In deciding that I would no longer wait for someone to schedule and choose an outing destination for me, the next question was where to go? I would be on my own, unable to speak or read the language and not very knowledgeable about what was around within a reasonable distance.
There’s so much I want to see here: temples, markets, parks, historical sights, but narrowing it to only a few was difficult. So, of course, I found out about a raccoon cafe in Busan. Now where else could I expect to ever again find such a place?
So, armed with a subway map of Busan (which is about an hour away by bus) and some general directions from friends, I set off on a five-mile hike (in 90 degree weather and 100% humidity) to find the bus stop that would take me to the main terminal in Changdong. There, I got a ticket to Busan, and once in Busan, I got on the metro. Sounds easy enough, right?
OMG! My ankles (many torn tendons/ligaments due to youthful sports designed to keep me thin and happy. Now, I’m paying for THAT) to really and truly hate me by the time I caught the bus coach to Busan (Note: inside of bus looked like a cross between a Tijuana Taxi and funeral home and the color was hot, fuscia pink). But I’m no quitter and so I hobbled onto my choice destinations.
First, I went to the NC Department store, apparently it’s a big deal here. To me, it’s just a multilayered shopping mall and I lingered only long enough to take a picture to show I’d been there (No one believed that I would actually undertake this trip alone). So, here’s a picture of that:
Next, I went to the Ginko Tree Street market, where vendors sell many cute/pretty items that are handcrafted. But, nothing really spoke to me (and again, it was steamy hot, still) so, I got some iced coffee (Starbucks…because I knew they had free wi-fi) and made a decision. The feet were not going to put up with a whole lot more walking. So, I decided to go on to Sasang and seek out the Racoonamata Raccoon Cafe. Back to the subway.
By the time I got off the subway (and climbed a zillion stairs to exit) I knew I was cooked. So, I flagged a taxi (taxis are very cheap here) and gave the driver the address. “It’s right across the street in that alley,” I interpreted from his gestures. “I don’t care,” I said pointing to my hot, red face. “Please drive and help me find it.”
Turned out that was a GOOD idea, because it was close by, but I would never have found it on my own. It was up on the 4th floor of a building and I simply wouldn’t have found the building without help. My ankles were screaming (despite compression ankle supports) and I would have probably tossed in the towel, which would have been a super bummer.
YAY! I proceded up the the fourth floor (yes, MORE stairs. Everything in this country is up and it’s all accessible by stairs, with the occasional handicap elevator, but I do have my standards.) TA-DA!
You must buy something to eat or drink, but that’s the only charge and it wasn’t that bad. About $6.00 for an iced coffee (which I passed on…because I wouldn’t sleep and it was already 4:00 in the afternoon) or a dessert. I felt entitled to the dessert after all the walking. It was in a clay flower pot and was like a cake souffle, with a pudding middle. I’m certain it was nearly zero calories.
And while you enjoyed your yummy confection, you could sit and watch the little bandit-faced creatures in the glass playroom from your table.
The room for the racoons is quite large (pictures don’t really convey that) and there is a separated area for the twin baby racoons to play in or rest, away from visitors and adult racoons, but you can still see them.
The babies had been wrestling (the girl is a creamy color, while her brother is the darker brown) when I first got there, but soon were sound asleep, so I didn’t play with them.
The room that you interact with the animals in is full of all kinds of climbing towers and raccoon appropriate exercise gear. The animals seemed very healthy and care for and apart from wondering why they were awake in the day (not their usual habit), I could enjoy the opportunity without feeling like I was exploiting them.
Then back to the subway (I was a bit rested, so the walk was manageable)
and then to the bus (this one was a purple fringed interior design. Prince would have approved) for the return ride home. Needless to say, I did NOT retrace my five mile hike; I took a taxi all the way back from the main bus terminal!!! Well worth the $5.30!
I was tired and my ankles were in need of ice and elevation, but I was ticked with myself. I’d made a plan and executed it and I had successfully done some things on my own. It was just the kind of empowerment lift I needed.
I sign off here with my favorite picture from my raccoon adventures. I call it his Ninja Pose (“You have reached enlightenment human, you may return to your people now.”) All in all, it was a great day!