Cafe Cats and Popular Chickens
Songdo International Cultural Festival
I’m sure it seems like we’re always going to festivals but that’s only because we are. There are festivals every weekend. Not always nearby, but in the big cities there’s usually something going on. One of the smaller ones we recently walked through was the International Cultural Festival in Songdo. Pretty small compared to other festivals but there were still about 30 countries represented all with their own tent. Each tent had various items to teach others about their culture - whether that be traditional clothes, food, drinks, music, art, or anything else specific to their country. It was pretty neat seeing so many different countries being represented, but we got there near the end so most of the freebies were gone. Plus, it was still peak hot weather so we continued on. We meandered over to the Central Park Sunset Cafe for some air conditioning and shade. I also got a pretty sweet photo op with my buddies from Madagascar!
Last weekend, we went back to Myeongdong in Seoul. Nothing in particular was going on, but we finally went to a cat cafe! There are tons of them in Myeongdong and Hongdae but we went to Godabang Cat Cafe. It was 9,000 won a person which included a drink. But before we entered, we had to of course take off our shoes and put on slippers. The woman working at the front greeted us, immediately put hand sanitizer on our hands and explained the rules. There were approximately 12 cats total. I’m not sure how other cat cafes work, but at this location, we were not allowed to pick up the cats and hold them. There were about five cats with scarves on which indicated we could only pet them on the head. And we were told to be cautious of the cat wearing the blue scarf because he might “punch” you if you get too close. Whoa, buddy! I steered clear of that one haha.
We went around 5:00 in the evening so the cats were pretty tired and not much was happening for the first ten minutes. There was a cat snoozing in a box behind us and a few others just relaxing nearby. Eventually, the worker came around with a kitty treat and put it on everyone’s hands so the cats would come to us and lick it off. More people also started to show up so it got a lot more active as time went on. I came to love the only one that continued to let me pet it. Look how cute he is!
After the cat cafe, we did a bit of walking around and shopping but let’s get to the important part…dinner! Luke found an amazing dak-galbi restaurant called Yoogane Dak-galbi (유가네 닭갈비) that is quite famous! Dak-galbi is spicy stir-fried chicken with sweet potatoes, cabbage, perilla leaves, scallions and rice cakes. I was SO happy because I was actually able to eat it…and it was delicious! For our entire time in Korea, I’ve constantly heard about how good dak-galbi is, but all I knew of it was how so stupidly spicy it was. The first time I had it, our group ordered the spicy version, which is about a 9/10 on the hot scale. I took about two bites and had to eat shredded cabbage with mayonnaise for the rest of dinner. This time around, we ordered the original kind and I was able to not only eat it, but enjoy it too! Although my consumption of shredded cabbage and cubed radishes continued, I can officially say I no longer fear dak-galbi and look forward to it again very soon.
The countdown is real.
We have about five months left in Korea and it’s a bittersweet feeling. I’m not sure what we’re going to do when we can’t just walk out the door and have a million Korean dinner choices. Or pop into any convenience store and grab a bottle of soju for a dollar. We’ll certainly miss the adventurous, laid back lifestyle we’ve had as well - and believe it or not, yes, we do work! We have a lot to figure out for when our contract ends and it’s tough since we’re still a bit too far out to really decide and plan anything.
I have noticed there are so many articles and blogs about transitioning to a new country and living abroad, but not many resources for transitioning back home. Things like reverse culture shock, finding jobs, finding a home and figuring out finances are all big concerns. I will also have to purchase a car when I get back since I had to sell mine in order to afford a plane ticket here. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep up with my blog after my contract, but I would like to at least be able to help others after us to prepare and figure things out for their transition back home as best as they can.
All in good time. Until then…we have some more hiking and exploring to do! We’re about to leave for our Chuseok vacation where we will be seeing new parts of the country and hiking as much as we can. Can’t wait to share updates!