Business AND Pleasure: South Korea, Japan, China, and Thailand

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I'll be traveling to South Korea for an eight-week research project that I'll be conducting at Ajou University in Suwon. I am one of twenty-five [Korea] recipients of the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes grant given by the National Science Foundation. I've met all 24 of my EAPSI colleagues at an orientation in DC a few months ago. We're all researching different projects (everything from neuroscience to physics to engineering) at different universities. While the majority of them are grouped together in cities like Seoul, Pohang, and Daejeon, I'm the only one staying in Suwon (about 20 mi south of Seoul). Suwon is the only remaining walled-in city in South Korea. Ajou University, where I'll be staying and working, is a private doctoral university. I'll be working in a behavioral neuroscience lab doing single cell recordings (similar to what I do at UCLA), as well as any other projects I can help out with in the Jung lab. (Side note: the program's goal is to carry out an eight week research project, while building connections/ contacts for future collaborations, post doc appointments, etc). Of course I'll have time to explore a bit while I'm there, both with and without my EAPSI friends. Suwon isn't terribly far from Seoul, so I plan on visiting/exploring Seoul when I have time (especially if I'm there when Korea is playing in the world cup! I want to witness the craziness that I've heard goes on when the Korean team is playing). I also need to catch a Korean baseball game if possible. (My "Korea To Do" list is actually quite long, so hopefully I'll be describing those things later on in blog entries rather than here in the "I hope to do: ____" section).

Our first week in Korea is actually an orientation period, but it's a mix of traveling/sightseeing as well as an introduction to Korean culture and language. So far some of the EAPSI kids have organized a trip to Jeju Island for one of the first weekends we're at our host institutions. I'm sure other spontaneous adventures will spring up as well! I plan on spending the bulk of my time in Suwon in lab, so things will at least resemble life back home a bit!

After the eight week program has ended, I'll leave Suwon and meet up with six of my EAPSI friends in Japan. Our seven day trek begins in Fukuoka, and over the course of the week we're scheduled to travel to Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Mt Fuji, and Tokyo. Some of our plans include a "panoramic day tour" of Tokyo and a night-hike on Mt Fuji. We're staying in Japanese-style group rooms for most of our hotels, and i plan on eating so much sushi that I won't want to look at it for another 6 months after I get back to CA! I'm sure we'll also be soaking up a fair amount of sake (as opposed to the soju in Korea). When in Tokyo...

I'll part ways with my EAPSI friends after returning from Japan and start the solo portion of my trip. I'm flying from Seoul to Beijing, and I have a day and a half to explore (read: get lost) in Beijing before my eight day "China Express" tour beings. The tour begins with a few more days in Beijing (only this time I'll have an English speaking tour guide, which I'm sure will be very exciting at this point of my trip!) We'll travel from Beijing to Xi'an, Hangzhou, and eventually to Shanghai. (brief itinerary: http://www.gapadventures.com/trips/china-express/ACCR/2010)

After China, it's on to Thailand, where I have another week long tour that takes place throughout southern Thailand (this one starts and ends in Bangkok; http://www.gapadventures.com/trips/southern-thailand-sojourn/ATSS/2010/). I'm going to visit Khao Sok National Park, Ko Samui and Ko Tao. The last few days of this tour include a fair amount of relaxing at the beach and eating great food, so it should be a great way to wind up my long stay in Asia. After the official tour ends, I'll have a day and a half to myself before making my way back to Seoul in order to fly home. During my last full day in Bangkok, I may just lay around by the pool, or I may go shopping at the famous Khoa San road, or I might even go on a biking or Tuk Tuk tour. Whatever I do though, I'm going to enjoy it; my journey home includes over 24 hrs at airports and in the air!

It's going to be one heck of an adventure... (and a great research/learning experience too!)

  • I have no idea what I just ate...
  • back in time: the road home
Trip Start Jun 19, 2010
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Trip End Sep 14, 2010


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