Getting LASIK Eye Surgery in Busan, Korea

Getting LASIK in Korea >> Life In Limbo

On Saturday, I got laser eye surgery here in Korea. It was a really wonderful experience and the best part is that I can now see! So far into the distance! Without wearing glasses! I know that’s the whole point of getting laser eye surgery, but as someone who has lived almost her whole life wearing some kind of corrective lenses – to me this is quite literally a miracle. This is a very long post, but I wanted to share my experiences for anyone thinking about getting LASIK in Korea.

Why

One part of my motivation for coming to Korea would be to get my eyes fixed here. Korea has the highest number of LASIK procedures in the world because in general there is more myopia (farsightedness) here, at least according to my optometrist. This means they are very efficient and supply-and-demand means the price is much lower! It all depends on where you go, but you can expect to pay around 1,300,000 won or about $1200 US dollars. Back home, it’s usually at least this much or more per eye, so it’s definitely worth the cost. Also since I wear contacts, this surgery will pay for itself in just a few years.

Where

I had a really easy and straightforward experience with my surgery and really liked the clinic I chose. I’d had Hivue Eye Clinic in Seomyeon recommended to me by a few friends who had done the procedure earlier in the year. They offered a discount to foreigners as many clinics in Korea do.

When

The timing of my procedure was so easy. I booked a consultation for Saturday but had heard that sometimes they offer to do the surgery the same day. They warned me not to wear contacts a week before the surgery, but since I didn’t think I would be having the surgery on the day of my consultation I only stopped wearing them about 4 days before. Still, they said it was fine.

My consultation was at 11:30 and took about 1.5 hours from start to finish, including several tests of my eye health and determining my prescription. That included a sit-down meeting where they explained to me each test and my results compared to the normal baseline population. I had never gotten that kind of information on my eye health back in Canada and I must say it was both interesting and comforting to know. Then they sent me off for lunch and told me to come back in an hour for the surgery.

I came back, was sent down to the pharmacy to buy some eye drops, signed a consent form and had two more short tests. Then I was taken up to the surgery room and had to wait quite a while for someone else’s procedure to be completed. But once it was my turn, it moved very quickly and took altogether only about 1/2 an hour in total.

Getting LASIK in Korea >> Life In Limbo

What

Here are some things you might encounter:

  • They took my blood to make “medicine”. (I’ve since Googled this and no longer am so alarmed, but trust me I was at first.) They use your blood plasma to make special “autologous” eye drops that prevent dry eye and encourage healing. But I have friends that went to other eye clinics in Korea and did not have this.
  • I had to stand in a special wind chamber before entering the operating room, presumably to get all the dust off my clothes.
  • Since it’s Korea, I had to take off my shoes outside the operating room.
  • The staff may not speak much English. I was lucky that my optometrist had some basic English, enough to explain the procedure, and I had help from the contact who works with this clinic.

During the surgery (I had LASIK, not LASEK):

  • You might have to get up after the corneal flap has been cut and move to another operating table across the room. This was a very surreal experience and all I could think was “there are flaps in my eyes!” That said, I could see fine to walk even if it was a little blurry.
  • You won’t feel any pain or even much sensation. There is an intense pressure on your eye before they make the flap, but after that I didn’t feel anything. My biggest fear was having to watch what was happening but in fact I couldn’t see much at all.
  • You will smell a funny burning smell when they use the correcting laser, which is a bit disconcerting.
  • The lights are very, very bright and it was hard for me to keep my eyes open.
  • You don’t have to worry too much about keeping your eyes open because there is a (painless) clamp that holds your eyelid gently open.

After the surgery:

This will differ for everyone of course, but at my clinic they said I’d be totally fine to walk around and see right after and I was. I took the subway home with a friend of mine but I probably could have navigated it alone! That said, I had some discomfort: it felt as if there was something in my eye, and I had a lot of light sensitivity for the first few hours. Also, things were a bit filmy and blurry with a halo effect around lights. Before I went to bed that night though, it was much more comfortable and I could see pretty clearly. When I woke up on Sunday, it was like magic! My eyes as of this writing are still fairly dry but my vision is great! In general, my clinic said to expect only about one day to recover from the LASIK procedure.

Be prepared to go into the clinic after one day, one week, two weeks, and a month intervals. My day-after followup was a very short eye test and the doctor took a look at my eye under the microscope. Everything looked fine and they say I have above 20/20 vision now.

Getting LASIK in Korea >> Life In Limbo

Overall

I was really pleased with my experience and am absolutely thrilled with the results. My recovery time was absurdly short with minimal discomfort and best of all, my eyesight is great now. I am so excited that I was able to give myself this gift and feel very lucky that I got the opportunity to be in Korea and was able to feasibly save up for this.

If anyone has any questions about the procedure, let me know in the comments below and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Would you ever get a medical procedure in another country? If you wear glasses, would you get laser eye surgery to correct your vision?

Boracay Island, Philippines

Boracay03Boracay was absolutely a dream. A lot of our friends from Korea were on the island at the same time, so it was so fun to just walk down the beach and run into people we know. We also made friends with a few of the locals who live on the island and spent a few days running around with them too. There were motorcycle rides (sorry mom), grilled fish on the beach, tons of swimming, a lot of fruit shakes, (too) many late nights and early mornings, beautiful sunsets, great meals, a little bit of a lot of rain for a short time, excellent full body massages for $8, cheap beer and fire dancing. It was so great that as soon as I got home I was perusing flight prices to get me back there. It was amazing to have a break from Korea and especially somewhere warm and sunny and with so many friendly people. I really hope I can explore more of the beautiful Philippines soon.

Boracay11 Boracay12 Boracay06 Boracay09 Boracay05 Boracay10 Boracay20 Boracay17 Boracay13 Boracay18 Boracay16 Boracay14 Boracay08 Boracay07 Boracay04 Boracay02 Boracay19 Boracay01

Favourites:

Damianas / Ti Braz / Fuel: This cool, quaint little restaurant has 3 menus (and a bar!) and was one of my favourite spots on the island. A friend of mine is the head chef here, and his Filipino food was hands down the most authentic and delicious I tried during my week in the Philippines. There are also delicious juices and smoothies here, and a whole wall full of fresh, yummy options for the homemade crepes made right in front of you.

Spider House: If you walk all the way down White Beach and follow the curve of the coast, you’ll eventually come to this beautiful, perfect restaurant and bar. It’s hard to explain this place: it’s built into the cliff, it’s all open to the ocean, the floors are bamboo and only slightly rickety, there’s a bamboo ladder leading from the restaurant straight down into the ocean (and a diving platform), the food is delicious, the drinks are good and the owner is very friendly. It’s magic.

Tilapia n’ Chips: This little restaurant is a little away from the beach, up by the main road, and doesn’t have the beachfront views. But! It’s delicious and inexpensive. There’s a lot of touristy food on Boracay, and we had a few slightly disappointing meals before we found spots that we loved, like this place.

Crafty’s Rooftop Bar: This place is in an unlikely place – the roof of a grocery store right on the main road. You walk through the brightly-lit store and up the four flights of stairs and come up to an adorable rooftop bar with great vibes, views over the island and really yummy Indian food.

Real Coffee: Our favourite place to have breakfast. The second floor window seats have the best views of the beach, the staff are friendly, the food is good, my friends who like coffee tell me the coffee is good, and their famous calamansi muffins are 100% worth the hype.

Jonah’s Fruit Shakes: Our other favourite place to have breakfast. There are hundreds of places that sell cheap fruit shakes on Boracay, but these ones are the best. They have so many different flavours and they’re all so yummy. My favourites were mango pineapple and mango banana. Om nom.

Villa Lourdes: While our shower and the wifi in our room rarely worked, and we got a rude wakeup call every morning from the roosters in the yard, the location of this Airbnb was absolutely perfect and the price was right. We had a room with a double bed, a bunk bed, and a mattress on the floor up in a second-floor loft room. It was perfect for us and right in the heart of it all in Station 2, only a 5 minute walk from the beach.

Igidae Coastal Walk: Top 15 Things to Do and Eat in Busan, South Korea >> Life In Limbo

Top 15 Things to Do and Eat in Busan, South Korea

Top 15 Things to Do and Eat in Busan, South Korea >> Life In Limbo

I recently had the privilege of having my mother as a visitor here in Busan. It was an amazing opportunity to show someone around to all the things I love best about the city I’ve called home for the past 9 months. It was also a wonderful reminder of what makes this place so special. Until I moved here, I’d never heard of Busan – it’s not well known internationally compared to Seoul – but I completely fell in love with it once I arrived. If you ever get the chance to visit, there are so many things worth experiencing here. Here are my top recommendations for Busan, whether you have just a short time in the city or are staying for a while.

To Do

Dongbaek Coastal Walk: Top 15 Things to Do and Eat in Busan, South Korea >> Life In Limbo

Haeundae Beach and Dongbaek Island coastal walk: The beach becomes crowded with umbrellas during the summer months but it’s beautiful at any time of year. The views from this beach are some of my favourite in Busan. The boardwalk is a lovely place for a stroll, and just past the Westin Chosun hotel it turns into a gorgeous coastal walk around Dongbaek island, where the APEC summit was held in 2005.

Gwangalli Beach: As lovely as Haeundae is, Gwangalli is my favourite of Busan’s 5 beaches. The Diamond suspension bridge is particularly beautiful at sunset. Gwangalli beach has a very vibrant beach strip of bars and restaurants running right along the beach road so it’s a fun place to spend time. Almost every café along the strip has views out onto the beach and the water.

Igidae Coastal Walk: Not far from Gwangalli is the beautiful scenic coastal hike at Igidae Park. It offers views back towards the Gwangan bridge, the shiny buildings of Marine City and Haeundae beach. It’s not a difficult hike, but the path hugs the cliffs and has wonderful vistas of the ocean all the way along to Oryukdo – two pretty islands set just offshore. You can easily take a cab back from Oryukdo once you’re finished hiking.

Igidae Coastal Walk: Top 15 Things to Do and Eat in Busan, South Korea >> Life In Limbo

Shinsegae Department Store and Spaland: Busan is home to the biggest department store in the world, though it doesn’t feel like the biggest when you’re actually inside. Shinsegae is located in an expensive area of Busan, Centum City, and has a whole day’s worth of entertainment inside if you want it: countless stores, a huge international food court, a movie theatre, an ice skating rink, and of course Spaland. Spaland is a luxury version of a traditional Korean spa. On top of the classic baths area (note: this area is nude and gender-segregated), it also has a huge number of themed saunas, TV rooms, massage chairs, two restaurants and an oxygen-therapy clinic. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to feel pampered for only about $15.

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple: There are countless temples in Busan, most of them in the mountains, but this coastal temple is one of the best. It does get touristy, but it’s absolutely stunning and definitely worth a visit. It’s set right into the coast with views out over the water.

Jagalchi Fish Market: Top 15 Things to Do and Eat in Busan, South Korea >> Life In Limbo

Nampodong neighbourhood and Jagalchi Fish Market: This is such a fun neighbourhood. It’s chock-full of things to do with everything from vintage clothing stores, food from all over the world, international markets and a book alley. Not to mention the Jagalchi fish market, one of Busan’s biggest claims to fame. The market is crowded and very alive with every kind of seafood you can imagine. It’s such an interesting place to walk through. Nampo is also a great place to get hotteok ssiat, see below!

Lotte Giants baseball game: One of the most fun activities in Busan is a weekend late-afternoon baseball game at Sajik stadium. The open-air stadium is surrounded by mountains and is actually quite picturesque at sunset in the summertime! Add to that the fact that you can bring as much food and booze in from outside the game (and the prices for alcohol are identical to those outside the stadium anyways), and the hilarious cheers and dances of the fans and you can see why it’s a total blast.

Dalmaji Hill: Top 15 Things to Do and Eat in Busan, South Korea >> Life In Limbo

Dalmaji hill and Vesta Spa: The second most famous spa in Busan lives on Dalmaji hill. One of the reasons it’s so popular is the views it offers of Haeundae and Gwangalli beaches from its rooftop. Dalmaji road is also a lovely place to walk or have a coffee, especially at cherry blossom season when the trees are in bloom.

Hike Mount Jangsan or Mount Geumyeonsan: Busan should really be famous for its abundance of nature alone. It has been so lovely to be so close to both the mountains and the sea for the first time in my life. Both of these mountains have beautiful hikes and are so close to and accessible from the heart of the city.

To Eat

Bibimbap: Top 15 Things to Do and Eat in Busan, South Korea >> Life In Limbo

Dolsot bibimbap from any kimbap cheonguk: Bibimbap is a very traditional Korean dish of rice, vegetables and gochujang, a spicy paste. Dolsot means served in a hot stone bowl, so the rice on the bottom gets a bit crispy. A kimbap cheonguk is a bit like a Korean diner – they have bright orange signs and are everywhere. Look for “?? ???” on the menu.

Cheesy Kimchijeon from Tony’s: You can kimchijeon, a kind of savoury pancake, at a lot of Korean restaurants, but my favourite is from a little hole in the wall in the Kyungsung University area in Busan. It’s cheap and comes served with melted mozzarella on top. Plus Tony, the owner, is hilarious and so welcoming.

Dak galbi: A really delicious dish cooked right on your table by the waiters. It’s a type of stir fry, usually made with chicken or seafood, a really delicious sauce and plenty of vegetables. We always order cheese-filled tteokbokki (Korean rice cakes), cheese, and rice to go with it. This a type of restaurant, labelled with “? ??”.

Shabu Shabu: Top 15 Things to Do and Eat in Busan, South Korea >> Life In Limbo

Shabu Maxim Gwangan: Shabu shabu is a really fun type of meal where you cook your food yourself in pots of hot broth on the table and then make spring rolls using rice papers, fresh veggies and plenty of different sauces. Shabu Maxim is my favourite because it looks out over Gwangalli beach and you get your own individual hot pot to cook everything yourself as opposed to cooking everything in one in the centre of the table.

Hotteok ssiat: Hotteok are a type of Korean street food – deep-fried pastries stuffed with cinnamon sugar. Hotteok ssiat is the typical Busan version which comes stuffed with cinnamon, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and peanuts. The best to be had are in Nampodong.

***

Busan is really a wonderful city. It’s considered a “second city” compared to the larger and more famous Seoul, but it’s beautiful and fascinating.

Have you ever wanted to visit South Korea? If you’ve been to Busan before, are there any other places you’d add to this list? 

How to Plan For a Big Adventure

Today’s post about planning your next adventure was written by Kate Stull of Popforms. Her article is packed full of great advice that I am finding so helpful as I start to plan my next big trip.

How To Plan for a Big Adventure: a guest post by Kate Stull >> Life In Limbo

Every summer, I travel to France with my boyfriend’s family – and every summer, without fail, the weeks leading up to the trip are complete chaos. Luckily, when I use that time to set goals and make practical plans to improve my trip, those chaotic early weeks usually result in a more fun, more adventurous, and more relaxing vacation.

The better you plan, the more prepared you’ll be, and the fewer decisions you’ll have to make in the moment, when you’re supposed to be having fun! In the last few years I have collected a few key tips that help me make the most of my time leading up to a trip, and of course, during the trip itself.

Today I want to share my four favourite tips for taking care of the boring stuff early, so that you can have a more fulfilling and amazing vacation.

Start early and make lists

I start making lists weeks before any big trip I have coming up, so that I have plenty of time to remember things that are so easy to forget until the last minute, like cell phone chargers and prescriptions.

Find a journal or notebook, and start recording your ideas as you think of them. Even if it feels silly to write down “pack toothbrush” (how could you forget your toothbrush, right?), it’s good to get in the habit of writing down your good ideas as you have them.

The more notes you take on simple stuff, the more notes you’ll start to have on bigger things too. Think about it: if you’re writing down “pack toothbrush”, you’ll be much more likely to make notes on when you’ll need to do things like renew your passport or buy train tickets. Revisiting your notes often will make it so much easier to remember the important things that will help your trip run more smoothly.

Think about money (more than you think you need to)

You’ve probably already budgeted for things like plane tickets for your big trip, but have you thought about what you’ll eat while you’re traveling? Or where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what costs are associated with the place you’re staying? I almost always end up spending more on travel than I expect to, simply because it’s easy to forget many of the small costs of living that can add up quickly when you’re without your usual home base.

For example, if you’re staying with family on your trip, you can probably expect your accommodation to be free – minus the cost of cooking a nice dinner, perhaps. But if you’re staying in a hotel not only do you have to budget for that, you’ll also need to feed yourself three times a day. Decide in advance how much you can afford to spend on food each day. Can you go to restaurants and coffee shops, or should you be buying baguettes and preparing little snacks to carry in your bag as you sightsee? If you’re camping, you may think you won’t be spending much, but there are still costs to consider. Do you need firewood? Bottled water? Are there nightly camping fees?

In your planning notes, try to write down every single thing you think you’ll need to spend money on during your trip. Record it all, down to a $2 subway fare. The more you think about this stuff in advance, the less you’ll be making decisions on the fly, and the less you’ll be unpleasantly surprised by expenses.

How To Plan for a Big Adventure: a guest post by Kate Stull >> Life In Limbo

Plan out your work and fun time

If you’re lucky enough to be able to work from anywhere, you’ll probably be able to keep working even during your travels. And while it is awesome to get paid while you’re exploring a brand new place, it’s also too easy to get completely sucked into the work mindset and not live your adventure to the fullest.

In the weeks before your trip, think about what you’ll need to get done for work while you’re gone, if anything. What needs to be finished? What has a deadline? What is flexible? What are your manager’s and peers’ expectations of what you’ll accomplish while you’re gone? And if there are things you’ll need to do while you’re away, when will you get your work done?

Don’t assume you’ll just figure it out on a day-by-day basis. That makes it incredibly hard to make spontaneous choices while you’re traveling. It’s better to plan that Monday and Tuesday will be work days holed up in your hotel room, while Wednesday through Friday will be reserved for travel. Alternatively, you could try devoting your mornings to work and your afternoons to exploration.

When you make a choice in advance about how you’ll spend your time, your trip will be far less stressful. You’ll be able to communicate to your team about what they should expect from you, so you won’t get any surprise urgent emails right before you head out for a day trip. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy free time completely, knowing that your work is taken care of.

You don’t want to feel guilty for having fun when you think you should be working, or spend all your time working and wishing you were having more fun. You want to be present, whatever you are doing.

How to Plan for A Big Adventure: a guest post by Kate Stull >> Life In Limbo

Set an intention and write it down

Too often in my life, I have found myself going on trips both big and small just because someone else invited me. I never gave much thought to why I wanted to go somewhere, and as a result, I often found myself wasting time doing nothing, or just sitting around in cafés to fill the time between scheduled activities.

Travel is an incredible opportunity, and the more you know why you want to be somewhere, the more you will get out of your time away.

Now, this doesn’t mean writing down a long to-do list of sights you must see or things you must get done. Instead, think about how you want to feel. What do you want to be able to say you did when you get home? What one theme or word would represent a successful trip for you?

Whether you’re going to Hawaii for a week or living abroad for months, this really works – just scale it to the size of your trip. Try to think of a theme or an intention, and record it. That way, it’s cemented in your mind and you’ll be able to stay present and aware during your travels. If your goal is to relax and connect, write that down. Revisit your notes often, and make it a point to do things that are in line with your intentions.

Do the boring stuff early, so that you can have fun later.

Travel is supposed to be fun, but it can quickly become stressful if you’re making decisions about things like money, schedules, and work in the heat of the moment. By planning your trip and being practical in advance, you can ensure that all the right choices have already been made and that you’ll feel free to soak up the amazing experience of being in a new place.

And that’s what it’s all about.

What do you do to plan for an upcoming adventure? What’s your favourite way to stay organized while making plans?

Kate Stull is a blogger and the co-founder of Popforms, a company building tools to help technical leaders be more amazing at their jobs. She also just launched a Kickstarter for The Spark Notebook: a notebook that combines the function of a big life-planner into a beautifully designed, simple notebook. Whether you’re planning how to get work done abroad, or you’re just looking for a beautiful space to plot your next trip, The Spark Notebook is a perfect place for your big ideas. Check it out here!