Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Naminara Republic Experience Part 1

I have always enjoyed road trips in Korea, because you often spot something in the distance that is odd or different. The above picture is an example of this and was found on my recent mini-road trip to Namiseom or Nami Island that I took with JH. For those not able to take a car trip I will provide public transportation information.

Nami Island is not some little place out over the Yellow or East Sea, for it is an island in the middle of the North Han River. The following are several maps that will help you see why it is so special.

First a perspective of where it is in relation to Seoul:
As you can see it is in the Northeastern corner.

A closer look at the island within the river:

One of the bonuses of driving to Nami Island was that we got to take the scenic route or as JH called it, "The Drive for Couples." Apparently, (by car and bus) you can go either the way that takes you near the river or another way down a large highway. We went the way that takes alongside the North Han River where you get to see lovely scenery of pensions and hotels next to the waterside.

Route No 46 Gyeongchoon gukdo (46번 경춘국도)

Not pictured was one hotel built in a French province style (just off the top of my head) that is both a spot for tourists to gawk at the architecture and a place to stay (probably a bit pricey). We didn't stop at it but considered it for the "next time."

Nami Island Immigration:
A country within a country! The founders of Nami Island (which was done in 1966) eventually felt this place was so special due to it's fostering of art and nature that they decided to make it into a fake country.

To get to Nami Island there is no bridge connecting it to the riverside, in that case it is necessary to take a ferry. Actually, you could take a zip line and zip your way down to the island if you feel so inclined. Since you need to catch a ferry they made the "immigration station". What is nifty about this is that if you are a foreigner you get a discount (until Dec. 31, 2011). 

  • Regular = 10,000 Won
  • Discount = 8,000 (as mentioned above for foreigners)
  • Special 4,000 Won (those young folks...)
Seems pretty cheap to get to the island, from looking at those prices. The ferry runs about every 20-30 minutes, but you don't really feel like you are waiting that long. Anyways let's look at the immigration process in pictures.

The Beginning of Our Nami Adventure:
The island offers a lot to see and interesting places to check out. For part 1 of this post I am going to show you the following sights we took in before lunch and the rest of our adventure on the island. 

When you get off the boat you are greeted by some recycled materials-sculpture and two restroom / mini-shop structures.

Reusing materials for art is a common theme on the island and part of it's whole "environmental conscientiousness" idea. Therefore, as you meander around the forests you will see several sculptures constructed from reused soju bottles and other materials. 

As we walked further on there was a spiritual ceremony going on for folks to watch and take part in.
We didn't watch too long as JH got a little freaked out and so we headed towards the tree-lined path.

Along the "Central White Pine Tree Line" were displays of several different countries. Anyways, we found the one for America and so I couldn't help but pose in front of it.

The island boasts as a place to share culture, but also to give children a place to learn about storytelling. Throughout the landscape were references to this and one of those were boards with storybooks from different cultures.
Another was a tower made of books.
One cute kid was spotted wearing a little red get-up.
There is a lot more to see and share about the Naminara Republic so stay tuned for the next part, and eventually I will get a video out for viewing later on. Till then...
**Public transportation to Nami Island:
  • From Insadong: Departs 9:30 from Tapgol Park. Get back on bus at 4pm.
  • East Seoul→Gapyong
    First Bus 06:20 - Last Bus 22:50
    Every 20-30mn
    First Bus 06:00 - Last Bus 21:30
    Every 30-40mn
    First Bus 04:30 - Last Bus 21:30
    Every 5-10mn
    • Cheongryang-ri Station/Seongbuk Station → Take the train to Chuncheon and get off at Gapyeong Station → Nami Island Cheongryang ri Station/Seongbuk Station

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