By Yun Suh-young
When we first think of Nami Island, what comes to mind is the metasequoia lane where the famous TV drama "Winter Sonata" was filmed.
The romantic greenery makes us want to visit at once, and plunge into the scene where Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo walked through the lane hand in hand.
The island is an assembly of imagination. It rose to fame after Kang Woo-hyon, manager of the island, turned the place into a spicy mixture of nature and humanity.
Situated 63 kilometers from Seoul and resembling a leaf floating on top of Cheongpyeong Lake, Nami Island came into existence after heavy rain washed away the land bridge to the mainland it used to be part of.
The island was deserted until banker Min Byeong-do came and planted a myriad of trees in 1965. Since then, it has become a green land of plenty, a peaceful island where countless birds stop to rest, and a home to deer, rabbits, ostriches, and squirrels.
People in nature
The beauty of the island is not only found in the greenery; it also lies in the delicate human touch, with surprising features that boggle the mind. Imagination spreads its wings on the island with the help of its transformer, Kang.
The nickname for the island is Naminara Republic, meaning that it is a republic of its own. Kang coined the name to give spice to the island and make it an interesting place to visit.
In order to land on the island, visitors must go through "immigration" and have their visas or passports (admission tickets) checked.
The entry cost is 10,000 won, but there are discounts when visitors come in groups or are students. Visitors can also buy a one-year passport for 25,000 won. There is also a lifetime passport but this only awarded to special people who have contributed to cultural exchanges with the island.
Those with passports may enter the island without paying any entrance fees.
Since Naminara Republic is an island, people must get there by boat. However, there is an alternative, exciting route to enter through _ a Zip-wire. The Zip-wire is a wire that carries people from the mainland to the island. Individuals sit onto a chair-like object attached to a string and slide down the wire and land on the island. Those wanting a wild landing may try this route because the feeling is beyond explanation. The Zip-wire is 38,000 won including the entrance fee.
Those who are less adventurous may take a ferry that operates every 30 minutes from Gapyeong ferry terminal. The cost includes the entrance ticket.
Biking to Nami Island
The most common way to get to Gapyeong is by car or by bus; but those wanting an adventurous trip may choose an alternative method ― riding a bicycle from Seoul.
This method may take longer to arrive but is one way to enjoy every aspect of the trip.
The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) introduced an affordable travel option for those wanting to enjoy their holidays on a bike.
The cheapest way to get from Seoul to Gapyeong and further on to Gangwon Province is via bicycle and the price is 254,000 won per person for a seven-day trip, which is about 30,000 won per day.
"We suggested the trip at the lowest price to fit the concept of a week-long affordable trip. We hope to spread biking culture across the nation", said Jeong Ik-soo, director of the KTO tourism culture team.
KTO chief Lee Charm set off on the weeklong journey himself on July 14 to set an example of a vacationer who takes an eco-friendly, cheap, yet exciting holiday.
"People say the cost for a three to four day vacation is usually very high but this kind of bike trip is something that doesn't require much money and can also be fun. I hope many people will take a week or two off for a vacation to set out on a trip like this", Lee said on the second day of his trip when he stopped at Nami Island.
For those wanting to set their vacation trip cost at a minimum and wander off to the island of imagination, taking the bike as your companion can perhaps be the best choice.
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2015 51st PaekSang Arts Awards