Three Days in Jeju

This summer we went to Jeju. Jeju is kind of like the Risa of Korea.

We started in Jeju city where the airport is. With a rental car, we drove to Manjanggul caves.  These are a volcanically formed network of tubes that you can walk through, it takes about 20-30 minutes to walk the whole route there and back. It was pretty cool, and only 2000 W entry, although it was quite chilly down there.

Next, we drove towards our hotel (Co-op city hotel) which was close to the foot of Seongsan Ilchulbong., the bowl-shaped mountain formed by a volcanic eruption. The roof of the hotel has a rooftop bar and some jacuzzis which you can rent for 30 mins, but most impressively it has a beautiful view of the mountain.

In the morning we walked up Seongsang ilchulbong. It is quite an easy walk but takes about two hours especially if you stop for photo ops. The summit has an impressive view of the interior of the bowl, and on your way back down you get some lovely views of Jeju.

For the rest of the day, we drove around the coast of Jeju and made stops at a couple of waterfalls. The first was Jeonbang falls, its claim to fame is that it is the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the ocean. It is really impressive, you walk around the bottom of it and paddle in the water where the waterfall mixes with the ocean water.  The second was cheonjiyeon falls, which has a very nice walk leading up to it. The waterfall itself is quite impressive and scenic, but not as dramatic as the Jeonbang falls. After that, we went to our hotel near sanbangsan mountain.

On the last morning, we went to a neat little spa, Sanbangsan hot springs. It is quite similar to most Koren spas but it also has some baths which are heated by a volcanic hot spring and is filled with carbonated water. They also have outdoor swimming pools and baths with the carbonated water. On our way back to Jeju city we stopped by a beach for lunch and a walk; the beach was beautiful with white sands and black volcanic rock.

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We didn’t have time to go to see the lava columns. We also didn’t hike up  Mt. Hallasan mainly because that will probably take up most of a day and it was the height of summer too.

Jeju is definitely worth a visit at least once if you are staying in Korea for a reasonable amount of time. Although it has a lot of tourist attractions/museums (such as a teddy bear museum, a sex museum, and mysterious road), it is the areas of outstanding natural beauty that make it special. Three days is probably enough to see everything if you plan your time well; if you want to see Mt Hallasan, then add an extra day. Renting a car is also a good idea, so you don’t have to rely on the buses.

 

 

 

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The Time We Ate Blowfish

Pufferfish (or blowfish) is considered a delicacy in East Asia; it is also one of the most poisonous vertebrates in the world.

It’s commonly known by its Japanese name, Fugu; many people know it from the Simpsons episode where Homer accidentally eats a poisonous part of the fish.

 

 

 

 

We didn’t realise what it was when we went to the restaurant, we just picked a restaurant that was close by because we were short on time. It is a tasty fish, the sauce is very spicy but the flavour of the fish still comes through. The grilled version we had is very low risk for poisoning; blowfish sashimi is higher risk, some people specifically eat it for the tingling lip sensation that a small amount of the toxin gives.

We also reviewed the restaurant on the Pohang Restaurant Guide.

Blinkist

I recently got a subscription to Blinkist, an abstracting service that lays out the take home messages from non-fiction books. They claim that you can get the essence and key points of any non-fiction book in 15 minutes.

There are two things I find this really useful for: Management of my reading list, and refreshers on books I’ve already read.

In terms of to-read list management, I find it useful to be able to get an overview of a book that I want to read and see if I’m going to learn anything new from it. For example, I often read popular psychology books but I find a lot of those books draw heavily on ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, so I’ve already read that then I’m not going to learn much more from reading a book that covers much of the same material. Likewise, books on relationships often cite John Gottman’s work.

I very rarely find time to re-read non-fiction even though I might want to. 15 minutes to get a refresher on the content is very useful.

I don’t see it as a replacement for reading a book. I don’t think there is any substitute for reading the long form in order to follow an author’s full train of thought or see how conclusions are reached.

They have two levels of membership, the main difference between them is the top end membership allows you to download audio-blinks and sync across devices. The standard just allows you to read the ‘blinks’ on your device. I’ve got their standard membership ($40) and I only went for it because I had a discount code. I’m not sure that it is worth it at the moment unless you have a lot of demands on your time, mainly because of the library size; however, their library is continually expanding (20 or so a month). If you don’t have time to read or re-read every book on your to-read list then I think its a good investment. You can get a 1-day free trial too.

Update: After using Blinkist for several months, I’ve found that I’ve read a lot more fiction in that time as a result of the time freed up.

 

 

Cherry Blossom Season 2017

The start of the warm weather and springtime brings Cherry Blossom season in Korea. We went to Yeongildae Park near Postech to walk around see the Cherry Blossoms. It wasn’t quite that dramatic this year, the colder weather meant that the trees bloomed at different rates. Last year they all seemed to bloom at once.

It was a little bit past peak bloom when we went but we still got some pretty pictures of the cherry blossoms and the pond.

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Holi Hai in Busan

This weekend we went down to Busan for the Holi Hai festival. It is organised by ‘Indians in Korea’ but is very welcoming to all foreigners in Korea as well as Koreans.

It was located Haeundae beach.  The festival involves dancing and throwing colorful powder around. It seems a bit strange to start this kind of thing late morning and wrap up by mid-afternoon. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it were held later in the day. It was enjoyable and different nonetheless, though.

Since we were in Haeundae which is expat-friendly we were able to stop by an Irish Bar and get an all day breakfast. It might not be much to look at but it was delicious. It’s the first one I’ve had since leaving the UK.

New Paper: Enrichment of Specifically Labeled Protein Using an Immobilized Host Molecule

A paper detailing some of the work that I have being doing in Korea has recently been published in Angewandte Chemie.

The paper describes how high affinity host-guest complexes can be used in proteomic studies to enrich target proteins. The synthetic host-guest complexes have similar affinity to high affinity complexes typically used in the life sciences (Biotin-streptavidin). Unlike the protein based complexes, the synthetic system can be dissociated under mild conditions simply by adding a higher affinity guest.

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Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.201611894/abstract