If 2013 was the year of the selfie, 2014 must surely be the year of the selfie extension stick! Is this just a fad that will be over by 2015? I don’t know, but at the moment, EVERYWHERE I look there are people pulling out their selfie sticks to take the perfect snap without having to extend their own arm for that giveaway selfie look.
Selfie Sticks on Nami Island in November 2014
a couple with their selfie stick
These sticks are so popular now. Salesmen even get on the subway trains with suitcases full of sticks for sale. And even the tough, seen-it-all-before crowds of commuters glance up from their smart phones to watch the salesman’s pitch. (Although I am wondering if there’s anyone left here who doesn’t own one by now – apart from me, obviously.) And on Nami Island, in Chuncheon, at the weekend, the selfie sticks were out in force.
View of Nami Island from the boat at 7:30am
But the actual reason for us going to Nami Island (Namiseom) was not to look at people with selfie sticks but to look at the autumn leaves – as it was the last chance before the trees become bare. I knew there would be LOADS of people going to Nami with the exact same idea as me (grrrr how dare they?) so in order to beat the crowds, we got up at 4:30am to catch the first ITX express train to Gapyeoung (55 minutes from Yongsan station in Seoul) which is walking distance from the little port where you can catch the boat over to the island.
The name Nami Island (nami seom) is engraved beautifully in hangeul 남이섬 ( below) on a stone at the arrival point on the island. The island is named after General Nami who lived during King Sejo’s reign (r. 1455-1468) in the Joseon period. General Nami’s grave is also on the island. These days the island is popular with drama fans, young couples on dates, families on a day trip from the city, and nature lovers.
We arrived in Gapyeoung at 6:55am and just managed to catch the first boat over to the island which leaves the port at 7:30am. It only takes about 10 minutes (if that) to cross over to the island.
Everyone who follows Korean dramas will know that Nami Island is the Mecca for fans of the drama Winter Sonata (KBS2 2002). I managed to snap this picture of a tree-lined path as soon as I got off the boat and was very pleased with myself thinking I had captured the famous tree-lined path from Winter Sonata (without any tourists spoiling my shot 😉 ). Then Mr Kim pointed out that it was not THE path from the drama at all. But anyway, it is a very nice path.
Walking around the island we came to the central point where there are restaurants and cafes and of course the stars of the drama Winter Sonata: Bae Young Jun and Choi Ji Woo. aka Jun Sang and Yoo Jin.
It was drizzling when we arrived and poor old Jun Sang and Yu Jin had water dripping off their noses and chins. This is a must location for Winter Sonata drama fans to get their selfie sticks out and take a picture next to the famous couple!
Now THIS is the iconic tree-lined path made famous in the drama …..
At 8 am it was still quiet on the island – just a few families with young children venturing out with their umbrellas. Perhaps the weather encouraged those staying in the hotels on the island to have a leisurely breakfast or wait in their rooms until the rain stopped. (The hotels on the island were fully booked so there were definitely people somewhere.)
I think the rain actually made the island more beautiful and the leaves looked shiny.
I must admit I wasn’t in a great mood when the alarm went off at 4:30am in the morning. Especially when I saw it was it was raining and chilly. But it was definitely worth going early. Most of the people around were photographers – serious photographers with tripods and everything. I like how this photographer is trying to blend in with the yellow gingko leaves with his yellow umbrella.
By 9am the air was starting to fill with the sound of large groups of adjummas in mountain wear, and young couples on tandem bicycles. Everyone laughing and having fun. How irritating!
But we continued our walk around the island which is famous for its trees and nature. We saw lots of robust looking squirrels, (I have about a million blurred pictures of small black things to prove it), several peacocks casually roaming around, a couple of woodpeckers, and a very large wild rabbit nibbling his way through a vegetable patch.
There are also some very low key gift shops, restaurants that cater for international tastes, and a craft studio making ceramics and sculptures like this:
But the main attraction for us was to get away from Seoul for the day and enjoy the nature. So here are a few more snaps of the leaves ….
Beautiful. And after a glass of makkoli in a beer tent it was time to get off the island. At 7:30am when we arrived there was a surprisingly large amount of people waiting to get on the first boat. It was pretty full. But there wasn’t much of a queue to buy tickets. Nami Island is a ‘country’ (Naminara Republic) so we got our entry visa (10,000 won – for the boat ride really) and passed through immigration!
After passing through immigration we got onto the boat with a group wearing jackets with ‘Naminara Republic’ printed on the back.
Back on the mainland I was pretty shocked to see the length of the queue waiting to get on the boats – it was well over 100 metres long and stretched all the way to the car park. And there was a line up of cars waiting to get into the car park too. And all this when the island was already (in my opinion) packed. But the people in the line looked happy enough. I suppose some people just don’t mind being in a crowd.