2014

Destination Arrival
1 Manila, The Philippines December 2, 2014
2 El Nido, The Philippines December 3, 2014
3 Secret Lagoon, Palawan December 4, 2014
4 Big Lagoon, Palawan December 5, 2014
5 Puerto Princesa, Palawan December 7, 2014
6 Bali, Indonesia December 8, 2014
7 Dili, East Timor December 9, 2014
8 Bacau, East Timor December 11, 2014
9 Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei December 13, 2014

Monsooners: Gareth “The Guvnor” Johnson, Samantha “FML” Kay Miller, Dave “Tarzan” Zhou, Alfred “20 Questions” Yeung, Tan “Lieutenant Tan” Nguyen, June “Mamabear” Kao, James “Leaps of Faith” Stephens, Lilliane “High Stakes” Ng, Kevin “Rabies” Zhao, Mariam “The Queen” Dar, Jenny “Ayurveda” Chu, Gordon “The Trainer” Pan, Anthony “The Artist” Lui, Christina “Detours” Gee, Eric “Where’s The Party Yaar?” Chen, Adison “One Shoe” Song, Tim “GoFlow” Chen, Jennifer “The Nomad Strawberry” Li, Christina “Conference Calls” Elise

Guest Star and Loyal Monsooner: Andrew “Hot Wheels” Chang

Remarks: “It has been a great privilege to travel with the Monsoon Diaries.  They live, breathe, and thrive by ‘taking the road less traveled.’  In other words, they travel without maximal comfort, and with ever-fluid and constantly tinkered itineraries.  If we can take that leap of faith away from the ‘resort’ experience, what we experience with the Monsoon Diaries is invaluable: the chance to witness wildly beautiful landscapes, to make human connections with our global neighbors, and to learn exactly what we ourselves are made of.  It is absolutely worth not having constant 3G network, or even having a flush toilet.

Three people deserve special recognition.  Calvin Sun is the heart and soul of the Monsoon Diaries.  All these trips are possible only with his vision and enthusiasm, and the strength of his personality draws together all sorts of people who share that willingness to see what’s out there.  ‘Taking the road less traveled’ is never easy, but with Calvin, it’ll never be lonely or boring. Gareth Johnson is our logistics guru and founder of YPT.  He is outgoing, brash, friendly, and incredibly worldly.   Without a doubt, he will get us where we need to go. And without a doubt there is a madness to his method.  Every beer with him is a roulette of conversation topics, from his wild travel exploits to a deeply personal discussion of matters of the heart.  Bing Carullo is our administrative and logistics coordinator.  She anchors the group with her confident and calm demeanor, and is ever ready to provide information and support for our individual endeavors.  Many impromptu activities were possible only with her help.  On a personal level, Bing is as friendly and sweet as they come, and it is a pleasure getting to know her.” – Tan Nguyen

“Thanks again for the opportunity to travel with you all…it was such a wonderful experience.” – James Stephens

“13 cool kids + 1 army jeep in East Timor…can’t get crazier than this!” – Tim Chen

“Thanks for a good time Monsoon Diaries :-)” – Lilliane Ng

“Having withdrawals” – Mariam Dar

“Thanks for the trip. I’ve meet some incredible people and had some unforgettable experiences during our travels.” – Anthony Lui

“How we roll out in one of the NEWEST COUNTRY of the world” – Eric Chen

“Missing…monsooning” – Jenny Chu

“For the first few days since coming back from SE Asia, I was suffering from a case of the post-vacation blues.  I probably wasn’t ready to leave sunny SE Asia and return to the drudgery of my day-to-day ‘real’ life.  But what I’ve come to believe is that a big reason why the trip was so fantastic was because everyday I was hanging with fantastic people like you.  I am reminded that there are also fantastic people in my ‘real’ life, and they too are making my life great.  Now, I am past my post-vacation blues, and things are generally swell.  I have great memories from the trip, and I hope I can remember this trip’s lesson of surrounding myself with fantastic people in the real world.

It has been a true privilege to meet and travel with you all, and I hope to see you again in any part of the world.” – Tan Nguyen

“Flawless weekend…yes, I said flawless…don’t let that get to your head” – Jennifer Li

“It’s been an amazing journey together over the last two weeks…Homebound after an amazing trip.” – Alfred Yeung

“Thanks for letting me monsoon with you, Calvin! I definitely had a great experience seeing Southeast Asia with you. Sorry I couldn’t explore East Timor with you, it was just a little bit too much for me. Hope the rest of your trip is going well, and maybe we’ll be able to monsoon again in the future.” – Kevin Zhao

“[Baucau]: one of the best nights hands down” – Tim Chen

“It’s been 10 years, back with 16 semi-strangers and exploring this wondrous city with fresh eyes” – Mariam Dar

“Calvin, Thank you for the experience” – Christina Gee

“Live life like a movie for 10 days, then snap back to reality!” – Adison Song

 

adriatic  
Destination Arrival
1 Split, Croatia May 13, 2014
2 Neum, Bosnia & Heregovina May 14, 2014
3 Dubrovnik, Croatia May 15, 2014
4 Bari, Italy May 17, 2014
5 Naples, Italy May 18, 2014
6 Positano, Italy May 19, 2014
7 Pompeii, Italy May 21, 2014

caribbean

 

Destination Arrival
1 Cancun, Mexico April 23, 2014
2 Havana, Cuba April 24, 2014
3 Cienfuegos, Cuba April 26, 2014
4 Santa Clara, Cuba April 27, 2014
5 Trinidad, Cuba April 28, 2014
6 Havana, Cuba April 30, 2014
7 Nassau, The Bahamas May 3, 2014
8 Ocho Rios, Jamaica May 5, 2014

Monsooners: Gareth “The Guvnor” Johnson, Jan Elma “Green Lights” Ferrer, Jan Christian “The Warrior” Ferrer, Anonymous “Splinters” Desi, Anderson “All-Star” Lee, Sam “The Honeybadger” Wong, Jason “The Rock” Ea, Laima “Fifth Amendment” Tazmin, Samantha Kay “Alice” Miller, Cathy “CIA” Cao, Christine “Surgeon” Park, Vivian “DJ” Trinh, Andy “The Dentist” Tran, David “Tarzan” Zhou, Justin “Fedora” Huang, Gabino “The Ambassador” Chu, Leslie “Sea Urchin” Auquilla-Cabrera, Joy “Make it So” Achounjei, Steve “Iron Man” Su, Siddhi “Princess Badass” Mittal, Alfred “Umbrellas” Yeung, Edmund “The Translator” Fong, Nicholas “The Wise Man” Chong, Adam “The Vet” Murphy

Remarks: “I had no idea what to expect in Cuba and after spending just a week there, I already want to be back. So many misconceptions dispelled and lessons learnt by awesome tour guides who had an answer for every stupid/ ignorant question I had. I was never a fan of traveling with a tour group but this was a lovely experience. It was nice meeting all you guys! @monsoondiaries @youngpioneer” — Nicholas Chong

“Such a beautiful country with so much history… too many pictures from one of my best trips ever… Here is my best batch from the DSLR… More pictures coming” – Edmund Fong

“Easily one of the best and most forbidden trips I have ever been on. Being without Internet and phone was a struggle at first, but the disconnect quickly gave way to an amazing appreciation of the local people and culture as well as the formation of everlasting bonds of friendship. Cuba libre para todos!” – Steve Su

“Welp, despite the anomaly of getting my U.S. passport stamped by Cuban immigration officials upon entering/exiting Havana, I am back! Fell head over heels for Cuba but home is home is home (especially when you’re not sure they’ll welcome you in). More pictures to follow…” – Jan Ferrer

“Made it out of Cuba [and] had an incredible time! Refreshing to be disconnected from all the distractions, phone, email, social media; I appreciated things so much more. I spoke to so many locals gained a lot of perspective; Cubans are beautiful people.

Cuba is misunderstood by America; safest I have ever felt on any vacation this far. And shout out to my new lifetime friends Christine and Sam — my roomies my girls. . . . Lol the experience was incredible, and humbling, got to see the Cuban clinic! Plus I have no voice but had an epic time. Oh and that didn’t stop me from walking and marching in the Labor Day parade. My home stay mom gave me a wooden cane…!” – Leslie Auquilla Cabrera

“We all have our different travel styles and you’ve developed a culture that’s awesome. Having said that, I would totally still go for another monsoon trip, given the chance.” – Nicholas Chong

“You have created something really special – it is likely that I never would have seen Poland/Ukraine/Cuba had your vision not been the impetus to booking those trips, not to mention the invaluable friendships that form from sharing such a wonderfully intense period of time together. Case in point, all the different configurations of reunions you guys have had in the month since Cuba, Vee Em extending her family’s hospitality, etc… yep, truly something special.” – Jan Ferrer

“Made it though US customs so I wanted to say that with the proper planning Cuba is an amazing country to visit.

– Its beautiful and the people are great.

– Its a country that is seemingly stuck in the 50s so it was a great experience riding the classic cars and walking past beautiful mansions/buildings from the early 1900s.

– No internet for over 10 days was liberating

– The company through Cuba was great and I made a number of new friendships during the trip.

– I was able to dive some untouched reef walls in Trinidad with swimthroughs with a young divemaster who wanted to play professional football.

– Drove a classic car though the cobblestone towns and countryside

– rode classic chevrolet convertibles from the 50s through the Havana coast. Fun.

– Jumped over a waterfall and walked the Malecon at sunset.

– Partied in an underground cave with no ventilation.

– Found out the classic Cuban sandwich doesn’t have pork in it.

– Coca Cola is everywhere, even in Cuba.

– Oh and the cigars…. ridiculous! Plenty of hardworking people in Cuba and I hope that slowly their economic conditions will continue to improve. The improvements and progress can already be seen coming from Europe and Canada. Back to the daily grind and pictures soon!” — Edmund Fong

“Just got back from vacationing in Cuba. This one is going down in the record books. What an incredible experience and I couldn’t have asked for better people to share it with. I encourage everyone to experience it for themselves!” – Joy Achounjei

southamerica

Destination Arrival
1 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil April 10, 2014
2 Fos de Iguacu, Brazil April 12, 2014
3 Ciudad de Este, Paraguay April 13, 2014
4 Puerto Iguazu, Argentina April 13, 2014
5 Buenos Aires, Argentina April 14, 2014
6 Mendoza, Argentina April 16, 2014
7 Santiago, Chile April 16, 2014
8 Valparaiso, Chile April 17, 2014
9 La Paz, Bolivia April 18, 2014
10 Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia April 19, 2014
11 Quito, Ecuador April 21, 2014
12 Lima, Peru April 22, 2014

Monsooners: Angela “The Lieutenant” Chen, Jun “Poker Face” Wakabayashi, Quechau “Altitude Warrior” Thai, Chris “Gets Up For Pregnant Women” Chen, Ben “The Photographer” Dumond, Cindy “Oakland” Lu, Natasha “The Translator” Neris, Andy “The Virgin” Wu, Shanika “The Alchemist” Jayakody, Karthik “Memory Cards” Ganapathy

Remarks: “15 Memorable Moments + 15 Things I Learned from South America

Memorable

1. Pulling an all-nighter to catch sunrise at Copacabana

2. Free, open-your-mouth-and-say-ah bar shots from our bartender dressed in a penguin suit on Easter

3. Illegally crossing/being smuggled into Paraguay

4. Jumping the fence along the river at Puerto Madero at 3 am to photograph and marvel at the Buenos Aires skyline

5. That time a few select members of our group were attacked and pillaged by possums at Iguassu Falls

6. Brazilian and Argentinian men UNF (p.s. heyyy Enrique)

7. Backpacking solo, getting lost and off the map at 10 pm in Santiago with no money, carrying 50 lbs of gear

8. Struggling for ten minutes to figure out how to ask “Do you sell espresso by the bag?” in Spanish only to find out our server spoke English

9. Ordering lunch in Spanish all on my own for the first time in Buenos Aires

10. Every instance of someone saying “frcking Bolivia” while shaking their head in disapproval

11. Late night, deep conversations shared over beer and cigarettes on hostel balconies

12. This picture: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151954237061582&set=t.1258996090

13. Waking up from our “Buenos Noches” sleeping pills just in time to catch the sunrise in Bolivia

14. Views of the sun setting during our last meal in Valparaiso, Chile

15. Finding salt from the Salar de Uyuni in my pocket on my flight home from Nashville to NYC

Learned

1. Never trust ATMs in Rio

2. Gunshots fired in Bolivia are to be treated casually, as if hearing thunder during a storm; take no action

3. Altitude sickness is a real thing

4. Night life in Rio gives Sydney’s Kings Cross a run for its money

5. Keep your camera out of sight in South America – not because it’s unsafe, but to avoid the annoyance of having EVERYONE tell you how unsafe it is

6. Buenos Aires wins the award for most confused identity for a city – are you trying to be Europe or Washington, D.C.? You can only pick one

7. Word of caution to fellow vegetarians: brace yourself for a strict diet of bread and cheese (read carbs, carbs, carbs) and do not expect to lose weight

8. The $300 flight from La Paz to Salar de Uyuni may just be worth every penny, unless you prefer the exhiliration of a non-stop ten-hour “bus ride” (or what I like to refer to as an earthquake/the Armageddon) and the pleasures of motion sickness

9. Stray far from the phrase “put it on my tab”

10. Also, put a daily limit on usage of the phrase “I deserve it, I’m on vacation!”

11. Salt from the salt flats of Uyuni tastes like salt; try it anyway

12. The driving in Rio is worse than all of Asia and the Tri-State area combined

13. Thinking of Jesus puns is definitely the best way to spend the bus ride on the ascent to Cristo Redentor in Rio (i.e. how old do you think this statue is? Probably 2014 years old; We found the stairway to heaven; Through Rio, I found Christ; What would jesus do? Hold up, lemme ask him)

14. When using maps, always check the scaled distance – i.e. that fifteen minute walk to San Cristobal Hill? Yeah, no, more like an hour

15. It’s not always about where you travel or what you see, but who you’re with when you do” – Ben Dumond