Asst. Professor “Surf Doctor” Steven Andrew Martin Retires with Certificate of Honor at 2022 University Ceremony

Asst. Professor “Surf Doctor” Steven Andrew Martin Retires with Certificate of Honor at 2022 University Ceremony

'Retirement' or 'Graduation'?

The grand Prince of Songkla University Retirement Ceremony (called 'Mutita Chit'), with gifts, flowers, and a gold-framed certificate, was like graduating with one final university degree, representing the start of a new chapter in life!

Asst. Professor Steven "Surf Doctor" Martin Retires with a Certificate of Honor for Service and Dedication at the September 2022 Prince of Songkla University Retirement Ceremony in Phuket, Thailand

Steven with long-time colleague and coauthor, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Raymond J. Ritchie with the Faculty of Technology and Environment

Awards and gifts from Prince of Songkla University faculty and staff

Special gifts from PSU Phuket campus faculty and staff

Faculty of International Studies Letter of Appreciation and Recommendation

Official University Letters of Recognition and Retirement

How to Conduct a Systematic Review | Online Research Presentation and Webinar | Steven A Martin, PhD

This online presentation and videotaped webinar suggests a strategy so powerful that they can lead you to master and publish scientific research papers in your chosen field of study. A systematic literature review is a ‘silver bullet’, a straightforward methodology once applied in medical research, now available in the social sciences.


New 2022 Publication | From Shades of Grey to Web of Science | Systematic Review

Martin, S. A. (2022). From shades of grey to Web of Science: A systematic review of surf tourism research in international journals (2011-2020). Journal of Sport & Tourism


Webinar | How to conduct a systematic review | 1:20:46


  • The powerful secret.
  • Identifying types of literature.
  • Inclusion and exclusion of studies.
  • Grey literature.
  • Developing annotated bibliographies.
  • Organizing files and folders.
  • Case example – Surf tourism.
  • Case example – Thai geography.
  • Conclusion – The silver bullet.
  • Suggestions and opportunities.
  • Relevant resources


Presentation slides | How to conduct a systematic review

Systematic Literature Review Infographic


  • Desk research (i.e. field research is not required).
  • Highly publishable as a research in its own right.
  • Highly citable once published.
  • Serves as a “super literature review” for future articles.
  • Mastery of the literature and subject area (long-term benefits).
  • Familiarity with scholars in the field of study.
  • Identification of knowledge gaps, hence justification of future research areas.
  • Results in a database of authors, files, references for future works.
  • Lead to future trend and meta-analyses.
  • Identify avenues for the publication of your research.


Systematic review of surf tourism research | Journal of Sport and Tourism

Examples: Systematic reviews of surf tourism research

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2012). The genesis of a new body of sport tourism literature: A systematic review of surf tourism research (1997-2011). Journal of Sport and Tourism, 17(4) 257–28

Martin, S. A. (2022). From shades of grey to Web of Science: A systematic review of surf tourism research in international journals (2011-2020). Journal of Sport & Tourism, 26(2) 125–146.


Thai geography literature review and research | Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

Martin, S. A., & Ritchie, R. J. (2020). Sourcing Thai geography literature for ASEAN and international education. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography41(1) 61–85.


Connect on Google Scholar

Connect on ResearchGate

Thank you for visiting my Systematic Review Page.

I hope you enjoyed this online research presentation and webinar. If you feel motivated to learn more about this research methodology, or would like to arrange for me to give a public talk, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Searching & Referencing for Academic Papers

Searching & Referencing for Academic Papers

805–008 Searching and Referencing | 2 credit (30 hour) online audiovisual conferencing course.

Course description: Discovering and reading literature reviews, opinion papers and research articles; composing a literature review to support a position; using scholarly writing techniques and citations following APA style.

How to Improve your Scholarly Writing – Searching and Referencing for Literature Reviews and Research Articles 

Course lecturer's resources and examples

Previously taught courses of relevance

Featured Webinar | How to develop a systematic review

Webinar | How to conduct a systematic review | 1:20:46


How to distinguish APA and other academic formatting styles

APA Manual 7th | Source: American Psychological Association (2020)

Generally, academic writing adheres to a given style guide or 'school of style'. Common examples include APA (American Psychological Association), CMS (Chicago Manual of Style) and MLA (Modern Language Association).

Example: MLA Style | My 1999 freshman paper | Toponymy of Hawaii

Many publishers of books and journals suggest the Harvard Citation Style (i.e. author-date referencing) although there is actually no official guideline or institutional connection. However, the Harvard University Press does have its own code of formatting author-date citations and reference lists.

Note that publishers of international journals often have unique citation and referencing formats.

While it is important to recognize a variety of formatting styles in academic writing and publishing, our course will focus on undergraduate students gaining proficiency in APA style.


How to develop an APA reference list – a brief Introduction

Note: a "reference list" is generally the "works cited" in your paper, while a "bibliography" might include a comprehensive list of literature relevant to your research or thesis.

APA reference example for a journal article | Source: American Psychological Association (2020)

Some examples of sources which require referencing

  • Books
  • Book chapters
  • Journal articles
  • Conference papers
  • Conference presentations
  • Websites and webpages

Worksheets for today's lesson

Due to website formatting limitations, the required APA 1/2 inch hanging indent is not shown in the examples below.

APA references | Books and book chapters

Winichakul, T. (1997). Siam mapped: A history of the geo-body of a nation. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Martin, S. A., & Blundell, D. (2017). Cultural continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), southern Taiwan. In H. Chang & A. Mona (Eds.), Religion, law and state: Cultural re-invigoration in the new age (pp. 215-246). Taipei, Taiwan: Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines.

APA reference entries for books | 4:26

APA references | Journals and other periodicals

Martin, S. A. (2011). Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu)–The last frontier of the Taiwan aborigines during the Japanese occupation on Taiwan: Ethnographic narratives of a Bunun elder. The International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies (IJAPS), 7(1) 123–142.

Martin, S. A., & Ritchie, R. J. (2020). Sourcing Thai geography literature for ASEAN and international education. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography41(1) 61–85.

APA reference entries for periodicals | 2:44

APA references | Conferences papers and presentations

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2012). Towards a surf resource sustainability index: A global model for surf site conservation and Thailand case studyProceedings of the 18th Asia Pacific Tourism Association Annual Conference (APTA) Hospitality & Tourism Education: New Tourism & New Waves (pp. 745–760). Taipei, ROC, June 26–29. Busan, Korea: School of International Tourism, Dong-A University.

Martin, S. A., & Ritchie, R. (2018). Towards an ASEAN community: A scoping study and case for teaching the geography of Thailand in the English languageProceedings of the PSU Phuket International Conference 50th Anniversary Celebration: Creativity and Innovations for Global Development (p. 54). Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand, March 11–12.


How to make APA in-text citations for sentences

APA in-text citation examples | Source: American Psychological Association (2020)

In-text references (or in-text citations) provide a source (author and year of publication) for each piece of information used in your academic writing. In-text citations are commonly placed either at the beginning or end of a sentence or paragraph to identify where information actually came from and are important in order to avoid plagiarism.

Plagiarism is the use of the published work of another person without acknowledgement and is easily avoidable by using an in-text citation to indicate who the original author/s is/are.

Worksheets for today's lesson

APA format | In-text citations, quotations, paraphrases to avoid plagiarism | 3:20


How to make an annotated bibliography

Annotated bibliography example in APA style

According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL, 2020), “Depending on the purpose of your bibliography, some annotations may summarize, some may assess or evaluate a source, and some may reflect on the source’s possible uses for the project at hand.”

Worksheets for today's lesson

APA format | Annotated bibliography and helpful advice | 6:10


How to organize research files and develop a database

Literature Review File Organization Concept


How to develop a literature review I Midterm project guidelines

Topic selection and outline

  • Write a comprehensive literature review based on the topics and annotated bibliographies as developed, discussed and approved during our previous lessons.
  • The literature review should follow the APA style for in-text citations and references.

The literature review consists of five parts

  1. A brief introduction.
  2. Three to five relevant subtopics of at least two paragraphs each.
  3. Brief discussion or conclusion highlighting key points of interest and/or knowledge gaps (if any).
  4. Brief suggestions for future research.
  5. A reference list with at least 15 sources representing journals, books, websites, etc.


  • Spacing: 1.5.
  • Font: Times New Roman 12pt.
  • Length: 1,500 to 2,000 words.
  • Referencing: APA style (American Psychological Association)


How to use Google Scholar for searching and referencing


  • Select a topic of your choice.
  • Search Google Scholar to locate 3 to 5 relevant international journal articles.
  • Conduct searches for (1) the topic and (2) relevant scholars in the field.
  • In APA format, make reference list in MS Word and email it to the instructor.


How to use ResearchGate for searching and referencing


  • Join ResearchGate.
  • Select a topic relevant to your final paper (systematic review).
  • Search ResearchGate for relevant scholars in the field.
  • Contact at least two researchers about their research.


How to use YouTube for searching and referencing

Video, documentary film and scholarly presentations: the case of YouTube in searching and referencing online educational films and videos

With digital transformations in education, online films and videos bring to light more than just content, we are exposed to – and adapt to – the use of technology in teaching and learning. For example, searching and referencing videos on YouTube suggest an awareness of search strategies one might employ while identifying diverse genres of videos and experts in a given field or topic area.

In the case of searching and referencing Greece and Asia Minor videos – free and available on YouTube – the following genres come to light and are explored.

  • Academic lectures and presentations
  • Mainstream documentary films and series
  • Diverse videos of interest
  • Animated video presentations
  • Travel videos and vlogs

Searching and Referencing | Greece and Asia Minor Documentary Film Page


  • Select a topic (it can be relevant to your final paper).
  • Search on YouTube for related videos.
  • Locate five relevant videos representing each of the genres as discussed in class, including (1) academic lectures and presentations, (2) mainstream documentary films and series, (3) diverse videos of interest, (4) animated video presentations, and (5) travel videos and vlogs.
  • Make a reference for each video which includes an active URL.

How to cite a video in APA | 1:45


How to use Wikipedia for searching and referencing | Do's and Dont's

In this lesson, we explore the power of Wikipedia in research and learn how to track down appropriate and citable references to use in our work.

  • Why we don't cite Wikipedia and how to use it as a resource

Lesson and worksheet forthcoming.


How to access academic journals and databases at the university

Many academic journals and databases require a subscription or fee to view or download articles. For students and researchers at PSU Phuket, our university has purchased subscriptions to a variety of journals and databases.

You may need to login on campus or through the Prince of Songkla University Phuket Campus Library in order to gain access. This will allow journals and databases to automatically verify the PSU IP address.

Shortist of online databases


How to conduct a systematic review | Final project

Building a foundation for long-term success in research and writing in the social sciences

Webinar | How to conduct a systematic review | 1:20:46

Presentation slides | How to conduct a systematic review

Systematic Literature Review Infographic

Systematic review of surf tourism research | Journal of Sport and Tourism

Systematic reviews of surf tourism research

Martin, S. A., & Assenov, I. (2012). The genesis of a new body of sport tourism literature: A systematic review of surf tourism research (1997-2011). Journal of Sport and Tourism, 17(4) 257–28.

Martin, S. A. (2022). From shades of grey to Web of Science: A systematic review of surf tourism research in international journals (2011-2020). Journal of Sport & Tourism, 26(2) 125–146.

Thai Geography academic literature review and research

Academic review of Thai geography literature

Martin, S. A., & Ritchie, R. J. (2020). Sourcing Thai geography literature for ASEAN and international education. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography41(1) 61–85.

How to publish papers in international journals

Coordinator : Assoc. Prof. Dr. Raymond J. Ritchie

For the scholar who studies or works in a university, doing scholarly research and publishing the findings in the form of articles in peer-reviewed international journals are some of the most important academic activities. It is important to learn how to do it yourself so you can set-up your own career.

This workshop includes a number of advanced topics regarding how to publish a paper in international journals. It is very good opportunity for learning from the experience and techniques of an experienced publisher of papers. Emphasis is on practical information on how to do it, and what Dr. Ritchie has leant from experience, that is, what works and what does not.

Searching and Referencing | Prof Dr Steven A Martin | Teaching and Learning Resources | Google Search

Forthcoming sections for teaching and learning

3 parts of this course

  1. Searching and sources
  2. Citation and referencing
  3. Annotations and literature reviews

2 required projects (midterm and final)

  1. Literature review
  2. Systematic review


  • How to include foreign language references
Searching and Referencing | Prof Dr Steven A Martin | Teaching and Learning Resources
Jewel of Travel Award Winning Essay

Jewel of Travel Award Winning Essay


By Steven A. Martin, PhD

First published as Great Expectations in 1999 by the International Honor Society, this experiential essay explores how the dream of world travel matches up with the reality.

Great expectations

As a young man in the 1980s, I was confident that the more I knew about the world, the more I would enjoy life. I dreamed of visiting the world's iconic places, having fun, and getting a global education. Then, in 1998, I met a man from the US State Department on a bus ride en route to the Dead Sea. He told me, “Travel makes you smarter but less happy.”

Jerusalem, Israel | 1998

My dream of international travel

In my early thirties, I was lucky enough to be able to realize some of those dreams. I visited the Far East and the Middle East. I paddled a boat through the Amazon Rainforest, drove a camper through the Australian Outback, and trekked through the Tibetan Plateau. I saw the Great Pyramid at Giza, skateboarded along the Great Wall of China, and saw the sunset at the Taj Mahal. I crossed the Yangtze, cruised down the Nile and studied the archaeological sites along the Indus. I visited the great museums and historical sites of London, Paris and Rome.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India | 2001

Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt | 1998

Great Wall of China | 2002

The first 10 countries

In the first three years, I visited ten countries, approaching them with a romantic and optimistic mindset. My great expectations were fulfilled – I was seeing the world, having fun, and living my dream of travel.

Surfing in the Bay of Biscay, Spain | 1993

10 to 20 countries

With the next ten countries, I became increasingly aware of the serious issues facing our planet. The more I saw, the more I needed to see.  At the same time, I felt increasingly concerned about the many interconnected threats to our world – such as climate change, pollution of the air, soil, and sea, economic inequality, terrorism, racism and religious bigotry.

Napo River, Ecuador, in the Amazon Rainforest | 2003

Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa | 1997

20 to 30 countries

Between 20 and 30 countries, I was in a process of personal realization.

Along with fulfilling my colorful dream of world travel, I had directly encountered appalling acts of deliberate pollution, manufactured poverty, environmental disruption and human suffering.

In every corner of our world, I found a one-sided, undeclared war against nature. I realized that my own jet-set carbon footprint was contributing to the problem, and that I, like almost everyone else, did not know how to be part of the solution.

Johannesburg's South-western township (Soweto) South Africa | 1997

30 to 40 countries

Beyond thirty countries, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. My enthusiasm for travel was tempered by my growing sense of impending doom for our beautiful world. Everywhere I met experts who told me that our world was imperiled, if not already damaged beyond repair, and there seemed to be very little I or anyone else could do about it.

Soweto, South Africa | 1997

Santo Domingo, Ecuador | 2004

Surat Thani, Thailand | 2007

Global issues

I had seen DDT powder scooped into baskets with bare hands in markets in Ecuador, and found gold- and oil-mining companies spilling mercury and lead into Amazon tributaries. I had witnessed organized religion tearing apart a Holy Land.

I had endured air pollution in China so thick that I could feel my life expectancy drop with each breath. I had witnessed violence, sickness and hunger in India and Africa. I had seen sewage, plastics, and nuclear waste dumped into our seas and oceans.

Everywhere I had met people who were concerned about these issues but could offer no solutions.

Cambodia's great lake, the Tonle Sap | 2007

I began to realize that the troubles of others are also my own. How can anyone be truly happy when others are suffering? How can anyone in the world be safe as long as there are people – or corporations – damaging our health and the global environment?

Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, China | 2000

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa | 1997

Mekong Delta, Vietnam | 2014

Burden of knowledge

Travel has taught me that I must, without surrender, be grateful for whatever happens.

Albert Einstein explained that the most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is all comprehensible. Those who want to understand the current state and complexity of today's world are destined to carry the burden of that knowledge.

As I confront the geopolitical, economic and environmental issues that are harming our species and our planet, I inevitably feel deeply concerned and accountable. The more I know, the more I owe.

New Delhi, India | 2001

Coca, Ecuador | 2003

Xian, China | 1995

On the flight home from a trip around the world, I gazed through the airplane window, and reflected on my travels. I had explored forty countries and heard the tones of as many languages. I had spent my life savings and learned many things about our world, some of them fantastic, others unsettling and several terrifying.

I had to agree with Shakespeare that the jewel of experience comes at an infinite price.

Mount Everest, Tibet | June 2000

The Jewel of Travel was originally published as Great Expectations, in the 1999 International Honor Society Anthology Nota Bene. The essay also won top honors in the 1999 Hawaii Community College Literary Competition and the 1999 State of Hawaii League for Innovation Literary Competition.

I hope you enjoy my photos and the information in the links provided.

Thank you,

–Steven Martin

On expedition to the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in western Amazonia

Mekong Delta Exploratory Research

Mekong Delta Exploratory Research


Over the past 10 years living and teaching in Thailand, one of my favorite past times is exploring the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

The GMS an intriguing mix of countries, brimming with diverse peoples and historical geographies, offering countless and affordable adventures.

Among my most memorable travels are those taken in 2014 and 2015 to the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam.

Friendly faces on the Mekong Delta | Click to Southeast Asian Civilization

Photos on this page link to the Southeast Asian Civilization course.

Mekong Delta, Vietnam | Click to enlarge

Agriculture and Fisheries

Mekong Delta is an expansive floodplain of 40,000 sq. km. populated by over 17 million people across 13 provinces. It is responsible for 60% of Viet Nam’s rice production (90% of this is exported) and 60% of the country’s fruit.

There is a large export industry of fish, and 65% of fishery production is sent to the USA. While there is a considerable fishing fleet working the offshore areas around the Delta, the majority of production is based in aquaculture. For the most part, local peoples eat the small fish and sell the big fish.

Mekong Delta food environment

Other important commodities include coconut products and honey. A burgeoning tourism industry is evident in nearly all eras in the Delta, ranging from individuals to small groups to mass tourism.

Exploratory research on the Mekong Delta

Topography and Land Reclamation

Once reaching Viet Nam, the Mekong splits into two main branches at the Delta. The north branch divides into four distributaries and the south branch into three distributaries.

The Delta consists of hundreds of islands formed over millennia of sedimentary deposits; an untold number of waterways create an exotic and dangerous maze of jungles and swamps.

Land reclamation is evident throughout the Delta, with gravel and dirt-laden barges destined for low-lying properties and canal banks. Farmers also dredge local canals every few years and use the silt to reinforce the sides. Busy barge-based cranes used for large-scale dredging of the main river branches are nearly always in view on the horizon.

The ancient network of rural mangrove-lined canals invite visitors to reflect on the country's enigmatic past, while the new palm-lined highway to Saigon represents the fast lane the country is taking to its future at the heart of the economically vibrant and socially diverse ASEAN community.

Crane loading a barge with gravel in the Delta

Vietnamese barge transporting soil for land reclamation on the Mekong Delta

Faith and Religion

There is a heritage of Spanish, Portuguese, French, and to some degree, American missionary influence, and this is evident in Vietnamese language, culture, architecture and religion. For example, Catholic and other denominational Christian churches speckle the banks of the Delta and constitute as much as 15% of the religious base.

However, 60% of the Delta population follows a type of ancestor worship and this may be attributed to an age-old relationship with Chinese culture.

Faith and religion on the Delta

The Delta Road

The government opened up the Mekong in recent years, completing the ‘Delta Road’, a collaborative effort with the Japanese, and this was engineered in part to keep the Delta’s produce fresh and undamaged, particularly rice, fruit and seafood, when they are transported to Saigon overland.

These new transport networks are key as the traditional floating markets are becoming impractical. Thus, there is an ongoing shift from a water-based trade economy to a land-based export economy.

Historically, there were much smaller human populations in the Delta due to the dangers associated with snake and crocodile-infested swamps.

Traditional Delta transport

The "Delta Road" represents an ongoing shift from a water-based trade economy to a land-based export economy


Winter is the dry season on the Delta and the rainy period is normally during the summer, although the Delta is indeed south of the typhoon belt which impacts central Viet Nam and the Red River area further north.

The water level is higher during the rainy season, and this ‘wet time’ is utilized for fishing, while the ‘dry time’ is best for vegetables and potatoes. Climate change is evident and local farmers explain that nowadays the seasons are not so distinct.

The biodiversity of the region is still wide-open to exploration and inquiry, with thousands of new species discovered in recent years. However, there is an unfortunate war-torn legacy of ‘agent orange’, the chemical defoliant dropped by American forces upstream of the Delta, and as many as 2 million people are affected by it today.

One of the many canals on the Mekong Delta

The watery world of the Mekong delta, Vietnam


The Delta was once part of the Funan (68-550 AD) and Chenla (550-760 AD) empires with ties to early Chinese trade networks, and later saw Champa settlements (associated with central Vietnam) and Khmer settlements (associated with Cambodia). Some Khmer still live in the west of the delta region near Cambodia.

According to my Delta guide, the Khmer never actually left the region; rather they mixed and integrated with the North Vietnamese (i.e., the ‘Kinh’ ethnic group) who migrated to the Delta over time.

The feelings of the North Vietnamese about their Delta settlement are represented in the local music which carries sad tones and lyrics, voicing their homesick emotions.

There was also a significant era of assimilation 300 years ago, when Chinese, Vietnamese and Khmer cultures mixed together.

Personal interview with Sombo Manara | Champa Kingdom

Interview with Prof. Dr. Sombo Manara, a leading expert in Khmer ancient history. The interview took place at the Po Nagar Temple in Nha Trang, Vietnam, a 7th - 12th century Hindu temple and vestige of the once powerful Champa Kingdom.

Cham is an Austronesian language, part of a super-family of languages generally associated with the seafaring peoples of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Visit Chasing Jade: Archaeology and the Batanes Islands Cultural Atlas to learn more about Austronesian prehistory.

Life and settlement on the Mekong Delta

Cultural Stereotypes

Vietnam is polarized by Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south, two sprawling urban and cultural centers with unique cultural attributes.

Stereotypically, the north and central populations distinguish themselves as thinking, planning, hard-working, and saving for the future.

In contrast, and as my Delta guide, Nguyễn Minh Phương, himself from the central region, put it, "The people of the Delta live for today, and are sometimes typecast by their northern counterparts as being reliant on the good weather, having strong physical features, and a sweet palate."

Daily life on the Delta

Life on the Delta Road

Next generation on the Delta

Water color painting for sale on the Delta

Travelers, Traders and Invaders

The Mekong Delta is a beautiful place to visit, an exotic tropical landscape steeped in ancient tradition with modern geographical significance. At 4,350 km, the Mekong is the world’s 12th-longest river, the lifeblood of mainland Southeast Asia – a trans-boundary network known as the ‘Greater Mekong Subregion’ (GMS).

The Mekong derives its name from the Sanskirt word ‘ganga’ after the Ganges River in India, and the toponym evolved in Thai and Laotian languages to ‘Mae Nam Khong’, literally ‘mother water Khong’.

The mouth of the Mekong called to traders, invaders, and great cultures and philosophers from India and China, providing them safe harbor and entry to upstream riches, including Cambodia’s fish-laden lake, the ‘Tonle Sap’, and the Khmer Kingdom at Angkor.

Coined by the French as "Indochina", friends, foods and freedoms await in the mighty Mekong Delta, an eclectic blend of culture, race and religion along Southeast Asia’s greatest of rivers.

Vietnam | Modified from: | Click to enlarge

I hope you enjoy my photos and the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to travel to the Mekong Delta, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Special thanks to my Delta guide, Nguyễn Minh Phương for his time and insight, which helped to make this short article possible.

If you’re traveling to Ho Chi Minh City, he can be reached at:

Nguyễn Minh Phương, certified Mekong Delta guide

Nguyễn Minh Phương, certified Mekong Delta guide

Surfing Experience & Lifestyle

Surfing Experience & Lifestyle

Surfing Experience and Lifestyle

Surfing is not just a sport, but also a way of life, with a wordless philosophy communicated effortlessly through photographs that inspire many people who have never even touched a surfboard.

Surfers live with the ocean, rising and falling with its waves. Their naturally photogenic lives are enriched not only by the healthy exercise of life at the beach, but also by the intercultural experiences that come with traveling around the world to find the best breaks.

In my early twenties, while working as an assistant chef, I began to look for ways to bring the surfing lifestyle into my work. Surfing was my favorite activity; that was what I did before and after work, and on my days off.

So I asked myself: Could I find work at the beach, or in the surf, and get paid for being in my chosen element?

Sadly, I was not good enough at surfing to be a professional surfer, but I had developed a personal philosophy of doing what I love, and loving what I do – and surfing was clearly what I loved to do.

I asked around at the five-star hotel where I’d been working, and sure enough, I was able to transfer to a new position at the same hotel, working with the beach and pool department as a lifeguard. From that day forward, my life changed.

I was getting paid to train as a lifeguard and swim on the beach every day, and encouraged to have fun surfing on my breaks.

Do what you love, and love what you do. Great advice!

Steven 'Surf Doctor' Martin experiencing the surfing lifestyle at the Kahalu'u beach house in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Lifeguarding and Water Safety

After working on the beach and making ocean rescues for about three years, I applied for a full-time job as a Hawaii County Lifeguard. In 1992, I was offered an opportunity to attend lifeguard training at Huntington Beach, California, and soon become a certified California State Lifeguard, stationed at San Clemente, Orange Coast District.

Once I started college in 1994 and learned that I could study abroad in wave-rich countries like South Africa, Spain, and Taiwan, the idea of combining work, study and other life pursuits with surfing opened up a world of possibilities.

In 1998, after good day of surfing in Tel-Aviv, Israel, I made the decision to return home to Hawaii and start a surfing school. Based on my experience in lifeguarding, I named the school "Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors" (HLSI), and set up shop at a beach house near Kahaluu Beach Park in Kailua-Kona (see photos below).

Water Safety and Lifeguarding in Hawaii

Kahalu'u Beach Park in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors | Surf Lessons Hawaii

Over the next 5 years, I earned a living teaching others how to surf, and met a variety of interesting people, including international celebrities, movie stars and astronauts from NASA.

The surf school was an instant success. Everyone wanted a piece of the action. Before long every major hotel in the area was calling me to book lessons for their guests, and I had contacts up and down the coast. My friends and I had people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and abilities.

Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors (HLSI) beach house at Kahaluu Beach Park in Kailua-Kona, Big Island of Hawaii

Most kids wanted to surf when they came to Hawaii, and most parents didn’t really know much about surfing and were terribly worried at the idea of it. So HLSI was there to provide a short, safe, surfing experience, and everyone got what they wanted.

"Big Monday" at the beach house | Kahaluu Beach Park, Kailua-Kona, Big Island

Before long the school started to attract celebrities. Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston were at the house, Steven Seagal's kids with his ex-wife, actress Kelly LeBrock, Jeff Bridges with his three daughters. We treated the stars like family, barbecuing on the beach or taking them to local restaurants to eat after the day’s surfing. They loved it, and so did we.

'High Surf Advisory' at the Kahaluu beach house

The Space Ambassadors | Surfing with NASA Astronauts  

Surf Lessons Hawaii | Commander Scott Horowitz (lower right) and Mission Specialist Pat Forrester (lower center) and the STS-105 Crew

One morning after a volunteer project at Kahaluu Beach Park in Kona, Hawaii, I met Scott Horowitz, four-time commander of the Space Shuttle.

Scott had just a few minutes to learn to surf, and so I geared him up, and we hit the water. Scott was a surf instructor's dream, naturally enough. As an astronaut, he had been selected for both physical strength and learning ability – so he was very close to the perfect student.

With Astronaut Scott Horowitz | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

After his first wave, Scott exclaimed, "Surfing is out of this world!"

One thing led to another and over the next year I found myself imagining the entire shuttle crew to coming to the Big Island of Hawaii to surf and appear at local schools.

The next year Scott and fellow astronaut Pat Forrester came to Hawaii, officially representing the NASA Space Program, and appearing at schools across the island and catching a few waves.

I wrote a short article named, "The Space Ambassadors" to share the experience in the Kona Views Magazine.

NASA Astronaut Hawaii Appearances 2001 Press Release | West Hawaii

NASA Astronaut Appearance Video | Shown to Big Island students during the Hawaii tour

Astronaut Scott Horowitz | Big Island of Hawaii students

Scott Horowitz | Big Island students in Kailua-Kona

Mission Specialist Pat Forrester | Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA)

Astronaut Scott Horowitz | Learning to surf in Kailua-Kona

Surf Resource Sustainability and Conservation

When it was time to start Graduate school and do my PhD, once again I found that surfing was my ticket to combining work, education and lifestyle. I wrote my MBA thesis on surf tourism in Thailand.

The more I traveled, surfed, and learned about the environmental issues at surf sites and other coastal areas, the more I was moved to study the social, economic and environmental significance of surfing.

After my MBA, I chose to do a Ph.D. in Environmental Management, dedicating three years of my life to researching surf site sustainability and developing the Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI).

Currently, I am still surfing and sharing the surfing stoke with my students in Environmental Studies at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand.

Steven's 'surfer-researcher lifestyle' was featured in Japan's Nalu Magazine | 2008 article by Riku Emoto | Click to view...

International Research Publications

Visit my Surf Tourism Research page for a complete list of publications on surf site sustainability and conservation, including international peer-reviewed journal papers, book chapters, and popular magazine articles. Select highlights and links below:

Conducting research on "Surf Resource System Boundaries"

I hope you enjoy my photos and the information in the links provided.

If you feel motivated to learn more about these or other surfing experiences, or would like to arrange for me to give a public talk, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven 'Surf Doctor' Martin

Lifeguarding & Ocean Safety

Lifeguarding & Ocean Safety



At 15 years old, arriving in Hawaii for the first time, I was captivated by the Pacific – and the ocean became my life-long teacher. The surfing lifestyle led me to health, nature, and freedom.

Surfing was what I loved to do, and over time I found myself increasingly "Doing what I love, and loving what I do."

At Waikiki with Lifeguards Hawaii State

My surfing lifestyle led me to train and become qualified as an ocean lifeguard/Water Safety Officer. Later I traveled the world as a surfer, and eventually settled down at a university on a tropical island (Phuket, Thailand), earned a PhD in surf site conservation, and became a professional environmental researcher.

Through my experiences as a water safety professional, I learned important first-responder skills, such as First Aid and CPR. Later, I became an American Red Cross instructor.

Practical Experience and Professional Service

The sport of surfing has inherent risks, and practical experience and an understanding of ocean safety go hand and hand. It is common for surfers seek advanced water safety or lifeguard training, especially if they are thinking of working at the beach. My case was no exception, and now I reflect on forty years of ocean experience in twenty-five countries, including five years' service as a Hawaii County Water Safety Officer, and seasonal service as a California State Park Lifeguard. Although lifeguarding was not my only career, it has been a continuous theme in personal and professional life.

In 1987, I was introduced to instructor programs with American Red Cross through a Hawaiian friend at the beach, and this was when I first became a teacher. I continued teaching these courses until 1997. Mainly I taught courses in Advanced Lifesaving, Lifeguarding, First-aid, and CPR.

Phuket Rip Currents Poster | Steven Martin

Surf experience highlights in my life include participating in amateur surf contests and as an official surf contest judge in Hawaii, North America, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. These and other experiences culminated in the idea to create an international surfing school in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in 1998.

I have saved over 100 lives in ocean rescues, the majority of them being off duty, while surfing or teaching surfing.

Lifeguarding at Kahaluu and White Sands (Magic Sands) Beach Parks in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 1985-1991

The 1980s in Hawaii was a formative period in the development of public water safety services. Many popular beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii, such as White Sands (Magic Sands) Beach in Kailua-Kona, did not have lifeguard stations or towers. The traditional Hawaiian name for the site is La'a Loa.

The photos shared here are from my Surfing Scrapbook.

Lifeguarding White Sands Beach (La'a Loa) | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 1989

Lifeguarding White Sands Beach (La'a Loa) | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 1990

White Sands Point (La'a Loa) | Kailua-Kona, Hawaii | 2000 | Click to "A Brief History of Surfing"

Kahaluu Beach Park | County of Hawaii

Kuemanu Heiau (surfing shrine) | Kahaluu Beach Park, Big Island of Hawaii | Click enlarge

Students learning to surf at the Kuemanu Heiau surfing shrine at Kahaluu Beach Park

Lifeguarding at Hapuna Beach State Park in South Kohala, Hawaii, with Lifeguards Hawaii State

Hapuna State Beach has a long history of drowning and near-drowning incidents. During the 1970s and 80s, while Hawaii County provided lifeguard services at County beach parks, State beach parks were left unguarded.

Hapuna State Beach was particularly dangerous due to the deep water and north-west exposure, making the beach wide open to large and powerful north-west ocean swells during the winter months.

In 1990, the State opened a contract for private lifeguarding organizations to provide water safety services at Hapuna for the first time. Honolulu-based Lifeguards Hawaii State, owned and operated by John Quincy Adams (aka, JQA), took charge of the lifeguard program for first three years.

Hawaii County lifeguard tower at Hapuna Beach State Park

Following the precedent set in January 1992, when the City and County of Honolulu was elected to place lifeguards at the notoriously dangerous Keawaula Beach on Oahu, an agreement was soon reached on the Big Island between Hawaii County and the State of Hawaii, leading to County lifeguards being stationed at Hapuna State Beach.

I was fortunate enough to be active during this formative period in the Big Island's water safety programs, having worked for the County, as well as Lifeguards Hawaii State.

Winter 1992 | Lifeguarding at Hapuna Beach State Park | Lifeguards Hawaii State

The first lifeguard tower at Hapuna Beach State Park in South Kohala, Hawaii | Lifeguards Hawaii State

California State Park Lifeguarding in San Clemente, Orange Coast State District

Just prior to County guards being officially stationed at Hapuna, I was accepted to the California State Park Lifeguard Training Program at Huntington Beach. Luckily, I survived the rigorous training and testing period at Huntington and got hired as a California State Park Lifeguard in San Clemente, Orange Coast District – a great place to be a surfer-lifeguard!

San Clemente was home to the surf beaks known collectively as "Trestles" at San Onofre State Beach, and being from out of state, I was allowed to camp and use the facilities at Trestles Headquarters (THQ) overlooking the breaks during the summer of 1992.

Surfing and Ocean Safety in Phuket, Thailand

After moving to the resort island of Phuket, Thailand, in 2007, to study for my MBA in Hospitality and Tourism Management, I became interested in ocean safety at local beaches.

During my first week on the island, I made several surf-related rescues at unguarded beaches. That year, during the Southwest Monsoon (May to October), I rescued five tourists in the surf, and decided to conduct water safety research on the island. My study found that surfers were unintentionally acting as surrogate lifeguards at Phuket beaches, assisting tourists and the general public who got into trouble in the surf.

I wrote several articles for a local magazine on related subjects, created the Phuket Ocean Safety Guide, and in April of 2010, the research made the front page of the Phuket Gazette. I also discussed this issue in my Master's (MBA) thesis, "Coastal resource assessment for surf tourism in Thailand," and on local radio.

Water Safety and Lifeguarding Experience

1991-2019 Lifeguards Hawaii State

  • Water Safety Consultant

1998-2003 Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors (HLSI)

  • Surfing and Ocean Safety Instructor

1987-1997 American Red Cross, Hawaii Island Chapter

  • Instructor in Lifeguarding, Swimming, First Aid and CPR
  • Water Safety Instructor (WSI)

1991-1992 California State Park Lifeguard

  • State Lifeguard – California Department of Parks and Recreation

1985-1991 County of Hawaii

  • Water Safety Officer (WSO II)

1992-1993 Boy Scouts of America

  • Boy Scout Merit Badge Instructor in First Aid and CPR

1988-1990 Ocean Sports Waikoloa

  • First Aid and CPR Instructor

1987-1997 Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Instructor

  • Swimming, Water Safety and Lifeguard Instructor
  • First Aid and CPR Instructor

1988-1992 Parker High School, Hawaii

  • Swimming Coach, Water Safety and Lifeguard Instructor
  • First Aid and CPR Instructor

Letters of Recommendation | Water Safety

Thank you for visiting my Lifeguarding and Ocean Safety Page.

I hope you enjoy the photos and the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to learn more about ocean safety, lifeguarding or surf tourism, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Egypt and Israel

Egypt and Israel


The only time that I ever really thought I was going to die was in Egypt.

Not from militants, drowning in the Nile, or heat stroke – It was the food!

Sailing south on the Nile from the Aswan Dam, I ate something that I shouldn't have. In a half coma for 3 days, my eyes transfixed on banks of the Nile as the boat drifted downstream with the current, I watched men watering their herds and women washing their clothes.

I thought about the great explorers of yesteryear who had perished on this very stretch of river, and never before did my life seem so insignificant.

Hieroglyphic Art | Egypt 1998

The Pyramid of Khafre | c. 2570 BC

After crossing the Sinai Desert by bus, my camera and film were held hostage at the Israeli border.

I was somewhat annoyed while the Israeli police X-ray scanned my film with heavy-duty equipment more than a dozen times. Once they were finished, the film was damaged, and I never bothered to share the remaining pictures with anyone.

The good news was that I eventually passed through the border near Palestine and was on my way to Jerusalem in time to find a hostel for the night.

The photos shown here are from the original 1998 prints dug out of a shoebox.

Click on photos to enlarge.

The Giza Plateau

Arriving at Giza for the first time | 1998

Great Sphinx of Giza

The Pyramid of Khafre

The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) | c. 2580–2560 BC

The Nile | Lifeblood of Egypt

The Nile | Aswan Dam

Sunset on the Nile

Traveling south toward Cairo

The Nile | Cairo


Shopkeeper near Aswan

Spices for sale near Aswan

Felucca on the Nile

Pyramid of Djoser | c. 2665 BC

Hieroglyph | Egyptian tomb

Egyptian Hieroglyphics


Valley of the Kings


Western Wall | Temple Mount | Jerusalem

Western Wall | Jerusalem

Wedding photos | Jerusalem city wall

Jewish culture | Western Wall

Christian Priest | Bethlehem

Temple Mount and Mount of Olives | Jerusalem

Masada Cableway and the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea

Israel/Lebanon Coast at Rosh Hanikra

Israel Lebanon Border | Rosh Hanikra

Thank you for visiting my Egypt and Israel page.

I'll be adding new content to this page over the coming months, including my near-death experience on the Nile, crossing the Sinai Peninsula in a public van with 12 Palestinians, and surfing in Tel-Aviv, Israel.

–Steven Martin

South America

South America


Costa Rica was a popular destination among surfers – And I had plenty of good reasons to study in Costa Rica.

I wanted travel, fun, romance, adventure, and most of all, to surf the legendary waves that I had heard about.

The study abroad program I picked was with the University of Nevada at Reno and University Study Abroad Consortium (USAC), an organization which represented a number of US universities and guaranteed accreditation.

Studying abroad with University Study Abroad Consortium (USAC) | Costa Rica 1996

Studying abroad in Costa Rica was just the beginning of what turned out to be the trip of a lifetime. South America – the New World – was too close to not see, and I found a cheap airline ticket with stops in Panama, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

Click on photos to enlarge.

A few hours from Panama City

South America offered the romance of a new world, a vast continent where the most sensual languages in the world, Spanish and Portuguese, were spoken. I couldn’t wait to get started.

My flight landed in Quito, Ecuador, and I first went looking for the museum built on the equatorial line. A team from the French Academy of Sciences had surveyed the area in 1743 to find the exact line of the equator, giving the country a new name as a result...

Panama Canal

Quito | Ecuador

Standing at the Equator | Quito

Surf at Pichilemu | Chile

Fishers at Pichilemu | Chile

Aconcagua | Chile/Argentina border

Mar Del Plata | Argentina

Whale Research | Uruguay

Surf beach | Uruguay

Checking the surf near Rio | Brazil

Rio de Janeiro | Brazil

Saquarema | Brazil

South America | 1996 Travel Journal

South America | 1996 Travel Journal

Asst Prof Dr Steven A Martin offers the Faculty of International Studies’ 1st FIS Research Seminar at Prince of Songkla University

Asst Prof Dr Steven A Martin offers the Faculty of International Studies’ 1st FIS Research Seminar at Prince of Songkla University

An Introduction to Q and A Sharing in Research – Publication and Resource Strategies for Publishing in International Journals

Writing articles for international journals

On Wednesday October 9th, 2019, the Faculty of International Studies organized a seminar led by Asst Prof Dr Steven Martin aimed at sharing and fostering dialogue and knowledge on how to conduct appropriate research for publication in international journals.

Faculty of International Studies (FIS) Research Seminar at Prince of Songkla University | Click to FIS News Online...

The seminar received broad interest from teachers and staff, and the Faculty of International Studies (FIS) plans to host future workshops on research and publication at the newly opened Research Room 3302, Floor 3, Building 3.