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!


Why Emirates’ Stockholm route will be a success

Skywards GoldGrand political visions aside, the news of Emirates commencing flights from Dubai to Sweden’s capital Stockholm is the best news for Stockholm Arlanda Airport this year. Of course, this is not only good news for the airport – but good news for Sweden and the UAE too.

UAE businesses will get access to the business capital of Northern Europe, whilst Swedes will enjoy greater fare competition on travel to Asia.

Why do I believe this will work then? Already, Qatar Airways and all major European carriers fly to Stockholm. Clearly, Emirates would not be starting a route unless it made good business sense to do so.

This is how I think they thought:

  • Airport size – Arlanda is the 22nd busiest airport in Europe, with more traffic than Berlin or Dublin, for instance.
  • Many Swedish businesses are big in Asia, and often have their Middle Eastern HQ in Dubai.
  • Leisure travel – Swedes like travelling to warmer places for vacation. That around 350 000 Swedes travel every year to Thailand is certainly something Emirates will look to tap into. Also, Sweden is home to a big Iranian community.
  • The location – it will feel more like travelling in the right direction, compared to going via London, Amsterdam or Paris. At least if you’re going to Asia, that is…

Against Emirates’ case:

  • Dubai International Airport. DXB is turning into a nightmare with its long walking distances, crowded waiting areas, shops and lounges and ridiculous waiting times at passport control.
  • Qatar Airways. QA has operated flights between Stockholm and Doha for a couple of years. It is likely that the additional competition from Emirates will not be met with indifference.

The transfer of freight flights to Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali, close to the Dubai Marina, will help to ease the pressure on Dubai International Airport. Also, Emirates new exclusive A380 terminal will go some way in alleviating the strain on the main terminal building.

Going forward, it is possible that the weakest link in Dubai’s airport capacity will be the landing and take-off slot availability.

Hopefully the route will be a success, and the ties between Sweden and the UAE can be strengthened.

Further reading:


When Eating in Libya

I have the privilege to live in Libya until June. This is a fascinating country with people that definitely deserve a better future than their past.

One of the things I enjoy the most when in a new country, is trying out the local food. Due to the security issues in Libya at the moment, I don’t think my company would be very pleased if I ventured out for evening meals in Tripoli. Particularly not as I would have to make the 30km journey by car back to the office after the meal.

Nevertheless, I am on client site in central Tripoli every day – so I do get my fair share of commuting. And my fair share of Libyan sandwiches. The lunch here is starting to become quite repetitive, and I struggle a bit to have a sandwich for lunch every day. Despite having lived more than five years in the UK, I still don’t consider a sandwich lunch.

In my home country, we eat a hot meal for lunch and dinner. And – in my humble opinion – that is how the world should be fed!

What does my Libyan dinners look like then? Well, so far I have experimented a lot with…tuna. The canned variety. Please try this at home.

Boil pasta, drain and add:
~114g of canned tuna
1 tspn of Harissa
3 tbspns of chopped olives
1 tbspn of cream cheese
Choose one: tomato puree, passata or chopped tomatoes

Then stir, reheat and serve. Preferably on a plate in your own compound!

And what to drink? May I recommend the 2013 edition of the Don Simon grape juice…

Smaklig måltid!

Dublining it…

Like 2012, I have started off 2013 with a few days in the Dublin office. This is the office that employs me. Although I prefer being on the road, it has been good to get to know Dublin a bit. It is a city with an interesting history (founded by the vikings), and the hotel where I stay (The Burlington) allows for nice walks both to the office and the city centre.

Fighting the Lag

What is the best jet-lag fighter? Running is my firm answer. Came to Dubai from Singapore via Colombo, and decided to go running as the first thing when I came back early morning. Now done a full day in the office, and my eyes are almost black – BUT – I have stayed awake. Without caffeine.

Very impressed with Singapore by the way. Modern and green, which are things that are important to me.