The LASIK experience.

My first pair of glasses were giant pink ones that enveloped my entire face. I didn’t care though, I loved them and that’s all that mattered. As time went on, I got a little more stylish with my glasses and contacts were eventually added to my eye wardrobe.

That’s the way it’s been for 20 years, glasses and contacts. Now, I’m a few months away from returning to Ireland to study so I decided that I should get LASIK while it was available to me at a good price. Among the many advantages to living in Korea are the medical procedures. You can have any procedure you so desire and it won’t break the bank. People pop in for nose jobs here like they pop in for a manicure.

My friend had gotten LASIK done before she left and was happy with the result so I went to the same clinic as her. It’s called Yeabit eye clinic in Hwajeong. About a month before the procedure, I went in for a consultation.It took one hour. It basically involved them testing and measuring my eyes to check that I was a candidate for the procedure. They also put three different drops into your eyes which dilates your pupils so my eyes looked a bit funny for 24 hours.

For two weeks before the operation, you’re not allowed to wear contact lenses.I had my appointment on a Thursday and on both Monday and Wednesday, the nurse from the clinic Kakaoed me to remind me of things and give me a chance to ask questions.

The day of the procedure, I was slightly terrified. All kinds of thoughts went through my mind. What if I go blind? What if the machine breaks down in the middle of the procedure? What if……and so on. Eventually, I told myself to man up and just do it. You have to do the same few tests when you arrive so they can compare measurements and so on. You then go to the pharmacy, conveniently next door to collect your eye drops.

Back to the clinic and you get a shot in the hip. What’s in the shot I don’t know but it didn’t do me any harm. Then they draw blood for your Plasma drops. Plasma drops are exactly what you think they are, eye drops made from the plasma in your blood.

Then they lead me to my waiting room. I’ve been to hotels where the room wasn’t as nice as this one. It had a bed, a wardrobe, a couch, a sink, a foot stool and the glass in the window was multi colored. The place was so beautiful. The nurse came in again to  explain what would happen during the procedure and what to do and not to do and so on. For both eyes the procedure takes just 15 minutes. The key is just not to move after they position your head.

There was no need to work myself into a state over the operation. It was all very basic really. You lie on a declined chair and the doctor places you head in the correct position. After that they place a mask over your face and cover one eye. The drops go in, you look at the green light and then the red one and then it’s done. They place something in your eye so you can’t move it. The worst part is after the laser. They warn you it’s coming and not to close your eyes but between the anaesthetic and the darkness that comes, you don’t know whether your eye is open or closed so you just have to hope for the best. Your vision only goes for a few seconds before it returns. Then the second eye is done and it’s all over.

Honestly, the worst part of the whole experience was when they removed the mask from my face. It sticks to your face and I believe that I left a layer of my face on it when they took it off. I expected to be lead, unable to see to the waiting room but I had vision straight away. I waited 10 minutes for the good of man kind before I walked away. I caught a taxi and went home.

For three hours, you get “onion eyes” That’s the best way to describe it. It’s not painful but it feels like you’re chopping onions. I just lay down, closed my eyes and entertained myself by praying, listening to music, singing, talking to myself and so on. By the end of the three hours, the stinging had gone and I felt back to normal.

For the next few weeks, I’ll have to put drops into my eyes at regular intervals during the day.

Today, I returned for a follow up and my vision is better than 20/20. Wahoo! Supervision! The bad news is that I’m not allowed back to football for a few weeks but it’s a small price to pay for perfect vision.

LASIK is the best decision I’ve made and I highly recommend it. Here are all the need to know details in terms of the financial side of the procedure.

Consultation fee: Included in procedure cost.

Procedure: 900,000won total for both eyes.

Medicine: One day of pain killers (which you only take if you need )

2 sets of drops: 17,000won

Plasma Drops are included in the 900,000

Follow up check: Free

Total Cost 917,000won.

I live in Ilsan so I got this done at Yeabit eye clinic which it right beside Hwajeong Station on Line 3.

Random Recommendations:

Eat a meal shortly before the procedure.Then afterward you can close your eyes for three hours and not worry about food.

If you have no complications, go home as soon after the procedure as you can. The onion eyes only started as I was travelling home in the taxi so if you can get home before the onset of that, brilliant.

Take a rest day the following day. Although I feel perfectly normal, my eyes still look a little red and are a little tired from yesterday so naps are required.

If you have any questions about this that I can help you with, just drop me a line shaunabrowne87@yahoo.co.uk

Korea- The cost of an average month

I have some friends that intend to move here later in the year. We’ve been skyping regularly and I’ve been filling them with stories from the Land of Morning Calm. One of the things they inquired about was the cost of living. The following is an example of what I spend in the average month. For the most part, I’ve over estimated to be on the safe side. This is for one person living in a two room apartment.

Petrol– 50,000 (full tank) x 2- 100,000won Could be more if I drive to Seoul.

Phone– 69,000 (unlimited calls and data) + 10,000 (cost of phone)

Utilities– 9,000 (electricity) 88,000 (gas) (Winter costs) Based on one person in the apartment.

Travel– T Money card. 10,000 per week. Usually head to Seoul every weekend. 40,000

Food– Grocery shopping once a week. Average- 50,000won

Eating out– Wintertime, I eat out about once a week. If I go for Galbi or some meal with others, the cost is usually 10,000. If we eat single meals, the cost varies. Average 13,500won.  For this example, we’ll say I eat shared meals once a week for the month.

Going out– If you’re drinking and staying out, the average Saturday night will cost you about 100,000. Everyone is different though so this cost is variable. For this example, we’ll consider 2 nights out in the month.

Misc- Clothes, accessories. 150,000 won a month. Cinema tickets for a regular movie will cost 9,000won. Popcorn and coke usually cost 7,500won. A cup of Americano in a regular coffee shop is about 2,500won.

Total– 906,000won.

If you consider the average wage for an English teacher to be about 2.2 million before taxes, you could still come out with 2 million. This still leaves you the opportunity to save half of what you make and still live very comfortably every month.

Costs are variable on the season also- I do a lot less in winter but others go skiing and snowboarding etc. In summer, electricity costs are higher because of air conditioning.

Summer and Winter I take a vacation which are additional costs.

My car insurance is an annual cost. Last year it was about 670,000won for fully comprehensive and the installation of a black box.

My friend Evan, after reading the initial draft of this blog had the following to say about his experience here;

It’s definitely possible to get by comfortably for far less if a person’s goal is to save more money. I pay 5,000 KRW a month pre-paid for phone service, using a Galaxy S2 that cost me 80,000 KRW. Text all I want. No data, but I use wifi at home or at various businesses I’ve found.

No car means no petrol, car payment, insurance, maintenance, etc. Subways and buses are cheap enough.

I will have managed to save over 20 million krw in 14 months, making around 2.1 million a month. That’s after having to pay for my own flight over (hagwon screwed me there), unexpected moving fees, etc. Pretty good considering.

My first year, however, I didn’t save quite as much. I ate out more frequently. The bars added up, too. I still did okay, even without watching my money closely that year.

If you have any comments, leave them below!

 

Sleeping in Incheon Airport- Spa on Air, a review.

I don’t make a habit of sleeping in airports. I also don’t make a habit of sleeping there for the good of my blog, I was actually leaving on a trip. Now that we’re clear on that here’s how it all happened.

My conspirator, Olivia, and I were heading to the Feis in Shanghai. So, as a result of not wanted to get up at ridiculous o clock to catch a bus, to the train to get to the airport, we decided to give Spa On Air, the jimjilbang in Incheon Airport a go.

It was a Thursday night at midnight by the time we arrived. The airport was eerily quiet and we set off on the journey to find Spa on Air. Signage for the place is a joke. Couple this with the fact that I can’t read those ridiculous “you are here” maps and the whole thing was a special experience. Eventually, we found 2 adjummas having a break and we were grateful to find signs of human life. We thought we left it behind when we got off the AREX. They were good enough to point us in the right direction and we headed further into a land of nobodies. Eventually, we stumbled onto an area with flags for the much sought Spa on Air and with great relief approached the nice lady at reception. The only thought was that, with this many people not in the airport, there couldn’t possibly be too many people wanting to sleep in Incheon on a random Thursday night in March. I was wrong. No private rooms left (although at that random hour, I wasn’t surprised) but it would cost me 20,000 for a sleep over. This is definitely more expensive that regular jimjilbangs. (It is possible to ring ahead and get a reservation. Here is a link to their number http://www.airport.kr/airport/facility/efalicityInfo.iia?carId=39)
As we changed into our uniforms (the shorts and t-shirt provided at reception, mine could have fit a small family), it was clear that you were paying for quality. The dressing room was beautiful, lockers were large and the toilets were clean and new, ( No squatters here). We also had cleanser and cotton wool to remove makeup and hair dryers and all the usual things to make you look normal. There were mirrors everywhere (possibly so you could enjoy how great you looked in your uniform?) and it was all nicely decorated with signs in English and Japanese.

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Next task, find somewhere to sleep. They have a lounge room with reclining chairs that look super comfortable, I wouldn’t know since everyone else had taken them and we had to make do with mats on the floor. Not to worry, sleep is sleep. Until someone leans too far back on their recliner and the entire chair falls with the loudest crash, just centimetres away from your head at 4am. There’s the usual coughing, snoring, talking, walking etc. going on during the night so although I caught a few hours shut eye, Olivia didn’t.

Next morning, up, shower, ready and what do you know, you’re already in the airport so it took us about 5 minutes to stroll to the check in desk.

All in all, I definitely would stay here again if, 1) I arrived back too late to take public transport and 2) I arrived early enough to get either a private room or a recliner. It’s the small things in life.

 

*Update- August 2013.

I’ve just stayed at Spa on Air before my trip to Malaysia. I rocked up around 7pm and there was loads of space. Although the recliners are very comfortable I just couldn’t sleep so I found a small sleeping room and slept on a mat on the floor. It was a surprisingly great nights sleep. Quiet, peaceful, and comfortable. The showers and baths here are lovely. They keep your suitcases at the front where they are safe and supervised until you leave.

What I liked;

  1. The place is super clean and new
  2. The staff speak English
  3. The lockers are big enough to fit a small suitcase.
  4. The showers and baths are great
  5. The changing room is spacious, quiet and well stocked with beauty products.
  6. There are loads of places to sleep. The lounge chairs, the public sleeping rooms and the private but public sleeping rooms.

What I didn’t like

  1. If you arrive really late, you might have to sleep on the floor in the lounge area which can be a little noisy with people coming and going and snoring etc
  2. The signage for the place is really bad.