A few days back I read Seoul In Black And White’s post on free traditional Korean medicines at the UNESCO building in MyeongDong and got excited to try. Experience Oriental Medicine Center are offering cupping, acupuncture, massage and hanbok experiences for free to foreigners. I have a huge interest in traditional therapies/ natural medicines and combined with the fact that it was free, let’s just say, it had me up early(ish) the next day, dragging Bobby from the apartment. I spent the subway ride wondering about what colour hanboks they’d have and the street foods we’d snack on. We walked out into the rain after asking for directions, to the crammed streets of the famous shopping district. MyeongDong is like a beehive. Forever buzzing. All the food stalls were covered with plastic and chicken sticks were first on the agenda.
If you’re going for a street food crawl, MyeongDong is not the place to do it. 6,000won got us two sticks and we decided it’d be cheaper to eat a proper meal for the same cost rather than parting with twenty odd dollars for different snacks. Up and onwards we went to the 8th floor of the UNESCO building. We saw pictures of acupuncture and I started getting a little nervous. The corridor is a wrap around one and we ended up doing a loop while my fear started to rise past the manageable stage. A little sign was stuck upon the door saying they closed at 4. We tried turning the handle but they were locked. Blessed are my days! They must’ve ‘shut shop’ early for Seolnal. *Needle phobia meltdown crisis averted. Celebrated with 32cm ice-cream. Never mind the self-imposed ”no snacking in MyeongDong”.*
We couldn’t just go home, we’d come all that way. To the Dog Cafe! This one was on the fourth floor of the building with the “Beyond” cosmetics shop, next to the building with “Innisfree” and had the “Ashlee” buffet down the road to the left. These landmarks hopefully won’t be changing anytime soon, address down the bottom.
We waited in line for 15 minutes, as people filed out, more went in. The entry fee is 8,000won (~$11 AUD) which includes any drink from the menu. Cafe Lattes were ordered, hands were sanitized and the lady gave a quick run through of the rules: Don’t pull the dogs tails, don’t disturb them if they’re sleeping etc. There are laminated pages with photos of the dogs with their names written on them so you can call them over. This cafe had 26 dogs, two of the bigger dogs were skittish so you’re asked to let them have their space, but they were all very placid animals anyway.
The room has a wrap around chest box seat with cushion tops. Put your bags and coats inside here as they do pee and there’s a warning that they might use your items as chew toys. Once people claimed their table and put away belongings, they went to the centre of the room, placed a blanket over their laps and waited. The dogs are all walking around freely and the little ones are all cuddly and crawl up into your lap and take a nap. Bobby’s dog chose him within a few minutes of sitting down. Maybe Bobby had left over sauce on his hand or something, because that little dog practically licked off a layer of skin. Mine left me hanging for 10 minutes, coming to me and then walking away. It was like waiting to be picked for team sports. Just as I was getting into a rejected mood, the little old dog crawled into my lap and stayed the whole time. I felt loved, I had been chosen! We stayed for three hours (there’s no time limit) and felt happy and energised from it. This particular shop co-runs with a cat shop around the block, so if you go to the cat cafe within the week of going to the dog cafe and show your receipt, you get 3,000won off the entry price and vice versa. Once you’ve finished and are ready to go, remove the dog from your lap (my one growled cause it didn’t want to move so we gently dragged the sheet off with him on top) give your blanket back to the attendant/ put it on the table, wash/sanitize hands and use the sticky rollers to remove any pet hair on your clothes.
Why do they have animal cafes?
- People live in apartments and usually animals are not permitted.
- If people are allowed animals, they’ll go for the smaller ones that don’t need much attention.
- Lonely people can go here and feel connected with the cuddly animals.
- It’s relaxing and makes people happy and allows them to slow down in their fast paced society.
- A safe environment for the animals and people.
- For the time poor and non-committal, it’s better to go here than get a pet and eventually abandon it.
- People can meet people with similar interests
If you’re in Korea, animal cafes are highly recommendable for a calming, relaxing time. Go Go Go!
Dog Cafe phone number and address 02-772-9497 서울 중구 충무로1가 22-2 4층
Happy Days – Chan and Bob