Nami Island: Micronation on the Han River
One of the perfect fall getaways from Seoul (Its proximity to Seoul makes it perfect for a day trip!) is that of Nami Island--a micronation on the Han River located in Chuncheon (춘천) of Gangwondo (강원도) province.
Nami Island is a really famous tourist destination in Seoul as it boasts picturesque nature scenes all year-round. But, you may be wondering what makes it a micronation? Well technically Nami Island’s full name is that of Naminara Republic, and they “seceded” from the rest of South Korea in 2006--proclaiming themselves a micronation. Nami Island actually has its own currency, passport, and upon entry, you are required to receive an ‘entry visa’ which comes with your ferry ticket to the island. There are two ways to get to Nami Island: by ferry or by zipline.
I was really excited to visit Nami Island and had been waiting to visit so that I could be enveloped by all the tall trees dressed in their best fall foliage of reds, oranges, and yellows. Before heading to Nami Island, we first took public transport (about 2 hours and 40 min from Yonsei) to Gangchon to ride rail bikes! Rail bikes are bikes set up on old train tracks and their power comes from your own feet--pedal power!
This track specifically goes through the Korean countryside and you are able to take in views of fields, mountains, rivers, and small farms! The tracks also go through some tunnels that are themed! Like a tunnel with bubble machines and a tunnel in which there are strobe lights and a club DJ blasting EDM.
With the chilly weather, it was the perfect temperature to ride and although the bikes seem quite heavy--the slow speed keeps your legs from getting tired. After the rail bikes, there is a “romantic train” which is basically just train transport to the end of the track. I think it is a really fun activity and there were many foreign tourists as well as Korean couples and families enjoying the experience. There was also a cute book shop themed cafe at the start of the tracks that sold delicious walnut snacks (호두과자) which are walnut shaped pastries filled with red bean and walnuts!
After the rail bikes, we made our way to Nami Island--taking the ferry. It was quite a short ride, only a few minutes. And then, we were welcomed to a whole new world (albeit a little one).
Nami Island was very beautiful, my favorite parts were just walking around the woodsy paths and not seeing any skyscrapers in sight--I was truly bathing in the forest. (In Korean there is a word called 산림욕 which means ‘forest bathing.’ It basically describes leaving the city life to enjoy nature, immersing yourself with nature.)
Nami Island also has a few eateries so we had some barbecue (including our first experience grilling duck? It was nice though!) and went to a cafe where they served pine (tree) flavored ice cream.
There is also a quirky little ostrich enclosure on Nami Island which took me by surprise when I first read it on the map. I learned the word for ostrich back during my days at Korean high school because 조 (Jo) in Korean means team so for an economics group project, our team chose the name 타조 (Tajo)--which means, you guessed it, ostrich!
It got cold on the island pretty quickly so we left around the evening time to return to Seoul. But overall it was such a nice little day trip! I highly recommend visiting Nami Island when visiting Korea! And honestly, you cannot go wrong no matter what season you decide to visit~
Today I want to speak on the Topik Test--(the only official) Korean language proficiency exam administered by the Korean government. Taking the Topik exam is a great way to gain a formal gauge of one’s Korean language abilities since it is standardized, although the score is only valid for two years after taking the exam.
Today I will be recounting a little trip to Damyang Bamboo Forest in South Korea! For one weekend in early December, a couple friends and I took a short trip to Gwangju City--leaving Seoul for the last time before the weather got too cold!