Friday, November 29, 2013

[Seoul, Korea] K-style Hair and Spa

The rise of Hallyu has influence my lifestyle to quite an extend ranging from food to entertainment and even to health and lifestyle.  Being a K-drama fan, we are envious of the actresses' soft and flowy hair and the flawness complexion (including the actors). 

In Seoul, Apgujeong and Cheongdam-dong are the main shopping districts for the young and hippy folks.  This is also THE place for plastic surgery and hair services.  Considered to be hot places, these 2 districts lead in new fashion styles and social trends in Korea.  

RA Beauty Core is one of the well-known hair and make-up/beauty services salons in Korea.  It's brand name is comparable to others such as Juno, Soonsoo and Avenue.  The salon that I went is located at Seocho-dong.

The hair salon is rather big and it is a unisex salon.  There are easily 20 staff in the salon.  A few of them could speak English but most of them speak mainly Korean only.  

There is also lockers to keep personal belongings.

She's my hairstylist.  Do you think she resembles actress Kim Jung-eun (Lovers in Paris, Marrying the Mafia)?  She was too delightful when I made that comment.  But overall, she's friendly and we could converse a little with my limited Korean ability.

As I had washed my hair before going to the salon, I didn't need to go through the hair-wash process again.

How do my curls look?  I liked it! The curls may look simple but there were quite a few twists and turns during the styling process.  She even put to apply hairspray here and there to get the hair in place and in shape.  The best part of it is that, the curls lasted through the day (at least 12 hours!).  Great work, isn't it? 

On the same day, the group of us visited Jurlique Valley, located at Cheongdam-dong, for a relaxing facial.

The range of products that the salon uses and sells. 

There is a cosy waiting area for customers.

The spa rooms are also cosy too with the dim light.  The spa bed is a heated aqua bed and is totally comfortable.  Although the therapist was quite friendly, she spoke limited English too.  Other than informing about the name of the product and the steps that she took, the room was mostly silent.  She was also very careful not to mess up my hair and the pretty curls.

The facial steps including cleansing, exfoliating, treatment serum and masking.  The total duration took about 1 hour which included a good and rejuvenating shoulder and back massage while waiting for the skin to fully absorb the serum.

After facial, we were served with warm tea and some snacks.  A 60-minute facial at Jurlique costs 88,000 won which is rather reasonable.  Other spa services included treatment and packages for brides and pre/post natal treatment.

[This trip is made possible by the Asian On Air programme, organised by the Korean Air and Korea Tourism Organisation].

RA Beauty Core
228 G-Five Central Plaza, 1685-8 Seocho-gu, Seocho-dong, Seoul
Tel: +82-2-594 6164

Nearest Subway
Seoul National University of Education Station Exit 3

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Jurlique Valley
5F, 47-2, Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Tel: +82-2-542 4333/6

Nearest Subway
Cheongdam Station (Subway Line 7), Exit 8. 

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Related Posts:
- Asian-On-Air: Experiencing Korean Medical Services (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: Excellence in Flight - Korean Air (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: A Twosome Place by 51K (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: Chrysanthemum Flower Festival at Jogyesa (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: The Historical Drama Playground (click here)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

[Incheon, Korea] Experiencing Korean Medical Services

Visiting a medical centre while on travel may sound like a taboo, and as far as we can - stay far away from it.  But at the same time, I was equally curious how a modern medical centre in Korea would be like.  I had the privilege to visit a medical centre, just to look-see look-see and experienced the process of getting my teeth whitened.

INHA International Medical Centre, located in the international business district near Incheon International Airport, provides medical services catering to international customers.  The medical centre is only 5 minutes away from Incheon International Airport. 

There are 6 departments including the Health Promotion Centre, Dentistry, Korean Medicine, Plastic Surgery, Dermatology and SPA, providing medical services combining western and oriental medicine practices.

The Dentistry department provides cosmetic treatments such as whitening; prosthetic treatments such as inlay or crowning; and periodontal treatments such as implant surgery, scaling, gum laser.  There are a total of 11 treatment rooms at this department.

I have never tried teeth whitening all my life.  The treatment is rather pricey in Singapore (~ SGD800 and above) and I didn't think my teeth needs the treatment badly yet.  Still, I gave it a try.  The entire procedure took nearly 1.5 hours starting with cleaning and scaling. 

After the scaling procedure, the physician assistant (PA) then fix a gadget to stretch the lips and keep the mouth opened.   The PA took a photo of my teeth which was later used for comparison at the end of the treatment. 

The first step in the whitening treatment was to apply some gel between the teeth and the gums.  This was to protect the gums.  This was followed by applying the whitening solution to break down the stains caused by coffee, wine etc.  Next step was the shining of halogen light on the teeth.  At this point, your head and body must keep still for 15 mins for the light to shine directly on the required area only.  After 15 mins, the light is turned off and the hardened whitening solution is removed.  The process is repeated twice.

Another photo was taken at the end.  Guess what - the difference in my teeth colour was not visible and the physician attributed that my teeth was already quite white before the treatment :D  That's quite a piece of good news!

Korea is famous for their art and science of making a person pretty.  The Plastic Surgery department covers nose/eye surgery; body line surgery and petit surgery such as filler and botox injection.  For those who prefer simpler services, the Dermatology department provides skin rejuvenation treatment; scar removal treatment; and trouble care treatment such as acne problems.  There are a total of 12 dermatology rooms in the centre.

The Health Promotion Centre provides medical check-ups, examinations, imaging and vaccinations services.  This programmes range from basic ones to more customised programmes such as muscular-skeletal examination; cardiovascular examination; and woman examination including pap smear and mammography.  There are a total of 32 treatment rooms at the HPC.

The Korean Medicine department focuses on using traditional methods/products such as acupuncture method and ginseng as medicine for facial programme, body programme, fatigue recovery and immune boosting.

Transit passengers can also hop over to the medical centre for a quick SPA service for the face or body.  Swedish / oriental / deep tissue massages are available. There are a total of 6 SPA rooms for individuals and for couple.  Services are available in 30, 60 or 90 mins.  Price for 90-min facial / massage service ranges from 121,000 won to 165,000 won.

The relatively new centres has up-to-date medical equipment and multi-lingual physician assistants to serve the diverse customers.  The programmes are comprehensive and it suitable for those looking for those relaxing treatments in between flights or non-emergency treatments.

INHA IMC is conveniently accessible from Incheon International Airport via its Airport Shuttle Bus at Gate 3 and 12 on 3F Departure Floor of the airport. 

INHA International Medical Centre
84, Gonghang-ro 424 Beon-gil, Jung-gu, Incheon, 400-340, Korea

[This trip is made possible by the Asian On Air programme, organised by the Korean Air and Korea Tourism Organisation].

Related Posts
- Asian-On-Air: K-Style Hair and Spa (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: Excellence in Flight - Korean Air (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: A Twosome Place by 51K (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: Chrysanthemum Flower Festival at Jogyesa (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: The Historical Drama Playground (click here)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Excellence in Flight : Korean Air

Korean Air, with a fleet of 148 aircraft, is one of the world's top 20 airlines, and operates more than 400 flights per day to 121 cities in 41 countries.  It is a founding member of the SkyTeam Alliance.  Together with its 17 members, it offers 531 million annual passengers a worldwide system of more than 14,816 flights. 

In 2011, Korean Air was named the best Asian airline for the fifth consecutive year by Business Traveler while Global Traveler awarded the title of the best airline in northern Asia and best airport staff / gate agent.  The carrier also won the 2010 global travel catering distinction award by Pax International magazine while World Traveler magazine rated it as having the world's best inflight service.

Korean Air has 2 daily departure and arrival flights from/to Singapore, Changi Airport Terminal 1.  The flights depart at 2235 hrs and 0110 hrs and arrive in Seoul at 0555 hrs and 0825 hrs respectively.  Return flights from Seoul are 1420 hrs and 1840 hrs and arrive in Singapore at 1930 hrs and 2350 hrs respectively.  Flying time to Seoul is approximately 6hr 15mins while return flight takes about 6hr 10mins.

The seating space in Korea Air was surprising spacious even for Economy Class.  This is good news for those who need more space for movements.

The inflight entertainment is pretty complete with a variety of video and audio programmes as well as games.  The documentary programmes are rather informative and detailed. 

The inflight system is quite cool.  Firstly, the programmes can be controlled via the touch screens; and secondly, USB charging facility - recharges my mobile equipment when I can't use them!

Thirdly, you can select a list of favourite songs and save it into a playlist! Here's how it works.  So the song album, select the song that you like to "Add to My Music".

As a national carrier, Korean Air naturally serves food that are of national identity.  It's signature meal is the bibimbap that is available on every flight.  As the meat served with bibimbap is beef, I had opted for a regular chicken meal instead.

On my return flight, the meal came with several surprises.  First was a packed cold tofu appetiser.  I thought this was a boring dish but I was wrong.  The soft tofu was really yummy!

Eaten with the soy sauce, it was very refreshing and it really whet my appetite!

Another bonus for the return flight meal was this Korean brand, Cled'or cheesecake ice cream, different from the usual vanilla or chocolate ice cream that you get from other carriers.

About an hour and half before landing, the carrier whipped up a third surprise.  Many of the passengers looked puzzled when we were handed this box.  Myself included.  It turned out to be a slice of warm and delicious pizza!

Kudos to the  Korean Air Catering Center for the delightful meals.  And there is little wonder why they had won the catering award.

As part of the Asian-On-Air programme, the group of us had the opportunity to visit the Korean Air Headquarters to learn about the aviation facilities.  The entire compound is a secured area and does not permit anyone to enter unless you hold the admission permit. 

It was an experience that was educational and definitely an eye-opener, for I never expected to witness the training that cabin crews had to go through before they can stand confidently before the passengers. 

Part of the tour at the KE Headquarter was to visit the aircraft hangar, which is closed structure to hold aircraft in protective storage, for repair and maintenance as well.  The building was really huge to be able to hold the entire aircrafts; and the building structure was made of metal.

Placed side-by-side, the contrast in size between aircrafts became visibly obvious.

These Korean Air teddy bear mascots don the same uniform as the cabin crew.  The present design was introduced in 2005 and it was the creation of Italian designer Gianfranco Ferre.  The present uniform emphasises on attaining harmony between modern global fashion appeal with a foundation of Korea's traditional and inherent beauty.

The Flight Simulation Center satisfied my curiosity how it would be like to be in the pilot's seat at the cockpit!  Certainly, there are just too many gadgets ahead to meddle with.  That explains the need for a co-pilot!

The Operations Control Centre plans a key role in ensuring the safety of passengers.  It monitors each and every flight that transits from place to place; and give early alerts if foreseen situations can be detected eg. typhoons, bad weather conditions, makes plans for aircrafts to change course if necessary.  The digital board on the wall shows the exact location of every aircraft and reflects live updates of weather conditions.  The centre is supported by a (huge) team of staff who monitors the flight situations round the clock.

The Korean Air Training Centre is where all cabin crews receive their professional training.  The centre is away from the headquarters building.

Modified aircrafts with actual equipment were found within the training centre.

That's our team-mate learning to use the safety life jackets. 

The training centre had an indoor swimming pool.  The area at the far end is where the training to use the aircraft evacuation slide.

Some team-mates took the opportunity to experience the slide and learnt the correct posture when preparing to slide down.

The visit to the training centre and the various facilities was indeed an unique experience.  The rigour in the training and all explains why Korean Air is one of the top global airlines.  Travel & Leisure magazine and Conde Nast Traveler readers opined that Korean Air is one of the world's top 10 international airlines.

For more information on Korean Air's programmes, routes, frequencies and partners, please visit

[This trip is made possible by the Asian On Air programme, organised by the Korean Air and Korea Tourism Organisation].

Related Posts
- Asian-On-Air: K-Style Hair and Spa (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: Experiencing Korean Medical Services (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: A Twosome Place by 51K (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: Chrysanthemum Flower Festival at Jogyesa (click here)
- Asian-On-Air: The Historical Drama Playground (click here)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

[Singapore Restaurant] Wild Rocket at Mount Emily

Wild Rocket has recently announced that the restaurant will be relocated and that last day of business at the current premises, Mount Emily, will be 30 November 2013.  It has been almost 5 years ago when I last stepped into the restaurant and I knew I had to visit the restaurant before it is gone.  The new location for the restaurant has not been confirmed but Chef Willin Low plans to re-open the restaurant in Mar 2014.

We order 2 sets of 3-course lunch (S$32++ each) which comes with 1 starter, 1 main and 1 sweet.  Bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil was served while we waited for lunch to be served.

Starters:  Adobo duck with onsen-style quail egg with truffle mash and baby spinach; and Burmese tomato and blue swimmer crab salad. 

On the house: Shitake mushroom kueh pie-ti.

Main dishes were Laksa pesto linguini with tiger prawns and quail egg; Roast Chilean seabass with chai poh confit and congee; and Salmon donburi with bonito and baby octopus red rice.

Sweets: Wild Rocket strawberry cheesecake (highly highly recommended) and pandan infused panna cotta with salted gula Melaka.

On the house: Wild Rocket Chendol.

All I can say (for all the dishes ordered) is that the dishes are uniquely named, the food are carefully cooked and it is a bliss to dine there.  We were fortunate to be offered complimentary dishes (because my friend is a regular customer) and that does not mean that those were of sub-standard.  There was none that I can say that it wasn't worth the calories.

Wild Rocket @ Mount Emily
Hangout Hotel
10A Upper Wilkie Road
Singapore 228119

Tel: 6339 9448

Opening Hours: Closed on Mondays, check website for lunch/brunch and dinner hours.

Getting there: The restaurant is not accessible directly by bus or MRT.  If you are not driving, the most convenient place to go there via taxi is from Dhoby Ghaut MRT station.  It will be a 3-min ride from the MRT to the restaurant.

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