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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Cat Cafe!!!

One of the many things I was looking forward too when moving to South Korea was the famous Cat Cafes that I’d heard so much about. We do actually have one of these in London, but it is quite expensive so I never actually got around to checking it out. However in Korea they are very cheap at only 8,000 won per person, which is about £4 each. This includes a drink of your choice and some food to feed the cats with. You can also stay as long as you like which makes the whole experience feel a lot more relaxed and comfortable.

These specialised Cafes are everywhere in Korea so you never have to go far before finding one. Most of them are quite literally on your door step or just a couple of streets along, which is extremely convenient for those days where you just want some cat company. As you can imagine I was more excited than a kid in a candy store or
a camel on hump day, and so off I went with a skip in my step to the nearest Cat Cafe in my area of Beomgye, Anyang. 

  Spot the Cat?!

Cat Room!

When we arrived we were greeted with the sound of approximately 5000 meowing feline's and a smell of cat piss that just wouldn’t quit, which is exactly what it was. However, I soon got over the dreadful smell when I saw the main room where the cats all hung out. We quickly changed our shoes (a tradition pretty much everywhere in Korea, even in the changing rooms in H&M its mandatory) and then placed our belongings in the lockers provided and went on our way.

And then I saw it - the greatest thing I have ever seen before... CATS EVERYWHERE!! There were around 20 different Cats all just chilling out on the chairs and on the tables, in the boxes and on the specially designed Cat obstacle track. They genuinely looked as if they were having the time of their lives, with not a care in the world. Most of them were super friendly and one of them even ran up to greet me as I entered. Bless. If you are a Cat person then you understand what joy these little moth balls bring. It really is unconditional love. 


 So photogenic!

 Poser!!

...I woke up like this!!!

My Iced Latte soon arrived - another thing I love about this country (I swear we don’t have these back home) - and the Cats all excitedly jumped up to sit with me. There I was in pure cat heaven, fully experiencing what I imagine it is like to have 9 glorious lives intact at one time. It was fantastic and there wasn't a better place I’d rather have spent my Saturday afternoon. We were given some small pots of fish that the Cats just went crazy for. I had cats on my arms, in my hair, behind me, in front of me, jumping up on to my feet below...basically coming out of my ear! It was special to say the least. 

  
Dude! 

Just chilling!

There were of course some cats that didn’t even bother coming over. They’re so independent and care free - who can blame them, and so I walked over to many of them to make sure they all got a little bit of food. Suddenly I heard a loud squeal, a cry for help perhaps?! I turned around to see what all the commotion was about...  

...a fight had broken out in the corner of the room between a White Russian cat and a grey fearful looking Tabby Cat. They paused wide-eyed, waiting for the other to make the first move. All the other cats quickly turned around to see what was happening. You could cut the tension with a knife. I'm telling you it was edge of your seat stuff. After what seemed like a lifetime (about 15 seconds) one of them finally moved forward, as the other just hopped away never to forget the rivally between the two breeds. Tabby cat 1: White Russian: 0. A victorious end to an awesome visit at one of Korea's best chill out spots - The Cat Cafe. 


 
All the Cats!

WARNING: Do NOT wear black trousers or any clothes that you care about! The Cats hair literally goes EVERYWHERE...but it is, totally worth it! 

Monday, 8 June 2015

Buddha’s Birthday in Busan: The Final Day!

The final day in Busan came quicker than expected. We woke at around 8am as we were meeting the rest of the group at 9. Ready and raring to go, we jumped on the coach and headed off for our first stop of the day, Yonggungsa Temple.

Situated along the north eastern coast of Busan, this temple provides some amazing views and colourful statues along with some cute little markets down the main strip leading up to the temple itself. It was quite busy but this didn’t spoil the experience, and we even had time to taste the popular Korean delicacy known as Beondegi, which is basically baked BUGS! As you can imagine it tasted much like...well bugs, to be honest! Gross!


 12 animals of the zodiac

 Huge golden Buddha on his birthday weekend!

 Yonggungsa Temple from above

Yonggungsa Temple from below
 
Next it was off to Haeundae Beach to chill out for the rest of our trip. Here we could have taken a stroll along Dongbaekseom island to see the mermaid statue, however we were all pretty tired so decided to just hangout on the beach and relax before the epic bus ride back. During our visit we managed to catch the Haeundae Sand Festival, which runs along the beach at this time of year.

It features a lot of different sand sculpture designs such as scene's from Aladdin and Alice in Wonderland which were quite interesting to see, espcially as the artists were creating them right in front of our faces. This amazing beach is exactly what you would expect it to be and more. With clear blue waters and golden sands, this is also the location of Busan Aquarium, which I will definitely be coming back to visit. 


 Haeundae Sand Festival

 Aladdin!

Just before visiting the sand scultures, we had a bit of a disappointing lunch at a place called ‘Mom’s Touch'. Its a chain of fast food resturants here in Korea and i've got to say, it was pretty damn awful. Our food took ages and when it finally did arrive it was cold! Yuck! However, this really is the only negative thing I have to say about the entire weekend, and so it wasn't too hard to get over with a view like Haeundae beach in front of us. 

After this, it was soon time to head back to the bus and start the long journey home. Having never visited Busan before, I’ve got to say that I was very impressed. It’s a stunning place packed full of different things to see and do, and this has probably been my favourite weekend in Korea so far. 

Amongst the numerous amounts of temples, gorgeous beaches and stunning architecture lay the one thing that really puts the icing on the cake in this lovely city, and that is the people. The people who live here are all incredibly laid back and friendly. Korean’s on the whole are usually this way inclined, but I noticed a real difference in Busan in that they don’t seem to care as much about the little things, which makes for an incredibly relaxed atmosphere. 

Haeundae Beach

There is definitely something in the water here, and I could honestly not recommend a visit to Busan enough. I imagine it would also be a beautiful place to live too, which is something that I myself would definitely consider for the coming year of 2016. So watch this space, who knows what the future will bring...

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Buddha’s Birthday in Busan: Day 2

The morning after the night before I felt surprisingly okay. After sampling the local night life in Busan, the city that doesn’t sleep or so it should be called, we jumped back on the coach and headed off on our second full day of site seeing. First stop was Gamcheon Art Village, which is located on the mountainside of Saha-gu. This village became host to many refugees of the Korean War that fled south to this Busan slum in order to escape the North. It is now one of the prettiest spots in Busan and is absolutely covered in art and colour. It reminded me slightly of my home town of Brighton in the UK, as this too is covered in colourful town houses, and decorative street art. 

 
 ART!

 MORE ART!

EVEN MORE ART!

Gamcheon Art Village

We spent a good few hours here, and even had time for one of the best hot dogs that i've ever eaten before...seriously, its all about adding EGG! Next it was off to the Taejongdae cliff walk, which was possibly my favourite place we visited over the whole weekend, with Gamcheon Art Village coming in a close second. The views were absolutely stunning and you can even catch a glimpse of Japan if you're lucky. It’s definitely worth the long walk up to the top to check out not only the view but the beautiful lighthouse, stunning gardens, cliff edge and of course the needle point too. You can also take the short ‘Elephant train' ride to the top if you’re legs won’t carry you. Allocate plenty of time at this destination, you’ll want it.
 The Lighthouse

The Bay

Japan in the distance...honestly its there!

On the way back from here, we stopped off at Jagalchi Fish Market, which is the largest seafood market in Korea. As we walked through what seemed like miles upon miles of live skinned eels, octopus and some of the weirdest looking fish I have ever seen, I started to feel more and more like I was in Clean Bandit's music video for 'Rather Be' (google it NOW if you're not familiar) and so I just let the rhythm take over. It was fantastic. I know its just a fish market but we don’t really get this back home, or at least not to this extent so to be quite honest I was having a great time...and I’m allergic to fish so it MUST have been good. 

 FRESH FISH!

 Stretched FROGS! Weird!

 Live skinned Eels!

 Don't ask...they were GROSS!

 Sooo many Octopus!

As we arrived at the other end of the fish market smelling less than desirable, we made our way through the streets of Nampo-dong, which was originally the downtown part of Busan. This vast shopping area is full of everything from clothes and jewellery stores to restaurant's and market stalls selling the strangest looking children's toys you can imagine - seriously someone call Stephen King! Its a bustling place to be at anytime and is also pretty close to Busan Tower and Yongdusan Park - our final stop on the second day. At this location we didn’t have a huge amount of time so it was nice just to wander around and take in the traditional buildings and monuments that this area had to offer. 

 Massive gong!

 
Busan Tower!

Back on the coach once again, and after a hectic but awesome second day we returned ‘home’ to our accommodation for the weekend. We were staying at something called a 'pension', which is basically somewhere between a hostel and a bed and breakfast...but without the breakfast, and sometimes without the bed too. Its pretty basic and not the most amazing place to stay but its cheap, right next to the beach, and when you’re out exploring for most of your time its almost pointless to get anything better. That evening we went out for a bite to eat before heading into the local area for a beverage or 10! However, we were all pretty tired and didn’t want to stay out ridiculously late as the meeting time for the final day was 9AM! 

So we returned at a reasonable (ish) hour, rested, and reflected on the adventures had on Day 2 in Busan, South Korea. 


To be continued...

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