Cat Cafes, Asia

I am a big fan of cats.  So, you’d think cat cafes were pretty much my favorite thing in existence.  It’s literally a place you can go and just hang out with cats.  However, while I’m a fan of cat cafes, I hardly ever go to any.  But I have been to some in Korea, and I also visited one in Japan.  So I thought I’d talk a bit about my thoughts on the subject and then some of the differences between the experiences.

First off, the idea I had about cat cafes was vastly different from that the reality was.  In my dream cat cafe, you arrive with a book, order a drink and find a cozy table.  Then a cat comes up and jumps in your lap and snoozes.  And you spend a relaxing few hours reading while the cat snoozes and purrs.  Maybe it wakes up and you play some type of fun game involving a stuffed mouse.

In reality, you go into a room with tons of cats, and tons of people.  And the cats don’t seem like they really like people that much.  But they deal with it, because they have to.  Some of the cats were really active and playful.  Some of them were busy chasing each other around the whole time.

The cat cafe in Japan had some really exotic looking cats.  They were definitely the more beautiful than the cats in the cafe in Korea.

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This cat was actually quite a sweetie, but the haircut.  Oh, who did that to the cat.  I think he could feel the other cats judging him.


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Now, one big difference about the cafes was that in Japan it was $10 to get in, which got you a beverage of your choice and little plastic container of cat treats.  The cat treats looked like plain shredded chicken, but I wasn’t about to try and figure out if that’s really what it was.  This made the majority of the cats really excited to see you… but unless you were actively handing out treats, they would move on pretty quickly.  And they didn’t seem to really want to interact at all.  Treats or nothing.

Except this guy.

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This guy didn’t care about your treats, he just wanted to take a nap in his mixing bowl.  As any cat owner knows, when you have a cat, everything you own becomes a cat bed.  They were pushing the boundaries on this at the cafe.

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Wok, fishbowl, mixing bowl, colander… EVERYTHING’S A BED.

The other downside to the cat cafe in Japan (other than the greedy, treat hungry cats) was that there was a strict one hour time limit.  The upside of that was that they controlled the number of people that went in, so it wasn’t very crowded.  We actually had to wait for an hour before we were allowed in.  But once we were there, the hour passed by so quickly.

In Korea, there was no time limit. And it was only $8, but you didn’t get any treats.  The lack of treats made the cats less likely to come right up to you, but they seemed overall more interested in playing.

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Overall these cats seemed a little less exotic, and a little more housecat.  But there were still some beautiful stand outs.

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And the highlight of this cafe was the huge cat jungle gym that the cats mostly liked to sleep on, but some of them were having fun playing.

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I was a little worried about the sanitation of this cafe however.  As we walked in, we noticed a cat sitting by the espresso machine, head inside the container for foaming the milk for lattes.

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At least he wasn’t getting lots of hair in the milk?

One last note:  In the elevator to the cat cafe in Japan, we noticed there was a maid cafe just upstairs from it.  It’s basically a cafe for older men, where they go in and get served by young Japanese women in French maid’s costumes.  How wonderfully fetish-y.  ???

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Suseong Land, Korea

Just behind the snow factory we saw Suseong Land.  A small amusement park of sorts, it was also nearly empty.  Now, there was an entrance with a ticket booth, and just next to it a gap in the fence.  Through the gap we went.  Not sure if it actually costs money to enter for real.  Look for the gap in the fence.

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This is not the fence you had to sneak through… but I really liked it.  Each post is painted to be a different person.  Some of them are famous cartoon characters, and some are just anonymous.  Now pretty quickly after entering Suseong Land, we saw what might be the strangest thing I’ve seen in awhile.  From a distance, we both said, “Wait.  What? Are those kids?”  Because it really did look like there were small children hooked up to carts, pulling other small children and their parents/grandparents around.

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There were many characters, hello kitty, angry birds, a bear… and they were all dressed in outfits, complete with sneakers.  They shuffled around in a way that reminded me of E.T.  It was truly bizarre, but thankfully, they were not real children.  The mechanical characters were controlled by the handlebar, and one pedal.  Even after knowing they weren’t kids though, it felt weird.  Why did people want to ride in a cart that looked like it was being pulled by a child wearing a hello kitty head?  It just seems kind of perverse.

From strange to sad, after that “ride” we saw what might be the saddest little ride I’ve ever seen. (And this coming from someone that went to an abandoned soviet amusement park.)

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These characters could be ridden if you deposited about one dollar.  Someone, however, rode this one into a ditch and then left him there.  It didn’t look happy to be there.  Other characters were missing eyes or ears.  At least this one had all its pieces.  But at this point, I was thinking that nothing could be worse.  Except maybe a creepy clown.  Cue the creepy clown.

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Nothing like going up and down with a clown.  But at least the clown had equally endearing (or creepy) friends:

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On the upside, there were lots of actual rides, a viking ship, carousel, spinny-roundy thing…

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Does this ride have a name?  There were also several booths to win prizes at.  We chose to try out the balloon popping darts.  And after two tries and five dollars, I won this Rilakkuma plush!

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Which I then used as a pillow on the train ride home, and it was glorious. All in all, I really enjoyed the amusement park.  It was amusing.  I think for a kid, it would be great.  Everything was painted really bright colors.  There were lots of things to do.  Lots of places to take photos. Even as (basically) adults we ended up spending more time there than we had planned.  We used up all the duck boat time… and were even a bit late to dinner.  So definitely worth it.

Dessert Plane, Korea

While on my trip to Jeju and U-do I met some lovely people that live in Daegu, a town about 3 hours from where I live.  They were very nice, and I was keen to go and visit.  And then, I saw a post she made about eating in a cafe in a plane.  That sealed the deal, and I was on my way to Daegu.  Turns out Daegu is a really interesting place, with lots to see.  My favorite place that we went to was Suseong Lake.

I was only going to go for a day trip, so I got an early start.  We explored a bit of Daegu, had lunch, and went to a cat cafe, and then it was time for dessert.  We headed to Suseong Lake.  On the monorail!

wpid-20150704_093534.jpgThis was not my first time on a monorail, but it is still eye opening how much better this system is than the standard train.  Quiet, smooth, easy.  Now, like most big Korean cities, Daegu has a subway system that you can use to get around most of the city.  The monorail links up to the subway (by, at one point, the longest escalator in Korea*) Easily what I thought was the most interesting thing about the monorail were the windows.  They were regular windows most of the time, but when passing an apartment building, the windows went opaque, to preserve the privacy of the residents.  At first, I didn’t know what was happening.  The windows just turned white, I thought it must be fog or something… and then they snapped back to transparent.  I was floored.  Living in Chicago, I rode the red line frequently.  It’s silly how close it goes to people’s windows.  I thought this was such an interesting thing that they thought of.

Ok, enough about the monorail. (But I really liked it.)

We got to the lake and the first thing you notice are the duck boats.

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We wanted to ride one, and planned on it, but ended up running out of time.  More pressing (for me) was the plane.  We rounded the lake and then BAM! airplane.

DSC_0301The Snow Factory, waffle and bingsu cafe. The interior is everything you would expect from a cafe in a plane.

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The one thing I thought was really strange: the lack of people.  I feel like this should be a tourist draw just for the kitschy “plane cafe” (that was, after all, why I was there.)  But there were hardly any people there.  And this was about 4pm on a Saturday afternoon.  Even at my normal cafe, on Saturday afternoon I often have to wait for a table.  Not so with this spot, we had our pick of tables.

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You could choose to sit in the cabin area, or a seating area that was built off to the side. It was decorated with palm trees, because naturally.  We decided to sit inside the plane.  Because, plane.

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And we ordered a waffle.  Now, the waffle was both surprisingly good, and a disappointment at the same time.  Which, I think, is actually quite difficult. The waffle itself was perfect.  Not dried out as I have had so many times in Korea, and the ice cream was delicious.  But the lack of berries on the vanilla berry waffle was a little sad.  Also, for the price I think they could have splurged on more than 5 blueberries.

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Had maple syrup though, so it’s all good.  🙂  They also had blood orange sanpelegrino.  So, win win. And to be fair, they had a pretty good selection of waffles, including savory waffles that sounded really interesting.  Perhaps I just picked a not so great one.

And then it was out to go explore some more.  And what do we see out the window?  Why, it looks like a children’s play area.  It is!  In fact, it’s SUSEONG LAND!  I’ll cover our time there in the next blog.

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*This may or may not be true, but I read it online…