Nami Island is a leaf shaped island geographically part of Chuncheon, South Korea. It is located northeast of Seoul. With the construction of the Cheongpyeong dam, it is now an island all year long. Long before it was popularized by Endless Love: The Winter Sonata, it was once a graveyard of General Nami who was hero but died due to false accusation.
From Seoul, we crisscrossed through the subway system to reach the ITX-Cheongchun. ITX or Intercity Train Express are high speed trains that will bring you from Yongsan Station to Gapyeong Station in less than 2 hours for only PHP 200. (This time, I’ll be mentioning cost equivalent to Philippine pesos, and will be rounding off to simplify matters.) Don’t panic if you didn’t purchase the tickets ahead of your trip, because we didn’t, too.
To catch up with breakfast, I gulped some hot fish cake soup from this stand right beside the railway. It was a rush. Once seated though, I seconded the meal with some strawberries. Food is definitely important to keep the spirits high.
At Gapyeong, we hopped on a city tour bus (costs PHP 250). Remember, timing is important. The bus goes around town by schedule, and this one we got at 9 am.
To my knowledge, there are two ways to reach Nami Island. One is by sea through the ferry that docks at the Gapyeong Wharf. And second is by air through the Zip-Wire Tower.
As expected, the first option is the go-to choice. So common that it commands long queues and crowds. It is both practical and convenient, especially when you are bringing the older and younger members of the family with you. But for the real thrill seekers and just for the sake of being different, the zip-wire tower is the place to be.
The establishment is not without humans. The crowd inside is normal. People come and go: inquiring, deciding among themselves and waiting for their turn. Apparently, the rides are scheduled in intervals throughout the day. A maximum of two people can go in one interval.
This cost around Php 1500 and already includes the zip line, entrance to Nami Island and ferry ride back to the Gapyeong Wharf.
WAITING TIME IS WANDERING TIME
By chance, you may get two hours before your turn to ride the zip line. This is fair time you could spare to fill your stomachs or capture the cherry blossoms on camera. The place, by the way, is surrounded by modern food establishments. You wouldn’t notice you were 63 kilometers far from Seoul.
Meanwhile, we checked and hovered all over the place. Just outside the Zip-Wire Tower is a Customer Service Center and Immigration with a sign that says “Welcome to Naminara Republic”. It is said that Nami Island gained its independence on March 2016. As a micro-nation with its own set of currency, stamps and passport, the island promises to embody harmony between culture and nature. It boasts of exports of imagination and fairy tales.
At exactly 10:20 am, we climbed the tower through the elevator. We had mustered enough courage to defy the common way of approaching an island. This would be my first time to do island hopping by zip line. What the hell were we thinking. I’ve rode zip lines in the past, but none that took me from one island to the next.
Riding the zip line has its limitations. As part of the safety procedure, dangling accessories or particulars that cannot be tucked in were not allowed. Luckily, my friend’s backpack and my shoulder bag passed since they could be tucked close to our bodies during the ride. However, our cute transparent bought-in-a-Korean-convenience-store umbrellas did not make the cut. We were obliged to leave them in the establishment, and we could only wish we had claimed them later upon return.
We were so excited. We struck a pose for souvenir. Then, off we went. The weather was good. It was cold and the wind was great for the skin. But the ride was partially disappointing. The ride was safe it was not thrilling. It was slow, calm and easy. I thought we wouldn’t reach the island on time. Or the water vessel could have arrived first. But those were just my musings. It was still the fastest way to reach the island minus the queues and crowds. In fact, the youngest and oldest members of the family would actually enjoy it. Of course, the 2-minute air time gave me a chance to take photos drone-style. The bird’s eye view of the island was priceless. A big difference from my zip line rides in the Philippines is that this time a Korean guy waits for me on the other end of the line.
If I had to revisit Nami Island, I would still veer towards riding the zip line again. It’s quick and time is precious. Anyhow, you wouldn’t miss riding the ferry since that would be the only mode of transport back to the main island.
My friend and I only budgeted half a day worth of itinerary for Nami Island. It was tight but we pulled it off.
We were already on the bus when we realized our missing umbrellas. But hey, that building has funny monkeys. Creative. In the Philippines, it’s called pampalubag loob.