Jon Claerbout history 1963-65

I left MIT between my MS degree and my PhD degree in Geophysics.

First six months working in Alexandria, Virginia on the seismology of detecting underground nuclear explosions in USSR (Russia today).

Then nine months at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, with Enders Robinson learning signal analysis.

Then departing in June of 1964 on a Vespa motor scooter I rode the scooter about 10,000 km to Singapore where I sold the scooter.

My original intent was to visit Egypt, however I was prevented by Arab boycott of Israel blocking my way so I turned to the east. In those days, both Russia and China were closed to outsiders so I spent a lot of time traversing Muslim countries.

Google maps is not cooperating, so I'll list the names of the countries Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia (now Croatia), Italy again, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India until Calcutta. Any attempt to move a scooter through an Indian port was certain to have it stolen, so I had it flown with me as "excess luggage" to Thailand, whence I rode it to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore where I sold it. Danger of war had kept me away from Vietnam. Then ship to Sarawak, Brunei, Sabah (Sandakan), flights to Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan. I returned to MIT in January 1965 to work on a PhD finishing in 1967 when I married and accepted an offer from Stanford University to be an assistant professor for $1000/month, 9 months/year for three years. (Chevron Oilfield research company soon supplemented my income and taught me the value of reflection seismology. After five years I succeeded in forming a consortium of 18 companies to support graduate student research.)


A collection of 30 photos is here.

Here is my hand written diary (typed up by my sister, Janna) and a second copy of it.

This photo top shows me sitting at the entrance of Angkor Wat in Thailand, bottom shows me with the guy I sold my scooter to in Singapore. After selling it to him and receiving the money (surprise) he loaned the scooter back to me the five days until my ship sailed. Color photo of my scooter, its purchaser and his friend.

The tail end of this video shows somebody else's reconstruction of a motor scooter like my pre-1964 used Vespa. At the end, you'll hear the sound of the two-stroke motor (oil mixed with gasoline). I carried an extra one-gallon can for gasoline. In Afghanistan I was about to run out of gas when a Russian road-construction camp saved me while refusing to allow me to pay for the gas.