Wednesday, April 27, 2011

남이섬: Nami Island

Namisom (Nami Island) is one of the top destinations outside of Seoul for tourists to visit. Particularly those tourists who follow the Korean Hallyu (Korean wave). While this has been a tourist spot for quite some time, it was made famous by the drama Winter Sonata/겨울연가 which was broadcast in 2002 and draws many foreigners every day. When you arrive at the dock to catch the boat to Namisom you need to go into "immigration". Of course it's not really immigration, but they want you to feel as though you're entering a different country. And so, they gave Namisom another name which is Naminara (Nami Country). The great thing here is that until Dec. 31 2011, foreigners get a 2,000 won discount, bringing the price for admission plus boat ride to only 8,000 won. I bought the tickets and no one asked me whether the boyfriend was Korean or not, and so we both got in on the foreigner discount.

Boat to Namisom

We were a little frightened when we arrived on the island as there was an incredible line waiting to board the ship to get off the island. But, then we realized that it was 4:00 pm and all these people were headed back to town for dinner. When we caught the boat back at 6:00 pm, we had no problem whatsoever. Plan your trip wisely so you're not caught in the rush!

Everyone was really excited by the sight of a squirrel. In my hometown you can't walk 10 feet without seeing one, so it wasn't quite as exciting for me. But, I must say, the Korean squirrels are a little different from the variety that I see at home. I like their funny ears.

The boyfriend wanted to ride an ostrich, but I wouldn't let him. I doubt the ostrich would have let him either.

We found an exhibit dedicated to world instruments here. It was nice to walk around. While Namisom does have a little bit of a tourist trap-y feeling about it, I like that they don't charge you to get into the museums and exhibits around the island.

And of course, here is what all you Winter Sonata fans are looking for. Fake snowmen just like the snowmen from the drama. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, they'll be a movie at the end to explain.)

Since Chuncheon is a little cooler than Seoul, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. One can never get enough of the cherry blossoms...

There is a restaurant area on the island, and in front of one Chinese restaurant, there was a chef making some authentic Chinese food. The boyfriend turned to me jokingly and said "He looks like he's really Chinese!" and when the chef's helper heard him say this, she piped in, "Yes, he is a real Chinese person!" I don't know why, but this struck me as kind of awkward to say, especially in front of him. Maybe it's because I come from a country where foreigners are everywhere, I don't know.

Metasequoia Lane is another famous location from the filming of Winter Sonata. Watch out for hoards of people getting their photos here. But, it is beautiful...

Squirrels were not the only wildlife on the island. We found this rabbit (on Easter no less!) and even more exciting, was the woodpecker which you can see in the photo below. We heard him first before we found him, pecking away at the tree.

There's lots of big open spaces and I'm sure at lunch time this area must be full of picnic-ers. The boyfriend found other uses for the space...

Finally, last, but not least is the namesake of the island. A general Nami of the Joseon Dynasty who's tomb is located here.

In the video below you can see some of the famous scenes that were filmed on Namisom including the Metasequoia Lane and the snowmen.

To get to Nami Island, take the Chuncheon subway line to 가평역, Gapyeong Station. It is about 45 minutes from Sangbong station. From the station, either take a 2,500 won taxi or catch a bus to the boat launching area. Be sure to get the 2,000 won discount until Dec. 31st 2011 for all foreigners.

1 comment:

  1. I have good memories of the place from having visited with my wife a year or so prior to our wedding. Very romantic, of course. We were lucky enough to boogie over on the ferry at the tail end of a high-traffic holiday period (Chuseok, I think) and for the afternoon and evening we had the island pretty much to ourselves. Along with the bunny rabbits and ostriches, of course.

    There was a small pension with a restaurant attached that, I believe, allowed the option of a western-style breakfast. The price for lodging was not exorbitant, as I recall.

    Another Korean-style eating/drinking place was a short walk away along a gravel pathway. In the evening it rained pretty hard, and we sat there, the only patrons that night, sipping bowl after bowl of very delicious dongdong-ju. I taught her to play blackjack with torn pieces of paper as chips – if either of us ran short, we’d just tear the paper into smaller pieces, thereby doubling the assets available – and she tried, not very successfully, to teach me go-stop.

    My memory of those ostriches is that at least of them was somewhat territorial and aggressive, and made us reconsider a notion for a picnic in one of the outdoor pavilions … I sort of wonder if he was the same dude you shot here, full-face and quizzical at the camera.