Puppies, Kittens, and Sheep, Oh, My!
The rainy season continues. With that in mind, Craig had thought up a few rainy day activities, so we wouldn’t be shut up in the house all day. Since he knows my default is a trip to a coffee shop, he planned a Weird Korean Cafe hop. It’s like bar hopping, but you go to
all a selection of odd cafes which cannot be seen in either of our homelands.
We had known about cat cafes for ages, having been to one or two in the past, but we hadn’t been to one in Seoul, even though there is one at Gangnam Station. I had recently heard of a dog cafe at Gangnam Station, and we had been meaning to go there for ages, but there always seemed to be something better to do. Then, an FB friend of mine recently went to a SHEEP cafe in Hongdae. Well, that was it! We had to go!
The dog cafe was closest, and we thought cats would be more bothered by dog smell than vice versa. We didn’t think we would get close enough to the sheep for them to be bothered either way. (How right we were!)
So, with the help of the Maps function on our iPhones, we found the dog cafe. It’s between Gangnam and Yeoksam Stations, not far off the Gukkiwon street (but the other side of the main road). It opens at 11:00AM, and we arrived at 5 minutes past. There were already a couple of customers in there, and judging from the number of tables, earlier is better than later. By the time we drank some (terrible) coffee, shared a muffin with a lame beagle, and had our fill of playing with the other dogs, a large party of moms and kids had come in. I got the feeling that that would have been just the beginning.
I can’t believe we haven’t been there sooner, though. It was a great idea– they run a kennel service, so I imagine they have a constantly-changing array of dogs. We got to play with the aforementioned beagle, a sheep dog, and various and sundry typical Korean pets. There is a wall of overpriced snacks, which you can purchase to feed the dogs who make no secret of the fact that they are only interested in you as long as you are doling out a steady supply.
There is a room for the dogs to go rest in, which isn’t closed off to the public, but seems pretty clearly just for the dogs. They all seemed to be trained to use the pads, and the staff was quick to change the pads and sanitize and mop the floor as soon as a dog walked away from a pad. As a result, the cafe smells like a cafe, not like a kennel. The same could not be said of the cat cafe we went to next.
Since there is a cat cafe just outside Gangnam Station, that was our next stop. I had seen the guy in the cat costume only two days earlier. Of course, there was no sign of him when we actually wanted to go, and we couldn’t see any signs indicating a cat cafe.
By this time, Foreign/er Joy had FB’ed me and asked to join us. So, we made a plan to meet in Hongdae, where there are other cat cafes, in addition to the sheep cafe. While we were on the train, it started raining, which meant that getting out of the station was a full-contact sport– no one waiting for others will leave the covered area, so you can’t get out without forcefully pushing your way through. Joy was already there (waiting in the rain, since foreigners know umbrellas work even if you aren’t walking), and she knew exactly where to go.
On the way to the cat cafe, we saw the sheep cafe (it’s downstairs from Jester’s at the B1 level, but visible from the street), but we knew the cat cafe frequently required going on a waiting list, so we kept on. It’s not far from the entrance to Hongdae, so we were there in minutes. Luckily, there was no wait list. Unluckily, it smells like a cat lady’s house. When one cat had an accident, I saw why. After 10 minutes or so, one of the staff members got a roll of toilet tissue and just wiped it up. The end. No sanitizer, no mop to get the floor really clean, just about 30m of paper to blot it up.
The cat cafe is run quite differently than the dog cafe. You put your shoes in lockers, take a pair of slippers they provide, and sanitize your hands. Then you can go inside and buy a ticket for 8,000 won. That gets you one drink from their menu. As far as I could tell, the drinks are of the powdered/ syrup just-add-water variety. Joy and I had some very sweet lemonade and Craig had an iced Americano. There are no snacks, for humans or cats, in the place.
To my way of thinking, there is no motivation for the cats to interact with the strangers passing through. Surprisingly, the cats were very friendly, randomly jumping in our laps or on our table without hesitation. They would let us pet them until they got bored, at which time they would move on. There was a network of shelf-like steps in a couple of places leading to two catwalks about two feet from the ceiling. So, cats could easily escape if they needed a break. There were also a few in cages. I don’t know if they were sick or bitey or still too young to be handled by so many loving strangers.
An hour or so was enough to enjoy the company of cats and become covered in their fur, so we headed out for some lunch (lamb curry HAH!) before going to the sheep cafe. The lunch was great. We sat on the floor (usually not or favorite) watching Bollywood song and dance sequences in the dimly lit Yeti, at the corner of the alley the cat cafe is on. The sheep cafe, not so much. It looks like it could be great– there is an outdoor area around the sheep pen. But, and this is a big but, NO SHEEP. The pen was filled with pictures of them, and a note explaining that the heat and humidity of the rainy season is too much for them, so they will be back in the fall. Craig is sure they went “to live on a farm” and will be replaced with smaller, cuter lambs come fall.
Two out of three isn’t bad. We’ll give the sheep cafe another try in the fall. AND I’ve since found out that there is such a thing as wedding dress cafes. Craig would probably rather peel his skin off with a butter knife than spend an hour in such a place, but the thought of a middle aged woman (me) putting on a rented wedding dress to drink coffee is too hilarious to pass up. The next time Craig goes to Oman, I’m sure I could round up a few girls to join me…
Our cafe hop was over, but our day wasn’t. We were going to see Jeonbuk crush Suwon at 7:00, so he thought a trip to the Toilet Museum could be squeezed in, as well. When we stepped off the train at Uiwang Station, it was pouring, so we decided our time would be better spent getting to the game early enough to secure a dry seat. Only a portion of the Suwon World Cup Stadium is covered, and the seats at the front and back of the covered area would only be dry if there were no wind.
Our plan worked– we got seats midway under the covered area and got only occasional sprinkles on us, despite the gusting rain which fell throughout most of the game. It was a great game, too. Jeonbuk have had a good season, so far, and Suwon have conceded 11 goals in their past 3 games. Not surprisingly, it was quite one-sided, with a final score of 3-0. Luis, one of Jeonbuk’s Brazilian players, has been rumored to have signed a deal overseas. At the end of the game, his teammates threw him in the air three times, which is probably a pretty good confirmation that it was his last game with them.
Not a bad rainy day at all.