That time I tried poutine (and other vaguely interesting events)

We’ve been here, working, for a little over a month. Nothing dramatic or very exciting has happened yet, but in our excursions into Daegu, Busan, and around the area have been fun for us.

So although we’re in a very remote village, we get out on the weekends to see and do things. A few weeks ago, we went to Busan for a mandatory office trip. After dinner, we were dropped off in a nice shopping district to look around for an hour or so. It was really cold, so Jordan and I found a cat cafe and spend most of our time in there.

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Busan was all lit up for Christmas, and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” was blaring from almost every store. The cat cafe was a welcome and warm respite from the business of the shopping world.

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And what is a cat cafe, you ask? Well, it’s a regular coffee shop with cats in it! The cats live there, owned by the cafe-owner, and are used to people. The appeal of the place is not only the coffee, but the warm-fuzzies you get when you pet a cat, but  then don’t have to clean the litter box afterward.

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Everything seemed to be pretty sanitary, for having ten cats running around the place. Those two cats are on the espresso machine, drawn to its heat.

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Everyone that enters has to buy a drink, and they are all pretty pricey–no matter what is ordered, a drink is 7,000 won (around 6.50 USD). So we sipped our hot chocolate and tried to convince the cats to come to us. Everyone else was trying to do the same, so the cats seemed pretty tired of the human interaction. But still, it was a blast. Koreans go nuts over themes (or themed anything, really), so cat cafes and dog cafes are very popular in Korea. In fact, we heard that a sheep cafe exists in Seoul, as well as a raccoon cafe. I have got to check out the raccoon one! Maybe when we visit Seoul we’ll drop by, even though the drinks are expensive.

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Koreans also love karaoke, which they call noraebang. So our boss took us all to a noraebang. Karaoke is definitely NOT on my “top 20 things to do” list, but we had the place for two hours and had to keep going. Thankfully, Koreans do it a little differently: you rent a room, which also usually includes beer and food–that made it better. Sometimes Koreans even get up and dance. So that happened for two hours. Yep. And we got a photo to document it.

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The next Sunday, after church, we went out for a late lunch. Our new friends told us about an amazing used bookstore named “Buy The Book.” It’s a hidden, hole-in-the-wall place, but that’s really a part of it’s charm. Located in the pedestrian and downtown district of Daegu, it’s on the fourth floor above a Mr. Pizza restaurant. That’s about the only way I’ll know how to find it again. Buy The Book is owned by a Canadian Korean who specializes in making and serving poutine. Because we were with Canadians and New Englanders, they told us we “absolutely had to try poutine” and that it was the best Canadian comfort food.

To be honest, I didn’t know what poutine was. I’d heard of it before, but had never had it. For the uninitiated, I can report that it is french fries, covered in brown gravy, with cheese curds to top it off. And somehow, it really is great comfort food. Jordan and I ordered a bowl of philly poutine, which is, according to the menu, when “America and Canada get together and make magic.” And yes, it was wonderful. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the store or the food. But I will go back! And Jordan will take photos then. Because it’s a haven for western expats, their facebook page is more of a community than a storefront.  Koreans drop by frequently to practice their English. It’s one of those places you can grab a book, order some food, and hole up for the entire afternoon just enjoying the ambiance and quiet.

And finally, in others news:

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I can record that it took us 20 days to come to the conclusion that leaving behind our corn bags was a terrible, terrible mistake, no matter the airline weight limit. It took us another 20 days to do something about it. A couple of nights ago Jordan said he was fed up with the cold and how, even cowering in our bed with the electric radiator on full blast, he was never completely comfortable. And going out to the bathroom was a feat as brave as fording river rapids, so he did something about it. Jordan found a pair of his socks, poured several cups of rice into a sock, knotted it, and then double-bagged it with the second sock. It’s a temporary solution, yes, but it works! We stick it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, and it works as well as our corn bags ever did. So that’s a little victory against the Korean winter.

That’s about all I have to share with everyone for now, besides that yes, of course, we did see Star Wars. We may see it a second time, like everyone back in the States. Christmas is coming up, and if I hear “All I Want for Christmas is You” one more time I might rip my hair out. Since we’re going to Seoul for Christmas, I might end up bald. But we’ll see–maybe I’ll be so distracted by The Nutcracker and all the amazing sights of Seoul that I won’t notice Mariah Carey. It will be our first time in Seoul, and we’re pretty excited about it.

Of course, we miss our family and the traditions we’ve grown up with (holidays just don’t feel as right without the comfort of familiarity), but a chance to spend Christmas in Seoul is exciting and fantastic in its own right. We can’t wait to experience it!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Categories: South Korea | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “That time I tried poutine (and other vaguely interesting events)

  1. Tanya Karasek

    Wonderful post! Loved the story about the cat cafe. I have often felt that most everyday stress could be vanquished by a box of kittens! Also enjoyed seeing your tree and advent wreath. You have embraced your new home and found joy in this Christmas celebration!

    • Thanks! Yes, the cat cafe was lovely. I’ve learned you do have to be careful, though, about what cafes you go to. Koreans are very unfamiliar with pets, so even adults have very little knowledge of how to treat an animal. We try to steer clear of cafes that don’t feed their cats enough (just using the cats or other animals as a business prop) or don’t stop their customers from manhandling the animals. Beyond those issues, animal cafes are fun!

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