Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dogs, Fish, and One Relaxing Weekend!

See, I told you not to get too used to the frequent updates!

I think I mentioned that on Thursday I got to go into school an hour late. This was the day of the Korean SATs, which are only offered once a year. If you miss it, or don't pass, for any reason, you must wait an entire year to take it again. Can you imagine how stressful that is? I can't. And their test is forever long compared to ours.

How crazy could they really be about this test? Check out this excerpt from the Korea4Expats site:
"The exam begins and ends at the same time all over the country - 8:40AM to 6:05PM on the 2nd Thursday of the month. Results are officially released during the 2nd week of December (in 2008 the test was on Thursday 13 November and the results published on Wednesday 10 December).

On this day, workers at government offices and public firms all over the country are allowed to arrive at work an hour later (10AM rather than 9AM)so reduce traffic congestion and ensure that all students arrive at the exam place on time. The stock market may open late and close early. The frequency of trains and buses is increased between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.. Motorists are prohibited from honking their horns near schools and teams of volunteers and special police units work as traffic managers. Parking is banned within a 200-meter radius of test venues. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority restricts aircraft operations near the exam sites so that noise will not disturb students during listening tests. Flights, both domestic and international, operated by national and foreign carriers will have their takeoff schedules altered between 8:35 a.m. and 8:58 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. and 1:35 p.m. on exam day so air travelers should to check their flight schedule in advance on the 2nd Thursday of November. Strikers and protestors will often suspend their demonstrations for that day. The military, U.S. and Korean, will usually halt live-fire training and aviation missions.

In the morning, taxis offer free rides to exam takers, as do numerous motorcyclists. Younger students stand at the entrance of the school to welcome and cheer on the seniors as they arrive. After sending their off their daughter or son, teary-eyed mothers head for a temple or church to spend the day in prayer to help ensure their child’s success."

Yeah, THAT is why I was allowed to go into work an hour late on Thursday. Crazy! When we walked out of afterschool and towards the metro around 6:00pm on Thursday night there was a GIGANTIC crowd outside the girls' high school we have to pass. We had to fight our way through throngs of mothers, fathers and siblings praying and waiting for their daughters to come out of the test. INSANITY.  Only slighly different from my SAT experiences: sitting through the four hour test at DuVal as they mowed the lawns and ran the weedwhackers right outside the window of my testing room.

Friday was nothing special aside from being my entrance into a super relaxing and fun weekend around Seoul. I came home and watched a movie on my computer and went to bed earlyish.

Saturday I slept in late before meeting Brigid an Ayzia at the Bau House Dog Cafe in Hongdae.  Ok, this place is awesome.  I kind of want to move there.  The idea is that since many apartments in Seoul are small and lots of people can't have dogs, they make a place where people can go enjoy dogs for a little while.  The owner of Bau House owns about 15 dogs of his own, then people will drop off their dogs for doggie daycare there, board their dogs there, or bring them in to play while havin a cup of coffee.  The result? About 40 dogs of various sizes, shapes, and colors running around, having fun, and getting loved by people.  It is FANTASTIC! 

We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table, but during that time we were given free range to play with dogs and watch their awesome antics.  They offer food and drinks for reasonable prices.  For instance I got shrimp fried rice and a soda set for 10,000won.  Not too shabby!  The workers are really quick to clean up any...ahem...messes, so that is good.
Big dogs!

Little dogs!

Dogs doing tricks!

Cast of permanent characters.

You could buy treats there and the dogs would swarm you.  It was so fun.  I bought 4 bags of treats and had lots of friends. 

I am the Korean Dog Whisperer!

A face only a mother (or rabid sports fan) could love.

I got up to buy more treats an these punks on the left stole my seat!

I do not think these kids were prepared for what would happen when they started offering treats.

As you can see, the dogs really had full reign.  The walked on the tables, couches, window ledges, etc.  We got food and they would walk right up and stare at you.

Give us food, Natasha!

Nap time on the window ledge.

Observing his kingdom from the edge of our table.

All gussied up.  On our table.

Natasha and Ayzia with their new friend.  Little dog, big ears, Yankee's hoodie.  Of course.

Soon before we left a worker came over and handed me this little poodley dog.  She snuggled in right on my shoulder and promptly fell asleep. I didn't want to hand her off to another girl when I left!

Bau House Dog Cafe! from Meaghan Shanahan on Vimeo.

Moral of the story.  It was awesome.  This is how you get there:
Go to the Hapjeong Station (Green Line #2 and Brown Line #6) and take Exit 3.  At the first major intersection, turn right.  Go up a hill and down the other side.  When the street veers left and you see a Mix & Chicken Restaurant, turn right.
Turn right.

You will then see a giant building that looks like a castle.  This is a restaurant/bar called Praha Castle.  Turn left onto the alley across from Praha Castle.

Turn left.

Walk about 200 yards and you'll see the Bau House sign on the third floor of the building on your left.  Head inside and enjoy!

Little sign.

Windows on the third floor.

After we left Bau House, we headed over to Coex Mall to hit the Aquarium and eat an American dinner at T.G.I. Fridays.  For not being a huge aquarium or zoo fan (I always want to like them much more than I actually do), I really liked his aquarium.  It was interesting.  And the tunnel was freaking AWESOME.


Some tanks, like this koi pond, were a little more artistic.

A bajillion sardines!

Oh, this is the Korean, Korean Fishes.  Not the Korean American Fishes?

There was a whole section of "Fish as Art" or, as I liked to call it, "Fish In Unusual Places."  Like fish in a fridge!

Fish in a toilet!
Macabre?  A little.

Thank god SOMEONE is addressing that prejudice.  Who knew we were discriminating?

Jellyfish are undeniably cool.

So pretty.

Two headed turtle!

It wansn't strictly aquatic animals.  In the Amazon section there were 2 monkeys and a ton of super adorable fruit bats.  I wanted to squeeze them.  There was also a chipmunk randomly placed in the Fish as Art section.  Leading us to make joked about the elusive Korean chipmunkfish who is well disguised and has developed the ability to live on land.

Ayzia playing in the children's aquarium area.

Me playing in the children's aquarium area.

Totally sweet tunnel in the shark/sea turtle tank.

So close!

Sea turtle tummy!

Strike a pose!

After our adventures at the aquarium, we did a little shopping and headed over to T.G.I.Fridays.  Oh man, I needed that.  It was absurdly expensive, but let me tell you, the Jack Daniels steak and shrimp with cheese fries and a margarita was one of the best things I could have asked for.  Perfect. 

Sunday I slept in again before meeting Dana and Ayzia for Dr. Fish around 3:00pm.  I also go to meet Ayzia's friend Rachel, a Korean college student who she met while shopping at Lotte Mart.  Rachel is a cool girl and hung out with us for the evening.  We all got our drinks and relaxed for a bit by browsing some Korean fashion magazines and sharing some celebrity gossip.  Then we went up and got our feet nibbled. I loved it again.  Ayzia actually shrieked in the middle of the crowded cafe when she first put her feet in, but they won her over, haha.

Ayzia and Dana getting rinsed before the fish.  Check out the adorble socks on the cafe guy.

The filters stopped for like 3 seconds and I snappe some pictures of the fish eating Dana's feet.

And my feet.  Unfortunately, I had just moved and the fish had scattered.

After Dr. Fish we went down the street and bought our tickets to see the movie 2012.  We had some time to kill, so we went and had a delicious meal.

The mozarella pork fillets were sooooo good.

We went to the movie, which was okay, but nothing fantastic.  It was so. long.   And I had no idea that sections of it took place outside the US....during those times ENGLISH subtitles would have been helpful in addition to the Korean ones.  We were a little lost for some parts, but it was okay.

Monday I slept late again (sensing a pattern?) since I had a school holiday. Then I met Ayzia for some Christmas shopping in Insadong.  A few hours and lots of money later, I only have one or two more gifts to buy!  It was an extremely successful trip.  Including the purchase of a 2010-2011 Kim Bum (the boy I'm in love with from Boys Before Flowers) Calendar!


1 comment:

  1. I LOVE the girl in the video who threw a treat to one dog, missed its mouth, treat fell on the floor, and she picked it up and offered it to another dog. Not that dogs are opposed to eating off the floor... but still :)

    As for fish in a toilet... "flusshhhh".