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2008-07-07 Korea Week 3



KAIST Week 3:

So I just finished my second week working at KAIST, and my third week in Korea.  Up until recently the weather has been really nice with only short showers and comfortable temperatures.  Now it is HOT HOT HOT.  I am very glad that the Hubo Lab, as well as my dorm room, has a nice A/C.  Otherwise I do not know what I would do.

I started going on bike rides with the bike that Dr. Oh procured for me.  I decided that the first ride I would go on would be a simple 20K jaunt up and down the river, let me tell you that was not a good idea with the gear that I had on.  You see it ended up being a horrible ride, not because there was nothing to look at or that there were bad path, in reality it was a nice path and a lot to see.  However I did not have anything covering my face.  I had noticed that most of the bikers were wearing surgical or other type masks, I figured that this was so they did not breath in smog so I though little of it.  However I find out that there are bug around the water, A LOT OF BUGS.  They kept on hitting me in my face and going in to my mouth is was horrible.  It was a good thing that I had a hat with me with a visor otherwise the bugs would have been going in my eyes too.  Now I just use one of my bandanas to cover my face and all is good.

 

Figure 1: Stepping Stone Bridge to go Across the River

 

On my travels I have run across a few neat things.  One of which is in the picture above, it is a stepping stone bridge that goes across the river.  I have not crossed it yet but Bobby and I will do it before we leave. 

I also took a bike trip up a cultural center which was a part of another university in the area.  I found myself falling in love with some of the art there.  Now I am not a big visual art person but there is just something about the statue, see picture below, that I just find really attractive =-p

 

Figure 2: I am Daniel Lofaro and I approve of this message

 

Whenever Bobby and I go out into the city we find that they have fish tanks of what is going to be your dinner.  Usually it is just fish or crabs in the tank.  This week we saw a tank of squid!  Though we did not go there to eat we were pondering whether we should just go in and say “I want that one” and watch them take it out of the tank and prepare it for us right there on the spot.

Figure 3: Squid it’s what’s for dinner

 

Due to the fact that both Bobby and I are in the lab for the majority of the day, we like to head out at night when we can.  Like other cities such as NYC Daejeon is covered with lights.  It seems that most of the way the city looks is based much more off of western cities then I would have expected.  Barring the writing, which I am still struggling to understand, if you were given a picture of the city you would just think it is somewhere in the US.

Figure 4: The Dynamic Duo

 

For our first week in Korea we had a weeklong tour of Korea with all 15 NSF-EAPSI fellows.  This tour was lead by Linda, a professional tour guide, and Mr. Choi, a member of KOSEF, the Korean Science Foundation.  During this tour/orientation Mr. Choi found out that I am also a part of the PIRE.  PIRE is a cooperative effort between NSF (United States National Science Foundation) and KOSEF where my lab DASL will be working with the Hubo Lab on research on the topic of biped locomotion.  Due to the latter Mr. Choi wanted to interview me about how the program is going.  It flatters me that no matter where I go people want to interview me.

For the interview Mr. Choi decided to take Bobby and I to a nice little place that was obviously for the locals and not for tourists.  The funny thing was Mr. Choi told us where to go and Bobby and I decided to take a cab, after all it was only about a W3,000, $3.00, trip.  When we got to our destination, a street corner in front of a GS25 convenient store we expected to have Mr. Choi come and pick us up via car, but no we saw a more hilarious site.  Mr. Choi was picking us up on his bike.  It was awesome.

 

Figure 5: Mr. Choi picking us up on his bike =-p

 

The interview went well.  Both Bobby and I learned a lot about what the Korean government desires to get out of cooperation with other countries, as well as how the fast growth of the scientific and economic status of the country and its citizens requires the government to constantly reevaluate their status in the world market.  Oh and the best part was not the political education lesion, but Mr. Choi’s stories.  Oh he has some good ones.  That and He was kind enough to pick up the bill, god bless the Korean culture, it benefits college students =-)

 

Due to the fact that this past Friday was July 4th a bunch of the EAPSI group and I got together to celebrate via the normal drinking, fireworks, and dancing… though not in that order.

 

Figure 6: Erik playing with a Roman Candle

 

After fireworks we went through other parts of Seoul and found a competition in the street where you had to break as many boards as you can with one punch.  Everyone was just standing in a circle cheering the different drunk guys on trying to win stuffed animals for their woman.

Figure 7: Drunk man trying to break 28 boards at the same time…  He actually broke 27 of them

 

Our resident karate expert, Bobby, decided to try it out as well… He did not do 28 but he did do enough that he won a big stuffed panda.

 

Figure 8: Bobby with his big stuffed panda that he won after showing off his manliness via breaking boards with his bare hands

 

Mind you not all of the clubs that we go in to are tall person friendly.  Please note the picture below and Poor 6’6” Corey.

 

Figure 9: Corey, tu boku

 

The funny thing was the celebration of America’s Independence was done Korean Style.  We ended up going to about four different places, did not leave the last bar until about 7am and did not get home until about 9am.  Yah that is how they do it here in Korea, things don’t even start to get popping until about 2am.  The most amusing part of the night was one of the women who I was dancing with for a while started to buy me beers!  Due to the latter I was flattered yet again this week.  After our evening was over and we got back to Corey’s place Corey, Bobby and I fell right asleep.  I personally just went on the floor and was out light a light, no pillow no blanket, just went right to sleep.

 

The next day we decided to do some shopping in Seoul.  I am personally a huge fan of the plethora of outdoor markets that they have.  The best thing is that you can haggle with all of them, my father would be very happy. 

 

Figure 10: Bobby in the outdoor market

 

It seems that no matter where you go in Seoul there is always something exciting to do.  For example as we were shopping we heard music, it sounded like live music.  Sure enough it was live music.  Some Korean rock band that had a lead singer who could really… well… sing.  I could not understand what she was saying but I still liked the music.

 

Figure 11: Daniel Lofaro (Me) in front of the awesome Korean band

 

The bass player reminded me of the Korean version of Anton Kovalsky, he was that chill.

Figure 12: The Korean Anton Kovalsky

 

Now please note it is not all fun and games here, I did do some work this week.  In fact I got Hubo to move.  See video below.

 

 

Today I just finished the planning and reservations for the trip to the Mud Festiaval for this coming weekend.  I have 12 people coming so it should be a good time.

 

Now I just wonder what adventures are in store for me now.

 

Oh and one more thing.  The beautiful weather has gone the way of the doto, it is hot and humid, god bless having an AC… can you see me swetting

 

Figure 13: I am HOT… I am DRIPPING