Why is there no florist in this Seoul hospital?

Kay is so gross. Yesterday, after being wheeled into the operating theatre, he handed the surgical crew his camera and requested for them to help him take photos of his surgery.

After the surgery, when he awoke from general anesthesia and was transported back to his own bed, the first thing he asked for was to look at the photos.

But he was disappointed (although I was relieved) that they only took three photos, two before the surgery and one during. It wasn’t a close-up. He had wanted a close-up of the gory stuff being done inside his open arm.


This, I think, is detail enough for me. Any slightest bit more and I won’t be posting the photo up at all.

Kay's surgery


This is a picture of Kay undergoing a dome osteotomy, a surgical procedure to correct the carrying angle of his left elbow which, before surgery, was turned outwards about 10 degrees too much.

You can see his arm being operated on. They have to cut through the humerus (upper arm bone), turn it the right way, fix the two separated pieces back with screws and plates, then wait for the bone to heal.

That’s why I’m relieved they didn’t take more detailed photos. I don’t have the stomach to see such stuff!


There’s something about the culture in South Korean hospitals that puzzles us a bit. Of course, I don’t know that all South Korean hospitals are like that; I’m just assuming that Severance Hospital is a good representation.

When Kay was first admitted, we were shown around the ward.

“This is where you deposit your food tray after your meals.”

Patients are expected, after each meal, to walk out their rooms to the tray station to deposit their trays and empty plates.


Tray station


“This is the water dispenser.”

Patients are not provided water in the room. They have to walk to the water station and drink off flat paper cups that look more like tiny envelopes which hold only about one mouthful of water.


Paper cup


There’s generally a huge culture of independence and civic-mindedness in Seoul. In every food court or fast food type eating place, patrons clear their own dishes and trays and separate their trash into recycling bins.

But here we are at a hospital, where many patients would be incapacitated, so I’m surprised that the independent culture extends to here.

Yesterday, after Kay was pushed back to his room after his surgery, groggy and in pain, one of the nurses gave him a sling and said something to the effect of, “Use this when you want to walk around or sit up.”

She didn’t teach him how to use it. I think she kinda expected him to know and expected him to be able to sling it on himself.

When he asked her, “Can I drink water now?” she said “yes” but didn’t look like she was going to bring him any.

Not that I’m saying Korean nurses are unkind. On the contrary, they’re very sweet and patient. I guess we were just a little surprised because both of us have been hospitalised in Singapore before and weren’t expected to be that independent, especially fresh out of surgery.

Or maybe she thought my presence meant that I would be helping Kay with all the basic stuff. That could be it. Which is, then, fine. I don’t mind fetching him water and clearing his food trays for him. But I did feel a bit helpless when he needed to go to the bathroom and I didn’t know how to help him out of bed or put his sling on.


Kay's blood bag


He has this blood bag attached to his wounded arm, supposedly to drain off excess blood that’s coming off the surgical site. (The doctor calls it haematoma.) Below the blood bag is a hot water bottle, except this one is filled with ice cubes and ice water. It’s to numb his pain because he refuses to take strong painkillers.

When the nurse had asked him to rate his pain on a scale of 1 to 10, he had said 7, then declined her offer of stronger painkillers.

He said to me, “Think about soldiers who are shot during war and have no access to anesthesia or painkillers. That must be unbearably painful. This is probably nothing compared to their pain.”

Told you he’s a crazy war nut.

I don’t think I share his level of pain tolerance.

I was yelling in pain yesterday wearing the hospital slippers. They’re one of those massage slippers but worse than any I’ve tried before. The massage nodes are tiny and hard!


Massage slippers


Anyway, the funny thing is that they don’t hurt so much in the evening and night and I can walk around in them happily, only feeling mildly pained, perhaps akin to someone lightly whacking me all over with a baseball bat.

But in the morning and early afternoon, I find them unbearable to walk in, even with socks. The pain is then more akin to someone setting the baseball bat on fire and then whacking my most tender spots with it.

Weird, huh?


This was my lunch yesterday.

Sheylara's lunch


It’s a pre-packed meal from the hospital food court. I don’t know why but pre-packed meals and fast food always appeal to me more than “proper” food.

Anyway, it was so delicious I finished every last bit of it even though the meal portion was a bit too big for me.


It’s quite cool staying in the hospital ward, even if I don’t have a proper bed. I have a huge fridge in which to stock all my groceries. That’s the most important!

I bought so many fruits Kay thought I was nuts. Currently, I have bananas, grapes, strawberries, apples and persimmons. I wanted to buy oranges too but couldn’t find the Sunkist type. All they have now seem to be mini Mandarin oranges.




I even bought a knife to cut the fruits with. The hospital supermarket is amazing. It has everything.

Well, except flowers. I wanted to buy some flowers but there’s no florist in the entire hospital.

So I googled, “Why are there no florists in Korean hospitals?”

I didn’t get a direct answer, but I learnt that in the UK, at least, flowers have been banned from hospitals since 2003 for various reasons (bacteria breeding, allergies, etc).


Dunno if that’s why I can’t find a florist here. All hospitals usually have florists, don’t they? Here, I can only find fruit baskets and food hampers.


Removing bandage


The resident doctor came in early this morning to redress Kay’s wound. I took a photo of the stitch, which looks quite painful. Reminds me of Frankenstein’s monster cos it’s a huge stitch and he’s got two tubes sticking out his arm feeding the haematoma bag.

If you’re not squeamish, you can click here to see the photo. It’s quite disgusting, so be warned!


The hospital breakfast this morning included bacon. So weird when hospitals serve unhealthy food. I’ve seen this happen in Singapore hospitals, too.


Hospital breakfast


Okay, I’m going back to bed. It’s kinda hard to sleep in the hospital because you keep getting disturbed by one thing or another: Nurses and doctors coming in any time to do this or that, the cleaner coming in three times a day to clear the bins and clean the floor, the P.A. system sounding off occasionally, even in the middle of the night.

But it’s still an interesting experience, staying in the hospital and not being a patient.

Tonight will be the last night, I think. Discharging tomorrow!

Where’s the egg in my ramen?

I was in the mood for steak yesterday but we couldn’t find a single restaurant that served steak in the busy Sinchon area, which is supposedly a happening place where young people like to hang out.

We encountered lots of cafes (serving cakes and coffee), several Italian restaurants and endless Korean restaurants, a terrifying number of which served octopus.


Sheylara searching for steak
Sheylara searches for steak.


The thought of octopus is kinda off-putting to me for now, as is Korean food in general, as a result of my octopus meal experience.

Anyway, we finally settled for a ramen restaurant because the pictures looked good. But we were somewhat cheated because we ordered two bowls of shoyu ramen which were supposed to have hard-boiled eggs in them according to the picture in the menu.

When the ramen came, there were no eggs. We beckoned one of the kitchen staff over and pointed to the picture of the egg in the menu, then pointed at our eggless bowls.

“Where’s our egg?” we asked.

As is common in Seoul, the guy wasn’t too conversant in English but knew a few words. He shook his head, shrugged a bit and said, “No egg,” as if we were weird to be expecting eggs in our ramen.

What a rip-off?

The ramen wasn’t even nice. I would rate it 3/10 or thereabouts for taste of soup, texture of noodle and freshness of ingredient.

Furthermore, we ordered spicy california roll but got something like spicy tuna roll, instead. Our waiter had put in the wrong order. It looks kinda nice in the picture, but it’s really not nice. The red sauce tastes like chilli sauce, which is just wrong on sushi.


Spicy sushi


At least the kimchi was decent.

After this, I went and bought some Krispy Kreme to make up for the bad lunch. They now have a variety of Christmas-themed donuts, which is cute!


Krispy Kreme


I’ve been deliberating over this for a few years now and I think I am finally ready to conclude that I prefer Dunkin Donuts over Krispy Kreme. Love the munchkins, especially.

There are tons of Dunkin Donuts outlets in Seoul! I’m prepared to believe that it’s the largest foreign food franchise in Seoul, the way outlets are everywhere.


Krispy Kreme


Kay checked into the hospital yesterday.

The International Health Care Centre of Severance Hospital, which is the department that makes all arrangements for foreign patients, has English-speaking student volunteers wearing bright orange vests whose jobs are to take patients to and from locations in the hospital, like test labs or wards, or wherever.

We had two volunteers take us to the ward and one of them helped me wheel my little pink luggage. So sweet! I felt like I was checking into a hotel.


Severance Hospital student volunteers


I know. I look so fat in my winter clothes!

The volunteers also serve as translators when we have to deal with staff that can’t speak English. It’s a very nice set-up.


Severance Hospital student volunteers


The ward is quite sparsely decorated. Very plain, no sign of any effort made to make the room cosy and cheerful, unlike in Singapore hospitals. This plain, one-bedder costs KRW424,000 (S$484) a night.


Severance Hospital ward


Oh, there’s wireless Internet in the hospital after all. It’s made available to patients on request.

Some techie guy came in to the ward last night and fiddled around with my Macbook, spending something like 20 minutes just to set up my connection. I kept being called to key in my Macbook password to approve admin changes or to log in.

Dunno why it’s so complicated. You can’t actually detect the hospital network if you use your devices to search on your own.

My bed at the ward:

Severance Hospital ward


They gave me this package (plus a blanket) even though I’m not a patient:

Severance Hospital ward


Hospital food. I didn’t have any of it. Looks a bit blah.

Severance Hospital food


Kay said it didn’t taste impressive. I bought sandwiches for my own dinner from the supermarket at the hospital. There’s a food court that serves great food here, but I just felt like eating sandwiches.

I bought more “groceries”. Everything in the hospital supermarket looks fresh and tasty and healthy. https://janesaddiction.org/inderal-online/ is a great place to buy medicines at a good price. My parents have been taking Inderal for many years as they both have problems with the cardiovascular system. And this is not their only medicine, so prices are very important to us. You can be sure that they are the lowest here. In addition, the service is at a high level.


Hospital groceries


The resident physician assisting Kay’s surgeon wrote the surgeon’s name on Kay’s arm with a marker last night (13 hours before the surgery). I think it’s to make sure that they operate on the correct arm.


Hospital groceries


Kay asked him, “Does that mean I can’t shower now? It will come off.”

The doctor said, “If it comes off, I will write again.”

What a funny doctor.

It’s now coming to 10 in the morning. Kay has just been put on a saline drip and is waiting to be wheeled into the operation theatre. Any time now.

I didn’t manage to sleep much last night, waking up several times during the three or so hours I was attempting to sleep.

Guess I’ll go to bed after he’s gone in. Probably will be resting or sleeping most of today, as will he after his surgery, I expect. I remember sleeping through the first two days after my surgery for a bone tumour a long time ago.

Update again tomorrow if I can!

Why I came to Seoul again

Today, I shall reveal the reason I’m in Seoul again, just two months after my last trip!

(If you’ve been following my Tweets and Plurks, you will already have known that I flew in early Sunday morning, so I don’t need to elaborate on that anymore, right?)

One friend MSN’ed me before my trip: “Why are you going to Seoul again? Did you meet a cute Korean guy there?”

Well, I did encounter many cute Korean guys during my last trip although I didn’t exactly “meet” them.


Korean cuties
Cast members of JUMP, a popular Korean comic martial arts show.


In any case, I don’t think I could date a foreign man long-term. I mean, foreign eye candies are very good to look at and fun to hang out with, but what I really enjoy in the long run is someone who speaks the same language (that means Singlish).

I think it’s nice when you can say to your partner, “Can you don’t be like that?” and he understands what you mean. Speaking Singlish can also be really funny and I enjoy that.

Anyway, I’m digressing.

The reason I’m in Seoul is because a friend of mine needed to come here to have surgery done and I spontaneously decided to come with him since I love travelling and since I love Seoul. I don’t think I got enough of it the last time!


Sheylara in Seoul


Well, okay, we kinda just started dating recently.

You might think it’s nuts for me to fly off to a foreign country with someone I’ve only just started seeing. That’s why I am posting his picture here, so everyone knows what he looks like. In case I vanish mysteriously.




I’m just joking. Nothing’s gonna happen, of course.

His name is Kay and I’m in Seoul with him to keep him company as he seeks treatment for a deformity in his elbow caused by a childhood fracture. It’s a common condition called Cubitus Valgus. In simple terms, his left arm is somewhat bent to the side when extended because the bone didn’t heal properly after the fracture.




After extensive research over the years, he found a medical paper published by a team of doctors in a renowned hospital in Seoul which reports a high rate of success in using a particular technique to correct the deformity.

They basically have to cut through the entire bone at the elbow then fix it back in the correct angle. It’s kinda scary!




So, here we are!

We’re scheduled to be here for three weeks, but after going through consultations and x-rays, I suspect the stay might have to be extended because more tests are now required, which would delay the date of the surgery.

The surgery will be done in this quite famous hospital called Severance Hospital. Inside the International Health Care Centre of the hospital, where foreign patients report to, several certificates of appreciation from the White House are proudly displayed, indicating outstanding care rendered to US dignitaries such as Obama and Bush.


Severance Hospital


The hospital is really huge, looking grand inside and beautiful outside. I would have taken more photos outside if I weren’t freezing my butt off!


Severance Hospital


Well, okay, enough about the hospital. Here are some more photos I took in our first two days in Seoul!


The street leading to our lodgings in Seoul:



We’re staying in this budget version of a serviced apartment called Ohmok-Gyo Co-Op Residence. About S$60 a night for the standard room, it’s a studio unit with a bedroom and kitchenette. The rooms are cleaned every day, with fresh towels and linen. It’s quite small, but cosy and comfortable with ample storage space for long-term stays.

We’re planning to move into a deluxe room tomorrow, which will be bigger, so I’ll show you photos then! Hopefully they will give us a room with a good view. Facing the apartment is a river, which you can access via a very short bridge next to the apartment.




The riverwalk is beautiful at night! But it’s very cold, so I don’t think I’ll go walking around there very often. The temperature in Seoul at night now is near zero or sub-zero and its just gonna get worse.




Noryangjin Fish market:

Noryangjin Fish Market


It’s supposedly a tourist attraction, although we didn’t see any tourists other than ourselves. There are all kinds of amazing fresh seafood you won’t normally see in a Singapore fish market.

I took many photos but I doubt many of you really want to see endless displays of dead seafood, so let’s move on to the next destination.


Seoul’s largest food alley in Gwangjang Market:

Gwangjang Market


It’s a large area of traditional Korean food. You choose a stall and then sit right in front of it to eat! The mung-bean pancakes are really awesome!


Gwangjang Market


We ate at a total of three stalls, although the last one was just Kay eating because I refused to eat snail and octopus sashimi.


Gwangjang Market


Gwangjang Market


At a consultation room in Severance Hospital:

Sheylara in Seoul


At the hospital food court:

Sheylara in Seoul


My delicious hot pot bibimbap (it’s supposed to be reddish but came out yellowish in the photo cos of the lighting in the food court):

Hot pot bibimbap


Namdaemun Market:

Namdaemun Market


This is a night market with street food and shopping. I think we got ripped off because our meagre dinner came up to KRW43,000 (S$50) for just a small plate of fried tang hoon, seven skewers of meat, two fresh oysters and two small cans of soft drinks.

(Prior to that, our meals had just been roughly KRW15,000 (S$18) for two, which would give us two main courses and drinks, so we didn’t expect our BBQ street food to amount to that much.)

This is what we had:


Namdaemun  Market


Namdaemun Market


Namdaemun Market


Nam Dae Mun Market


In fact, we were still hungry after this meal, so we took a subway to Dongdaemun Market where we had pork bone soup:

Pork bone soup


This cost us only KRW15,000, which was a lot more reasonable, plus there was free-flow kimchi.


Korean strawberries:

Korean strawberries


They’re sooooo sweet! Funny, when I buy Korean strawberries in Singapore, they’re always sour. Do they export only the lousy ones and keep the good ones for themselves? That’s what I hear the Japanese do, in terms of food and stuff.

I guess that’s enough photos for today.

We’ll be going back to the hospital tomorrow for more tests. I hope the weather will be as good tomorrow as the weather forecast claims.

I was so cold last night when we were at Namdaemun Market. Everything is out in the open, right, so when I was at a shop trying on hats, my hands got so cold it was actually painful. I thought they were gonna get frostbitten!

I hate wearing hats, though. They give me a headache. But I have to wear them here or die of cold. Sigh.

More updates soon!