What On Earth Shall We Do In Nami: An Introvert's Guide

Autumn leaves of Nami Island. (c) Atypical Traveler

Namiseom Island is a picture especially during autumn. The entire park is a palette of reds, oranges, and yellows. It is as beautiful as how its autumn posters present it to be except that there is one thing Nami has which the brochures completely left out: PEOPLE. 

People. Crowds and crowds of people. From international tourists to local halmeoni and harabeojis travelling in packs to rowdy high school students and excited elementary school kids. You name it, Nami has it. It's all fun when you are with friends but if you are travelling alone, you might not find Nami that enjoyable.

In as much as we associate "chilling with nature" to solitary walks in parks, we should not fall into the delusions of enjoying Nami to ourselves. The island can be a bit of a challenge for introverts or those who find solace in solitude. The most challenging parts of the struggle takes place at the entrance. It is, basically, an introvert's version of hell in live action. But after that, everything would be tolerable.

Here are some tips on how to enjoy your trip to Nami without necessarily getting into close contact with homo sapiens:

Entering Nami:

Be patient and brace yourself
You know what they say about worthy stuff? That you have to suffer first before you attain them? Well, that rings true with Nami. The trip to the island is paved with rowdy people. And they are all at their rowdiest at the entrance. This is where you line up to get your tickets before you can enter Nami Republic. Expect the line to be really long. Take a deep breath and muster all your patience for that 30-minute waiting time before you reach the island. Pack an extra bottle of drinking water and a generous dose of patience.

Stay near tour groups
Tour groups usually arrive in hordes. Hence, queues can reach up to four lines. Get in line and do not stray away from it. Avoid jumping from one queue to another in hopes of getting to the counter first. With the number of people around, tour groups often line up behind other tour groups. One person cutting in line in front of you would mean twenty more others following after him/her. After getting past the counter and paying for the ticket, wait a little longer for the boat to arrive. The boat ride from Gapyeong to Namiseom is around three minutes only. Once you get to Nami, you can freely roam around without the need of rubbing elbows (literally) with anyone.

Inside the island:

Ditch the map and let your feed lead the way
You will be given a map along with the ticket. The Nami island map is cute but it is probably the worst map I've seen. It is for this reason that I say this, do not use the map as reference. Instead, let your feet lead you (away from the throngs of people). After all, the entire island is a scenery in itself. PRO-TIP: Hang out on the left part of the island (from the wharf). It is relatively less crowded than the right part.

Roam the island along the shores
The middle part of the island is the most populated part, as the metasequoia and gingko lanes are in it. Hence, roam the island by using the pathways near the shore. There are actually a lot of secret places not usually flocked by tourists and most of these are located near the outskirts of the island. If you're too tired (or lazy) to walk, there are bicycles available for rent near the wharf.

Stay away from the Gingko Tree Lane (during peak hours)
I admit, this is the prettiest part of the island. But it is also the most crowded. People will start swarming here as early as 8AM. Peak hours are from 10AM to 4PM. Basically, the entire day. So if you really must, visit the place outside of the hours mentioned. It is, basically, impossible to find it deserted but at least the number of people would be tolerable.

Immerse with the scenery and let go
In as much as you hate mobs teeming on a space of close proximity to you, do not let the number of people intimidate you. People, surprising as it may sound, can be interesting objects too and Nami is a nice place to go people-watching. Usual crowds would be tourists, families, and children. When I went there, I remember sitting beneath a maple tree and just taking time to observe the field in front of me. There were families going on picnics and a class of preschool kids on a school trip playing football. And don't get us started with the lovers. You see a lot of lovers: old, young, same-sex, etc. Koreans are pretty much the sentimental type of people so do not be surprised if you see middle aged couples acting like teenage lovers.

Take photos
Well, as if you need to be reminded on this one. But go on, take as many photos as you want. May it be landscape photography, selfies, or whatever. Who knows, you might get your most creative shot yet as you try to avoid throngs of unwary photo-bombers.

Ride the rides.
There are many rides for those who yearn for an adrenaline rush. If you are on a tight budget, get your adrenaline surge by marching between lovers or snatching an ice cream from an unsuspecting kid's hands. Just kidding.

Treat yourself to the best Dakgalbi in Korea
For all of the troubles you've been trhough, you certainly deserve a nice, big pan of stir-fried marinated cubed chicken a.k.a dakgalbi. Nami island is part of Gyeonggi-do province but it is nearer to Gapyeong than ddakgalbi-popular Chuncheon (capital of Gyeonggi). Nonetheless, the ddakgalbi stores populating Gapyeong county-side do not disappoint its Chuncheon counterparts. Reward yourself to a whole order of ddakgalbi while you're here. Usual price starts at 12,000KRW.

Have you been to Nami and survived the a-people-calypse? Share us some tips on the comments section below.


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