Korean Dentistry

DSC_0844As I entered the shiny Seoulian (!?) shopping centre, a sign informed me about Seoul Line Dental on the 12th floor. The sign also informed me about a cosmetic surgery clinic…

I decided to choose the former, as a dental check-up was long overdue. I entered the clinic and two reception ladies – both around my age – welcomed me in Korean. I greeted them in Korean and English, and asked – in English – how much a check-up would cost.

They thought for a while, exchanged nervous looks and laughed, and called upon a dentist. A Korean man in full dentist attire came out of a room, and greeted me in very good English. He asked how he could help, and I explained why I was there.

He asked the reception ladies to give me some pricing information. A full check-up would cost around 30 USD – including X-ray.

The Dentist: Are you working and living here in Seoul?
Me: Ehm…no, just visiting for a couple of days. Tourist…
The Dentist: Ah, we very rarely get tourists here (referring to the clinic), how did you find us?
Me: Uhm…I saw the sign, and thought ‘Why not?’. I needed a check-up and I thought it would be cheaper here than in my home country.

The Dentist said that he had time to see me straightaway. He asked me to have a seat, and told his reception staff to help me prepare the paperwork.

The form was all in Korean… and one of the receptionists giggled while she tried to explain the different sections in English.

Then what I think was a dental nurse brought me to an X-ray machine, where I had to stand and bite a small plastic thing to keep my jaw in the right position. She explained everything to me in Korean, and asked me in English to close my eyes.

Then I was escorted to a semi-secluded space where I was asked to have a seat in a reclined dentist chair. I looked at the 24-something inch flat screen hanging a few inches in front of my face. I had been at a dental clinic once before where a screen was in front of me. That time they showed an illegal copy of Pirates of the Caribbean. But then that was in Lagos.

Just when my mind had started to drift unto stranger tides, transparent plastic thingies where put in my mouth to keep it open. There was no doubt now that all my teeth were clearly visible. All this happened while probably all the female staff in the clinic – perhaps six people – were watching me. Then one of the ladies put a massive digital camera in my face. I thought maybe they were just taking promotional photos and that I would be the new face and teeth of private dentistry in Seoul. Alas, I was wrong.

After a few quick clicks on the computer, my teeth turned up on the screen. The Dentist showed up and said that I had two cavities, and that the reception lady would explain the cost to me. I told him I was happy to get it all fixed now if he had time, which he had.

I was escorted to a glass office next to the chair, where the receptionist explained everything to me in Korean. She used a computer screen with pictures of other people’s teeth to give examples of what was wrong with mine.

I talked to her in English, which she seemed to understand. But having said that, I was nodding in agreement when spoken to in Korean. I can say ‘hi’ and ‘thank you’ – plus read seven letters in that language… Korean may possibly be the warmest sounding language in the world though, so it is hard not to nod in agreement.

After agreeing to pay around 280 000 (in Korean Won thankfully!), it was time for the resin fillings.

I was directed to another dentist chair in a more secluded area. I lied down in the chair. One of the dental nurses cleaned my teeth with the usual high pressure water.

After the cleaning, the dentist sat down next to me and told me to raise my hand in case I felt pain. No anaesthetic was administered, but I thought I would probably be alright. A green napkin was put over my face. It had a hole in it for the mouth, but not for the eyes. I did not see anything.

The drilling started, and I felt a little pain. Not more than I got teary eyes though, and the cavities were filled and polished off properly.

I settled the charges, and celebrated with a proper Korean lunch!


Winter is Coming

I should just give up making promises of regular blogging. So here the new vow is – I intend to blog irregularly. Whenever I feel like it… (which may not be very often).

I have worked a lot in Sweden this year and it has been exciting being in Stockholm through the build up to September’s General Election. Sweden got a new government, and whether they will be any good – time will tell.

Sometimes I think about death too. Maybe it has got to do with the evenings coming earlier. October really is the month when the days are becoming noticeably shorter.

I wonder if death really is something negative. Not that I have any stress in finding out, but, you know, it could be anything between nothingness and an endless party.

As humans we are pretty good at filling in the blanks.

Well. Here’s to winter. And cake!

Actively Seeking Feedback

On Monday I received an invite from the hotel manager of the hotel I am currently staying in. It was an invite for an informal meet in the lobby bar. The session took place tonight and the purpose was to get feedback from guests. This is a fantastic idea. Not only does this give the hotel an opportunity to show their care, it also facilitates customer relationship management beyond the check in desk and breakfast greeting.

Another hotel I stayed in had one of their account managers contacting me, and ensuring that my accommodation arrangement met my needs.

It seems like the Scandinavian/Nordic school of customer relationship management is still alive. Christian Grönroos and Evert Gummesson in academia. Jan Carlzon in practice. Impressive.

Food at home

…or food at somebody else’s home. Tonight I had the joy of eating home cooked food in a real home with friends. As my weekday dinner norm is eating alone in a hotel, this was a very pleasant change. Hopefully I will be able to reciprocate once I have a place of my own. Whenever that may happen!

Looking Ahead!

I have never gone hungry for a day in 2013. I have great friends and family that invest their time in maintaining a friendship with me, even when I fail to reciprocate. I have full-time employment, and through my work I get to see places and people I never would have travelled to otherwise. Our work helps billions of people to stay connected with their loved ones.

Still, I believe the best days are ahead. That I have yet to eat my favourite food, read my favourite book, or watch my favourite film. That I have yet to acquire more knowledge and meet new best friends.

Hong Kong

Thank you and goodbye 2013. The best is yet to come.


Marathon Planning

After a break last year, I will in September do my favourite half marathon – the Great North Run – for the sixth time. As my Skechers running shoes from 2011 just gave up, I acquired a pair of Skechers GoRun Ride. I have not run particularly far with them yet, no more than 2.5 kilometres to be precise. This is mainly because running around a compound is incredibly dull.

I am hoping to step up my running when I get to Stockholm. Running freely has not exactly been possible in Libya. I am sure I would have had to run for the wrong reasons should I have ventured out in the Tripoli suburbs in the evening!

Since I did the first Great North Run in 2007, I have promised myself to do a full marathon before I turn 30. This means I need to sign up for one before September next year. I went online earlier today to see what is available. After having surfed the web for inspiration, I settled for the Vancouver Marathon. It is a point to point race, and I have always wanted to visit Vancouver.

So, May 2014 it is.

Leaving Libya

It is not long until I leave Libya. Tripoli is a decent looking city that definitely has the potential to look truly beautiful.

The Libyans that I have interacted with have been wonderful people. I hope that they can build a prosperous future benefitting the region.

Will I come back? Probably. Perhaps not in the very near future, but I do truly believe that Libya will become a country that can take advantage of its oil. The structure here is better than, say Nigeria (where I lived half of last year). Once a majority of all variables fall into their place – I am certain this economy will go through a tremendous transformation.

I feel privileged to have experienced living in a country so close to a historical event like the revolution. My next destination will be Stockholm, and I am looking forward to living there for a few weeks. If only to experience the changes since 2006…

Happy Retirement, Mum!


Today is a great day. My mother has just finished her final term at school, and will be retiring after a 44-year long career as teacher. Roughly the last 30 years of that career have been devoted to children that require extra support, or just a quiet room to focus. Work has always been very important to her, and I believe that is something we share. I am sure I am speaking for the whole family when I say that I am really proud of her. Happy retirement, mum!