Note: Wrote this post yesterday, but only just got internet sorted in my dorm room. Also – I won’t be adding pics for awhile – my laptop only has one usb port and it’s being used by the USB to Ethernet dongle. Internet is more important than photos. 🙂 I’ll come back and add them in later.
I’m currently on a four hour bus ride to Chonnam National University. I said goodbye to Pete at Incheon International Airport a short while ago, after we’d found the CNU group. They’re running busses for the international students every hour, so I was scheduled in for the 1:45pm bus.
Goodbyes are tough but luckily I have a fun adventure ahead of me. Plus I have some great memories of this past week.
Yesterday we went on a day trip to Nami Island and Mt. Seoraksan (pronounced ‘saraksan’). We were picked up at 7:30am by our guide and driver, Kim. Nami Island was about a 90 mins drive from our hotel and Mt. Seoraksan was roughly 3 hours from there.
Kim told us that there was once a Korean tv drama set on Nami Island, and although the show ended over 10 years ago, tourists (especially Chinese tourists) flock to Nami Island to see the famous locations. Apparently the island had been quite bare 5-6 years ago, but the huge numbers of tourists led to a lot of money being invested, so now the island has great facilities and is largely covered in different types of art installations throughout the year. It’s a few kilometres to walk around the full island, and there are electric bikes to rent, restaurants to eat at, as well as a public library and a hotel.
The Korean tv show was called Winter Sonata, and the two main characters had their first kiss at a picnic bench on the island while in high school. Years later, the guy lost his memory in an accident and his girlfriend recreated the scene to help jog his memory. The scene took place in winter, when the Island is covered in thick snow, but they’ve covered the park bench in fake snow and fake tiny snowmen that the two main characters made on their first date, so even in summer tourists can replicate the scene. So cheesy, but we enjoyed visiting these sites.
- First Kiss (photos will be added here later)
- Site of a funeral
- Standing beneath the trees
The nicest thing about Nami Island is definitely the tree lined lanes. It looks strikingly different in each season. One of these lanes is full of ginko trees, and in autumn the whole area turns a beautiful yellow colour. Kim said his favourite season is winter, he likes to visit first thing in the morning when his footprints are first to mark the snow.
We then drove about 3 hours to Mt Seoraksan.
I had been really eager to do a hike while in Korea, because Seoul is surrounded by huge mountains. But Mt. Seoraksan wasn’t really suitable – we took cable cars up to one of the first peaks, and the hike up from there was pretty short. The highest point of the peak was also incredibly steep, and being the uncoordinated person that I am, I decided to give it a miss. Pete climbed this bit however, and took some stunning photos.
We also visited a Buddhist temple located at the base of the mountain, and heard about Buddhist history and traditions from Kim (who is a Buddhist but doesn’t practice actively).
It was a long day, so we ended up having some easy Korean dishes near our hotel before passing out from exhaustion.