Our Last Day Living in Gangnam! Let’s Visit Two More Gangnam Dog Cafes!

So today is Sunday, June 14th, and yesterday we moved again to a new Airbnb place. My mom said we will be here for 5 weeks while she tries to find us a more permanent apartment to rent. I think she said it’s called Gangdong? Anyways, on Friday, she decided to take a break from packing…again. We went for some more “socialization” as she calls it. Okay, so I may get a bit overwhelmed when I first meet a bunch of other pooches all at once, and I may get a bit jealous. I just love my momma and I’m small! Well, my mom says I need to stop that behavior and get out and get playing with other dogs and exercising and stuff. I guess I agree. Back in the USA, I played all the time with my two uncles and one aunt; they were my housemates who practically raised me and showed me the way of the dog. I am lonely sometimes and long to play with other doggos, but I’m kinda shy too. My mom says we are going to keep going to these places and that I am going to improve. Okay, I’ll try.

The first cafe we went to was Dog Cafe Bulldozer located about 20 minutes away by subway. Unlike Bong Brother’s Cafe, this cafe allows dogs over 10 kg so there were some bigger fellas there. Maybe that’s why I had a harder time at this place, but the staff at Bulldozer was also kind and patient with me. I didn’t play at all with the other dogs (only with the humans!) but, after we stayed there for about 2 hours, I felt comfortable enough to walk around. Here are some photos my mom took at the place.

The second cafe we went to was Da Dog In The City. This place was only 6 minutes walking distance from our Airbnb! So close! My mom liked the atmosphere of this place and she especially liked that there was a little fenced in the front yard with grass where I could explore off-leash. Unlike many dog cafes, this cafe does not offer doggy daycare. So, when we arrived, only the owner’s Boston Terrier was walking around. My mom sat and ate her sweet potato cake and iced sweet potato latte while I explored inside comfortably. While exploring, more cafe customers arrived with their dogs and I did much better this time! Of course, I met and played with all the humans here too, but I also played with a really small canine friend! After playing inside for a while, we headed out to the front yard which had a pool, but it wasn’t open at the time. I would have loved to swim in it! After a little while, my mom decided she better get back to packing so we walked back to Airbnb. where I chowed down on a late lunch. Check out the photos and clips from our visit to Da Dog In The City Cafe below!

So, as I said before, we are now staying in a place called Gangdong. Mom is super excited about this district because she says there are at least 4 dog cafes here and one also close by another district called Songpa. Oh, and there are tons of nearby parks here too! She plans to take me every place, but she says work is going to get busier soon so I will need to be patient. I’ll try my best (especially if there are belly rubs and toys as rewards)! Here’s a compilation of clips from Friday~

A Quick, Late-Afternoon Trip to Visit Hotel Cappuccino’s Dog-Friendly Caffe While Supporting Charity!

My mom just really can’t stay in one place for long! Today is Thursday, June 11th, and we are going to be moving to our second Airbnb soon. My mom was supposed to start packing this afternoon, but she decided to take me for a quick five-minute walk to another dog-friendly place in Seoul called Caffe Cappuccino. Now, this is not a full-on dog cafe so humans don’t expect to be able to let your pups run around with others off-leash. Caffe Cappuccino is located inside Hotel Cappuccino and features a fenced-in outdoor patio area where dogs are allowed to hang out with their humans and can even enjoy a dog-friendly treat or drink. Hotel Cappuccino also features special hotel rooms called Bark Rooms just for humans and their dogs. Check it out here– the doggy amenities are pretty cool, right? What’s even cooler is that Hotel Cappuccino regularly donates partial proceeds from dog-related purchases at their establishments to KARA (Korea Animal Rights Advocates). KARA is an animal advocate charity that aids abandoned dogs in Korea and is also playing a role in the gradual shutting down of dog meat farms and markets here. By the way, they have an adoption cafe located here in Seoul in the Mapo district! Check out their Facebook page here too! So this is another reason why my mom wanted to make a quick trip to this cafe with me.

As you can see below, the patio is quaint but very cozy and I drank fancy too! While my mom sipped her iced caramel latte, I sipped some charity supporting Doctor K’s Pet Milk! It was really tasty! I licked it all up- see? And it is lactose-free and nutrient-rich, so it didn’t bother my tummy!

After relaxing at Caffe Cappuccino for almost an hour, my mom decided she was craving an Italian BMT from Subway for dinner. She also decided to film some more clips of us walking through the city on our way to Subway and back to our Airbnb. Seriously- does anyone know why humans do all this camera stuff? The roads were so congested! Here, (at least in Gangnam district) rush hour seems to start around 3:30! These walking clips were filmed around 4:30 pm. Anyways, take a look and listen to our late afternoon/early evening walk below, and stay tuned for more doggy fun~!

I Made a Canine Friend at Bong Brothers Dog Cafe in Gangnam, Seoul!

Yesterday June 10th, my human mom (Emma) told me we’re going to make some dog friends and play at a place called a dog cafe? I was a bit confused. Now that I’m a traveling pup walking around the streets of Seoul, I have seen plenty of these “cafe” places everywhere. However, I have never seen a human with their dog in one of those- I figured we weren’t allowed in any cafes. But! Luckily~ I was so wrong!

We headed out the door and on our way towards one of the dog cafes located here in Gangnam, Seoul. The name of this cafe is Bong Brothers Cafe. Besides being a cafe where dogs under 10 kg (about 20 pounds) can enjoy the laid back cafe atmosphere with their humans, it is also a canine hotel, daycare, beauty salon, mini supply store, and they offer training classes too! This is quite a puppy paradise~! Oh and, if you don’t have a pooch with you in Korea, no worries~! One of the great things about there being all these dog cafes in Seoul is that you can hang out, pet, and play with all of the dogs at the cafe and quickly get a needed dose of doggy happiness. Oh, yea-I know you humans need us. 😛

Okiedokie, so we walked for about 10 minutes from our Airbnb room and arrived at this building where you can find the Bong Brothers Cafe up on the 2nd floor. This was such a nice trip! I didn’t have to ride the bus or the subway, and Emma didn’t get us lost!

This dog cafe (like others) has a smart two-door system to keep us canines safe! My mom pressed a button to make a sliding door open and we walked through, then the door slid closed behind us. Next, my mom pushed open a second door, and we were greeted by two kind looking staff members (and about 5 or six smaller dogs like me) who showed us over to a table and asked my mom to take my leash off. Oh, hehe, they also asked her if I was spayed… yep. To be allowed to hang out at the cafe, my mom only needed to buy one drink. However it was lunchtime, and she thought the Fried Dumplings on the menu sounded tasty. So, she got those and a green tea latte (geez she’s so addicted to green tea).

So, I’m gonna be honest, at first, I was a bit confused and scared. I mean, I’d been a bit cooped up my first couple weeks here and my usual play pals are back in America. So, I think I got a bit overwhelmed and just wanted to stick close to my mommy and protect her. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing there either? Was I supposed to just sit and watch my mom eat? Was I allowed to hop off the booth bench and make some playmates? I also wanted to try my paw at getting a piece of one of those dumplings…nope. One of the staff members spoke to my mom about me and assured my mom that after a while, I wouldn’t be so afraid and worried.


This friendly staff member was right! After about an hour of my mom putting me on the floor and telling me to go see the other dogs, I finally started to slowly widen my radius. Yet, I still needed to run back to my mom’s lap after about 30 seconds. Some more time passed, and my mom stopped watching me and played on her phone after putting me on the floor. I realized how relaxed she was, so maybe there was no reason for me to be uptight. Another staff member came by while with a little brown, curly, poodle-y looking pup as I was standing out in front of mom’s table. He knelt and gave me a great massage and played with me while also playing with the little brown puppy. Then he walked away and left me with the pooch who would be my new canine friend and playmate! We had a wonderful time~! The staff member who had assured my mom in the beginning, came over to watch us play by my mom’s table and talk to my mom a bit more about us. Gotta say we looked pretty adorable! My mom even filmed my progress! Watch me come out of my shell below~

We hung out and played at the cafe for about 3 hours! My mom decided it was time to walk back home before the weather got hotter outside. She picked out this awesome strawberry rope toy for me as a souvenir for my being so amazingly me. I might’ve already gotten the squeaker and stuffing out of it, but it’s my new favorite toy (see me posing with it below hehe).

I hope we can go to more of these dog cafe places in the future! Mom says we might go to another one called “Bulldozer”. Hmm, I wonder what a bulldozer has to do with us dogs? Oh well. Stay tuned for more mine and my mom’s adventures~!

So tired. But must keep playing~!

A Morning Stroll Through Dosan Neighborhood Park

On Tuesday, June 9th, the weather forecast was predicting quite a hot day at 93 degrees Fahrenheit. So, we set out a bit earlier around 9 am towards Dosan Neighborhood Park located in Sinsa Neighborhood in the Gangnam district of Seoul. It was a fairly simple bus ride taking us only about 25 minutes, so we arrived around 9:30 am- the temperature was still very comfortable. This park was the smallest we had been to so far together (we actually walked around its perimeter twice) but it was still adequate for a long and enjoyable walk with my Nabi. If I were planning to settle in Gangnam, this park would probably be on my list of frequents.

For some background, Dosan Park was established in 1973 in honor of, An Chang Ho, a legendary independence activist. The name of the park takes after the An Chang Ho’s pen name, “Dosan”. He is one of Korea’s most well-known and remembered patriots. This park also houses a museum which commemorates and educates about his achievements and legacy. Below, is a photo of his statue at the park and an information board which I am hoping you will be able to read if you’d like!

Now let’s finish out with another lap around the perimeter! As with many of the smaller neighborhood parks in Seoul, there was plenty of work out equipment and several pavilion seating areas and benches well placed throughout the park. As you can see and hear in the clips below, this park was quite charming to take a morning stroll through. Enjoy~

Wolmi Island Theme Park & Chinatown Incheon~!

On Sunday, June 7th, Nabi and I went along with another amazing friend of mine (who has been a huge help and like a big brother to me) to a couple of fun spots in Incheon! Jin Haeng also brought along his fur-sister, Mango! We went to Wolmi Island Theme Park and Incheon’s Chinatown. ***Language note! In Korean, Wolmi Island is “Wolmi-do”. The suffix “-do” [-doh] means island!

Incheon is another city located about an hour west of the heart of Seoul. This city is most well-known for being the location of Korea’s biggest international airport, Incheon Airport (and if you read our previous posts, it’s where we landed in May). Aside from being at Incheon Airport a handful of times, I had never gotten the chance to explore the area outside until Sunday. We drove first to Wolmi Island where there is a theme park which, being a Jersey Girl, kinda reminded me a bit of the boardwalks at the Jersey shores of Seaside Heights and Wildwood Crest. This is probably what made this trip even more refreshing for me since it made me feel a bit more at home driving to the shore for the day. As soon as we stepped out of the car with Nabi and my friend’s adorable, bite-sized Pomeranian, Mango, the ocean breeze and fragrance hit and we let out a collective sigh of happiness. My friend is also a fan of the ocean. Ah~ just smell that salty, fresh air.

Although house pet culture is growing and evolving exponentially, it is still a new concept here. Unfortunately, you still need to do a bit of digging as a pet parent here (no pun intended) to find places where dogs are permitted to enter. (other than dog parks, cafes, and pet stores). They are definitely a bunch here- they just aren’t advertised very much it seems. At Wolmi Island Theme Park, my friend had looked up a restaurant that would allow Mango and Nabi to enter. Thanks to my friend, we ate a very delicious and very refreshing seafood stew. We sat at a table at the front of the restaurant so it was as if we were still outside. Take a look at the photos below.

Chillin’ on the restaurant porch!

In traditional Korean culture, like with many other countries, dogs were typically used to serve as guard dogs or to be served in a stew delicacy believed in Eastern medicine to hold health benefits, especially for men. These two traditional uses for dogs are quickly dying out with younger generations of Koreans on average believing that they are horrendous and inhumane. There are now a plethora of animal shelters and rescue organizations working to shut down and officially put an end to these practices; more specifically, the practices of dog meat farms. Thus, these days, these two traditional uses for dogs are not very common in the major cities here and can really only be seen out in very rural areas of South Korea; rural towns in South Korea are also where the majority of Korea’s elderly populations live. So in the cities, there are over-the-top fancy puppy boutiques with high-end products and apparel for your pooch, and then you have the opposite feeling in more rural areas. Also, so far, I have had a mix of people either shy away from Nabi when we’re walking down a street or I have also had multiple people of various ages walk right up to Nabi smiling while saying hello to her and reaching out their hands. I think right now It’s a mix of polar opposites really, but I think it is all moving in a positive direction. Hope you enjoyed that little culture/history lesson, now let’s get back to our main feature! 🙂 

After lunch, we explored the rest of the theme park. In the next area, there was a good amount of rides and games to play too and all packed into a handful of city blocks! It definitely had more of a carnival feel. One of the popular rides you’ll see below. It is quite amusing just to watch! There is even a DJ who controls the ride and acts as a sort of comedian cracking jokes and using the riders as victims of his friendly jests and banters making every laugh (riders included!).

After checking out the ride and games area, we went for a stroll on the Wolmido Lighthouse Road. This may have been my favorite area other than the little pockets along the main shopping area where you could go down to water level. After walking back from the lighthouse at the end of the Wolmido Light house road, we followed some live oldies music back to the parking lot and I made us stop and listen for awhile. I am a big fan of oldies music pretty much no matter what country it is coming from, hehe in fact, I am listening to some Frank Sinatra as I type this post! 🙂

The four of us got back in the car and drove over to another tourist attraction of Incheon. Chinatown. Also at Chinatown is “Songwol-dong Folktale Village”.

Especially after being inside for 14 days on mandatory quarantine, a day trip to the seashore was definitely a refreshing experience. I’m so thankful to Jin Haeng (and little Mango too!) for choosing to show us this place! On Tuesday, Nabi and I took a morning stroll at another nearby park and on Wednesday (today!) we played at Bong Brother’s Dog Cafe! Stayed tuned for posts on both of these places~! (Check out Nabi’s corner for the Bong Brother’s Cafe post! She’ll be telling you all about that!)

Let’s Meet a Friend at Gwanggyo Lake Park~!

On Friday, June 5th, Nabi and I met a friend whom I initially met on an international pen pal app called “HelloTalk”. It is a great app! If you are looking to make friends with people around the world while learning and practicing languages, I highly recommend it. Anywho, I initially met this friend back in early 2018. We finally met over 2 years later! We were so excited. 🙂 My friend, Hyeon Jeong, works at a children’s daycare center and is super sweet and Nabi and I both had a wonderful time hanging out, eating chicken, and exploring Gwanggyo Lake with her. We might’ve gotten lost fighting our way out of the park momentarily but that just made the outing so much more fun. Hehe, it’s nice when you have someone to laugh and joke around with when you’re lost.

Gwanggyo Lake park is located in Suwon City, in the Gyeonggi-do Province. It took Nabi and me about an hour away by subway. We met at Sanghyeon Subway Station which is located no more than maybe 10 minutes away from the park on foot. This was Nabi’s very first time riding a subway! She made me proud again. Here’s some footage I took on the way to the park~

^_- Below are some photos and clips both Hyeon Jeong and I took of the lovely Gwanggyo Lake park. This park also proved to be much bigger than I was expecting! There were also many many dogs being walked here. Nabi made a couple of canine friends too!

Yangjae Stream Park

On Wednesday June 3rd, my 14 day quarantine here in Gangnam district Seoul ended! I am now free to leave the airbnb we are staying at and, more importantly, I am free to get Nabi out for some well needed walks and sightseeing. So, on Wednesday shortly after getting back from my Covid-19 testing at the Public Health Center, (I found out I tested negative by the way~) I popped Nabi into the little messenger carrying bag I have for her and we headed outside! You can tell in the clips below Nabi was quite excited to see her leash and harness and to here the word “outside”. We road bus to 441 from Gangnam Station for about 15 minutes a stop in Yangjae-dong (-dong here kinda means neighborhood) called Education Development Institute Entrance. From there, we walk for a bit short of ten minutes and arrived at this huge and long park called Yangjae Stream Park. See the photo below to see just how long this park stretches as it hugs both sides of Yangjae Stream. ***Special note! If you are also a dog parent planning on coming to Seoul, I just found out yesterday that it is actually illegal to ride public transportation with your dog’s head exposed. In other words, my messenger bag carrier should not have been allowed on Wednesday- we just got lucky. Dogs (and most likely any pet) must be completely enclosed in a carrier. From now on, that’s how we’ll be traveling together!

Here’s a bunch on video clips and photos we took together at the park! As you can see this park is extremely long. What was also really interesting was that there were three tiered levels of walking trails, and park official have posted tons of signage throughout all three of the main trails directing walkers and bikers on which way they need to go to avoid contact with strangers. Also there was a plentiful supply of hand sanitizer filled bottles hanging on railings of walkways. There’s lots of stuff for you to see below. Enjoy~!

Seriously, this park was A LOT longer than I thought it was gonna be. Phew! We walked for hours and still didn’t walk all of it!

So, if you read Nabi’s first blog post entitled “How I Came To Korea With My Human”, you’ll see she noted that I get lost quite easily. Yea, I will admit I do not have the sharpest navigational skills- but I’m getting better. Really! Anywho, this time she proved her words were right because I got us lost coming back (just a little bit). Long story kinda short, we ended up getting back on the same bus 441 going in the same direction we came. Sooo obviously, we went further away from our airbnb and actually rode the bus out of Seoul and into the outskirts of Gwacheon city in the Gyeonggi-do province which circles around the outside of Seoul. I believe we have guardian spirits all around us showing themselves through different people, animals, etc. Luckily, we happened to get help from one on this day too. When I noticed the sign for Gwacheon City and realized we were going in the wrong direction, I asked two middle-aged woman on the bus for some assistance and one woman got off with us at the next stop. She guided us over to an elevator that goes up and over to the other side of the highway so that we could get to the bus stop where there were buses going in the correct direction back towards Gangnam, Seoul.

Phew~! So! Here we are at the bus stop on the side of a highway just outside of Seoul. We still made it back around 5:30 pm though. As soon as we got back, I wiped Nabi down with some doggy bathing wipes as I have been doing out of precaution each time she is out in public. I also disinfected her harness and leash. After that, as you can see, Nabi enjoyed one of her favorite pass-times. Watching TV. Also in this clip montage I show off how wonderful my Nabi has been doing on public transportation here. Hehe sorry. Proud mama’s gotta preach. ^_-

The date today is June 6th 2020, so I’m a bit behind with posting I’ll try to catch up soon! Yesterday, June 5th, we finally met a girl friend penpal whom I spoke with consistently for 2 years! She guided us to and around Gwanggyo Lake Park which is considered to be in Suwon City outside of Seoul in Gyeonggi Province (Gyeonggi-do). Later tonight, we will be meeting another good friend whom I’ve been chatting with since this past October and will probably head over to one of the Han River Parks with his canine companion, Mango. I’ll be posting about it all soon~!

Our Quarantine is Officially Complete!

On June 3rd at 12 o’clock midnight, our 14 day mandatory covid-19 quarantine here in Gangnam district, Seoul was officially over. I had, however, just one more responsibility as a global citizen. This responsibility and also mandatory act was to go back to the Gangnam Public Health Center to get another nose and throat swabbing for Covid-19 screening. The public health center is open every day from 9am to 6pm to assist walk-ins with Covid-19 testing but also to assist people who are showing symptoms. Even though I had all day, Nabi and I had plans. So I loaded Nabi’s play pen up with a bi carrot to gnaw on, water, and toys, kissed her goodbye a few times and headed out around 9:30 am. This was our first time separating since arriving here in Korea so, gotta be honest, I was a bit nervous. I hopped on the super clean and convenient Seoul subway system and arrived at the Public Health Center by around 10:00 am.

Arriving at the Gangnam District Public Health Center front gate. Normally, you could also enter through a door on the other side of the building, That door, for the time being, is blocked.

There were probably about five or six different tents set up in the parking lot of the Public Health Center’s main entrance. The biggest, main tent was set up for people waiting for testing. The other tents all looked to be set up to examine and assist people who were feeling symptoms. I walked in to the main tent which I had entered in back on the night of May 19th. It was surprisingly, a bit busier than I expected it to be this time at 9:30am. I was approached by a very kind woman who seemed to be the main coordinator. She asked me if I came because I was feeling sick. I answered, “No, yesterday was my last day of quarantine so I came to get tested”. I also told her I was from America when she asked which country I entered in from. She had me sit down at the first table station where I filled out my basic bio, passport, and contact information on a testing form. After this, I was given a slip with “073” on it. This was my place in line for testing. I moved to one of the desks set up behind the station one table and waited for my number to pop up on the digital screen. Luckily, when I sat down at my desk they were already at number 50.

After waiting for maybe a half hour, my number came up on the digital screen and I made my way up to the front of the tent. There were three single chairs spaced out in the very front of the tent for people who were on-deck for testing. So, I sat down in the 3rd chair. Each time, someone came out I moved to the 2nd, then the 1st. Then, before I knew it, another very patient and kind health worker in a hazmat suit (all the health workers in direct contact with testing fluids wore full hazmat suits) came into the doorway of the building and ushered me in. One tiny step through the doorway of the building and I was asked to sit down at a table with another hazmat-suit wearing worker. This worker went over the information on my test form and wrote some of it onto the orange capped testing tube which would hold my swabs. She also asked me if I was feeling any symptoms and listed a bunch; she also asked if I was pregnant or a smoker. To all of these things I of course answered no. After this mini-interview, I was ushered through two automatic sliding doors into what was pretty much like a double-sized public bathroom stall. I sat down on a stool inside and in front of me was a sink and mirror. To the left of the sink and mirror there was a toilet. I sat alone with the door closed for maybe two seconds and hazmat suit workers came in and swabbed my throat and nose much gentler this time. Last time, to be honest, my right nostril felt quite uncomfortable for a few days after the swabbing- this time no pain afterwards yay~! Immediately after the swabbing, I got up and headed out of the building, down the street, and back to the subway. Time to get Nabi out for a little walk, or maybe a big one. Check out my “coming back to Nabi” short video below and stay tuned for photos and videos from our trip to YangJae Stream Green Park!

How I Came to South Korea With My Human

***Disclaimer: Travel restrictions and guidelines for importing pets into any country are always subject to unexpected changes. If you are planning to travel from the United States of America to anywhere international with your pet, please please please take a look at the United States Department of Agriculture website well in advance of your trip!***

Even before the very first day she met me, my mom had some pretty big plans for the both of us. She planned to make me a world-travelling canine- 1st stop The Republic of Korea. Alright furry friends listen up. In order to get into the R.O.K from the USA, we all need to have what’s called an International Health Certificate and it needs to be endorsed by both a USDA accredited veterinarian (you know, one of those weird people who sticks a cold wet beeping thing up your behind?) and an officer from the USDA office itself. Make sure you go onto the USDA website linked above to get the health certificate that is specific to the country you are going to! Alright now grab a piece of paper, a human and borrow those opposable thumbs of theirs and have ’em write this down:

Microchip + Rabies vaccination + Rabies titer test = International Travel Certificate.

These three mandatory things must be done in this order to get your International Travel Certificate and be allowed into the country! Sorry pals but to travel and immigration departments around the world, your main identification is not “fluffy” its gotta and its gonna be your microchip number. This is why you need to have your microchip done either on any date before you get poked with the rabies vaccine or prodded for the titer (Eh, it really wasn’t so bad, it’s worth it.) or it can be given on the same day you get your vaccine- just make sure that your microchip gets implanted first and the vaccine given second ^_-.

So! My timeline went a bit like this. On June 23rd 2019, I came out into this big and exciting world. On August 23rd, my new mom came and took me home. On August 27th, I had my first “new puppy visit”. Now please remember pups of all ages- make sure your humans take you to see a veterinarian within one week of bringing you home whether you’re an adopted rescue dog or came from a breeder’s house. It’s always good to make sure you get yourself a thorough exam to confirm you are in tip-top tail waggin’ shape and ready to take on the world.

Anywho, at my first puppy visit, I only got my next puppy DHPP vaccine and a Bordetella vaccine. It was at my second visit, on September 23rd, where the preparations began. On September 23rd, I got a small, rice-sized microchip implanted right under my skin between my shoulder blades (eek that needle was huuuge!). Then, I received my first Rabies vaccine along with my next puppy Distemper/Parvo vaccine and first Leptospirosis vaccine. Humans! You should consider vaccinating your furry friends for Lepto! I found out it can be deadly and humans can get it from us too. (Note: Some clinics offer both 1 year and 3 year rabies vaccines. The first ever rabies vaccine for any dog regardless of age will always only be effective for one year. When your human takes you to the vet a year later to get your next rabies vaccine, they can then choose the 1 year or the 3 year – I’d try to get them to opt for the 3 year one!). On October 21st 2019, I received my next and last puppy Distemper/Parvo vaccine, my second and last (for the year) Lepto vaccine. I also received my first Lyme vaccine and humans, if you and your furry friend live in a notoriously tick ridden area, such as New Jersey USA, please consider vaccinating your pet for Lyme disease. Oh and on this day too I heard them talking about something really weird…I think it was spaying?

November 14th 2019- my last puppy visit! At this appointment, I received my second and last Lyme vaccine (for the year) and my first Canine Influenza Vaccine. They also drew some pre-op blood work for the spaying thing. And that spaying thing happened on December 5th 2019. Boy what a day that was…just awful. First, my mom starved me- she didn’t give me breakfast! Then she took me to work with her (did I mention she worked at the animal hospital?) and, long story short, I fell asleep and woke up with an itchy tummy seeing unicorns and rainbows with leprechauns and pots’ o gold… It. Was. Bizarre. I still don’t really know what happened that day but my mommy said it was the best option for me and that I can be healthier later on this way so I’ll forgive her. Anything to keep me and healthy and on takin’ on the world one chew toy at a time sounds good to me! Check out benefits of spaying and this other thing for the fellas called neutering(?) here! Oh I also got my second and last (for the year) Canine Influenza vaccine so now I am fully loaded for immunity!

The most important thing that happened on that weird December day was my Rabies Titer. The people at my mom’s work pulled out some of my blood, fill out this order form called the FAVN Report Form for the Rabies Antibody Titer for Export Animals. The Rabies titer tests my immunity level against rabies! This is why you wanna wait at least a month or two after getting vaccinated to get your titer done. Of course, double check with your vet to see what timeline they suggest regarding vaccination and titer-ing! Also! Humans, please keep in mind that (for the USA) the rabies titer test for travel needs to be shipped out to a special laboratory! So, results can take as long as 3 to 4 weeks to come back in the mail!

Okay! So by mid-January I have had my microchip implanted and my rabies vaccine and rabies titer done. Last piece of paper left was my International Health Certificate! After the International Health Certificate is endorsed (for Korea at least), it is valid for 30 days (meaning you can use it to enter Korea for up to 30 days from the day it gets endorsed by someone at the USDA office). However! Humans, please keep in mind that most if not all airlines require a veterinarian signed letter or form stating that they have checked your canine companion over and they are suited to fly. This is typically mandatory for both cabin riding canines and cargo hold riding canines. It also applies to both domestic and international flights. The documentation and exam must also be completed no sooner than 10 days before your flight. So! This doctors appointment kinda kept getting delayed as that COVID-19 thing kept getting in the way. But finally things started to work out a bit for my mom and I as we soon found ourselves back at her old job for my travel health certificate appointment. There, the doctor looked me over inside the hospital while my mom stayed in the car while wearing one of those weird paper-like things the humans have been wearing lately (seriously, what are those things?!). I checked out as a perfect 10-no surprise-and from there we went to the place where there was so much paper and tape rolls I fought to resist the temptation to grab ’em (I’m kinda obsessed with paper products). We walked up to the counter where there was a woman employee whom I hoped had a milkbone or something- nope she had nothin’. My mom then handed over a paper with my microchip number on it along with my rabies vaccine certificate, my rabies titer test results, and the International Health Certificate she had just gotten from the vet. My mom told the woman that all that stuff had to be mailed to the US Department of Agriculture office in nearby Albany, New York ASAP. And that was that. A few days later my mom came back from the mail box all excited saying that my ticket to Korea had arrived!

So, in a nutshell, that’s what my human and I had to do. On May 18th, I left the US of A with Emma and have been oddly stuck inside this room with her for the past 14 days. Ooh but she says we are gonna try to explore some cool place tomorrow. FINALLY! I have so much energy bottled up in this 10 pound Yorkie body right now I don’t think I can hold it in much longer! I wonder where we’re going? I hope mom doesn’t get us lost…she always gets lost. Stayed tuned to see where we go! Also, if you haven’t already, head on over to my mom’s side of the site to read about our trip arriving here, South Korea’s covid-19 protocol, and our quarantine days.

The Adventure Begins~

***This post will cover our traveling to South Korea, arriving, and the current COVID-19 quarantine protocol.

Not gonna let a little global pandemic or quarantine protocol get in the way of finally starting our new chapter, are we? Nope! In this post, I’ll talk a bit (or maybe a lot) about our trek from JFK to Incheon Airport, our arrival, and the current appropriately complex quarantine protocol in South Korea. Buckle up, there may be a bit of turbulence…

It all began on Monday May 18th at 8:45 am. Or maybe it began around 7:30 am when a frenzy to unpack, re-evaluate, repack, and repeat ensued upon my parents’ kitchen floor. After all was said and done my luggage was still over the weight limit…seriously if anyone has some great packing tips, I’m all ears. Anywho, we packed into the car and set out to JFK airport (John F. Kennedy) in New York City, New York, USA around 8:45 am. Nabi probably thought we were going for a walk in the park as she excitedly looked out the windows acting as if there was nothing life changing about to happen to the two of us.

Arriving at JFK was a bit strange to say the least. Normally, the departures area would be packed with people getting dropped off, jumping out of vehicles, grabbing their luggage, hugging/kissing/waving goodbye, and rushing in hopes they might beat a long line going through security. This time, there was no one in the drop off area- not a single car. We also forgot to reserve parking, but there was no issue there either. After walking into a silent JFK, I checked Nabi and myself in at the counter since online check-in is not an option for pet travelers. Nabi’s paperwork had to get all checked out as well and we made sure everyone was on the same page that she was flying in the cabin. (Check out Nabi’s upcoming blog post about her preparations leading up to the big flight on the Nabi’s Corner page!) Next, things got a bit mushy and teary, of course, as Nabi said goodbye for now to her grandparents and I to my parents and we were on our way to security. Nabi was a champ as we passed through the line within what felt like 2 minutes- there was only one person in front us and two behind. Seriously, it was a ghost town. But it makes sense though, right? I mean who in their right mind would travel internationally in the very midst of the COVID-19 pandemic? Oh yea…me and my butterfly. Hehe oops. Anywho, we breezed through security like supa stars, I let nabi down and she pranced past the gates with me and soon we found ourselves at our own gate. Sitting, waiting…cuddling. I was starting to like this traveling with my doggy side-kick plan already.

Nabi strutting through the near empty airport.
Just chillin’. Notice how quiet it is?

After hanging out at our gate for about an hour or so, we were soon boarding. Now, if you are a frequent flyer, you know boarding can feel like half the trip- it can take a long, long time. But, in this era of the novel coronavirus, it took us a whopping 5 to 10 minutes to get through the boarding line and to our seat. Temperature check and all! Unfortunately, I was a bit distracted to count but I’d say it seemed like there maybe thirty or so other passengers besides us? Korean Air, like at least the majority or I would hope all airlines right now, is spacing out passengers pretty well. Let’s be honest, I don’t think everyone was sitting exactly six feet apart but the airline is eliminating a seat in between each passenger so no one (not even family and friends) is sitting next to each other. In Nabi and my case, we sat in the middle seat in a three seat row with no one one either side of us. It felt like our own little island compared to how economy seating usually feels like. The #KoreanAir crew were also all wearing gloves and masks. I wanna definitely give them props for still all being so pleasant and cheerful even when having to work under the added pressure to an already stressful occupation. Another couple of twists to this flight were the passing out of instructions on how to install the Self-Quarantine Safety Protection App (which we will talk much more about later) and the fact that I and all the other passengers on the flight were also wearing masks. I decided to skip taking photos of the plane outside of our own seat to respect the other passengers privacy. But believe me, when the plane started revving up, if you looked around, you’d be wondering if the captain got his schedule mixed up and was taking off early.

This time, the flight duration to Korea was actually less than 14 hours! Nabi was a champ during take off, not a peep out of her. Once we were in air, I took Nabi out of her carrier and she laid on my lap for the greater part of the flight while watching Disney movies with me, making friends with some of the flight crew, and catching some Zzzs (in Nabi’s case, lots of Zzzs). Before we knew it, I was putting Nabi back in her carrier and we were preparing to land.

We touched down at Incheon International Airport in the Republic of Korea earlier than planned around 4:30 or so. Now, I am kicking myself sitting here as I type this. I didn’t take any photos at Incheon Airport. I know, rookie mistake. Anywho, it was bizarre. Similar or maybe even more so than JFK airport, INC airport is normally filled to the brim with travelers from all over the globe coming and going. If it helps put things into perspective- this airport has an ice rink. Got an 8 hour layover? No problem! Grab a pair skates and pass the time. At an airport. On a roller skating rink. But something tells, me when Nabi and I arrived in INC on May 19th, the rink wasn’t open. The place was totally barren. As soon as we got off the plane I again had my temperature checked, next my passport and visa grant notice was checked, after that I and the other passengers on my flight went into another sectioned off station-like area where we all installed the “Self-Quarantine Safety Protection App” onto our phones.

[Photo screen shot of self quarantine app]

After installing the app on my phone and inputing my first round of data into the app, I joined another short line. I again was asked to show my passport, visa grant notice, and explain and describe where I would be carrying out the mandatory two week self-quarantine protocol. From this point, the staff called my Airbnb host to make sure everyone was on the same page and to make sure that I would be staying alone with my puppy in a single room-completely separate-all alone. Yup it’s true. After confirming with my wonderful Airbnb host, we were sent on our way to another station where I filled out more paperwork stating my Airbnb address and contact info and also signed another document stating that I agreed to do the mandatory quarantine and agreed to face criminal charges if I violated the protocol. This was all a bit helpful because by now I had written my Airbnb address about 3 or 4 times and had it pretty much memorized by then. and we were on our way down the escalator to the near empty luggage carousel area to get our two suitcases. Make that one suitcase. Oops. Someone apparently had the same exact luggage as I and ended up leaving the airport with poor Nabi’s kibble and other things including my prized Foval 2-in-1 travel adapter and converter. The two staff members (the only two staff members) in the carousel area were extremely kind and extremely apologetic for the mix up and quickly had me give them my Airbnb address, name, and phone number so the luggage could be delivered to me. Okiedokie then onwards we went. The last step was checking Nabi in at the agriculture veterinary inspection area. Nabi passed with flying stars with all her prepared documents and cuteness, of course. Then we were finally on our way to exiting the airport. But wait, not so fast.

Normally, at the bustling Incheon International Airport you would have various options as to how you would get to wherever you needed to go into Korea from the airport. This time was much different. After passing through Nabi’s station, we walked into the arrivals area where you would normally see people waiting for love ones with signs and the like. This time there was a small group of taxi and bus drivers sitting, waiting to be given their next assignment. I was asked for my Airbnb address by a kind man who seemed to be a coordinator of the operation. After this, putting my oversized piece of luggage, backpack, and Nabi into consideration I was paired up with a very polite and helpful taxi driver of a mini van. All of the drivers, I would like to mention, also were wearing gloves and masks. My new taxi driver friend took my suitcase for me and led me to the van. As soon as we were just about leaving the perimeters of the airport, my driver received a call and started answering several question in regards to where I was going and whether or not I had an official COVID-19 test prior to my arrival in Korea. The driver asked me about the test, I said no, and we ended up taking a slight detour over to the Gangnam Public Health Center. It’s too bad Nabi didn’t have thumbs to hold a camera…

While still in America, I watched several clips on CNN showing patients and even one of their foreigner correspondents getting the notorious nose swab test done. I thought eh, can’t be that bad. I was wrong. OW. But, it needed to be done so I can’t complain too much. I had a throat swab done along with an additional temperature check and soon I was back in the taxi with Nabi- our taxi driver said she made a bit of a fuss while I was gone but I couldn’t blame her. The voices in my head were making quite a fuss while I had to leave her in the taxi as well.

We arrived at the Airbnb around 8:45pm. I contacted my host to let her know that I arrived and that, unfortunately, Nabi was without food but that I would just share some of my dinner with her (“dog-friendly” food only!) for tonight. I asked if there was an online store I could purchase food from and have delivered until her American kibble found its way here. My wonderful host responded saying she would be over in a little while with some different foods and asked if there was anything else Nabi needed. Turns out her husband owns an animal hospital here in Korea about an hour or so outside of Seoul! So now that Nabi’s tummy was taken care of, time for mine.

{photos from day 1}

Korea has an amazing food delivery industry. Really it is incredible. Unfortunately, I learned delivery apps can be quite difficult to utilize for foreigners fresh off the plane. I was already aware that I would need a Korean phone number, but I was not aware that for most apps I would need a Korean bank account and card. So, long story short, after a bunch of trouble shooting, my MVP friend who lives about 2 hours away from where I am currently in Gangnam, Seoul ordered and paid for a nice warm bowl of Korean ginseng chicken soup with medicinal herbs and white rice which arrived at my door about thirty minutes after being ordered. I would later find out that the most popular food delivery app, 배달의민족 or roughly “The Delivery People” has a plethora of restaurants which accept payment via card or cash upon delivery. Oh well. With a full and satisfied stomach, it was shower-time for both Nabi and I and we both fell asleep quicker than I thought we would. But, jet-lag came back with a vengeance during the remainder of the week to come.

The next day, Wednesday, came and went in kind of a blur. Actually the whole first week did. Okay, Wednesday, Day 1. Around 2pm a “1st level inspector” from the Gangnam District Health Center contacted me via the app Kakaotalk. I was in the midst of taking probably my 3rd out of a handful of naps I took that day when my phone went off. I had a very pleasant conversation where the inspector confirmed my address, told me that I was to not leave my room during the 14 day period unless I felt sick and needed to go to the hospital. In that case, I was not allowed to leave and go to the hospital before contacting the health center. The inspector then explained that there would be a package delivered at my door within the next day or so filled with food, water and other daily necessities. Lastly, she explained that there would also be a monitor assigned to me and that my monitor would be coming to confirm my address and introduce herself by Friday. Oh and by the way, I also got a call from the Incheon Airport earlier that morning letting me know they had my suitcase and it would also be delivered to me by the end of the day and it was. Thank Nirvana.

Day 2 of quarantine was like Christmas! First I got an unexpected call at around 2pm again, this time, it was from my assigned personal monitor from the Gangnam District Health Center. She told me that my care package would be getting delivered sometime later that day and that she also would be coming to visit me. Around 6pm my doorbell went off and by the time I threw a mask and gloves on whoever rang the bell had left but not my package~! I quickly yanked and pulled the box inside and opened it up. The box was filled to the top with simple and easy to cook (or microwave) meals, snacks, 3 large bottles of water, and 2 orange medical waste garbage bags. As a side note, normally disposing of trash here is a bit complex as everything needs to be separated, however, during my 14-day quarantine I was to put all of my waste including recyclables into these medical waste bags. That’s when I knew were not messin’ around. Only a few minutes later and my bell rang again, I look at the security camera to see that my monitor friend was already outside the front door of the building. I quickly slipped my shoes on along with my PPE again and rushed downstairs. There, I was given more documents to sign. I was also given a bag full of at least 50 masks of different varieties, sanitizing spray, hand sanitizer gel, antibacterial hand wash, antibacterial wipes, and 2 pairs of plastic gloves. And to top it all off, I was also gifted an adorable bucket with a plant in it just starting to bloom little pink flowers. Gotta say I felt quite well cared for. 🙂

From toothpaste to Choco Pies, I received a very generous care package.

After our meeting, my monitor reminded me via Kakaotalk text that she would be stopping by randomly every once in a while to see how I was doing and make sure that I was following protocol by staying inside. She also let me know that my quarantine would be officially over as of 12:00 midnight on June 3rd. She added, however, that I needed to go to the Gangnam Health Center sometime during the day on June 3rd to get a quick exam and another COVID-19 test done. After all that, I would be free to do as I please.

So! That’s the gist of everything in a nutshell as far as the protocol goes. Here we are on May 31st, day 12 of quarantine in the homestretch. Gotta say the time has surprisingly flown by (although that is probably partially because I was stuck in quite a jet-lagged haze during the first 5 days or so). Luckily this past week, I started taking advantage of my friend’s generosity and used his phone number a few times to get some fresh food from the outside world on Wednesday, day 8. I was able to do this via a more foreigner-friendly app which I mentioned above, 배달의민족, “Delivery People’s App”. This app allows you to pay by cash or card (depending on the restaurant you order from) so a bank account is not necessary- you only need a Korean phone number.

I was getting down to having nothing to eat besides ramen, spam, and canned tuna. I was grateful to still have something in the cabinets but I longed for some fresh fruits and veggies. I literally did a happy dance when I was eating my first delivery order. Below are some of the foods and drinks I’ve ordered thus far. yummy yummy~

After ordering this bubble tea on Friday, I wondered. How is someone gonna drive over here with my tea on a motorbike and not have it spill everywhere? This was my answer.

On Wednesday as well (or was it Thursday?) I got a kakaotalk message from my monitor asking if everything was okay as she noticed my temperature go up by 0.1 degree Celsius. And then yesterday, Saturday, my monitor called me from the parking lot as she stopped by randomly to wave to me through the window (thank goodness I wasn’t sitting on the pot at the time) and take a photo of me. I fought the temptation to make peace or heart signs.

Nabi has really been a trooper through all of this so far; can’t say how proud I am of her. It can’t be easy being an 11 month old yorkie pup and being stuck inside an approximately 320 square foot apartment for 14 straight days. She’s still her same Nabi-self making me laugh and smile and keeping me sane or at least a bit less insane. 😛 Once this is all over, I am excited to take her out to the many parks in Seoul and to also explore the rest of this country with her. I also have hopes to quickly find a more permanent apartment to rent that is just spacious enough for the two of us and nearby a park or two; stayed tuned. ^_- This is only the beginning. We’ve got a lot of building blocks to set up.

Oh I almost forgot! Below is a photo of probably one of The Korean Government’s most important weapons in their battle against COVID-19- “The Self-Quarantine Safety Protection App”. This app is currently GPS tracking my whereabouts (which is probably not very exciting to watch-honestly I have not left the building) and also alerts me about every 12 hours or so to check-in with my current health status or “self-diagnosis” if I haven’t already done so. I really don’t feel like a prisoner; I don’t feel like my privacy is being invaded through this app. Yes, it is active 24/7 but it is a GPS tracking device; it doesn’t have a camera or mic. To the people monitoring the app I’m probably just a little dot on a map. By agreeing to follow this protocol and be monitored through the app I am also doing my part as a responsible global citizen and global team player in the battle against this virus. Through this app, people can be alerted if someone in there area or on the bus they rode earlier today was diagnosed with the virus and that could save lives and keep the virus from spreading. Every day, among those alerts are ones reminding everyone to use PPE and wash their hands, keep social distance when possible, etc. Some people might be bothered by this protocol or feel like it is going against their personal rights. Honestly, as you can see, it’s really not so bad. Frankly, I would be much more bothered if were asymptomatic, violated the protocol and went out partying as many tourists and foreigners are doing, and spread the virus to someone else causing terrible damage to their health, or even worse, death. In comparison to other developed countries around the world, this country has done a stellar job fighting this so far, in my opinion. It would be terrible for me to enter and mess it all up on them, right?

Here are some more moments from our quarantining days so far…

Disclaimer: Although you can check your dog’s body temperature via their front leg pit (add one degree if you do!) it is still not as accurate as checking via the behind. If you think your pet has a fever, take them to the doggy doctor! A dog’s normal temperature is usually between 101 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nabi, it’s day 12~ ! Nabi, “Wait…what day is it?”

In the next post you’ll be hearing some more from Nabi about all the documents and to-dos involved with getting her here with me legally, safely, and happily. Head on over to Nabi’s Corner to check it out.

She asked me to show this off. Not bad for 11 months, eh?….

*****UPDATE!!!*****

I was talking to a friend from my company a few days ago and found out some unfortunate news. Not every system is perfect. She just arrived back in Korea this past weekend and is staying at an airbnb for now in a different district of Seoul called Jogno. It turns out each district of Seoul was given a lump of funding from the government to assist people on 2 week quarantine, however, each district’s budget is different and the district choosing how to disperse it. Unfortunately, Jogno district doesn’t seem to have as big a budget as Gangnam does. My friend will not be receiving any care package or money for food and necessities. A complete 180 compared to the care I received from the Gangnam district center. 😦 If you are going to be traveling to Korea during this time, I suggest you try to research and find out the funding situation at the district you are planning to stay in for your quarantining days!

—-update posted on June 11th, 2020 ^^