I recently told a few friends that I would be making a trip to Bangkok, Thailand for a short holiday with my family. My family and I love Bangkok, you know, food is awesome, hotels are cheap and awesome, massage is aaaawesome, what's not to love about Thailand. We visit almost three times a year.
Almost immediately, I got recommendations to visit a special place, a place where you could have food, some drinks and get your dose of fluffy dogs.
Big, fluffy dogs called Siberian Huskies.
So we made the reservation, and turned up on a quiet afternoon to this mysterious place called True Love Cafè. Otherwise also known as Neverland Siberians.
First things first, note that the easiest way to get to this space is by tuk-tuk or taxi - if you attempt to walk here you will be very very unhappy. It is at the very end of a long line of houses, and extremely easy to lose your way if you aren't familiar with the roads of Bangkok.
Secondly, make sure you make a reservation. Call the owner and they will slot you in at one of the three slots they have through the day to meet the pooches and have your meals - while I was here I noticed, with much exasperation, people walking in and asking for a table despite repeated apologies from the owners and staff that they were fully booked for the day.
Thirdly, when you've made your reservations, the owner will most probably also provide a map of which to show to the cab driver or the bellboy of your hotel or any local. When you are ready to leave, the designated tuk-tuk will also arrive after being called by the owner, and the driver will drop you off Ari BTS station, where you can either take the train home or take a cab.
With that out of the way - let's get down to business.
There is no entry fee to True Love, this fee is covered by the set meals you chose to buy. There are three options: the basic dessert set (150baht) where you get a drink and any dessert of choice, the snack set (250 baht) where you get a drink, a dessert of choice and a light snack of choice, and finally, the meal set (350 baht), where you get a drink, a dessert of choice and a meal choice from the menu.
True Love isn't only known for its puppy love, it's only known for the cakes - lots and lots of cakes.
Ice-cream cakes in the form of swiss rolls, sorbet sponge cakes, mille cakes, cheesecakes, red velvet cakes, strawberry short cakes, cream cakes, tartlets and chocolate mousse cups- any dessert of your choice.
All set menus come with a cake so nobody will miss out.
My family was a party of four - so once we got settled down, the owner (whose English is impeccable) gave us a quick run down on the set menus, and after some recommendations we got the peach mille cake, an Oreo cheesecake, red velvet cake and the strawberry ice cream swiss roll cake.
My sister, having never tried a mille cake decided to go with the peach mille - soft sweet layers soaked in sweet cream and sliced peaches, with a thicker sponge base, possibly to make up for the lack of 20 layers of crepes.
The star of the dessert tray for me was this red velvet cake - light sponge with generous layers of rich cream cheese frosting. I am a sucker for cream cheese frosting in any form, and even more so when paired with the softest sponge layers in a deep, rich red.
The strawberry ice cream swiss roll was a roll of lovely, frozen delights. Soft pink cream encasing a thin sponge layer, which further encases a thick hoard of strawberry ice cream. This swiss roll was selected through much deliberation, as there was a whole fridge full of different flavors to choose from.
It was very stressful to pick one from so many choices but I'm glad we pulled through.
The last was picked for my dad, who is a humongous cheese cake monster. A pretty standard American cheese cake, very rich with slabs of Oreo biscuits and a similar biscuit base.
As we got started on desserts, we had our drinks while waiting for the mains to arrive. Life was not made to have dessert last.
Our snacks consisted of some Thai-style fried chicken wings with sweet chili sauce, a sampling of prawn fritters, some fries and a plate of spicy fish fried rice, recommended by the owner.
The food was great, pretty standard and fuss-free - the snacks great for sharing and conversations, the cafè buzzing with quiet anticipation as our slot approached to meet the husky dogs. We had a good hour or two to burn as we were there early, and never felt rushed or uncomfortable in the clean and spacious space, with ever helpful and accommodating staff.
As we sat, the staff handed us a laminated sheet of some basic rules with regards to the dogs. There are three slots every day to meet the pooches, at 1230 to 330pm, 330 to 530pm, and finally 630 to 830pm on Fridays to Sundays only.
Only a limited amount of customers are allowed to meet the dogs at these three slots, so arrive early if you want to set aside enough time to have your meal.
Basic ground rules, husky dogs aren't the usual frisky puppies and they are definitely not toy dogs. If you love dogs enough you will know never to grab or agitate them. They have teeth and they choose not to use it, so don't do anything that will make the dogs uncomfortable.
They don't allow food or treats to be given to the dogs as well, both for the safety of your hands, and the health of the dogs so don't assume treats are ok - you don't want to be responsible for any sick puppies and the owners don't want to be responsible for any bitten hands.
As we put on some blue plastic footsies, a lovely Thai lady did a short introduction in both Thai and English, reminding us to sanitise our hands before entering the compound, that the dogs don't all get along so some have to be in separate kennels, and that there are a total of 22 Siberian Huskies, one Akita Inu, and one Shih Tzu.
If it was one thing that was obvious to me immediately, it was that these dogs were impeccably well groomed. Neverland Siberians also breeds these dogs from an extensively well founded lineage of champions, so it didn't surprise me that this dogs were all beautifully maintained, with lovely temperaments.
Curious and active, they would run around the large enclosure playing with each other, and even chase down a fallen leaf or excitedly follow their many handlers around for a piece of ice or some cuddling. These were happy dogs, no dog was overtly excitable or aggressive, and all had their own place. If one of them had an accident, the handlers would come in immediately to clean it up - hopefully without one or two of the husky dogs chasing the mops.
As we got acquainted with the pooches, I took a seat at the benches and watched the dogs run around. Some customers were very excited, chasing after the dogs and screaming for a photo. The dogs did not respond to these customers, as I expected.
Some customers were calm and waited for the dogs to find a comfortable spot under the many ceilings fans, before giving these lovely dogs a tummy rub and then further, a photo opportunity. The best time for a photo was during the ice break, where the handlers brought out bowls of ice cubes to feed to the dogs, excellent for play and cooling them down in the heat of the day.
Throughout the activities, the owner and I presume breeder of many of these huskies would calmly walk around, and take a seat on the ground.
The lone Akita, whose name I hear is Fushigi, meaning secret, or mystery, would sidle up to him, and they would have a quiet moment of play fighting. Fushigi is no small dog, even taller and larger than a standard sized Siberian Husky, yet in his owner's arms he is sweet and soft, nipping with no force and ears folded back in happy submission as he received his cuddles and play-time.
It was easy to see that all these dogs were special and lovely. Their safety was a priority for the owners, as any dogs whose temperaments were not compatible with each other, or not suitable for the many attention of the customers would be segregated so they would not be stressed or unhappy.
Some of the dogs were content to lie down and receive as many cuddles, some were happy to run around and sniff around the customers. None were hassled, or stressed or even overtly rough with anybody.
If you, like me, are a dog lover and find yourself content to spend hours with some very lovely pooches, True Love Cafè is a great place to go if you have time in Bangkok. There are many places where you can spend time with cats (a review of my favorite soon) and for a place to be this dedicated to dogs, and one specific breed is something to be in awe of, and no mean feat.
I recommend this to anyone who would like to see what Siberian Huskies are all about, and what they can get up to.
Neverland Siberians, True Love Cafè is located at:
153 Soi Arresumpun 2
Nearest BTS station: Ari
Reservations must be made in advanced through email or phone:
*All photos shown were taken by my sister, and she can be reached at email@example.com for further information