Korea Burn was held on 4th of July weekend in the town of Taean, which is on the east coast a few hours south of Seoul. I arrived late Friday night on the Enjoy Korea bus. Enjoy Korea is a solid travel company ran by an awesome American girl, Stacey. She has done a great job putting together trips and packages for low-stress, high-satisfaction fun. I highly recommend going on an Enjoy Korea trip.
The Burn was something I was really looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. My friends from Cheongju put together an awesome themed Camp of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
While costumes are not required, it is one of those things you will wish you had put some time into a costume. Korea Burn is an event where the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. The biggest lesson from Korea Burn is BRING BUGSPRAY.
Chris ordered this headdress off of Etsy in preparation for the event.
During my five-day holiday, I traveled to Seoul to have a museum day, a beach day and a hiking day. On Tuesday, September 9, I set out to explore the Seoul Modern and Contemporary Art Museum and Insa-dong on my own.
After exploring the museum, I walked past Gyeongbokgung, the large palace, and one of the small gates to Insa-dong, a touristy street full of shops and many foreigners. I have visited Insa-dong before but this time was different because I was alone with no time restraints and able to take my time looking around.
A homeless man in a bright neon vest had to move his home because a generator was on fire. There was a lot of commotion and excitement.
An artist set up a table with two red plastic stools across from him. He was asking for models to sit so he could quickly draw their face with a traditional brush and black ink on a small sheet of white paper.
I sat down and the artist smiled at me with his kind eyes. A family of four stopped to look over the artist’s shoulder as he quickly drew my face.
When he was nearly finished, his phone rang. He apologized and picked up to answer. He spoke quickly in Korean, but I recognized the word, “no” and “text.”
After hanging up, he finished my portrait and asked me to sign my name. He kindly allowed me to take a picture. His goal with the project is to draw one million faces. He was able to complete a face in less than two minutes until he is interrupted by a phone call, of course.
I leave Korea in exactly two weeks and some are starting to wonder, “What are you doing?” To no one’s surprise: I’ll be traveling after my contract. Twelve weeks of solo travel to be exact.
The plan: Japan (October 7-19), Shanghai (October 19-22), flight to Bangkok on October 22. No plans from there except that I will visit: southern islands of Thailand, Bangkok and northern Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Vietnam. The lovely Jessica will be joining me from November 4 to the 14th in Thailand for ten days of adventure. Other than that, I will be trekking solo in search of the best food and experiences Baht, Yen and Kip can buy!
Iden Baghdahchi, a fellow American and traveler who I met in our guesthouse, invited Chris and I to a puppy cafe. Chris had never heard of this concept, so when he heard the words “puppy” and “cafe” in the same sentence, he immediately wanted to know more. When it was explained as a cafe where you can play with his puppies, he was not only in but also ecstatic.
The Bau House is located within walking distance of Hongik Station near Hapjeong Station on a street parallel to the main road. On Sundays, they open at 12:30. Here’s the Bau House Address: 서울특별시 마포구 서교동 394-44 제일빌딩 후면 1층 ( 394-44 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul). We walked from our hostel, the Seoulwise Guesthouse, which is located south of Hongik Station in Hongdae. It was a quick walk and not too hard to find.
I walked in and was immediately welcomed by the pet store smell but less heavy on the treats and more heavy on the urine and dog fur. It wasn’t a deterrent. If anything, it got me ready for what I was about to experience: a lot of dogs. At the front of the cafe, the right wall is lined with a booth style seating. There are five small round tables with chairs. This is the small dog area, and you guessed it: this is where the small dogs are. I’d estimate that there are about 12 small dogs in this area including an oddly skinny miniature greyhound and my personal favorite a Cavalier King Charlies Spaniel.
We opted to walk past the adorable little pups into the next section of the cafe, the big dog area. Divided by a gate, the big dog area is about five times bigger than the small dog area. The walls are lined with roughly 11 booths where you can sit and enjoy the action. And there was a lot of action happening. I immediately had a smile on my face. I found that watching 20 dogs play together is mesmerizing. There were all sorts of breeds and sizes all mingling and playing together. There was a feisty boxer who was fighting with the bigger dogs, some three times his size. The Bau House was an incredibly welcoming place full of families and young people. The staff are all young Koreans who seem to love dogs so much. Why else would they work there?
My heart melted when I saw a Korean child playing with the dogs. Their entire face lit up when a dog would come close. Chris, too, was in his element. He and Iden bought some treats and had a blast feeding it to the dogs. The dogs went nuts, but I never felt threatened or as if they were out of control. Now there was, of course, moments of pee and poop, but the staff did an excellent job cleaning it up quickly and thoroughly using some speed and disinfectant spray.
The cafe is FREE to visit, but they, of course, expect you to buy a drink. The drinks range from 5,000 Won to 8,000 Won (roughly $5 to $8). While seven dollars was a bit steep for a mediocre cafe latte, it was well worth it to see the dog cafe. Also, I thought I’d feel unsanitary, but oddly, it didn’t bother me that there were dogs jumping in and on the booths and tables. At one point, I had a pup in my lap while sipping my iced latte. There was very little to complain about.
Now, I have a confession. I have one flaw. (Being humble not being it). I regretfully admit that I am not a dog person. Unlike people who say they are not cat people, I do not hate dogs. How could I hate dogs? Come on. I’m human. I just simply have never owned a dog. Thus, I am not a dog person.
I like to explain it this way: we all people who do not know how to act around babies. Maybe you’re that person. You’re asked if you want to “hold him” when you meet a friend’s newborn. Out of respect, you don’t yell out, “God, no!” although that’s your first instinct. You hold the child at arm’s length making everyone in the room uncomfortable. It is obvious you do not have a clue what you’re doing. Yeah…that’s how I feel around dogs. It all started when I once was asked to dog-sit a friend’s little white dog, and he bit me. Drawing blood, I might add. I don’t hold it against him. But it is like being pooped on or spit up on by a baby that isn’t yours. You don’t really want that happen again any time soon.
As I grow up, I realize dogs are lovely creatures. They have personalities and offer great companionship. I have babysat for families who have incredibly kind and likable dogs, too. I was a dog sitter for the sweetest old lab in Florida. It was then that I realized that I want to own a dog someday given that my husband knows how to care for a dog properly. And technically it starts off as his dog so that I have a way out in case I decide I am not a dog person after all.