Tag Archives: experience

Introducing K-POP’s SM Town at COEX Samsung, Seoul

I’m not a K-Pop fan. But, I have a friend that is. Riley wanted to grab a new edition of EXO‘s newest release, and so we popped into SM Town‘s multi story building to pick up her stuff. Little did I know that I was about to embark on an adventure!

Before we could even enter the doors, Riley got distracted by a crowd of girls waiting around at an adjacent car park, and after plucking up the courage to ask fans who the hell we were ‘waiting’ for, we discovered that Red Velvet, a local girl band who were attending a signing event at SM Town, were expected to appear at any moment.

After waiting around for about fifteen minutes, Riley decided that since we didn’t know when they would appear, we could move on. We resumed our hunt for EXO’s “The War: Kokobop”.

IMG_20170723_170646~2
Serious, but curious…

We took the escalator up, and here, we found a hall with posters featuring bands managed and produced by SM Entertainment.  After encountering some younger Korean ladies sprawled all over the floor in the hall, Riley explained to me that these girls had cards of pop idols that they wanted to trade. That explained why they had merchandise scattered around them. Essentially, when you buy merchandise like albums, they come with cards (like collectors baseball cards) featuring cute band members, and many girls have a favourite member. Often, girls receive cards that they’d prefer to trade for cards that feature their crush.

We stepped onto the brightly lit sales floor. The room was packed with mostly young women in their teens to mid twenties. A few boys were there too, mostly because they worked there, or were boyfriends waiting while their girls shopped.

IMG_20170723_165927
Exo on vinyl: The War: Kokobop
IMG_20170723_170255~2
Do you need my umbrella, (possibly famous) fella?

Here, we found a large open area featuring all kinds of stuff: fancy record displays, live-sized cardboard cut-out pop stars, album displays, posters, tote bags, hats and clothing merchandise. There were even traditional style Korean items usually featured in museums on the display cases.

We got into a line up, and were handed a paper so Riley could mark down what she wished to purchase. At the paying counter, Riley handed over 45,000 won, and in return, received three albums. She explained that she was getting EXO’s The War: Kokobop version a, version b, and a private version, all sung in Korean and Mandarin. Apparently EXO pride market themselves as a band that release songs sung in various languages.

 

IMG_20170723_164009
Riley collects EXO memorabilia

Happy with her purchase, which included poster gifts and trade-able cards, our adventure continued. We meandered up to the next floor, which opened up into another hall. It had a long, central display case of clothing used by band members while shooting videos that later became famous. There were many sexy posters featuring SM’s bands dotting the walls, and plenty more girls sitting on the floor displaying their pop idol cards. The environment itself gave a feeling of close accessibility to the stars, and this presumably, is why so many fans flock to this venue.

IMG_20170723_164947

IMG_20170723_170855
Red Velvet video outfits

Riley explained to me that SM invites clients to experience various degrees of feeling like a star, by offering services like recording a video at their studio, for around 200,000 won (approximately $200 US).

At the end of the hall, was another large room named the SUM Cafe. It was filled with hundreds of girls sitting around tables, displaying their idol cards that they hoped to swap. There was a section dedicated to K-pop food, including tea and snacks, and there was a very long cafe counter, displaying macaroons and other delicious delights to entertain the fans that wile away their time with other like-minded girls.

 

IMG_20170723_165128

My favourite feature was the ceiling lamps which had many idol cards hanging down. The arrangement reminded me of tree-like chandeliers. Everywhere I looked, fans were comparing and admiring cards. Signatures from the SM stars were applied to the backs of chairs and table surfaces. Girls played video games. Riley explained that these games were based on reactions to rhythm, and were designed by some of the pop idols themselves.

IMG_20170723_165250
Busy space, and art-deco lamp shades
IMG_20170723_165350
Band members’ signatures’ on the backs of cafe chairs
IMG_20170723_165711
K-pop rhythm gaming

Leaving the room, we were about to go to the top floor, which Riley described as the best floor of the three because it contained handprints from EXO and other bands, and fans could place their hands within the handprints of their favourite stars. Unfortunately, the top floor was temporarily blocked off to the public because of the Red Velvet signing event, which presumably was taking place upstairs. I agreed to visit again with Riley as I would like to see the third floor displays.

Overall, the experience was fascinating to me. The entire building seemed like a sacred space for these fans, and I felt like an undercover alien discovering a young female ecosystem. It was fascinating, and I have every intention to return, if only to explore the treasures closest to heaven: the top floor.

 

Shout out to Riley Haslett, K-pop expat consultant and specialist.

 

What do you find interesting about the K-pop culture in Korea? Have you visited SM Town or any production studios that you would recommend experiencing?

 

Please subscribe to receive my updates and reviews, and leave a comment below!

Standby for my follow-up blog: my SM visit to the top floor!

 

Keep learning!

 

Follow travelandtash on Instagram

Follow travelandtash on Facebook

 

Recent posts by travelandtash:

Brunch at “Gobble n’ Go”, Itaewon Seoul

Manipulation, heartbreak and recovery: my story

Korean traditional medicine: my first experience

 

Advertisements

Jodhpur, India: Possibly the best day ever!

I had dreamed of visiting India since adolescence. The thing was, I had also heard that India is the pinnacle of challenging backpacking and that had made we weary, especially as a single female traveller. Interestingly, this made me even more determined. Apparently, if you can backpack in India, you can backpack anywhere.

I hadn’t been ready to handle the challenge of India for a long time. Two years ago, I travelled Thailand for a month with my friend Beth (see her blogsite, Empanada Girl), and we encountered several challenges. These included encountering scams, being treated like  dollar signs, and nearly knocking myself out walking into a protruding chunk of concrete overhanging a side-walk.

After a later emotional meltdown in Saigon Vietnam due to travel fatigue and feeling overwhelmed from different expectations about my physical safety, I decided that I definitely was not ready for India. My frustration and temperament was not in the right place.

But this Spring, something changed. I had changed, and I felt ready to visit this mystical country, and even do so on my own. I booked my ticket, and on April 22nd, 2017, I landed in India for the first time.

I arrived into Delhi international airport, and after changing American dollars for Indian rupees, I got my passport stamped at the e-visa immigration counters and exited the airport.

The 7pm hot Delhi air hit me immediately. Indian families were waiting outside the airport doors as only travelers were allowed inside. I needed to get to Delhi Cantt train station to get my overnight air-conditioned train to Jodhpur. Taxi drivers approached me immediately, trying to get my business, but I made a beeline for the Police Taxi yellow building in front of the airport. There, I encountered a bunch of men all trying to talk to the teller, and after some skillful and assertive maneuvering, I paid about 300 rupees to a tired looking man in a booth. He issued me a receipt, and waved me in the direction of the nearby rickshaw taxis. I was relieved to avoid haggling with the regular rickshaw and taxi drivers by using this regulated, prepaid service.

I ended up sharing a rickshaw with an education profesor who praised me for traveling to his country. Within minutes of arriving, I was so happy with my decision to visit, and for the immediate validation for having the balls and curiosity to learn about this country. We had a lot to talk about as we both work in similar fields. He emphasized the demand for English teachers to work in India and encouraged me to consider working in India someday. After a pleasant twenty minute conversation swerving through Delhi night traffic, the driver dropped me off at Cantt station.

IMG_20170423_010542
Delhi Cantt railway station

I hung out at Delhi Cantt for about 3 hours, as my 9:45pm train was running a little late. I met friendly people on the platform, including a Jehovah’s witness fella. I must have asked at least five sets of people, who incrementally directed me to exactly where to stand to board coach 3, where the air conditioning section of the train would stop. My friend Jay who lives in Jodhpur and works for the local rail system was sending my pre-booked ticket along with coach employees and these employees were expecting me to rendezvous at coach 3. Also, the train would only stop for a minute, so i’d have to board quickly.

When the train arrived, there was a scramble to get on. Jay’s employee, coach attendant Rajanish, was not evident at first. I furiously looked around as I had a photo of him to identify him. Another fella pointed out Rajanish, who was distracted with his work duties. I hopped onto the train before it pulled away, and when the train did pull away, Rajanish had to run to get up onto the coach. He gave me a ticket, and directed me to an upper berth spot where I could hide away for the next 10 hours.

IMG_20170423_102810
Indian train system: the best way to travel around India! View from my upper berth

The upper berth required some agility to climb onto. I brought my small osprey backpack up with me as I didn’t have a lock and chain to anchor it to the luggage holding area by the doors. The coach attendants provided bed sheets and a pillow, and there was a net support to place my water bottle inside.

People came and went below me, and eventually, as we approached Jodhpur the following morning, I began talking to the people around me. There seemed to be a lot of couples and families traveling together. The men could often speak English, but these women only spoke local languages and Hindi. We hung out while I admired bichudi, ringed toes that signify that a woman is married. Before I knew it, we had stopped and Jay was already in my coach, looking for me!

I gave Jay a big hug and said goodbye to my new coach friends. Jay asked about my trip, and then we slowly headed toward his motorbike, stopping along the way to make appointments with some of his employees. We passed some of the train cleaning staff, ladies in yellow saris who all looked adorable. They kept smiling at me and one lady kept trying to talk to me while Jay was distracted, conversing with employees.

Around 8am, we were speeding through the streets of Jodhpur on Jay’s motorbike, wind in my hair and wearing a light backpack. It was my first experience of the famous Indian traffic that I had only seen on TV. Here, the local vehicles were mostly motorbikes and rickshaws, and Ragasthan, I noticed, was quite sandy. It was frankly, exhilarating. My eyes were like sponges, soaking up every little thing about this new world I had been suddenly transported to.

We passed through the famous Ghantaghar clock tower, just as it began to chime at 9 on the hour. The ground was all cobble stones, and Sadar market was beginning to stir, as it was still early in the morning. I recognized this area from all my previous research and it was thrilling to see with my own eyes.

The first thing we did was head up to LG Paying Guesthouse, a wonderful place which I found through booking.com. On arrival, I discovered that Jay had visited the owner, Jitendva, a day prior to scope out the accommodation. The owner was welcoming, kind and attentive. The guesthouse was located on the side of the Mehrangarh Fort mountain, so the steps were all steep and deep. His family lived on the first floor, while the guests lived above them. The newly renovated area included a central courtyard with a great neighbourhood view, and an enclosed patio which made a nice spot to take tea and breakfast. The guest rooms all branched off of these central spaces.

We snooped around the property, and I admired my new room for the next three nights which had sexy Indian images painted on the walls. The room and bathroom was clean, and included towel and toilet paper, which I later discovered was something of a luxury in Indian guesthouses and hostels. We enjoyed a chai tea on the patio before I freshened up.

Jay and I headed directly to a local restaurant down the mountain to find breakfast. We had paneer with tea as the day quickly warmed up. We were joined by Jay’s acquaintance, Manish who would guide us around Jodhpur. Jay explained that he himself had lived in Jodhpur for four months, and this was his first opportunity to be a tourist in this city.

IMG_20170423_154005
First breakfast in India, with Jay

We were soon joined by Jay’s employee, Varun, and together, we headed to Mehrangarh Fort. After cramming my stuff into my camera bag because security demanded that I could not bring my plastic bag with me into the grounds, I paid the entry fee (500 rupees) plus a fee for bringing a camera. Jay, Manish and Varun, as Indians, paid a significantly smaller entrance fee.

We encountered massive metal entrance gates with protruding spikes to impale elephants if enemies tried to use elephants in warfare attacks. We wandered into restoration projects undertaken by foreigners and locals. The museum displayed chair carriages carried by slaves to transport monarchs, as well as elaborately decorated hookahs and other interesting royal items.

IMG_1630
Restoration projects

We also encountered courtyards made from marble, and gorgeous architectural designs. The view of the colonial cannons poised on the fortress walls overlooking the city was one of my favourites. Elements of detailing on the walls reminded me of the Moorish Muslim palace in Spain, Al Alhambra.IMG_1656 (2)

IMG_1664Interestingly, Indian boys and girls there wanted to take photos with me. I had read about this peculiar custom while researching ahead of my trip, so I expected this would happen. A group of boys asked Jay’s friends if they could take a photo with me, to which they replied, no. I found the situation hilariously funny, although somewhat sexist since they boys didn’t ask me personally. It appeared to be a respect thing, since it seemed I was traveling with an entourage of Indian men. Some of the locals were extremely attractive, with light eyes and gorgeous faces. I was having a splendid time!

IMG_1666
Mini photoshoot in a gorgeous marble courtyard
IMG_1646
View of the lower fortress and the city of Jodhpur

IMG_1644

The day was very hot, possibly 41 degrees Celsius, so we stopped off at an onsite café to have a refreshing Kingfisher beer. The café had a roof, but the front was completely open, much  like a terrace. We were surrounded by paintings of Indian monarchs, and we watched the passers-by while we rested. The waiter had a huge maharaja mustache, and I noticed that many of the staff at the fort, as well as staff at other tourist sites I would later visit donned these huge, impressive mustaches!

Before leaving, we stopped by the gift shop as I wanted to pick up some postcards. Printed images on paper and fabric seemed plentiful, and some of these could fetch a pretty penny! They featured scenes from familiar Hindu stories. I have no place back home to hang these larger beautiful prints, so I contented myself with admiring the images, and buying small postcards instead.

On our way out, we passed a very large and famous Hindu temple. Jay explained that he didn’t want to visit it, so we skipped it and headed out. It was also exhaustingly hot, but if I visit Jodhpur again, I would like to see it.

IMG_1669
My guardians! Jay (in blue), Manish and Varun
IMG_1679
Impressed by the spectacular white marble!

Despite the heat of the lunchtime sun, we speed off to visit the Jaswant Thada (white) mausoleum. It was located about half a kilometer from the fort, so it was a quick motorbike ride over. The grounds had a lush green park, and after walking around a pavilion, we took some photos on the red brick steps which directed guests to the main mausoleum entrance. The interior appeared to be one huge room with ornate architectural features. Many portraits of deceased maharajas were displayed.

Funnily enough, Manish suddenly ‘became’ my tour guide, repeating the information on the wall painting descriptions for me, which I could plainly read for myself. Perhaps he was practicing his tour guide skills for a future job. The interior was cool and airy, and was a huge relief to be out of the unrelenting heat.

Outside, we took photos of the exterior features of the white marble architecture. I wanted to photograph everything, but settled on a handful of pictures. We returned to Jay, who had waited in the gardens because he refused to go into temples. His sister passed away recently, and he just didn’t want to be in spiritual places.IMG_20170423_185737

IMG_1690

IMG_1692
Selfies at Jaswant Thada

IMG_1695

IMG_20170423_190036
With new friends, Varun (brown shirt) and Manish (plum)

Soon, we were on our way to downtown Jodhpur. The fellas all had motorbikes, and I was paired with Jay. Often, we rode in formation, one after the other, but other times, we rode side by side while the fellas slowed on the winding dust roads to chat about directions. It was incredibly amusing and fun. Jay later told me that he had reduced his speed to make sure I felt comfortable and safe riding with him. I thanked him for that. I truly enjoyed riding around together, although every morning, It was a struggle to wash the sand out of my hair.

We went to dinner early, possibly around 5pm, because we had skipped lunch. The restaurant complex named Neralidani contained a downstairs bar, which Jay told me was full of drunks and we needed to avoid. We went upstairs, to a massive, banquet style hall where we four were the only guests. Below on the lawn, the staff were setting up to receive a wedding reception.

I cannot remember what we ordered at the restaurant. Only that the tables were so large that we were seated quite far apart, and also the air conditioner was blowing so hard that we played musical chairs to evade it. Jay explained that the restaurant was very popular, and that later in the evening, the entire restaurant would be packed.

IMG_20170423_235733
Fun times with Manish

After saying goodbye to Manish and Varun, we sped up toward my guesthouse. Since it was located near the top of a mountain, the paths were uphill, narrow, dusty and winding. At some point during our day, en route to my hotel (I forget the time sequence), we encountered a celebration procession of party-goers walking downhill, and we had to stop to wait for them to pass.

All the Ragasthani party women were wearing colourful, traditional clothing, and they seemed to be balancing dishes of food or gifts on their heads. Some were beating drums and playing music, and everyone was smiling and happy. Jay and I just sat on his bike, staring, as they slowly sauntered by. The colourful sights, the delicious cooked food aromas and the accompanying music made for an intoxicating sensory experience.

As if that wasn’t enough, once we resumed heading up into the mountain, passing local goats lingering outside their owners’ entranceways, Jay exclaimed, holy shit! We encountered two huge cows, and one of them was completely blocking our narrow path. We had to wait as we slowly inched forward, while the cow took her sweet time to swivel around. By the time we arrived at the guesthouse, I was so enamoured by my surroundings.

I have travelled to many places, and seen many things. This first day in Jodhpur showed me things I’ve never seen or experienced before. This first day turned out to possibly be the most exciting day of my life so far.

IMG_20170424_014328
Sexy images of royal couples on my Guesthouse walls
IMG_20170424_015029
My neighbourhood, up in the mountain (view from LG Guesthouse)
IMG_20170424_015045
Night view from LG Guesthouse: my local neighbourhood in Mehrangarh fortress mountain

Jay and I agreed to meet the following morning, and I headed up to my guesthouse terrace. There, I chatted with a Korean couple and the guesthouse owner intermittently. Before heading to my sexily decorated room, I snapped some photos of the local neighbourhood at night and marvelled at the grand fortress, touring above the guesthouse. What an amazing place to experience!

 

Subscribe to my page get my follow up blogs… Jodhpur, parts two and three!

Follow travelandtash on Instagram

Follow travelandtash on Facebook

 

Keep learning!

 

What do you enjoy about visiting smaller cities? Please like, share and comment below!

Laser hair removal: my personal experience in Korea

THE PROBLEM

Annoying, unwanted hair. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used razors, sugaring, pumice stones, and tweezers to remove body hair. Ancient Greeks even burned off their public hair. Renaissance paintings depict women with no public hair at all, and today, we are inundated with spas and clinics that offer all kinds of hair removal methods.

I graduated from an Esthetician academy back in 2006, equipped with the latest knowledge back then about getting rid of unwanted hair. I learned at my academy that laser treatments could be painful. For example, if the laser didn’t have a definitive target because the patient’s skin was too dark, the laser could burn the skin, rather than target the hair root. A colleague of mine at the time was undergoing laser hair removal treatments, and one day, she came to class and showed a few of us girls her bikini area and how burnt her skin was from her latest treatment. This experience highlighted for me both how tricky it can be to find the right hair removal method, and also the lengths to which women go to to get rid of unwanted hair.

I became interested in electrolysis treatments, but I learned that these treatments were also complicated because the process itself requires a skilled technician who really knows what they’re doing.  Electrolysis works by targeting individual hair follicles at exactly the right angle in order to successfully shock the hair root, preventing the hair growing through again. The challenge was to find a experienced electrolysis technician with happy client reviews. At the time that I was interested in this treatment, hardly anyone, it seemed, used this hair removal method, so I had trouble finding a recommendation for a technician in my local area.

Most recently, I moved to Korea. Korea has a reputation for being the number one country in the world for providing plastic surgery. Many of these plastic surgery clinics offer laser hair removal and other minor treatments, including botox, fillers and so on. Since my esthetician days, laser hair removal has advanced considerably, for example, the manor of applying the laser to the skin area no longer requires that the hand-piece of the laser machine touches the client’s skin surface. But, it seems that still today it is much easier to find an appropriate treatment if you are the “ideal” client. That is, that your skin is fair, and your hair is dark. The laser can target your hair follicle easier when the hair pigment really stands out from the pigment of the skin.

RESEARCH, AND HOW I FOUND MY CLINIC

In late 2016, I came across a dialogue thread in a Facebook group dedicated to expat women in Korea who share tips and experiences. Contributors  recommended particular clinics which offered laser hair removal services, and one comment caught my eye. A friend had posted that she attended a clinic called You&I Skin Design Lab, (henceforth referred to as You&I) located near Seollung station (Bundang line), and that she was pleased with the results of her treatments. The location was convenient for me to get to, so after privately messaging my friend for further details, I decided to pop over to the clinic to scope it out.

card info

MY FIRST TRIP TO THE CLINIC

The reception area at You&I seemed orderly and professional, and there were numerous receptionists at the front desk. One of them spoke some English, so I inquired about the type of laser the clinic technicians use for their treatments. I also asked about treatment prices. I then returned home and researched their laser machine to find out if this type of laser would suit my skin and hair type. Fair skinned with largely dark hair, I happen to be the ideal candidate for many laser types. You&I use Apogee+, which apparently received a Choice Awards prize back in 2005 for the number #1, hair removal system. On further research, I learned that Apogee+ is a type of Alexandrite laser system, which works best on fair skin and dark hair. Thus far, everything I was learning pointed to an effective treatment.

 

Epogee
The Epogee+ Alexandrite laser machine, used at You&I – image taken from the You&I client pamphlet

I asked my Korean friend Sue to phone the clinic and book me my first appointment. They asked her for my name, contact details, and a list of treatments which I intended to have on my first appointment. They explained that I could pay for the treatments when I arrived. They also asked that I arrive a little early, and that I shave the treatment areas the day before (or just prior to) the treatment. Apparently, not all laser clinics ask for payment upfront. I wonder if payment upfront is a standard Korean practice for these kinds of treatments.

 

A LITTLE BACKGROUND TO HOW HAIR WORKS

I began my treatments in December, because I had heard that winter is a great time to get laser treatments done. You cannot tweeze between treatments, and most definitely cannot wax. This is because tweezing and waxing remove hair from the root. The laser needs to catch the hair in the early anagen stage. The anagen stage is the hair within the hair shaft (pore) that sees active growth and is nourished by blood supply. Since the laser targets the hair down to the follicle, if you remove the active anagen hair from the root, there’s no point getting your laser treatment done because there’s no root available to target.

 

hair follicle image
Image showing how Epogee+ disrupts the blood supply to the anagen hair, creating a dormant hair follicle – image taken from You&I client pamphlet

 

The only method of hair removal allowed between laser treatments is shaving, because shaving does not remove the root from the hair follicle. However, shaving must be kept to a minimum between treatments, because shaving stimulates more hair growth and thus exacerbates the laser treatments.

The clinic encourages clients to book at least five sessions and stager these sessions. After staggering my first four treatments a month apart as the clinic suggested, I later learned, after consulting with laser expert, Alia Hawthorne, that treatments should be eight weeks apart, as treatments a month apart do not provide adequate opportunity to catch the hair in the early anagen stage.

Each hair follicle (or pore), may have up to three hairs that grow from the same root. So, while one hair may be poking through the surface of your skin (the visible hair), another may be halfway up, within the hair shaft, and the newest anagen hair may be within the hair root itself. The third (telogen) phase may mean that the hair folicle is dormant for up to three months, and this is precisely when laser to that follicle won’t be effective. The aim of laser treatments is to eventually catch the three hairs at the optimal point (the anagen stage) when they can actually be targeted by the laser.

MY FIRST TREATMENT

When I first entered, reception staff at You&I asked me to pay for my treatments before receiving my first treatment. They confirmed what Sue had initially booked for me over the phone: bikini, upper and lower legs, and underarms. I agreed to pay for five treatments of each service in advance (around 790,000 won).

After paying, I was whisked into a doctor’s office, and she asked whether I had had any laser hair removal treatments prior. She explained that usually, five treatments are sufficient for under arm and bikini areas, however legs usually require follow up treatments. She also explained that laser treatments never remove hair one-hundred percent. She emphasized having realistic expectations of the treatment outcomes, and then checked with me that I had shaved the treatment areas very recently. Thereafter, she decided I was ready to receive my first treatment.

I was shown into a small, private changing room, asked to remove all clothing and wear the clean gown provided. I placed my clothing and belongings into a secure locker with a pin code. When I emerged, I was shown to a treatment bed close by, and before being asked to lie down by an assistant technician, I caught a glimpse of the epogee+ laser machine.

It hummed and sounded like it was gearing up. Soon, the assistant returned, put ice packs on my soon-to-be-lasered bits, and left. Initially, I was surprised at being expected to endure ice packs on my skin, but interestingly, my body soon adapted and I no longer felt uncomfortable. Presumably, this was to numb the pain.

After waiting about ten minutes, the doctor and assistant appeared, and after very quick introductions, googles were placed over my eyes and treatment began immediately. The doctor held the laser hand piece a few inches above my skin and began to move it back and forth, a little like the motions of a vacuum cleaner.

Sometimes, I could feel the laser penetrating my pores and these produced tiny pin-prick sized shocks of pain, similar to being waxed, where the root is pulled from the hair follicle, however the laser sensations were no-where near as painful as the pain of being waxed. The pores that were receiving these pin-prick sensations were indeed the pores that were successfully targeted in this particular session. If you don’t feel any pain, that is because the laser is not working.

The hand piece should apparently be held at a ninety degree angle in order to successfully target the hair follicles. The experience lasted about 20 minutes, which I was very surprised about. I wondered how a technician could adequately target my hair follicles in an optimal manner in such a quick sweep. I later learned that Alia spends about two hours performing the same treatment to maximise results.

Over the following two sessions, I added a couple more treatments to my package, including belly and feet, with the result that I probably paid around 1m won for five treatments. Thus, each session totalled about 200,000 won, or $200 US.

TREATMENT PRICES

  • Upper and lower leg: 484,000 won
  • Bikini: 264,000 won
  • Underarm (on promotion): 42,900 won
  • Belly: 88,000 won
  • Feet: (I cannot recall)

DR. OH

On my third treatment visit, I asked reception staff about botox treatments, and they explained that they had three different options. I asked what were the differences between them, and the receptionist explained that she’d book me in to have a consultation with Dr. Oh who would answer all my questions.

About fifteen minutes later, I was shown in to Dr. Oh’s office, and she asked me how my treatments were thus far. I explained that I came from an esthetics background, and that I felt that because I had blocked several treatments together (underarms, legs, and so on), that my treatments were being rushed and that some individual areas were not receiving the attention that they should. I knew this because I could feel nothing, no hair follicle pain, for large sections of the treatment. Every time I could feel prickling pain, I knew the laser was successfully targeting that hair root.

I pointed out that when I used to wax clients, I would have them turn on their side to ensure that I waxed the sides of the legs accurately. Thus far, I noticed a difference in the results between the easily targetable front and backs of my legs, while the sides were somewhat neglected and I could see a difference in hair return. I added that I had asked the laser technician on my previous visit, to go back over areas I felt she had missed or scanned too quickly which produced no pain.

Dr. Oh thanked me for my observation, and drawing these details to her attention. She explained that she would personally oversee my treatment that day, and make sure I was satisfied with the laser application. I thanked her, and then we began discussing what the clinic offered in terms of Botox treatments.

Later, Dr. Oh did indeed perform my laser treatment. Irrespective of whether I decided to purchase a Botox service, she made me feel like a valued client. I wanted to leave a review, praising her for how attentive she was, however, because I don’t speak Korean, the website was difficult to navigate, and I couldn’t locate a customer review section.

MY OVERALL IMPRESSION OF YOU&I

Generally, when I wait in reception, I see staff rushing around. It suggests to me that the staff are really busy and I wonder if they are overworked. This could explain why I felt my treatments were rushed, until I pointed it out to Dr. Oh and she began taking care of my treatments. Having said that, I don’t know if things would be less visibly busy if I visited another clinic. Koreans tend to work longer hours than westerners.

On my fourth visit, Dr. Oh once again did my laser treatment. I was pleased to see her and grateful that she was in charge of my treatment. I still have another treatment to go, and I have deferred this appointment to stagger it two months from the previous one. Her diligence in taking care of me has certainly improved my overall impression of the clinic.

MY RESULTS

I’ve had four treatments over the last four months thus far. As my initial discussion with the Dr. predicted, treatment has been most effective on my underarms and bikini. I suspect that this is because all the hair is dark and thus, easier to target. I’d guess that hair in these areas has already been reduced by fifty percent. Unlike these areas, not all the hair on my legs is dark. I’d guess the results so far have reduced hair up to forty percent, and this is possibly due to the lack of consistent dark hair. Also, the area is much larger and it’s easier for the laser technician to miss spots or apply the laser too quickly. I also wonder whether the hand piece is consistently held at the ninety degree angle, in relation to the target to work effectively.

I suspect that after summer passes, I’ll have a much better idea of just how effective these treatments have been in the long term.

WOULD I RECOMMEND LASER HAIR REMOVAL TO ANOTHER PERSON?

If my treatments have been effective long term, this investment will have been a great use of my money. For now, I can travel to India for two weeks without bringing a razor with me. I don’t have to feel self conscious about not having shaved the day prior if I wear a skirt. I can wear skirts every day in summer!  I never have to go through the ridiculous pain of waxing ever again. Let’s hope that these results are long-term, and that with the arrival of my next anagen hair phase, I won’t be disappointed.

You&I Skin Design Lab PROS

Pricing for legs, bikini and underarms was reasonable. The clinic is clean, clients see the laser technician on time, and the Epogee+ laser machine is effective for light skinned, dark haired clients.

You&I Skin Design Lab CONS

Technicians rush your treatments, so you will have to ask the technician to go over areas that they have missed or skimmed too quickly. The technicians oblige and are professional. They want to keep their clients happy with the treatments. I still feel that the sessions are too short, and I have walked away from sessions where I’ve felt little pain, meaning that the laser has not targeted the anagen hairs effectively.

Overall, I look at the five treatments as a whole, and thus far, I’m fairly pleased with how I’ve been treated and the results I’ve received.

 

Finally, a big shoutout to Canadian laser consultant and specialist, Alia Hawthorne, who helped me define accurately the process of hair cycles and how laser works.

Check out Alia’s various clinics located in Canada on the following social media sites:

 

Disclaimer: All the opinions presented here about You&I Skin Design Lab are my own. I received no endorsements to promote them.

 

Keep learning!

July 2017 update: I will be writing a follow-up article shortly to report on my current results, and any further laser hair removal treatments pursued using the Alexandrite Epogee.

Subscribe to receive my updates and reviews

Follow travelandtash on Instagram

Follow travelandtash on Facebook

 

Do you have any observations about laser hair removal treatments? Can you clarify any information I have presented here, or have anything to add about Alexandrite laser machines? Please like, share and comment below!

 

See more articles by travelandtash:

Decrypting K-POP’s SM Town at COEX Samsung, Seoul

Manipulation, heartbreak and recovery: my story

Korean traditional medicine: my first experience