I’m Tom Yin and welcome to my travel/photo blog. It’s a work in progress so please leave comments, criticisms or corrections.


Many more pictures are on my Flickr photo page:




You are probably wondering what the heck is a neurotraveler anyway? And what would you find on this site? Well, I’m not going to expound on the positive effects from traveling on your brain, though I do believe it’s true. Instead, this is a photo blog from my travels, most of which were done in connection with my profession as a neuroscientist. I’m a retired professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My goal in setting up the blog is to provide photos and stories of our travels, not detailed descriptions of transportation, accommodations or restaurants unless there is something special. There are many other sources for such information (Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor, Rick Steves, etc.) Hopefully the website will give you an idea of what to expect to see and experience on various trips and inspire you to travel.

I was born in China and came to the US with my parents when I was 3 years old, growing up in Colorado. Unlike most of my contemporaries with similar history, I can speak Chinese ‘fluently’ because my parents insisted that we speak Chinese at home. However, my vocabulary is at a grade school level (what one would expect to hear at a dinnertime conversation), so it’s difficult to carry on a serious adult conversation. It was very helpful, though, when we went to China to be able to converse with the natives.

I’ve lived in Madison for the last 40 years. I like to travel and take photos of new places and experiences. Since all of my travel documented here is with my wife Lil Tong, some of the photos included here were taken by her. Unless otherwise specified, all pictures of animals are in the wild. Also shown here is our beloved dog Maple when she was a puppy and older.

A word about equipment. In 2012 or so, I decided not to replace my DSLR camera (at the time a Sony A300) to trade weight for image quality. This was a difficult decision as I was always raised with the notion that the 35 mm SLR was the gear of choice for serious photographers, for which I had aspirations. However, I like to shoot wildlife, which requires long lenses that are heavy and therefore need tripods for good stability and therefore don’t lend themselves to shooting moving objects. Most wildlife of interest are not stationary so these are incompatible requirements. Furthermore, one often has to hike or backpack to see wildlife or great scenery and my aging back likes to hike with minimal weight. So I now use a so-called ‘bridge’ camera with a long non-interchangeable zoom lens: Panasonic Lumix cameras, first the FZ200 and then the FZ1000. They have zoom lenses that are 600 or 400 mm focal length but they have smaller sensors and fewer pixels (20 megapixels) compared to your usual DSLR. I found the FZ200 sensor to be too small and upgraded to the FZ1000 when it became available because its sensor is significantly larger (so-called 1” sensor). With a zoom there are no extra lenses to lug around and my aging eyes cannot discern much difference in image quality anyway. Life is full of compromises.

As you will discover if you read the trip descriptions, I am not a fan of guided tours. Almost all of our trips are self-guided, except perhaps at specific sites. I make use of reviews and online comments to determine the itinerary. Having some flexibility is also helpful. Over the past few years, we have also shied away from staying at hotels, unless absolutely necessary. We have made use of Airbnb and most of these stays have been great with few complaints. The opportunity to interact with the host and live in the community is usually much more satisfying than talking to a hotel concierge and getting a chocolate candy on the pillow.

I hope this blog inspires you to explore new places.