It’s been a long, long hiatus from my blog! I truly miss being here and I think about it all the time. I think a large part of why I like to blog – apart from the fact that writing is such a sweet release for me – is because when I write about my travels, an invisible vortex opens and teleports me back to the place itself. Well, experientially, at least only in my vivid memories.
I’ve been thinking about doing a revamp of the site and getting my own domain, but I wasn’t too sure how that worked (do I’ll need to port the photos over? Do I need to port my posts to WordPress, then port it to my domain? How does it work??) It was all so confusing, but thankfully I had a couple of techwhiz friends who guided me through the process. And then it began (sort of, for the second time).. WANDERSUGAR.com was born and ready to rumble!
I thought it would be good to pick up where I left off. And I left off mid-way during my posts on Korea. But psst… don’t tell anyone, but I just came back from my second trip to Korea a few months ago. So it’s about right for me to continue from my last post! I have quite a fair bit of backlogged travel stories I’d like to write about and share, but it’s going to take me a while to go through them. Hopefully within the next few months we will see it here.
If you’re in Seoul and looking to do some serious sightseeing, considering heading to Nami Island in the Gangwon-do area. It’s a mere 63 kilometres away from Seoul, and thus one of the more accessible attractions. Nami Island, or Namiseom, is one of the numerous and picturesque locations you can visit in South Korea. This one is a little more iconic though, because it served as the backdrop for a very prominent Korean dramas back in the day. The tiny half-moon shaped island sees a steady flow of tourists everyday (3 million in 2014 alone), and yet it hardly ever seems crowded; it seems to maintain itself as an isle of tranquillity. Did you know that Nami Island was formed as a result of the construction of the Cheongpyeong Dam? Nami Island was named after General Nami, who led an army to victory against rebels during the Joseon dynasty, and whose grave still rests on the island.
ZipRider vs. Ferry
Nami Island is surrounded by a body of water all around, so your only options of reaching the island is via ferry, or zipline. That’s right, you heard me correctly the first time. You can speed across a zipline to get to Nami Island! Naturally, I chose to do the zipline to the island with the Nami Skyline Zipwire Ziprider. That’s a mouthful, but as its name suggests, it offers you a 360 degree panoramic view of the gorgeous countryside, plus a bird’s eye view of the island itself. It will set you back 38,000 KRW (50 SGD / 35 USD) for a one-way ticket down. NOTE: You can only ride the zipline TO Nami Island, not back up, because… gravity. I took the ferry on my return trip back.
Head into the Ziprider building, and register on the first floor. The friendly staff will take down your particulars, get you to sign an indemnity form, and take your weight. If there isn’t a queue, you can board the elevator right up to the top floor where the zipriding takes place.
From the top you really get an all-around view of the Gyeonggi-do countryside. There are two cables, so you can choose to ride with a friend. The staff strapped me in, checked my safety buckles, and counted down – 3, 2, 1, and WHOOSH!
The first few seconds are pure adrenaline – your hands and feet are in the air, and the wind’s pushing on your face. But after a moment of screams and excited yelps, what struck me was the pure beauty around me. I really had a spectacular view of the rolling mountains and cool blue waters. And for me, no glittering city skyline in the world can compare to the infinite marvel that is nature.
The ride only lasts about a minute and a half (still worth it though) so make sure you make every second count. Take it all in while you can! I wish I could take a picture or video; however, it’s prohibited to hold out your phones while in the Ziprider. This is just in case you drop it and it hits people in passing boats below.
The ride ends on a pretty wooden platform surrounded with flowers and greenery. Once the Ziprider staff unbuckles you, you’re free to go and it’s the start of your adventure on Nami Island. There’s plenty to see on Namiseom, so here are just some highlights you should look out for.
Highlights of Nami Island
If you are a Winter Sonata or K-drama fan, you should definitely visit this place to check out Bae Yong Joon and Choi Ji Woo immortalized in stone (or bronze, actually).
Yes, that is an ostrich, a random big bird in the middle of the island. Apart from the Lover’s Garden (where you can find the Winter Sonata statue above), there are many other themed gardens which you can visit, including a garden with General Nami’s tomb. There’s also a themed park with a merry-go-round, shooting range, and even a skating rink for the whole family to enjoy.
This is the very iconic row of trees, famous for its beauty across the seasons. It’s really interesting to see how the landscape totally evolves through spring, summer, autumn and winter. I was there at the end of spring, and almost the beginning of summer – so here you see the trees almost bare, paving the way for warmer weather. This is also an iconic location for tourists to take photos between the trees.
There are also plenty of other pieces of nature that will definitely catch your eye – take your time to explore the island as there’s so much to discover!
Exhibits, Performances & Crafts
The island is also host to performance halls, exhibit spaces, seminar rooms, and even culture experiences – if you like to get hands on, check out the Nami Island Glass Workshop or Handicraft Studio for a quirky afternoon on the isle.
Beyond the trees lies a stunning lake – this lake surrounds the entire island surrounded by hills. Imagine waking up to this scenery every day…
How to get to Nami Island
Take the subway to Gapyeong Station, and you can either hop on a bus or taxi that will drop you off at the carpark (where you’ll see the Ferry Terminal and Zipwire tower – you can’t miss these landmarks!)