2015

Destination Arrival
1 Baku, Azerbaijan December 27, 2015
2 Astana, Kazakhstan January 28, 2016
3 Tashkent, Uzbekistan January 29, 2016
4 Khiva, Uzbekistan January 31, 2016
5 Bukhara, Uzbekistan January 1, 2016
6 Samarkand, Uzbekistan January 3, 2016
7 Khujand, Tajikistan January 5, 2016
8 Varzob, Tajikistan January 7, 2016
9 Dushanbe, Tajikistan January 8, 2016
10 BIshkek, Kyrgyzstan January 9, 2016
11 Almaty, Kazakhstan January 10, 2016
12 Tbilisi, Georgia January 11, 2016
13 Gori, Georgia January 11, 2016
14 Stepantsminda, Georgia January 12, 2016
Monsooners: Eilidh “Secondhand Shoes” Crowley, Ben “Encyclopedia Australiannica” Crowley, Yvonne “Beginner’s Luck” Liu, Patricia “Dancing Turkey” Tsai, Chris “The Monkey King” Tang, Johnson “The Spy From S.I.N.G.A.P.O.R.E.”, Melissa “Candy Floss”, Remi “The BEKoning” Coker, Siavash “Persian Rugs” Dejgosha, Matt “Oh My Days” Peters, Helen “Potato Salad” Chou, Tan “Bukharan Idol” Nguyen, Ines “Bee’s Knees” Petri, Claudia “Marlboro Lady” Petri, Anna “Everybody’s Russian!” Zavalova, Anne “Postcards From The Edge” Davison, Velvet “Everyone’s Favorite Cool Aunt”

 

Video recap of the trip:

 

Remarks:

“Happy Birthday, Calvin. The guy who showed me Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia, Mongolia, China, Tibet, and NYC.

Happy birthday to this risk-taking, rule-breaking, Peking-duck-loving, break dancing, piggy backing, train-missing (“how was I supposed to know there are 5 train stations in Beijing?”), bag-abandoning, international-NYE-party-making, modern-romancing, Registan-guard-bribing, hookah-loving, vodka-pouring, champagne-popping, yogurt-stealing, inappropriate-joke-making feminist and sex-positive individual with whom I’ve seen two dead bodies (Lenin and Mao!) and shared many beautiful memories and with whom I hope to share many more. You’re the best co-traveler anyone could ever ask for, always bringing up the mood even when things get a little crazy. And you make my travel videos a thousand times more hilarious.

Come visit me in Vanuatu, ‘kay? It’s one of the few countries you’ve yet to see.” – Melissa Weinmann

“Took on the Uzbekistan trip with The Monsoon Diaries and turned to be one of the best traveling experiences I’ve had. Not only did we explore a country I’ve never imagined visiting, I also got to experience it with an amazing fun bunch of likeminded travelers all brought together by Calvin. Until next time!!” – Patricia Tsai

“I’m from Singapore and I went to Uzbekistan with The Monsoon Diaries. During the trip, I met an amazing bunch of people that made that trip fun! I could not imagine travelling to this country if it was by myself. It was an experience that I would not regret having. Furthermore, meeting Calvin is a great joy. I really appreciate him playing host during the subsequent visit to New York City!” – Johnson Lim

“. . . They even planned a trip to tour Central Asia together. Tan would later reflect that this two-week trip through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan was the culmination point in which he realized he found his life-long partner. Six months later, Tan proposed to Helen in a quiet tea house in the hills of southern Taipei. . . .” – Tan & Helen

“I’ve completed my full-length video from my Silk Road/Central Asia trip that I completed with the Monsoon Diaries back in January, and after editing it for several months, it’s brought me some bittersweet memories. . . .

. . . Just reading about a person and reading the way they type their thoughts is so different than the real thing. A cackling laugh, a familiar musky cologne, or the movement in the way a friend fake-grimaces at your awful joke is just so powerful to the human connection. It can’t be replaced. . . .

. . . It’s interesting to see how, as I grew comfortable with the strangers-to-become-friends, the footage becomes goofier and less inhibited, and better expresses the true emotion and feel of the trip. The first clips in Tashkent are of strangers on the first day, the last clips in Almaty are of international family. . . .

. . . So take a deep breath, sit back, and enjoy the 4-country, 14-day journey of the Silk Road 2016 in one digestible video. This video isn’t a replacement for the panoramic views of the Hissar Fort, the unique smells of a street bazaar, and the touch of Tajik silk. But it’s as close as you may get.” – Melissa, And The One Will Be As One 

“Went on the Central Asia trip 2 winters ago and it was amazing. Brilliant organization, great tour guides, and awesome food. Never would’ve gone otherwise, but um forever grateful that I did. The price was on point too. Looking forward to tackling some other infrequently travelled to place next!” – Remi Coker

“We’re more than blessed to have such a memorable journey with a fun, crazy bunch of travelers that you all are! Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip and keep us updated & KEEP IN TOUCH! Miss you all!!!!!” – Patricia

“Safely back home! Thanks guys for the great trip! Let me know if any of you happen to pass by Singapore and we can have a drink 🙂 Continue to rock for the rest of the trip!” – Johnson

“Big thank you to Young Pioneer Tours Central Asia and The Monsoon Diaries/Calvin D. Sun for an unforgettable adventure through Uzbekistan and amazing new friends.” – Yvonne

“Been a pleasure to meet you all the last couple of weeks. I’ve had a great trip, I’m sure all our paths will cross in the future. Thanks to Eilidh, Ben, and Mr Monsoon himself Calvin for organising a great trip.” – Matt

“Thank you all for making this trip an amazing one. I can’t wait to go on another trip with YPT or Mr. Monsoon himself.” – Melissa

“Thank you for being in this trip. Hope I can see you again soon!” – Helen

Destination Arrival
1 Santorini, Greece November 15, 2015
2 Athens, Greece November 17, 2015

Destination Arrival
1 Copenhagen, Denmark August 8, 2015
2 Helsingør, Denmark August 9, 2015
3 North Sea, August 10, 2015
4 Oslo, Norway August 11, 2015
5 Stockholm, Sweden August 12, 2015
6 Baltic Sea, August 16, 2015
7 Helsinki, Finland August 17, 2015
8 Gulf of Finland, August 17, 2015
9 Tallinn, Estonia August 18, 2015
10 Ainazi, Latvia August 19, 2015
11 Riga, Latvia August 20, 2015
12 Siauliai, Lithuania August 21, 2015
13 Vilnius, Lithuania August 22, 2015
14 Trakai, Lithuania August 23, 2015
15 Minsk, Belarus August 24, 2015
Monsooners: Jennifer “Mom” Li, Dave “Responsible Uncle” Zhou, Jamie “Jamilah” Jimenez, Emily “Meathead” Chen, Jennifer “YAY” Yeh, William “Whale Meat” Lau, Ambrose “Celtic” Chu, Nadi “Better Late Than Never” Kaonga, Eric “Flow” Huynh, Teresa “T” Thong, Vivian “V” Cheng, Kelly “Skyscraper” Joo, Shannon “Six-Shootin’ American Idol” Murphy, Katy “Texan Belle” Budge, Michelle “Kindergarden Cop” Duncan, Alex “Athos” Wang, Jack “Porthos” He, Will “Aramis” Chen, Kel “D’artagnan” Sage, Alice “Club Alice” Tsui, Jeffrey “The Wise Man” O’Neill, Joyce “Telepath” Zhang, Joshua “Blynines” Zhang, Christina “Tamer Of The Whale Meat” Ren, Tara Densmore, Tamara Densmore

Remarks:

“So this review is long overdue. I met Calvin as a resident in the ER in the Bronx. He actually helped me book a flight for a trip that was completely unrelated to his- and that’s how I found out about The Monsoon Diaries.

My trip with him was coming off the back end of yacht week in Croatia (craziness)- I was exhausted and over alcohol and traveling in general, but the energy of the group, the diversity of the personalities and the sheer enthusiasm everyone had for this adventure was contagious! Was this a vacation? No. It was a trip, a balls to the wall, minimal sleep, overnight busses and ferries, hostel bunk beds, walking and walking and walking and exploring trip.

And it was AMAZING! Late night karaoke (I was momentarily famous and that is something I will never forget and a tale for another time) dance offs, getting lost, arguing with racist bus drivers, laughing until crying, piggy back rides, deep late night conversations, and early morning goofy ones, coffee coffee coffee, and just seeing so much in such a short time. I felt that the people on the trip are some of the best, most genuinely curious of the world we live in, and most appreciative humans I have ever met. I get all the feels, the warm and fuzzies in my chest, when I think of the memories made. Everyone wants to travel, see the world, its the “in” thing to do now… oh how I roll my eyes when people ask how many countries I’ve been to. It’s not where you’ve been it’s how, and with whom. It’s the human connections we make in this world and not the continents we stand on. If you want both… monsoon all the way.” – Shannon Murphy

“I found this travel blog after putting “Iran visa US passport” in the Google search bar, and clicked the “Images” tab back in 2013 (yes, I’m serious). After exchanging emails with the writer/Emergency room doctor/bartender/social justice advocate, Calvin, I visited New York and actually met him to see what kind of person he is. He seemed to be a really cool guy who knows a lot of people. After a chat over some hookah and a stroll, here’s what happened since meeting him:

  • Traveled to the Nordic Countries of Europe with 20+ people… within 1 week. Major highlights included venturing in Vaxholm and finding hope in Helsinki. It was an insane, hilarious, awesome and memorable trip.
  • Explored and partied through Cambodia and Vietnam with 3 really funny and cool people, on a trip organized by him and led by his friend, Dave (who I met in Copenhagen)… within 1 week. It was another insane, hilarious, awesome and memorable trip.
    Wrote 2 posts on his blog about my travel experiences in Europe and Asia. 
  • Moved to New York City. 
  • Did a whirlwind visit of South Africa, Victoria Falls, and Northern Botswana with 10+ people, played a (very minor) role in a serendipitous moment in Cape Town, and made some new friends. This was all within 1 week. 
  • Went to Edinburgh with 3 people, climbed 3 giant hills with amazing views… just for a weekend.

Thinking back, I never thought these events would happen, but some of the most important lessons I learned are to keep venturing out of your comfort zone and it’s really possible to travel with a very limited number of vacation days.

I still use the blog as a supplemental tool to figure out my itineraries for more solo trips, and it was very helpful, whether the destination is from Austin to Amsterdam, New York to New Delhi, or Seoul to Singapore. From those trips, I learned so much more about myself.

The Monsoon Diaries may just be a blog when you first discover it, but once you meet the writer, travel with him for at least a few days outside your home in a different country with a different culture, and return home, it’s so much more than that. You also become part of a broader circle of connections, and some of those connections could become your friends that might help you in some ways. You don’t just learn about how to travel, you might learn about yourself. You might lose a lot of money in the process, but from what I experienced, these memories and experiences I gained are worth so much more than money.

Yeah, that’s worth a 5-Star rating.

Thanks Calvin.” – Ambrose Chu

“I first met Calvin through working together on the ECAASU board. Through my friends, I also heard about the epic adventures of Monsoon Diaries (on a budget!) and when the Route 66 road trip across American opportunity came up, I had to take it. With two of my fellow teachers and a truly diverse group of travelers, RV-ing across America was an amazing experience filled with new sights, laughter, and bonding in a way I never knew was possible. That trip changed my life and forced me to consider new thoughts, feelings, and perspectives.

A couple months afterwards, I traveled with Monsoon Diaries to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus with over 20+ people (with 1/3 being some of my closest friends I convinced to take this whirlwind trip with me). Taking in local cultures and foods, having instagrammable photo shoots, and learning to live life in the moment was unforgettable. I often reminisce these trips I took and I am truly grateful for Calvin for not only organizing these trips but continuing to bring together people from around the world to create new experiences for those who may need it the most. And for those of you who may be in doubt, just do it.” – Alice Tsui

“Through Calvin and the Monsoon Diaries, my travel bug has definitely crept out! What started as an unforgettable cross country trip down Route 66 led to exploring the amazing countries of Scandinavia and then a once in a lifetime venture to 11 countries in Africa!

One of the coolest parts of Calvin’s trips is that you’ll discover places you’d never thought you’d be, and meet some dope friends along the way. Every trip with Monsoon will push you out of your comfort zone and into a new adventure. Backpacking has never been this awesome!” – Kel Sage

“Happy Lunar New Year! Aside from the usual family, friends, health and wealth that I’m grateful for, I’m also thankful to YPT and The Monsoon Diaries for helping me discover the world and decide to become a “nomad expat” 3 years ago! I’ve been on 4 trips already and even led a group in Southeast Asia, can’t wait for the next one.

The time has really flown by and even though it’s not always as awesome as IG implies, the journey has been unforgettable… but my memory sucks so I’m thankful that I have all of you to remind me!” – Dave Zhou

“I traveled on my first Monsoon trip a few years back to Scandinavia with a friend and it was truly an unforgettable experience. The trip was very well organized and really pushes you out of your comfort zone. Calvin went out of his way to make sure everyone was comfortable and a part of the group. It was a great time meeting and traveling with a group of new people, some of whom I still keep in touch with today. I would definitely highly recommend doing a Monsoon trip especially to anyone new to traveling or traveling alone.” – Eric Huynh

“Calvin and the Monsoon Diaries team craft comprehensive, relevant, and budget-friendly experiences. And the people you meet on the trips are amazing!” – Joyce Zhang

“Calvin, just wanted to say thank you so much for another amazing trip. I just read your latest post, it’s beautiful. I’m thankful to be part of these experiences with you and really appreciate all that you do. Mad love bro.” – Alice Tsui

“Went on my second trip with the Monsoon Diaries (first being the Route 66 Road Trip) to Scandinavia and came back with so many awesome memories and friendships that will undoubtedly last a lifetime. This was a part of Europe that I may not have otherwise visited and I’m glad I got to experience the culture, food, and sights of these amazing countries. Definitely looking forward to future trips with The Monsoon Diaries!” – Kel Sage

“Holy shit! That about sums it up….just wanted to spell it out on behalf of me and Joyce: awesome job. Calvin for being the cool big bro I’ve always wanted and Jen for being a caring big sis (because the world could always use more of those!)–also note I avoided any mom/dad denominations.

Traveling may be a hobby but what you two do is truly a public service. Keep it up (gig) and hope to see you around NY.” – Joshua Zhang

“I’m home I’m safe I’m happy I’m sick like a dog but I had a BLAST. Thanks Monsoon [Diaries] for taking me out my comfort zone.” – Ms. Duncan

“It was great to meet everyone, thank you so much for making this trip incredible! Of course, biggest thanks to Jenn and Calvin for putting this together and making it all possible! Keep in touch everyone and see you in NYC soon for a reunion!” – Joyce Zhang

“Thanks [The Monsoon Diaries and Map&Move] for everything during this insane, hilarious, awesome and memorable trip.” – Ambrose Chu

“I will miss you folks. Thank you so much for your kindness and making me immediately feel like a part of the framily. I hope we keep in touch and wish you all safe and wonderful continued travels. Looking forward to sharing photos and more. . . . The thanks are to you and Jenn for all you have and continue to do with leading us.” – Nadi Kaonga

“Echoing the same sentiments as everyone else here. Thank you so much for such a fun week. I’m super glad to have met all of you and let’s definitely hang out / keep in touch!” – Christina Ren

“So awesome to meet everyone!  Definitely looking forward to a reunion.” – Kel Sage

“It was great meeting all of you guys. Thanks for the wonderful memories. Expecting a lot of great pics during the week.” – Eric Huynh

“Thank you both so much for organizing the Scandinavia trip! I really appreciate all of your hard work and effort…Enjoy the rest of your trip and again, thank you! 😘 Katy” – Katy Budge

Destination Arrival
1 Oranjestad, Aruba April 12, 2015
2 Caracas, Venezuela April 12, 2015
3 Angel Falls, Venezuela April 13, 2015
4 Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela April 15, 2015
5 Willemstad, Curaçao April 16, 2015
6 Georgetown, Guyana April 17, 2015
7 Nieuw Nickerie, Suriname April 18, 2015
8 Paramaribo, Suriname April 19, 2015
9 Cayenne, French Guiana April 21, 2015
10 Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago April 22, 2015
Monsooners: Jennifer “Map&Move” Li, Gareth “The Guvnor” Johnson, Rik “The Flying Dutchman” Brinks, Lei “Monk” Zhao, Patrick “Jade Dragon Coffee Health Center” Han, Maddie “The Engineer” Ene, Cindy “Ploppity” Cui, Calvin “One-Armed Bandit” Chen, Yoni “Birthday Boy” Rubin, Clay “Mad Max” Gilliland, Tom “Nux” Peddle, Freddy “Go Ask Alice!” Lansky, George “Jolly” Martin, Donal “Oracle” Mulvihill

 

Remarks: “I’ve been on Monsoon Diaries trips to Venezuela, the Guyanas, and The Balkans and have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences. Highlights for me were pushing a motorized canoe upriver into the heart of the fantastical world of the Amazonian tepuis to see Angel Falls, and getting to eat bush meat that one of our guides dove into a river to catch (aquatic capybara-like rodent). In the Balkans, Sarajevo stood out, great food, and so much history. We stood atop the Yellow Fortress and took in a sunset as the evening call to prayer rose up to heaven from below us along with the smoke from many cevapi grills. Later on, we got a tour from a survivor of the Yugoslav Wars who showed us the frontlines in the Siege of Sarajevo from the very same spot. It was far and away the most poignant and powerful moment I’ve experienced on any trip.

Calvin is a meticulous planner, which means all you need to do is show up. The trips are intense, with a heavy dose of walking tours and sightseeing most of the major landmarks within a given stop. This is mixed in with plenty of carousing with your fellow travelers, going out to bars and clubs after a long day of sightseeing. This isn’t for you if you’re the kind of person who likes a more relaxed pace. But if you’re willing to push yourself, you’ll see a lot more of the world and challenge yourself to be a more independent traveler than you probably imagined you could be (hint: this is kinda Calvin’s mission). The value can’t be beat. On top of the places you’ll go, you’ll no doubt start lifelong friendships with your fellow travelers, having shared in a unique experience together (Balkans crew, I still can’t hear you after that outing to that dance club inside the walls of Dubrovnik haha).” – Lei Zhao

“Omg its only been a day back home and I already have withdrawal. Miss you guys!” – Cindy Cui

“Crying, because of the scary outside world” – Rik Brinks

usaroadtrip

Destination Arrival
1 New York City, New York March 28, 2015
2 Washington DC, USA March 29, 2015
3 Roanoke, USA March 30, 2015
4 Knoxville, USA March 31, 2015
5 Nashville, USA April 1, 2015
6 Memphis, USA April 2, 2015
7 Chicago, USA April 3, 2015
8 St. Louis, USA April 4, 2015
9 Oklahoma City, USA April 5, 2015
10 Albuquerque, USA April 6, 2015
11 Holbrook Arizona, USA April 7, 2015
12 Needles, USA April 8, 2015
13 San Francisco, USA April 9, 2015
14 Madison, USA April 11, 2015

Monsooners: Jennifer “Map&Move” Li, Gareth “The Guvnor” Johnson, Brandon “The Terminator” Garcia, Alice “The Virtuoso” Tsui, Kel “The Sage” Sage, Duncan “Triple D”, Jorge “Assassin” Orpinel, Vishnu “Guru” Vinekar, William “The Pharmacist” Lau, Clay “Mad Max” Gilliland, George “Jolly” Martin

Remarks: “My monsooning started with an aggressive road trip down the historic Route 66 in 3 RVs from Chicago to California, connected with those old songs and movies about Route 66, learned lots of history, made many new friends, had new adventures, listened to all these travel stories from our fellow travelers, got into trouble, got out of trouble, and in general, made memories that last a lifetime. I highly recommend going on a trip with the Monsoon Diaries, if you haven’t already!” – Vishnu Vinekar

“I first met Calvin through working together on the ECAASU board. Through my friends, I also heard about the epic adventures of Monsoon Diaries (on a budget!) and when the Route 66 road trip across American opportunity came up, I had to take it. With two of my fellow teachers and a truly diverse group of travelers, RV-ing across America was an amazing experience filled with new sights, laughter, and bonding in a way I never knew was possible. That trip changed my life and forced me to consider new thoughts, feelings, and perspectives.

A couple months afterwards, I traveled with Monsoon Diaries to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus with over 20+ people (with 1/3 being some of my closest friends I convinced to take this whirlwind trip with me). Taking in local cultures and foods, having instagrammable photo shoots, and learning to live life in the moment was unforgettable. I often reminisce these trips I took and I am truly grateful for Calvin for not only organizing these trips but continuing to bring together people from around the world to create new experiences for those who may need it the most. And for those of you who may be in doubt, just do it.” – Alice Tsui

“Through Calvin and the Monsoon Diaries, my travel bug has definitely crept out! What started as an unforgettable cross country trip down Route 66 led to exploring the amazing countries of Scandinavia and then a once in a lifetime venture to 11 countries in Africa!

One of the coolest parts of Calvin’s trips is that you’ll discover places you’d never thought you’d be, and meet some dope friends along the way. Every trip with Monsoon will push you out of your comfort zone and into a new adventure. Backpacking has never been this awesome!” – Kel Sage

“Sending mad love to everyone!!! You guys are awesome and I wouldn’t have had this trip any other way <3” – Alice Tsui

“This was really out of my comfort zone. Which I needed!” – Duncan

“It’s been one hell of an adventure. From Chicago to San Francisco, wouldn’t have it any other way.” – Brandon Garcia

“We should do another one sometime. :-)” – Vishnu Vinekar

“My Route 66 Family of Road Warriors It’s been real and unreal.” – Alice Tsui

“Had an amazing time!” – Kel Sage

“Ditto.” – Duncan

“It was a wonderful experience! Thank you so much!” – William Lau