Sunday, February 9, 2020

Nami Island & Petite France: A Korean-French Experience

Leaving Jeju Island behind (JEJU THROUGH MY LENS), we were off to Nami Island, located 63km northeast of Seoul. After breakfast and packing our bags, we headed to the airport and arrived in Seoul just in time for lunch. Seeing Korean steamboat yet again almost did me in - was it always steamboat or hotplate on these tours? I wondered. Fortunately, Korean side dishes and rice saved the day with their flavors.

Within the hour, we journeyed to Nami Island. This scenic oasis in the heart of South Korea's Bukhan River is celebrated for its natural beauty and cultural charm. Shaped like a half-moon after the construction of the Cheongpyeong Dam, Nami Island captivates visitors with its tree-lined pathways, lush landscapes, and serene lakeside views.

A haven for nature lovers, it offers a peaceful retreat where visitors can stroll through picturesque gardens, admire outdoor sculptures, and enjoy various recreational activities such as biking and boating. Nami Island promises a memorable experience blending tranquility with artistic inspiration.


I had eagerly anticipated our visit to Nami Island. Stepping onto the ferry amidst a crowd of Chinese tourists, I felt a rush of excitement as we set foot on Nami Island just five minutes later. With three hours allocated for personal exploration, I broke free from my tour buddies and wandered freely. From the lake's edge to landmarks like Pyeonghwarang, Yanggu White Porcelain Gallery, and UNICEF Hall, each step offered a new discovery. Nami Island's parks, galleries, and craft studios provided a delightful mix of cultural immersion and natural beauty, ensuring an enriching experience.


I felt my travel journal had reached a milestone with my visit to Nami Island, famous for its association with the beloved "Winter Sonata" TV drama, although I've never watched it. Nami Island served as a backdrop for many scenes from the series, making it a must-see for fans and a beautiful spot for leisurely exploration and natural beauty appreciation. Spending three hours there seemed long.


Within the first hour, I walked to the far end of the island, stopping at a café to quench my thirst in the blistering heat. As I returned towards the ferry landing, I made brief stops at the UNICEF Hall, sculpture gallery, and music gallery. Nami Island's stunning natural scenery makes it worth exploring, and you can easily cover the whole area in about two hours, unless you prefer to linger and soak in the atmosphere.

Next on our itinerary was Petite France, just a short 30-minute drive from Seoul, South Korea. Inspired by "The Little Prince," this charming village offers a taste of French culture in the Korean countryside. Colorful buildings and cobblestone streets create a picturesque setting reminiscent of a French rural town. Visitors can enjoy exploring quaint cafes, art galleries, and shops filled with French-themed souvenirs. Cultural performances and exhibitions celebrating French literature and art add to the village's allure.


Highlights include a gallery showcasing sculptures and paintings of the Gallic rooster, the Orgel House with its 200-year-old music box, and shops offering herbal and aromatic products. While Petite France was an interesting experience, it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

From Petite France, we traveled to the Daepohang Seafood Market, where we spent two hours in this small area, which felt like a waste of time (COLOMBO & NEGAMBO FISHING VILLAGE). Despite its reputation, the experience was rather mundane (HOKKAIDO WANDERLUST), even for my tour companions. After aimlessly wandering around, we headed for another unexciting Korean dinner before continuing our journey to Mount Sorak.

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