Sheep and Other Silliness

Trip Start Dec 02, 2011
Trip End Dec 02, 2012

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Flag of Korea Rep.  , Seoul,
Saturday, January 19, 2013

Even though the temperature has been stuck below zero for most of this winter, I've managed to pack in quite a few weekend trips, mainly because one of my good friends is leaving Korea and she wants to make her last weekends count. Continuing the trend, today my friends and I took a trip up to Seoul for an eclectic day of Russian food, coffee, sheep, and trick photography.

We started around lunch time with food at Gostiny Dvor. A surprisingly small Russian restaurant close to the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park (동대문역사문화공원역) subway stop. Russian food was very bland after all the Korean food I've been eating, especially my order of cabbage and mash potato dumplings, but it was delicious nonetheless and a nice change of pace.

After lunch, we went to Hongdae (홍대) to spend the rest of our day. Our first stop was a sheep cafe. Like cat and dog cafes, the lamb cafe didn't serve lamb, rather it was home to a pair of adorable sheep who watched you drink coffee. Unlike the cat and dog cafes, the sheep were confined to a pen rather than wandering freely, but you could still go pet them. One of my friends even got to participate in one of the daily feedings.

The cafe's prices were reasonable for Seoul, and the owner was a really nice guy, even though he insisted it was too cold for us to sit outside with the sheep while we drank. He was just trying to look out for the crazy foreigners who didn't understand that 30F was too cold to be hanging around outside. He certainly had no idea that some of us had spent the last three weekends hanging around outside in far colder temperatures.

I should note that when researching the location of the cafe, I came across at least one misleading blog. Apparently, there's a cafe in Hongdae called the Authentic Lamb Cafe. Unfortunately, that cafe may not actually have sheep. I never found a blog post with pictures of sheep in that cafe. I only found people posting that the sheep weren't in when they stopped by, and they didn't speak Korean well enough to determine why that was. I think it's because the name is misleading and there are no sheep or lambs. Or maybe I'm wrong and there are two sheep cafes but on one has managed to show up at the Authentic Lamb Cafe at the same time as any sheep that I've seen.

The cafe where we saw the sheep was the Thanks Nature Cafe. I did see a blog post that the sheep aren't always there, but they were today. The cafe was in the basement floor of the strip mall-type building that runs along the main road from exit 9 of Hongdae station to the gate of Hongik University. It was at the very end, farthest from the station. We also noted that the Auntie Anne's that used to be there was now gone. I'll post a map.

After almost an hour and a half at the cafe, we said good-bye to the sheep and headed a few blocks over to the Santorini Seoul Trick Eye Museum (트릭아이미술관). The Trick Eye Museum was a gallery of trick art. In other words, walls painted with murals using the Trompe-l'œil technique to make them appear 3D dimensional when photographed. It wasn't really an optical illusion museum in that visitors were required to take pictures of themselves posing with the artwork in order to create the illusion.

When we arrived, the gallery appeared rather crowded, and I was afraid it would be too difficult to take pictures. I was wrong. Visitors did a decent job of staying out of each others' ways, and even though we usually had to wait for a minute to take our next picture, the minute could be used to plan how to pose, so it didn't seem like waiting.

The one time the crowds were a problem was when I decided I needed to go to the bathroom about 3/4ths of the way through the gallery. I tried to go out the exit, but was blocked by a mirror maze. I didn't want to get trapped in a maze with a full bladder, so I turned around. It took me a long time to get back to the start, though, because I couldn't walk in a straight line due to the need to weave around groups of photographers and their models.

In addition to the trick eye paintings, there were a few other "galleries" and activities. Although the gallery lists a "Cats Museum", all we found of that was a single painting and a handful of primitive wooden cat sculptures. There was also a small, somewhat random section about Greek Mythology where you could learn about your horoscope or play dress-up. There was also a museum cafe selling drinks and small white statues of the museum's mascots (Triny and Eyny, or something like that), which you could color with markers as you saw fit.

Overall, we had a great time at the gallery, but there were a few points where I started to get bored of more of the same. "Hey look! It's a funny picture to pose in front of. I've only done that 30 times today..." But that feeling always passed pretty quickly because I was there with a bunch of goofy friends who really liked to take pictures. I think if you go into the gallery as a skeptic, you won't be won over. On the other hand, if you can take photos of basically the same thing while acting silly for an hour or more without getting bored, this it is the place for you. The main reason I wouldn't recommend it unless you think it sounds awesome is that it was very expensive for Korea at 13,000 won.

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