Cats & dogs, Hello Kitty Cafe & Korean ice cream at Hongdae
29th June 2013. This post is sort of about cats and dogs, linked to food preferences. But also about the colourful area of Hongik University in Seoul, located around Hongdae Street. Just about various impressions I got that day Seoul.
About cats and dogs. One is feline icon Hello Kitty, a Japanese (Sanrio) invention, nowadays selling Hello Kitty cakes and coffee in her café in Seoul.
Many real cats live in cafés, too. In pet cafés. So that everyone can have a pet for some time and leave it whenever they please.
Dogs are liked a lot in Korea as well. Some like them for their meal. Don’t be shocked, it is a fair change to pork and beef, I would think.
Because Tomek and I really like those animals, we consequently don’t eat dogs, nor pigs, cows or chickens neither.
Which is why we returned to Seoul’s lively student district (the other times we went there to bang) – for some shaved ice cream. A typically Korean desert. No animals involved.
There will be plenty of pictures and a video of Korea’s youth culture in this post, as well as from our shaved ice desert.
Just as we got off Hongik University Station (you can choose Sangsu Station as well to get to the area), we saw these student activists, campaigning against the consumption of dogs. Some Korean restaurants apparently serve dog meat.
Sad pictures of animal torture and suffering dogs were displayed which made me think about the double standard we give to animals. Dogs are pets but not any less cute or intelligent than pigs or cows, yet the indescribable brutality of pork or beef mass production is not a popular topic. Dogs are more lucky in that way.
The Hello Kitty Café in Seoul is located next to a café filled with kitties that aren’t so lucky, serving as objects to play with, just as Hello Kitty, except that they are real living beings and with all that cuteness, people forget to distinguish.
This is the ‘real’ Kitty Café. Asia is secretly governed by this white kitten with a pink bow. Hello Kitty sells images of herself all over the world and has numerous cafés in her honour.
Hello Kitty Café location: 358-112, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu.
Topic change. Let’s leave animals, but let’s stick with pink.
A very popular colour – for both genders (only surprising to fashion conservative westerners). In case you have missed out on Korea’s beauty standards, Tomek is demonstrating how to consume a beauty drink.
Korea’s young generation is very trendy. The university area is a runway for urban fashionistas, providing boutiques, international high street stores, many cosmetics and drug stores, apart from restaurants, clubs, entertainment parlours and cafés.
You can like this area for its abundance of shopping opportunities but the uniqueness really lies in its street performances. Sometimes there are so many, a cacophony of sounds rises through the streets.
Listen to the sounds of competing bands.
If you haven’t tried Korean bang yet, the university area is the place to do it.
Try DVD Bang if you are looking for a love nest.
Try the one person-cabin Karaoke Bang, if you are still working on your vocal skills.
A popular place to hang out are Korean ice parlours, serving shaved ice deserts!
The queue at this place was very long, which we take as a great-food-indicator during our travels.
There was this fancy touch screen, so we could get acquainted with shaved ice choices but it didn’t work, so it was back to traditional order format.
Filled to the brim.
Koreans do not eat their meal before they have taken a picture of it. Just like me.
A great invention, apart from waiter buzz buttons, are these little plastic blocks which tell you when you can pick up your order.
The best invention however is the Korean and Japanese way not to depend on wages which in my opinion totally screws up customer-waiter expectations. No tipping in Seoul!
Anyhow, this was 15,000 won for my green tea on ice and Tomek’s fruits on ice. Each bowl comes with beans and two bits of chewy rice cake.
The deserts were huge but did not look anything like in the pictures. The mountains of snow do look impressive but it is really just shaved ice with a topping, unless you are a fan of sweet black beans and a the chewy rice cake.
I was really disappointed with the fruits. Apart from the watermelon, they weren’t fresh but canned! I do know friends and family are now feasting on fresh strawberries in Germany and Poland. We had delicious Japanese strawberries in Tokyo weeks ago, even before the berry season started in Europe. Canned pineapple and defrosted strawberries is what we got.
The impression I get from Korea’s cuisine is that it is all about quantity. The portions are way too big. Even if it is just frozen water.
Yep, childhood is over. Time for good food!
More glimpses of Korea’s youth culture at the university district:
This café looks crazy and inviting but there is a catch…
…strangely you have to order a can of snails if you like to drink here.
Castle Praha is a fascinating representation of Prague’s landmark – in Seoul! The Old Czech Town Hall from the 1330s. Location: Hongdae 1/2F, 395-19 Seokyo Dong, Mapo-gu.
The astronomical clock (in Prague) features moving mechanical figures of the twelve apostles, along with ornate zodiac decorations. I think, Seoul did an excellent reconstructive job.
Seoul brought back memories of my childhood and one of my favourite European cities!