Spring in Seoul v.3 (Day 2)

T oday is a trip to Nami Island. We decided to be on the more comfortable side so we booked bus and entry tickets via the Nami Island website (here). For KRW 23,000 you get round-trip bus tickets and entrance to Nami Island. You can also book one-way bus tickets for KRW 7,500.

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From Myeongdong station, we made our way to Seoul Station. And from Exit 4, we ran towards Sungnyemun Gate. The bus is scheduled to leave at 9:30 and we almost missed it! Good thing that there were people who arrived later. It actually feels good that you aren’t the cause of delay.

An hour later, we were on the ferry dock of Nami Island. There were so many people that day.

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See how South Korea and Philippines are very good friends?

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What did I tell you about the number of people?

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Welcome to Nami Island!

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To be honest, I’ve never been to a Nami Island with trees that have leaves. Last winter, everything was bare. The spring before that, the leaves are just about to grow. And now, I am pleasantly surprised that Nami Island is more beautiful with its leaves. It makes me wonder how much more beautiful this place will be during the fall.

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Nami Island is awarded a Child Friendly Park award by UNICEF. They hold an annual Children’s Book Festival and cultural events for children.

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The first path that you’ll be walking through is the Korean pine tree path.

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And, when you get near the Central Plaza, you will smell one of the most delicious smells ever – sausage. This costs KRW 2,500 per stick and is worth every penny (ehem, won).

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In the Central Plaza, there are a lot of food choices. We decided to go with the Asian restaurant since it was almost lunch time too. I ordered bulgogi because we’re in Korea and I have to eat Korean food.

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In Korea, you get what you pay for. A KRW 10,000 meal really does feel and look like KRW 10,000 – serving-wise and taste-wise.

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What about dessert? Hotteok is my second favorite Korean street food. Hotteok is a pancake with brown sugar, nuts, and cinnamon as filling.

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From the Central Plaza, you go to so many different directions. We easily picked the Cherry Tree Lane that leads to the hotel of Nami Island.

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You’d soon realize that most people stay in the Central Plaza and the Metasequoia Lane – the most famous of all the walking paths. So, if you want peace and quiet in Nami, you have to go to the ‘outskirts’ of the island.

It’s easy to say that Nami is one of the most romantic places in Seoul. During our time there, there were so many people going on dates. It’s not just the young ones too.

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After a few hours of walking, it’s now time to leave Nami Island. The bus going back to Seoul is scheduled to leave at 4:00 PM. We went back at around 3:30 PM and then browsed through the nearby CU Mart for some food to eat.

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We are now back in Seoul. We were dropped at the Sungnyemun Gate.

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We walked for a little while until we reached City Hall station. Why not use Seoul Station? We were going to Hongdae which is connected to the Line 2 of the subway system. City Hall station is also along Line 2 so we don’t have to transfer stations.

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Welcome to Hongik University station Exit 9!

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We were supposed to meet our friend. But, since he’s not yet done with his thing, we decided to just meet up at 8 PM on the same spot. From there we went to Churro 101. What is Churro 101? Churro 101 is the store of churros that are better than any boyfriend.

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I’m not making things up. They’re the ones who claimed it.

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I bought the one with custard cream filling and one with cream cheese filling. The verdict? Yes, they are better than any boyfriend. They are tasty, sweet, and has a lot of flavor. The bread is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It’s worth trying!

I will definitely come back for more.

Since it was still too early to meet up, we decided to just roam the streets of Hongdae.

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One of my favorite things about Hongdae is busking. Busking is the performance of students (actually, anyone) that shows of their talents. Some more successful than others. There’s dancing, singing, and, to some extent, variety shows.

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Instead of going inside for dinner, we decided to munch on street food instead. I had tempura and that corndog type thing and gimbap and chicken on skewers. It was really filling.

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One good thing about eating while standing is that you don’t feel like the food is staying in your stomach.

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After dinner, we had another serving of bingsu from Sulbing’s branch in Hongdae. I had my own bowl of my usual strawberry bingsu. After that, it was back to the guesthouse for us.

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Others in this series:

Spring in Seoul v.3 Day 1

Spring in Seoul v.3 Day 3

Spring in Seoul v.3 Day 4

Petite France

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Address: Hoban-ro, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do, Gyeonggi-do

How to get there: 30 minutes via Gapyeong City Tour Bus from Nami Island

Operating Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Entrance Fee: W8,000

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Petite France is both a French cultural village and a training facility.

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Around the complex, you’d see a lot of French art or art inspired by France.

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And on the cafe at the far side of the village, you’d see this wonderful view. Wouldn’t you love to see this every morning?

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Aside from visual arts, there are also performance arts and we were glad there was a marionette show while we were there.

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Petite France pays a lot of homage to The Little Prince and its author Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This includes items from Saint-Exupery’s house and a gallery about his life.

Statues like these are scattered all over the village.

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It was a very out-of-Korea experience because it will definitely give you a feel of France. However, I don’t agree with the W8,000 entrance fee for such a small village. Although, I do have to see the other performances to be able to be convinced of that.

It was, though, an important item in any Koreanovela fan’s itinerary. This is where Do Min Joon first showed Cheon Seong Yi his powers. Very much Nami Island is famed because of Winter Sonata, My Love From Another Star made this place known.

Nami Island

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Address: Bukhangangbyeon-ro, Gapyeong-eup, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do

How to get there: 10 minutes via Gapyeong City Tour Bus from Gapyeong Station

Operating Hours: all day

Entrance Fee: W10,000 for locals and W8,000 for foreigners

Nami Island or Namiseom, seom being the the Korean word for island, was formed through the building of Cheongpyeong Dam. It is half-moon in shape and is named after General Nami.

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Nami Island considers itself a micro-nation so before going to the island itself, you have to pass through its Immigration – meaning, you have to buy your ticket.

When you have a foreigner ticket, they’ll ask you where you came from and they’ll greet you in your local language. Then you will ride a 5 minute ferry ride to the island itself.

When you land, there are a lot of amenities such as information, a post office, a convenience store, and a bonfire if you’re cold.

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Near the entrance is the tomb of General Nami. General Nami was prosecuted for treason and the place of his tomb was the place where his body was supposed to be.

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Namiseom was very successful in infusing culture, nature, and tourism in one special place. This area of Nami has a very shallow part of the river where you can wad in. If only I had extra clothes, I would have played in the water.

Plus, this is where we ate our breakfast away from the many tourists that flock the area. And we weren’t disturbed.

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One thing that strikes me most about Nami is this big children’s book library. Nami celebrates International Children’s Book Day to shed light on the importance of children’s books and to encourage the love for reading.

This library is where you can leave your kids if you and your hubby want to go on a romantic tour of the island.

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This is probably one of the highlights of the Nami Island tour. This is the famed line of metasequoia trees. This is where one of the Korean drama classics, Winter Sonata, was shot. And to this day, the memories of such drama is being celebrated and kept alive.

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Nami Island is a paradise within city limits. It’s a fun place to go when you need an escape from your every day life

Riding the ITX to Gapyeong

If you’re in Seoul to visit Nami Island, you’d probably need an ITX ticket. The ITX is the Inter-city Train Express for Seoul and its surrounding cities. Although the Gapyeong can be reached by the normal train system, it is still better to just sit back, relax, and watch the Korean countryside.

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The Yongsan station is the terminal station for ITX trains around Seoul. You can reach it through the subway system. Unlike the local subways, you need to purchase your tickets before boarding the ITX. You can check out Korail’s website for online bookings.

Although you can still purchase your tickets on the terminal itself. But, if you’re a person like me, you’d rather buy your tickets online. Not only is it hassle-free, it assure you of your slot and it doesn’t have an extra charge.

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To claim your ticket, you just have to get to the ticket counter and present your validation and your passport.

The Yongsan station has a lot of amenities like food stalls and convenience stores. We took the early trip to Gapyeong so we didn’t have breakfast at all. We bought food from Story Way and made our way to the platform area.

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The train was spacious and it has a lot of amenities like changing room, vending machines, and a restroom. There was also someone selling food if you forgot to buy some. It was almost an hour’s ride from Yongsan to Gapyeong. On the way, you’d see the mountains that surround Seoul.

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It was just one smooth journey. A total of 5 or so stops and running at around 180 kilometers per hour. It was definitely the rest we need for a journey around Gapyeong.

If you’re going to Nami Island like us, the Gapyeong Tour Bus that takes you to the tourist attractions around their county sits just across the entrance of Gapyeong Station.

Note of the tour bus’ schedule because it just drops by every 40 minutes.