Monkeys and Elephants and Sea Gypsies, Oh My! Adventures in Thailand and Bali

Back in 2003, during a sabbatical from my university, I made a circum-Pacific trip that took me to Thailand, Bali, Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti for the first time. My adventures during the last three stops have been documented in separate blogs here on my website, but I thought it was time to resurrect the Thailand and Bali parts of the trip. I’ve decided to post them in the form of the travel diary I kept and which I sent to friends and family via e-mail while I was on the trip. So here were my impressions of these two amazing travel destinations.

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The Thai Coastline in Krabi Province

Let’s go!

Matt Goes Down Under: Australia

One of the greatest gifts of working in academia is being awarded a sabbatical. Every seven years, professors may apply for a sabbatical leave during which they work on some academic project and are released from all their other duties for a semester. In Spring of 2003 I was awarded my first sabbatical, and while I spent much of my time conducting a risk perception survey of people living close to the volcanic peaks of Vesuvius and Etna in Italy, I also took a Circum-Pacific trip in February and March to explore that part of the world for the first time. I bought a ticket that allowed me to fly in a big circle around the Pacific Rim for a couple of months, stopping as many times as I wanted-  so long as I did not reverse direction. I started in Thailand, then on to Bali, Australia and New Zealand, and finally to Tahiti. I’ve written about Tahiti in another blog post, but now I will share the details of my first trip to Australia, followed by a second chapter on New Zealand.

Matt Sydney Ferry
Cruising on Sydney Harbor

Let’s go Down Under!

Attack of the Killer Sumo Bee and Other Japan Adventures

Hanging in Kyoto with the Geishas

My first visit to Japan was in November, 2007. As a psychology professor with a research interest in how at-risk populations deal with the threat posed by natural disasters, I was attending the international Cities on Volcanoes conference in Shimabara on the island of Kyushu. I’d decided to mix business with pleasure, planning to see a bit of the country before and after the conference and my first stop was Kyoto.

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Tahiti: A Little Magic, A Little Mystery

Flying into Bora Bora, February 2003

“One visit to Tahiti will make you forget all about Hawai’i!” How many times had I heard or read such a proclamation? I first “discovered” Hawaii in 1994 and have had an ongoing love affair with the islands ever since: majestic scenery, inviting waters, fresh and deliciously prepared food, and a fascinating history, culture, and music scene. Despite my red hair, freckles and an ancestry tracing back to the Pilgrims, I feel as if I am an honorary Hawaiian. So when the opportunity arose in 2003 to take a sabbatical from my university and do a trip around the Pacific Rim, I added Tahiti to my itinerary, thinking it’d be great to see the place from which people migrated and crossed thousands of miles of the Pacific to reach and settle Hawaii.

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