Tuesday, March 31, 2009

진해시 - 여좌천

Its my second time to Jinhae's Gunhang Festival (군항축제). Jinhae is a city in Gyeongsangnam Province and is famous for its cherry blossom. Gunhang means naval base but to tourists, Gunhang Festival has more to do with cherry blossom than naval base. Nevertheless, the naval base at Jinhae is opened to public during the festival period. Among the many festivals in Korea, the Gunhang Festival is considered as one of the more interesting festivals.

One of the must-visit places during the festival is the Yeojwa Stream (여좌천, 余佐川). Yeojwa Stream is not very far from Jinhae Station - about 5 mins walk away. It is lined with Rapeseed or Canola (유채꽃, 油菜花) and shaded by overhanging cherry blossom trees on both its sides. With wooden bridges and classical music played over the speakers installed along the stream, there is a romantic mood in the air.

Romance bridge at the end with cherry blossom and rapeseed on both sides of the stream, there is a romantic mood in the air around Yeojwa Stream.

Rapeseed or Canola with the clear water of Yeojwa Stream running through them.

Walking by the stream is possible at the upper end of the stream.

Cherry blossom is just starting to bloom. Full bloom is expected in a week time.

This flower is the reason why we were at Jinhae.

This flower is what made Yeojwa Stream so beautiful.

A perfect day out at Yeojwa Stream. The sky was clear, bright and cheery.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


When I walked out from Exit 5 of Seoul Grand Park Station (대공원역, 大公園驛), Line 4, the first thing that caught my eyes was not the futuristics-looking Gwacheon National Science Museum (국립과천과학관, 國立果川科學館) building but the big blue sky. The view was stunning and within split second, I could feel my mind opening out. Having an open mind was a good preamble to an afternoon of discovery and revelation.

The admission fee into the main premise is an affordable 4,000won and it is good value for money. The museum also provides PDA that gives English explanation of the exhibits. Explanation of exhibit is automatically activated through the use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology so there is no need for button pressing.

Futuristics-looking Gwacheon National Science Museum building.

A sculpture of flying humans and atom hanging in the atrium. I didn't read the official explanation but I think what it is trying to depict is the close relationship between human and science.

One hall in the building is solely dedicated to exhibiting the research attainments by the various Korea's science and technology research institutes.

This is a 3D television. There is no need for goggle to see the 3-D effect but I got a headache after watching it for a while. HD TV is fine but I really doubt that 3D TV will catch on. Perhaps it may be too early to write it off completely.

There are two big halls dedicated to exhibiting advanced science and technology. I was in the bio-science section of the Advanced Science and Technology Hall 1.

It seems like Koreans have a special liking for this difficult English word - ubiquitous. In Konglish, it is 유비쿼터스. I was in the "Ubiquitous World" section. "Ubiquitous World" probably doesn't come through as something familiar to many of us. I thought it could have been simply called "Common Living Space".

This is a high-speed camera. I pressed the start button on the screen and recorded my hand clap. During the slow-motion playback, I could see my hands changing shape at the point of impact.

This station allows me to make a recording of myself like I am an announcer. There were some bar code samples which I could flash at the camera. However, what came out on the screen was not the bar code but some computer graphics.

This station works something like what you see in "Minority Report". First I raised my hand so that the camera/s can capture my hand. Once the computer traced out the shape of my hand, I could use my hand like a computer mouse and move the objects on the screen.

A flashy roadster, with red velvet interior, spotted at the Advanced Science and Technology Hall 2. 타고 싶다.

This roadster is used to show the future of car technology and it had a composite carbon fibres body, wiperless screen, airbag at the front bumper, movable head lamps, human machine interface and back view guidance.

A full-size model of the T-50 Golden Eagle, Korea's first locally-manufactured supersonic trainer jet, being exhibited at the aviation section.

A mock-up of the A380's cockpit

Here is the Natural History Hall. The hall has a few large-scale dinosaur fossil exhibits. Besides fossils, there are also live fishes swimming in large aquarium.

This is the Astronomy section in the Korean Traditional Science Hall.

This is 소간의 (小簡儀), an astronomical device which Joseon officials used to measure time via observing the movement of celestial bodies.

This is 일성정시의 (日星定時儀), another astronomical device used to measure time via observing the movement of sun and stars.

Wooden models of Korean ships used in the past.

A quiet corner inside the Korean Traditional Science Hall.

A model of the Klein bottle inside the Basic Science Hall. Like Möbius strip, the Klein bottle has no distinct outer and inner surface.

A Periodic Table - an important table which I could not live without during my university days.

This is an atom-and-bond model of Fullerene (C60) or Buckyball. Fullerence is one of the 3 allotropes of carbon. Fullerence contains 60 carbon atoms normally because C60 is a very stable configuration. Just like 60 minutes on the clock, 60 is like a "magic" number, a number that is highly divisible. You probably won't find another big number that is as divisible as 60. Fullerence, having 60 carbon atoms, exhibits high symmetry because it is highly divisible. In nature, high symmetry means low energy and great stability and hence a big molecule like Fullerence can exist. I was once fascinated by this molecule that I bought a book that wrote nothing else but it.

This is a Tesla Coil. It can generate magnificent electrical discharge that gives off a loud sound. The Tesla Coil is functional. There are several show times a day and I missed all of them.

Like any other respectable science centres in the world, Gwacheon National Science Museum includes an observatory in its backyard...

... and a Planetarium sitting on a pool of water.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

무한 우주

In the mock-up Space Center in Gwacheon National Science Museum, a video conference between Dr. Lee So-yeon (the first Korea's astronaut) in Space and elementary school kids on Earth was shown on one of the large-screen monitors. One of the questions the kids asked her was what must we do to become an astronaut. Her advice to the kids was, "To become an astronaut, you will have to work hard and strengthen on your current homework, study and health. Because only then can you become an astronaut in the future."

Her words were probably more than advice to the kids. They were inspiration. The Koreans will again be inspired when KSLV-1, carrying a satellite, launches at the Naro Space Center later this year. I am waiting for the moment to be inspired as well. The ambition of Korea's Space Programme is exhibited at the Advanced Science and Technology Hall 2 in the Gwacheon National Science Museum.

Dr. Lee So-yeon - the first Korea's astronaut.

A model of the telecommunications and weather satellite to be launched by KSLV-1.

This is an open-air exhibit - a replica of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle 1 (KSLV-1). This two-stage unmanned rocket, co-designed by Korea and Russia, is planned to be launched from the Naro Space Center (나로우주센터) in July this year. The rocket is capable of launching a satellite weighing 100 kilograms into low orbit.

The Naro Space Center is situated at Oenaru Island (외나로도, 外羅老島), Goheung County (고흥군, 高興郡), Jeollanam Province. Oenaru Island, off the southwest coast of Korea, is the most suitable place to launch a rocket without having to intrude the airspace of Russia to the North, China to the West and Japan to the East.

A mock-up of a Space Center (우주센터). KSLV this is Naro, standby for lifting off...

5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Ignition!

Lift-off... and we have a lift-off

A spacesuit bearing the insignia of KARI (Korea Aerospace Research Institute) - Korea's equivalent of NASA.

A mock-up of the International Space Station (국제우주정거장, 國際宇宙停車場). You probably wouldn't want to live in it if you see the facilities inside. It is more likely to be hardship than luxury.

A Return Capsule (귀환캡슐) hanging high up in the exhibition hall.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

한강의 대교

Hangang is undergoing some sort of a renaissance. There are many constructions going on now on both sides of the river. In the years to come, it will probably be transformed into a beautiful river.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced recently that the project to illuminate the bridges over Hangang was completed. Just to see them for myself, I decided to take a walk along the river stretch from Ichon Station (이촌역, 二村驛) to Oksu Station (옥수역, 玉水驛) one evening.

Dongjak Bridge (동작대교, 銅雀大橋). This bridge is among one of the bridges illuminated. But it was still early, so the lights had not come on yet.

Banpo "Fountain" Bridge (반포대교, 盤浦大橋). This bridge, like Cheonggyecheon, will soon become a must-visit for tourists coming to Seoul. The bridge is fitted with water fountains, which can swing to music, on both its sides.

Hannam Bridge (한남대교, 漢南大橋). This bridge is very beautiful because it has running rainbow lighting. It is difficult to see its rainbow lighting in the photo because it is moving and the background lighting is very bright.

Dongho Bridge (동호대교, 東湖大橋). This bridge is just beside Oksu Station. Whenever a train runs through it, blue lights will light up on its side. Once the train passes, the blue lights will disappear. See the photo below.

Monday, March 23, 2009

기분 좋은 날

As forecasted, 꽃샘추위 arrived last night and this morning, temperature nosedived to only 2degC from an all time high 22degC just two days ago. One moment, it seems like Summer has arrived and the next moment, it seems like Winter all over again. The 추위 (coldness) must be really jealous of the Spring flowers to cause such a drastic drop in temperature. To make it real tough for the blooming flowers, there is 50% chance that snow may fall tomorrow night. It would be interesting to see flowers cover by snow.

The Magnolia trees in my school has started to bloom. Magnolia is one very big flower. A tree full of pure white Magnolia flowers is very easy to spot from afar. Magnolia started to bud in the middle of Winter when temperature was extreme just to be in time to bloom in Spring. This flower inspires me. Preparation should always start early even when the odds are unfavourable. When everything becomes rosy, it may be too late.

Magnolia flowers are very big compared to other Spring flowers.

A tree full of Magnolia flowers is a spectacular sight.

Now for the reason why today is a good day. After more than 3 months, I finally ate Samgyeopsal again. Even though my cloth was smelling like Samgyeopsal after the meal, it was so worthed it.

Can't wait for it to be cooked.

Smacking good. Period.

Taking train back after a satisfying meal with good company.