Remembering Winter Sonata at Nami Island

When South Korean drama entitled Winter Sonata was aired in my country, more than 10 years ago, the drama has been hit to the TV viewers maybe because Filipinos can relate to the story as it depicts love and life story which can happen to anyone. I never watched Korean Drama before but when Winter Sonata started airing in my country, I was curious why a lot of my countrymen watch it. I tried to tune once and I watched it again and again. The said drama is one of the non-historical drama that I knew by heart, main reason  aside from the story was because of the main actor Bae Yong Joon. I was a fan of him.

Aside from historical places that I wanted to visit in South Korea, we did a side trip in few places where some of the famous drama was held. One of the place was Nami Island (or Namiseom) where some of remarkable scenes of Winter Sonata series which remembered by the viewers. For what I learned, the island become a tourist destination in South Korea because of the said drama.

When we arrived in the island, I never expect historical information to discover, but I did learned something. The island was named after General Nami, who died because he was falsely accused of treason during the reign of King Sejo. At the island, I read some information about the said General and it seems that the treason case against him was removed  during King Sunjo (son of King Jeongjo / Yi San). That piece of history is quite interesting to know.

From our hotel we took Line 7 again and started our journey from Nonh-yeon station to Sangbong. There was a comedy experience we did, as we understood instructions incorrectly and from Sangbong, we went out in Mangu station as we thought we need to transfer the train going to Gyeongchun, but to our discovery, the train in Sangbong also goes to the station we intended to do, we did an unnecessary switching of train. Well that was one of our moments of experience to laugh at while touring in South Korea.

After we took train in Mangu station, it was almost an hour before we reached Gapyeong station. During that travel, I just realised how far the scope of Seoul Metro Train. Because for me Gapyeong station distance is really far from metro. And I also witnessed along the train line the residential buildings besides hills and mountains which made me feel awe for what I saw. I can sense Seoul was not enough to accommodate South Korean metropolis that is why residential buildings are nowadays can be seen even its far in Seoul.

We went out in Gapyeong station and from there I found some tourist brochure to know more about how we can go to Nami Island. There is a regular bus that goes through all tourist spot in Gapyeong area. But we still decided to take a cab as we have limited time to visit all the places that the bus is offering. After taking a cab, we just surprised that terminal to Nami Island was just nearby, since it is near from the train station, the fee was minimal and we had saved time.

We walked to the terminal and some people probably recognised that we are Filipinos and they greeted us in our language which made us feel at home. We bought our ticket and then walked to the docking area or what they call Gapyeong Wharf where the ferry that will bring us to the island was waiting.

While waiting for the ferry to leave the terminal, we saw a zip line tower (Zip Wire Tower) which is another option to go to the island instead of a boat. Since we already bought tickets, we don’t have a choice to cancel the trip even my sister and I wanted to try zip line.

Nami Island from a far
Nami Island from a far

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We enjoyed the trip and in few minutes we arrived at Nami Wharf is Nami Island. People started to disembark the ferry and we did the same. Near the entrance gate, there were information centre, restaurants and other stores to enjoy. We started our walk in the island park. First, we passed the Tourism Bureau. Next thing we saw was the Tomb of General Nami. We walked along the famous Central Korean Pine Lane where there are lanterns hang on one side. Along the lane we also found different flags and we found my country’s own flag.

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IMG_3655Korean Central Pine Tree Lane

Korean Central Pine Tree Lane

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South Korea and Philippine Flag, The Song Museum (Behind)

And from the said lane, we either turn left or right to see more of different things in the island park. First stop was at the Ostrich Fence. Then, the nearby site of Yeoncheon Jeongok-ri Site.

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-Ostrich

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Next thing we saw was the famous Winter Sonata First Kiss site which showcase the bench used of the main character of the drama where the first kiss happened. Then it was followed by the First Kiss Bridge where you can see the Glass Sequoia, Eco Farm and Yeonryeon Pond.

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First Kiss Bridge

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— First Kiss Bridge

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We continued our wandering in the island park until we were back in Korean Central Pine Lane. Then we saw the UNICEF Sharing Stage and UNICEF Hall. Next to the area were restaurants, galleries and stores. Next stage we saw was Youth Stage Belgrade.

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–UNICEF Sharing Stage

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Restaurant
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Gallery

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— Restaurant

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–Youth Stage Belgrade

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We stopped for a while to take a break near at the playground. Then after the lunch, we walked to the famous film site of Winter Sonata which called the Metasequoia Lane. Here we saw different stuff related to the drama such as the huge photo of the main character along the Metasequoia Lane, their statues, bicycle used in the shooting and event the woods were also displayed. There is Winter Sonata store as well. Every romantic moments in the drama has been showcased.

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Meta Pond

 

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— Winter Sonata Stuff

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Meta Pond

 

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After enjoying the Winter Sonata Site, we started to walked back from where we came from as we still plan to visit another drama site near the island. We walked in the same lane that we took while enjoying the island park.

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Riverside Walking Course
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View From Nami Island

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Nami Island Information Center

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–View While Leaving Nami Island

 

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South Korea Adventure

One of the country that I dream to visit is South Korea. Main reason, I fall in love with their history through historical drama that I watched. I am not used to watch all Korean dramas, but if its historical, I definitely going to watch it. I can say that I am somewhat familiar with their history though I am aware that probably not all things shown in the dramas are all correct but at least some of the facts can be search online, especially people if they are real or imaginary character. These historical drama were aired as well in my country, and some seen online. I can sense that there is good relationship between my country and South Korea. One of the sign of this good relationship is the continuous visitation of the Korean actors/actress/artists in my country to either promote their albums or films.

When I came from Australia after my recent project assignment last May, there is at least two weeks left before our flight to South Korea. I booked the flight a year ago, without assurance that I will be able to visit this country. It was 1 peso sale in Cebu Pacific (one of the major budget airline in the Philippines), base fare is 3 pesos, but in reality the total airfare is not just that amount, it’s more than that.

I booked three tickets and I planned to go together with my mother and my youngest sister. And in less than two weeks, we don’t have yet the visa since I cannot apply it a bit earlier since I am not around in my country until I returned from Australia. I worked with all the paper requirements for the application of our visa and the three of us visited South Korea embassy, 5 days after I arrived in Manila. And we waited for a week for the result of our visa application. Our visa were approved released just two days before the scheduled flight which is very tight. Until we received our passport and visa, that’s the only time we were sure that we are really going to South Korea. I already accepted before, that the hotel and flight booking will be forfeited if our visa application was not approved. And we were lucky that everything went smoothly.

It was Friday (June 6, 2014), my mom, my sister and I were waiting at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), Terminal 3. At the time that we were boarding the plane, that made me realized that my dream will come true in a matter of few hours. I just thought about traveling South Korea, but never really planned it so well because of the concern regarding our visa. I am a citizen of the country with limited visa free entries to other countries. This is one of the main reason why my travel to other parts of the world are being limited.

After four hours of flight from Manila to Incheon, we finally arrived at Incheon International Airport. It was past 8 in the evening, we were not like other travelers that all things were arranged. The only thing we booked was our accommodation because we were not really sure if we will able to get a visa. After getting off the plane and passing the immigration area, I thought it still early, therefore, we tried to figure out how we were going to the hotel service apartment that I booked. After asking something at information center, we bought our transportation card called T-money card, this money card can only be topped up by cash (not sure if there is a way to top it online via credit card). We decided to take train to go to Seoul and the plan is to transfer to metro train in Seoul. After withdrawing some cash, we took the “All Stop Train” of AREX line (“Express Train” is the other type of train, which is non-stop, straight to Seoul but more expensive than the All Stop Train). We arrived at Seoul past 10:30 PM. Looking at the time, we hurriedly transferred to one of the Seoul Metro Subways which is Line 4 going to Oido. It’s past 11:30 PM, we got off at Chongshin University or Isu station, then we transferred to another line which is Line 7 going to Jangam. At this time, we never able to arrived at the right station where our hotel is just around because the train stopped its operation even before we reach the station we are intended to.

We stopped at Naebang station as the last stop which means the next train will be coming the next morning, 3 more stations to reached Non-hyeon where our hotel is almost near, we went out at Naebang station and tried to find a cab that will bring us in our accommodation for the next 9 days and it was past 12AM in the morning and we were still outside in a place that was foreign for us, quite adventure but risky as well. There are several cabs stopped but most of the driver rejected us, either they don’t understand the way I speak since I am asking them in English or they don’t really want us as their passenger. We waited until another cab stopped and agreed to drop us to the hotel. One disappointment on that situation was, the driver never helped us to fetch our luggage to put it in the trunk of the cab. While on our way to the hotel, the driver keep on checking and looking on the map and address that I have on my hand to make sure that he’s on the right track, I keep on talking to him in English but he usually smiled at me without other words to say, in that situation I understand that he does not really know how to speak English either.

At last we arrived at the hotel service apartment at Gangnam-gu and the name of the 4 star hotel is Inn the City Serviced Residence, Gangnam. The clerk at the lobby of the hotel accommodated us quickly, we went straight in our room after we got our key. My impression to our room is nice, it has two double bed and all the necessary appliances as expected were there. After few minutes of being familiar with the room, we knew it was really late like almost 2AM, we have  a big day ahead of us for adventure and because of that we crawled in our bed and fallen asleep shortly.

I will tell stories of our adventures of each places that we visited in South Korea, most of the places were in Seoul and around Gyeonggi-do province. I enjoyed all of these places in our 8 days tours in this country, though I am aware there are more tourist destination to see and I promised myself that I will go back in this country.

Here are the places that we visited in South Korea.

1. Gyeongbokgung Palace (Seoul)

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2. Insandong (Seoul)

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3. Bukchon Village (Seoul)

IMG_64054. Seoul City Hall (Seoul)

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5. Hwaseong Haenggung (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)

Hwaseong Haenggung - Temporary Palace of King Jeongjo - Back to the Past Adventure (Part 3)

6. Hwaseong Fortress (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)

IMG_68497. Everland (Yongin, Gyeonggi-do)

IMG_83508. Nami Island (Chuncheon, Gangwon-do)

IMG_74359. Petite France (Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do)

IMG_794510. Changdeokgung Palace (Seoul)

IMG_706411. Changgyeonggung Palace (Seoul)

© HIDDEN PANORAMA 201412. DMZ – Demilitarized Zone (Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi-do)

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 13. Seoul and Beyond – Random Moments

Hidden Panorama - Seoul Random