Feathered friends: Parrots at Pet Me. The shop attracts many young customers. Photo courtesy of Pet Me
Viet Nam News
by Thu Ngân
You cannot talk about Hồ Chí Minh City without mentioning coffee.
Coffee drinking has become an intrinsic part of the culture of this economic hub.
For people visiting this bustling city for the first time, a visit to a coffee shop is mandatory.
All this means coffee shops are mushrooming all over the place to cater to the ever-rising demand. Not only that, to stand out in the crowd, they constantly strive to be different.
‘Pet coffee shops’ are one such attempt at differentiation, with dozens of them now open.
Pet Me coffee is among them.
I came to know about the place after chatting with my friend once about parrots. She is a parrot lover and mentioned Pet Me and suggested I should visit it with my children.
So there we were one morning at 198B Nguyễn Văn Hưởng in District 2.
Not particularly charming or uniquely designed, it was like a house with a big yard. In the yard were all kinds of parrots perched on trees decorated with trinkets.
My two kids, aged 10 and eight, forgot to order their drinks and ran to the birds instead.
The parrots were in all shapes and sizes, some the size of a fist, others big as pigeon, and some even larger with long tail feathers.
My children were especially happy to discover that many of the birds there were in their favourite film, Rio, which came years ago.
It took them just a few minutes to make friends with the parrots and then they began to play freely with them, feed them, cuddle them, and let them perch on their heads and shoulders.
The shop’s owner, Lê Anh Tài, told me he had opened it in 2014 and claimed that to this day it remains the only one with parrots anywhere in Việt Nam.
His love for the birds was born many years ago. He had read a lot about the various species of parrots found in the world, and decided to open the shop to share his love for and experience in raising the birds with other pet lovers.
The shop has dozens of them now, representing around 70 per cent of all parrot species, according to the owner.
He has got them from South Africa, Australia and Asia.
The birds have a fascinating range of personalities depending on their species.
Eclectus parrots, for instance are docile and easy-going.
Their green and red feathers give these intelligent birds a dazzling look. Because they have been around people since birth on top of their innate gentleness, they are very friendly. They play with children and freely perch on their arms, heads and shoulders. Some of them can speak.
The cockatoo, on the other hand, is temperamental, though for some strange reason I found their disdainful attitude attractive.
Not everyone at the café could play with them. If they became annoyed they lunged at and bit guests, though not painfully. They sometimes sulked and pouted like a scorned youngster.
It was interesting to see people trying hard to make friends with these “unsociable” birds. The payoff if they succeeded was a cockatoo would then pull out all the stops, playing with them and dancing on their arms.
My children even named one of the cockatoos ‘the dancer’ after it danced beautifully with its wings wide open and the head dipping from side to side.
Shop owner Tài said a parrot is allowed to play with children for 30 minutes to an hour before being taken away to rest.
The shop also has rabbits, large tortoises and snakes.
Besides playing with the animals, guests also learn how to take care of them from the staff.
The café doubles up as a veterinary clinic. Well, almost. It vaccinates pets and takes care of them when their owners are not at home for a fee.
Besides, it has become a go-to place for children in many local kindergartens to learn about and interact with animals.
Bird brain: A boy with an eclectus parrot perched on his head. VNS Photo Thu Ngân
Cuddly: Many young customers visit Ken’s House for coffee to relax at the weekend. Photo courtesy of Ken’s House
Pampered pooches: Ken’s House has become a destination for dog lovers. Photo courtesy of Ken’s House
If Pet Me is a destination for bird lovers, Ken’s House is for people who love dogs, especially Alaska.
The the two-year-old shop in a three-storey building at 231 Phạm Văn Hai Street, Tân Bình District, has become a gathering place for Alaska fans.
Nguyễn Đăng Khoa, the owner of the shop, said he had always loved dogs and raised them for a long time.
After reading a lot of international materials, he discovered that people in Việt Nam feed and raise dogs in a different manner compared to elsewhere. So he opened the shop.
“I want to share my experience and show people how to raise dogs the same way foreigners do,” he said.
The shop has around 30 Alaska dogs with them customers can play while drinking their coffee.
The staff here are well trained and ready to share their experience in training and playing with dogs.
It is an amazing feeling when you set foot in the shop and are welcomed by dozens of dogs.
Hug them like baby and talk to them like friends are really a strange feeling, especially for the ones who love dogs and Alaska.
Khoa told Việt Nam News that his shop also offered other services.
“We sell accessories for dogs and offer beauty services for them.”
If you want your dog to get a slick coiffure, this is the place to head to. They will take care of your dog if you are going on business and have no one to do it for you.
Pet Me and Ken’s House are just two of the scores of pet coffee shops in HCM City.
Clearly, the city is becoming part of the global mainstream, and nothing is too offbeat or odd any longer for its inhabitants. VNS