Anyway! Speaking of timing . . . we went to the famous Name Island. Made so by the Korean movie "Winter Sonata," which I have to admit I haven't seen yet. However, I would like to. The movie was filmed on the island and is apparently super romantic. Nami Island is also gorgeous, so that helps. It is known to be beautiful every season of the year and I can see why.
It is nestled in the mountains just north east of Seoul on the North Han River. The timing of coming here, though, is something you need to think through if you want to see certain seasons. We were attempting to arrive at a time when the autumn colors would be present, but we were a week or two too early. I will admit I was a little disappointed at first, but I got over it quickly as I saw the beauty surrounding us didn't need any particular season to be appreciated.
We got there around noon and decided to grab a quick snack at the Steel Cafe before taking the Zip Wire to the island and finding lunch there. The Cafe had delicious desserts and pastries. We ate Basque Burnt Cheesecake and something that translated to a "Heartbreaker" though I'm not entirely sure that was accurate. Once outside we headed to the zip wire to buy tickets. It is more expensive than just ferrying over, but we wanted to make the trip memorable. We couldn’t take footage of the zip wire because we didn’t have a strap for our phones. But it was for the best as I enjoyed being in the moment.
After talking with the immigration office, we learned we needed only to buy our zip wire ticket and they would check our passports there. You need passports when visiting Nami because it is a micronation. In fact, Naminara Republic, as the full name goes, is the most popular micro nation in the world. Just a neat little side note. It is also named after General Nami who was falsely accused of treason and was executed in his late twenties. Luckily his true loyalty was brought to light a while after his death and he received all his titles back. We read about him on the island at a small memorial near the entrance.
The Zip Wire ticket office gave us a boarding pass and an hour wait, so we walked around the docks and tried to find something to entertain us in the mean time. I was happy to go for a leisurely stroll, but The Babe had other ideas. He is a little more adventurous than I when it comes to adrenaline. This time I let him win out and I'm glad I did. Since we were able to go on this day trip without the kids I tried to throw away my cares and just have fun. It worked out in our favor and I saw little glimpses of myself and of us that I hadn't seen in a while.
The Babe made his way to a dock that had boat trips you could take. One took you around Nami, the other took you to Gapyeong-gun bridge and back. The last took you to do both for a discount. We decided to go to the bridge since we were already planning on seeing the island by foot. I figured we'd get into a larger boat. But it was actually this motor boat big enough for us three. Our driver sat ahead of us in the pilot seat and we sat along the bench in the back and held onto the metal pole for dear life. He asked us if we wanted to go fast or slow. We told him fast and thought it'd be a bit more than a leisurely ride with the wind in our hair. Yeah, I'll say.
The captain did 360 turns, 180's, doughnuts, fishtails, you name it. There were a few times I was sure we were going to go into the river and I was thankful I had a lifejacket since swimming with three layers and a heavy coat on would have been hard. But, he somehow kept us safe from any demise and we were able to travel under the bridge and back with a pounding heart and feeling five years younger. Or maybe five years older. I guess it depends on how you look at it. Haha
Once out of the boat his business partner told us our captain was a former professional water skier. He beamed in pride and seemed somewhat sheepish when his partner translated what we had learned of him. He was shocked when we asked for a picture with him and I wish we would have gotten his name (I think his name was "Sign" but I'm not positive. A lot gets lost in translation.) We walked away feeling more confident in his boating skills and wished I had known that BEFORE I got on the boat. Then maybe I wouldn't have been quite as afraid. Although, I'm afraid of water, so that's probably a lie . . .
We made it back to the zip wire just in time and boy was I terrified all of a sudden. They crammed nine of us into this tiny little elevator like sardines and it went up so slowly. A small part of me I knew was probably irrational thought I was going to die. Everything was held together with tape and we even stopped on a platform one too early and he had to open and shut the door to get us to move up one more floor. Even then it was painstakingly close getting up to the next level and even managed to make a rhythmic squeaking noise as the gears shifted that had be hiding my giggle as to try to not be disrespectful.
Once on the platform on the fourteenth floor (that's how many I counted), The Babe and I snuggled and shivered in the tent as we waited our turn. We were the last to go, which was okay with me. Soon it was our turn. We walked up to the seats and got buckled as I tried my darnedest to look out and over instead of down. Once we were all ready to go and they got the okay from the other side, they opened the gates and there before you was the ground and the river and nothing you catch you in between. I took a deep breath and let the thrill rush over me as I focused on the scenery and not how high we were. They set up two wires side by side, so George and I were able to go down together. After the initial decent I let the wind sweep a calm over me and enjoyed the ride because I knew it'd be over faster than I wanted. Sure enough, that was true.
Aside from the zip wire employees to help us once on the Island, bunnies were the first to greet us. There are bunnies everywhere here. And Peacocks. They also have an Ostrich zoo, which seemed sort of random to me. I soon settled into the eclectic nature of Nami, though as we became more acquainted with it. It had a mix of nature, Korean culture, fairytales, history, nature and tourism.
We rented road bikes for a handful of dollars and enjoyed riding around the island for an hour. There are so many points of interest and so many little things here and there it is hard to know where to look! Some trees and bushes were starting to change color which made me happy, but not many. I was satisfied though. It was so beautiful and comforting as I could smell the pine and dirt through my mask.
We spent the next few hours goofing off and enjoying being alone together as we explored and took pictures. Eventually I resigned myself to putting the camera down so we could just enjoy ourselves, but it was hard because I wanted to capture everything! There is so much to do on Nami whether your visiting alone, with friends, as a couple, or as a family. They cater to all kinds and have so much to offer.
I have to admit, I was a skeptic. When we were trying to decide what to do with our one day without children, I felt pressured to find the perfect thing. I was so worried Nami wouldn't be as good a choice as I had heard it would be. But I was happily proven wrong. It was everything we needed. Charming and peaceful are the words I would use.
They have restaurants on the island, but we were craving Indian. So we enjoyed a sausage and a steamed bun filled with red bean paste to tide us over. I believe the buns in Korea are called Jjinppung (찐빵). They were so delicious! We also found a little patch of Muhly Grass and decided to get a picture of us. There was a group of boys there who asked me to take their picture in broken Konglish. I did the same to them and they were surprised I knew any Korean. I've been learning for the last year and am finally getting to the point I can at least communicate to some degree with body language, Korean and English all thrown in together. Haha. As we parted ways, I told them to have a good day in Korean and one boy was so shocked he stumbled in his reply. It is fun being able to do that for them. Koreans love it when you can speak some to them because they don't expect it from foreigners. I'll admit, it makes me happy, too.
We went to the souvineer shop in search of pottery, which we planned on getting since it was our ceramic anniversary. But, we found magnets that depicted memories for us here and decided to take those instead. Hey, six thousand won versus forty or more seemed like a smart move to us. Haha
We made it back to the entrance just in time for the ferry to come to dock at the Island. I was a little sad to go. I could easily have spent a night here as they do have accommodations. But I was just as ready to get some dinner and snuggle my babies. We watched the setting sun sparkle on the glassy water and turn the somewhat changing leaves into a reddish brownish greenish glow. It warmed my cold face and made me thankful for such a beautiful day!
Overall we are so glad we crossed Nami Island off the Korea Bucket List. We want to go back to Gapyeong just to trapse through the forests and follow the hiking trails wherever they go. Maybe we will in the coming weeks. Then we could see Gapyeong covered in fall. It would be gorgeous.