Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lunar New Year 2011 in Taiwan- Day 3,4: Green Island

Notes from Green Island:

Our Hostel on Green Island, our scooters out front
Day 3 and 4 were spent on the unforgettable Green Island. Many people were surprised we came all the way from Korea to Green Island; it seems most visitors on the island were from mainland Taiwan. Here is a run down of everything we did:

Lunar New Year 2011 in Taiwan- Day 2 : Hualien & Taroko Gorge

Trail carved out of rock
Notes from Day 2

On Day 2 we ventured south to Taroko gorge. Here is a run down of everything we did:
  • Woke up at 7am to catch the train from Taipei to Hualien
  • Took a 30 minute cab ride (total cost around $30CAD) to the entrance of Taroko Gorge National Park
  • Began hiking just after noon along the 10km Sakadang Trail, leading to the Wujianwu aboriginal reserve and aquaduct
  • Bought some woven bracelets and headbands
  • Hiked a second trail- the Changchun Shrine Trail (Eternal Spring Shrine Trail).
  • On the trail visited the Changguang Temple and hiked up to the Taroko Tower.
Pictures from the Hike after the Jump!

Lunar New Year 2011 in Taiwan- Day 1 : Taipei

Finally time to talk about my WONDERFUL trip to Taiwan!

In front of Taipei Hostel
We arrived on on a rainy morning in early February. Our first hostel was called Taipei Hostel (http://www.taipeihostel.com/). It appeared to be one of the most popular hostels in Taipei, though when we arrived we were pretty surprised at the appearance. In a large damp grey building overgrown with vines, the lobby floor was covered in paint chips or newspaper covering. However, what we originally took as a dumpy hostel ended up living up to its reputation. You can't beat the location-- we were a 10 minute walk from the central train and bus station, shopping areas, and 3 minutes from the subway. Free high speed internet, board games, and lots of other people in the building.The rooms were large and clean, and each had its own bathroom. And the price was right!

Almost as soon as we arrived and set down our things, we decided we were going to use the day to explore Taipei and all that it had to offer. One problem: it was Chinese New Year (a national holiday) and everything was closed.

A little discouraged, we got on our rain gear and decided to walk to the nearest tourist information office to figure out how we were going to spend our day.

This is where the magic happened (and continued for the rest of the trip).

See pictures after the Jump!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Experiences in Korean Laser Hair Removal

One week ago I dipped my toe in the Korean cultural experience of elective cosmetic procedures. The cosmetic medical tourism industry in Seoul is huge, with a massive part of town (Gagnam) saturated with plastic surgery clinics and dermatologists.

I tried the Wynn Clinic (www.wynnclinic.com). They had a promotion that allowed me to get half leg and underarm lasered 5 times for a total of W400,000. That's a little over $350 total, or $70 per session, the same price as a waxing appointment back home.

I went with Emilie the first time, as well as with Moon (who speaks Korean) to help avoid any instructions being lost in translation.

We walked into a clinic full of staff with tightened, squeezed, plumped, and reshaped faces of all kinds. A sort of wall art installation made from bottles of botox lined against one wall. A woman with bandages on her face sat in a comfy chair in the corner. This was the real deal.

The doctor explain how the hair follicle would die after being zapped with lasers, and that it wasn't always 100% effective, side effects include itchy skin and possible rash indicating something bad happening.
Pre-Laser Green Tea

Next we were given robes and sent into the laser room.

Before the appointment they ask you to shave the area. Because the laser targets all hair, if it is too long it would burn it up and possibly burn your skin in the process.

The lasering was done in a few simple steps:
1. Put a cooling gel on the area, apply little laser goggles to my eyes to avoid being blinded
2. Laser
3. Wipe of the cooling gel
4. Book appointment for 6 weeks ahead to do it all over again!

The laser feels, to me, exactly like the feeling when you accidentally poke yourself with a sewing needle. Enough to make you wince but not a horrible torturous pain. It also felt hot at times. Total time: 10 minutes.

Only time will tell, but with any luck, in 6 months, I'll be hair free!
I'll keep you posted.

How to get there: Gangnam station exit 5. Walk right down the street and it is in a glass building on your left (across the street from it is a big black building). The clinic is on the top floor.