Monday, July 24, 2017

Nami Island & Petite France - Korea (Day 4)

Bye bye Jeju Island, here we come Nami Island. Breakfast, bags packed, off to the airport and by the time we arrived in Seoul, timing was just right for lunch. Hunger of course had already called. I definitely need my lunch meal because I am not the piggy-pig kind of buffet breakfast person. In fact, I think I have told you before, I don’t take breakfast. But when I travel, I do keep my tummy warm by filling in some food to fuel energy for all the walking during sightseeing. On this day, after just tadbit of breakfast at about 8.00am, I naturally yearned for a fulfilling meal once we arrived in this tiny Korean restaurant. But the sight of Korean steamboat again, again?, almost killed me on the spot even before tucking in. Oh-god! Is there no other food in Korea except steamboat and hot-pot? Unbelievable. Either, as I have already said, its steamboat or hotplate, or none other, or is it like this when you travel in a tour? I don’t know. Rather puzzling actually. Did we dare ask the pain in the butt tour guide? Nope. 
Just wondering then why on earth do people rave about Korean food, especially those who have toured Korea? Wonder? Even Korean street food didn’t really win my heart, which by the way is similar to Japanese food (Hilton Niseko, Noboribestu & Sapporo/Hokkaido). So, can you imagine how it would have been on this day, facing another boring steamboat again? Thankfully though, so far, I have been saved by Korean side dishes and rice which generally are paired with steamboat or hotplate.  
Lunch was over within the next hour, we then enthusiastically journeyed to Nami Island (Frogner Park). Apparently a drop dead gorgeous nature stunner, Nami Island is a tiny half-moon shaped island located in Chuncheon. Formed after being inundated by the rising water of the North Han River and as a result of the construction of Cheongpyeong Dam in 1944, Nami Island is named after General Nami. We arrived at the pier alongside many other Chinese tourists and mind you, locals as well, I of course had to be the only Indian, I have yet bumped into another Indian until this day, we got into the ferry and within the next 5 minutes or so, we have stepped foot in Nami Island. 
Allocated 3 hours for own pleasure, basically “do as you like”, I broke free from my tour buddies and walked right till the end where the lake is, while simultaneously glimpsing at the Pyeonghwarang, Yanggu White Porcelain Gallery, UNICEF Hall, Ryu Hongjuin World Folk Instrument Exhibit Hall, Yu Qing Chung Sculpture Park Happy Garden, Drama Gallery, Nami Gallery, Hoban Gallery, Small Theme Gardens, Handicraft Studio, Nami Eco-school, Nami Island Glass Workshop and Picture Book Playground.
For me, let me be honest here, sure, I felt good being in Nami Island. After all, Nami Island has been said as a must visit, do or die, what caught my attention the most was everything and anything associated with the famous and world known “Winter Sonata” TV drama. Yes everyone, Nami Island is the location where many Winter Sonata scenes were shot. But, to tell you the truth, I have never watched Winter Sonata before because I really can’t be bothered with dramas. Let it be Korean, Japanese or Chinese, speak about Indian dramas which seemingly always portray women as the wicked bitches or witches.

Bottom line, dramas are not even my cup of water. I can’t be bothered with dropping everything aside, by the way, with enough real-time Indian dramas going on in my life, forget about TV dramas. Still, Winter Sonata did ring the bell loudest in Nami Island, mainly for picturing, after I grabbed a cold drink from the cafĂ© across the lake on this really blistering hot weather. Thereafter, as I started walking back to return back to where we got from the ferry, even before two hours, I had short stops at the UNICEF hall, sculpture gallery and at the music gallery, I think I saw Beethoven. On the whole, let me tell you that Nami Island is worth exploring, primarily for its breath-taking nature scenery, you should be able to cover this whole area within 2 to 3 hours, unless of course you want to laze around till you are satisfied.  

Next on our itinerary was to the within 30 minutes’ drive Petite France. A French cultural village based on the “Little Prince” theme in this cluster of white, exotic buildings on the left-hand hillside. Petite France is where you will see beautiful colourful flowers, it encapsulates Korean Drama Stars and contains a memorial hall dedicated to Saint-Exupery, the author of the celebrated French novel, Le Petit Prince (1943). Also, there is a gallery displaying sculptures and paintings of le coq gaulois (the Gallic rooster), the national symbol of France, then the Orgel House where a 200-year-old music box plays a sweet melody, a shop that sells herbal and aromatic products, a souvenir shop, and many other locales for you to experience French culture. But if you have already been to France, I guess you won't get excited. For someone like me who is still dreaming about France, was I over the moon once I stepped out of  Petite France after half an hour? Not really. Just so okay only.    

From Petite France, we arrived at “Daepohang Seafood Market”. Hack. Another market?  Akin most fish markets in other parts of the world (Fish Market Bergen, Negambo Sri Lanka & Sapporo/Hokkaido) including those in my country Malaysia I frequent at least once a week, seriously, there is nothing special in Daepohang Seafood Market. Then again, you can opt for tasting their fresh seasonal squids and long leg crabs and maybe, you may like it while standing in front of Daepogang harbour. 2 hours in this rather small area, hell, a sheer waste of time. Honestly, boring. Even the rest of my tour buddies felt the same. Yet, we had to kill time by aimlessly walking around. Back on the road again, we had another boring Korean dinner and off to Mount Sorak. 

Up next – Mount Sorak.  

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