Everyone in Seoul knows about the Banpo Bridge, which is famous for its very colorful and fascinating dancing fountains. But what’s not well known is that, while the fountains are actually installed on the higher Banpo Bridge, one can have fun selfies with the colored fountains as your background while standing on the Jamsu Bridge, the lower one. Yes, the Banpo Bridge has a less known twin, the Jamsu Bridge.
Jamsu Bridge is actually the best way for everyone to cross the Han River because it has, one, a vehicle lane; two, a pedestrian lane; and three, a bike lane! And these three lanes are full of traffic all the time, especially on weekends!
As I live in the Yongsan District, which is connected to the Seocho District by the Banpo and Jamsu Bridges, on cool days, with comfortable shoes and a bottle of water, I sometimes join hundreds of other people who stroll, run and bike at the lanes by the Han River bank, and I finish my stroll at the other side of the Han River, at the Banpo Park after crossing the Jamsu Bridge.
Crossing the Han River through the Jamsu Bridge is actually an interesting and enjoyable experience. While the river is just a few meters beneath you, the idea that hundreds of other people jogging, strolling with their pets, biking in groups, families and couples are also on the bridge, not only trying to cross it, but actually having fun while doing so, makes the experience unique. It’s like crossing the bridge itself is an experience of its own. No wonder a few Korean movies and TV dramas have been shot on this bridge. The funnel-like view of looking at the other end of the bridge, while under another bridge is a different perspective that is not found in any other part of the city. But on rainy season, when the Han River overflows, this bridge is closed to traffic. Can you imagine seeing the water level rise and the bridge disappears entirely from view? Scary!
On a cool, sunny day, after I cross the bridge, I complete my stroll at the other side, where there are three interesting structures called the Floating Island, which, as the name connotes, floats on the Han River but is attached to the river bank by footbridges. This multi-million dollar structure actually consists of three ‘islets’, namely, Vista, Viva and Terra. The big one, Vista, is open to the public, and I have been up there a couple of times already. Looking out from the topmost level gives you a different 360-degree view of this side of Seoul from the Banpo Park.
Going there on foot from my home in Hannam-dong is not a problem as you’d always feel energized to walk or run with everyone else on a cool spring day. But going back home with tired legs usually tempts me to take the bus. Unfortunately, there’s only one bus heading back, the Blue Bus 740, which is usually full of passengers crossing from Seocho to Yongsan. And taxis are scarce.
So, sometimes, on my way back, I sacrifice to walk a couple of kilometers or more with a few stops to rest just to solve the problem. And to take my mind off the distance I still have to cover, I just try to continuously enjoy the view of the river, the pigeons at the bank and the ducks on the water, the formations of the apartments on the other side, the unique get-ups of everyone I meet along the way, and be glad for the feel of the cool breezes, the bright blue color of the clear skies, and the sound of an energetic city amidst the noise of my grumbling stomach.
And looking at the faces of some tired joggers and bikers, I sometimes think they must have even come from the farthest districts of the city and may have covered longer distances. And they’re not even complaining.
So, if you have free time these days, do try to enjoy crossing the Jamsu Bridge; the most useful pedestrian bridge over the Han River has a name! But come to think of it, Banpo Bridge, if without its colored fountains running, it just another bridge full of cars and buses.
Jamsu Bridge, on the other hand, offers more than just a crossing. It affords everyone a run, a bike ride, and for strollers like me, a totally unique experience of walking just a few meters above the Han River, amidst the cool spring breezes and with a special view of this part of the city. And of course, thanks to the Banpo Bridge above it, we cross the river under the shade.