuh-Hai explained, “cultivating the field itself is one of the most efficient methods in cultivating our mind.” Yuh-Hai and Hui-Lien would like to lead farming workshops in the near future; they also plan to convert an old barn on the property into a meeting room.

The morning we left, we had another fine breakfast. All our breakfasts consisted of fresh vegetables; fresh fruit, beautifully cut and presented; a main course of pancakes or vegan omelets; freshly baked banana bread; fresh-squeezed juice blends (either carrot-beet-apple juice or wheatgrass-apple); and coffee, green tea, or a delicious tea that we had never heard of before called Jiaogulan. The farm has a little gift shop that sells this tea (we bought some) as well as CDs, necklaces, charms, and other gift items.

After breakfast, I mentioned that I had a headache and Hui-Lien offered to treat me with Gua Sha, which is done by scraping a round edged tool on the back of the neck. It doesn’t sound pleasant, but it made my headache go away.

I should mention that my wife and I tend to be private people. If we hadn’t been so welcomed by our hosts, and if we had preferred to keep to ourselves, I’m sure that Yuh-Hai and Hui-Lien would have given us our space. But instead, as we left Ocean Lotus Farm, we felt as if we were saying goodbye to new friends. We promised to return soon, and we are very much looking forward to our next visit.

John S. Hall is a vegan Buddhist living in New York. He is the lyricist and vocalist for the band King Missile III, and is currently a partner in the entertainment law firm Heraty Hall. For more information on Ocean Lotus Farm visit or call (570) 639-4947.




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