Along the way in Spain 2009 (25.10.2009 to 10.11.2009)

J@Cmے1N@Khanin Nueangnoraj
My name is Khanin Nueangnoraj. I came from Thailand since April 2008 and now being as a Master student in Kyotani Laboratory. From October 25th to November 10th, 2009, I had a great opportunity to visit Spain under the Bilateral Joint Projects between Japan and Spain funded by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Thus I would like to make a short summary along this journey.
We, including Professor Takashi Kyotani, Hiroyuki Itoi (a Ph.D. student) and me, took a 13-hour flight to Paris on October 24th and stopped over one night there. Since I have a friend staying in Paris, I have asked that friend to bring us to several spot-light places including the Eiffel Tower. Indeed, it was fantastic and I want to thank our guide hereby.
Our departure to Malaga, the southern city of Spain where we would participate in the 3rd International Conference on Carbons for Energy Storage and Environment Protection 2009 (CESEP'09), was on the next day, October 25th. Professor Kyotani and Itoi-san have an oral and a poster presentation, respectively, in this conference. From these presentations, especially in that of Professor Kyotani, I have learned one important thing about making the presentation. It is about telling a story and giving a message to an audience. I wish that next time I could make such kind of presentation.
Malaga is located on the Mediterranean seaside. The weather, foods, people and architectural there are something in tropical scent. We stayed there until October 29th and left to Oviedo, the northern city of Spain.
Oviedo is quite different from the typical Spain. Whereas the other parts of Spain are brown and dry, Oviedo is green and moist. We stayed there for another 2 weeks but Professor Kyotani left on the first week of November. During weekdays, we went to the Instituto Nacional del Carbon for experiments since our project is in collaboration with Professor Juan Manuel Diez Tascon's group. We had a warm-welcome from everyone there, especially from Professor Tascon who always gave us a nice conversation about historical story and brought us to dinner.
Our experiments were due with the functionalization of zeolite templated carbon (ZTC) with sulfur groups by using sulfuric acid and sulfuric acid fuming under hydrothermal conditions and their characterization with several techniques including XRD, elemental analysis, XPS and Raman spectra. Thanks to a great support from Dr. Fabian, our experiments were run smoothly and he also taught me several things during experiments and brought us to lunch. People in Spain have lunch and dinner quite late, 2 pm for lunch and 9 pm for dinner. Their meal contains a starter and bread, a main dish, a dessert and finally a coffee. Coffee there is very strong and I like it. Before lunch, they will have a coffee break around 11.
Photo1 The Eiffel Tower
Photo2 During poster presentation
Photo3 Tropical dish in Malaga
Photo4 Mediterranean sea
Photo5 A way to the institute
Photo5 Dinner with Prof. Tascon
Beside working hours, I took this chance taking a walk around Oviedo city visiting both of the old and new part of the city. They put a strong effort to maintain their old architecture while developing the new area to support the economic growth. We also went to the city nearby Oviedo on weekend, Gijon (its pronunciation is "hi-hon") and Leon. Gijon is a seaside city located close to the Atlantic Ocean and has very beautiful scenery. We can easily go there by train from Oviedo and it took around 40 minutes. In Leon, there is one of the most three important cathedral in Europe but the glass window architecture is the best; unfortunately, taking photo inside that cathedral is prohibited.
Dr. Fabian kindly gave us a drive to the National Park of Asturias. It took around 1 hour driving to the east of Oviedo and his driving was incredible. I can not imagine that how can I drive a car at such high sea-level narrow road. This National Park contains several mountains and lakes, and its spot-light is s small lake on the top of mountain. It was naturally beautiful and very cold up there, below 9 C. On a way back to Oviedo, we also visited some small lovely villages.
Photo7 Oviedo Cathedral
Photo8 Scenery in Gijon
Photo9 Leon Cathedral
Photo10 National Park of Asturias
We took our leave back to Japan on November 11th, 2009. Unfortunately, our flight from Asturias to Madrid was cancelled. We had to take a 5-hour train instead but, anyway, it is interested for me to try several means of transportation. We arrived at Sendai safely on the next day.
Finally, I would like to express my sincerely thanks to Professor Takashi Kyotani for giving me this invaluable opportunity and Assistant Professor Hirotomo Nishihara for his support. Hereby, I would like to convey this thankfulness to Professor Juan Manuel Diez Tascon and his team including Dr. Fabian Suarez-Garcia (and his lovely family) for a very warm-welcome. My special thanks go to our friends there, Marina, Bea, Albert, Thomas and Juan Antonio (forgive me for some misspelling), and everyone unnamed here. I also want to thank Itoi-san for his help while I was in trouble with my credit card. I really appreciate for all of your help and support.