2016

Destination Arrival
1 Sofia, Bulgaria November 12, 2016
2 Plovdiv, Bulgaria November 13, 2016

Monsooners: Sarah “Token” Parise, Brenda “Heights” Duong, Amanda “Red Bull” Cheng, Kimberly “Russian Standard” Duong, Minna “Nikon Insurance Policy” Choi, Permveer “Elevator Doors” Longia, Mrinal “Free Walking Tour” Mohanka

Remarks: “I grew up as a second generation Asian American in Michigan and had never traveled outside of Michigan much, none the less the U.S. I didn’t have too much of a desire to until I became a young professional entering a new stage of my life. I had just started a full-time job and was itching to see what more life had to offer.

Calvin and I had met during my undergrad years and I saw a Facebook status that the Monsoon Diaries was going on a weekend trip to Ireland. I thought to myself, ‘A weekend trip… Ideal because I don’t miss work, I get to see the world, and hell, why not.’ So he helped me find a plane ticket, answered all of my anxiety questions in a realistic manner, gave me useful travel trips, and took my travel abroad virginity.

Although we only spent literally 24 hours in Ireland (10 a.m. to 10 a.m. the next day) because of the flight time, I had one of the BEST/top journeys of my life. If you’ve never traveled before and you’re scared – it’s okay. The only person stopping you is you. Traveling with the Monsoon Diaries is affordable, flexible, and fun. There are a variety of trips you can choose, all ranging in activities, locations, and duration of the trip. The friends I’ve made from my two trips (Ireland and Bulgaria) are respectable and I still keep in contact with them. If you’re looking for a pack, but still want to wander off – Monsoon Diaries is great with this too. Through Monsoon Diaries I’ve learned the experience of travel is incomparable. Grab your camera, passport and go!” – Brenda Duong

“A quick weekend get away to Sofia and Plovdiv Bulgaria, just in time to take a breather from America! Thanks The Monsoon Diaries for planning another great trip!” – Sarah Parise

“This past weekend, I embarked on another insane weekend trip abroad – this time to BULGARIA! In a day and a half, we backpacked through Sophia and Plovdiv with The Monsoon Diaries!” – Brenda Duong

“Went on a trip to Bulgaria with Calvin. Had a great time. He made traveling simple and fun. Met wonderful people in our group as well. Highly recommend traveling with Monsoon Diaries.” – Permveer Longia

Destination Arrival
1 Bran, Romania October 22, 2016
2 Brasov, Romania October 22, 2016
3 Bucharest, Romania October 23, 2016
Monsooners: Anonymous “In Denial” Anonymous, Ty “I’m With Her, Kinda” Headley, Dmitry “Birthday Boy” Dobrovolskiy

groupandorra

Destination Arrival
1 Barcelona, Spain September 10, 2016
2 Andorra la Vella, Andorra September 11, 2016
3 Barcelona, Spain September 12, 2016
Monsooners: Venkat “The Biggest Man In Andorra” Kausik, Christina “Parachutes” Elise, David “Senator-Elect” Ali

Remarks: “It’s been amazing! Great food, making new friends, and truly inspiring Gaudi architecture. Proud to be a Monsooner.” – David Ali

Destination Arrival
1 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 31, 2016
2 Nairobi, Kenya August 1, 2016
3 Lilongwe, Malawi August 1, 2016
4 Maputo, Mozambique August 2, 2016
5 Manzini, Swaziland August 3, 2016
6 Maseru, Lesotho August 4, 2016
7 Johannesburg, South Africa August 6, 2016
8 Livingstone, Zambia August 7, 2016
9 Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe August 7, 2016
10 Kasane, Botswana August 8, 2016
11 Cape Town, South Africa August 11, 2016
12 Cape of Good Hope, South Africa August 12, 2016
13 Sossusvlei, Namibia August 14, 2016
14 Windhoek, Namibia August 15, 2016
Monsooners: Michelle “Adventure Pants” Duncan, Kel “Hopeless Romantic” Sage, Ambrose “The Epicurean” Chu, Sarah “Poland Spring” Parise, Linda “A Lannister Always Pays Her Debts” Zhou, Sze “March Of The Penguins” Chan, Nadi “Guardian Angel” Kaonga, Samantha “FML” Kay Miller, Mikey “The Virgin” Ryan, Aaron “Boy Wonder” Lam

Remarks: “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

“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!” – Kelvin Sage

“Made it back to JFK, again, thanks again Calvin for another awesome and memorable trip!” – Ambrose Chu

“An experience of a lifetime that will change your perspective! Because of Calvin, I have visited places that I never thought I would ever go to. He has a knack for gathering people from all types of backgrounds to travel together and turns out to be an awesome time. If you are looking to travel but don’t know where or if you want to go out of your comfort zone but don’t know who to travel with, this is the answer.” – Aaron Lam

“Well, it was awesome meeting all of you amazing people and I really hope I get to see you guys on more future monsoons and/or trips to New York! Safe travels back to JFK!!” – Mikey Ryan

“Just wanted to personally thank you again for setting up the trip to Africa. I’ve always wanted to go back and you made it happen. As always, grateful to travel with you bro!” – Kel Sage

“No matter how many times I say it, I can’t say enough how much fun I had traveling with you guys. You guys are amazing people! I miss you all a bunch. Hope you guys enjoy the rest of the trip. Stay safe and have fun! Watch out for those holes!” – Aaron Lam

“I just want to thank all of you for one of the most memorable traveling experiences of my life! This trip has really been an experience of a lifetime and I’m already looking forward to the next monsoon I can join you guys on. Everything that has happened on this trip, both good and bad, has really opened my eyes to how much this world really has to offer. I wish we were with the group a little bit more during the second week but there will most definitely be more monsoons and future visits to New York to visit you guys! Calvin, I seriously can’t thank you enough for giving me such an incredible first traveling experience! I’m already looking forward to seeing you guys again. Until next time friends – Cheers!” – Mikey Ryan

“On my way home :). This was a once in a life time trip! Thank you to The Monsoon Diaries for planning an amazing African adventure and thanks to the Danish people for the last minute weight gain from these delicious pastries and hot chocolates!” – Sarah Parise

“It really has been an incredible experience and like I said before, I don’t even see how you are human. You do so much and still find time to give people like me, experiences of a lifetime like this. So, as much as I can’t thank you enough, thank you thank you thank you!! Haha it’s been the craziest, most awesome experience of my entire life so I appreciate everything.” – Mikey Ryan

Destination Arrival
1 Vaduz, Liechtenstein March 14, 2016
2 Zurich, Switzerland March 15, 2016

Destination Arrival
1 Cliffs of Moher, Ireland March 5, 2016
2 Dublin, Ireland March 5, 2016
Monsooners: Simon “The Gamechange” Lu, Andrew “Hot Wheels” Chang, Judy “Aurora” Luong, Christine “Imperator Furiosa” Ortiz, Brenda “The Virgin” Duong, Eric “The Park Ranger” Hirani

Remarks: “I grew as a second generation Asian American in Michigan and had never traveled outside of Michigan much, none the less the U.S. I didn’t have too much of a desire to until I became a young professional entering a new stage of my life. I had just started a full-time job and was itching to see what more life had to offer.

Calvin and I had met during my undergrad years and I saw a Facebook status that the Monsoon Diaries was going on a weekend trip to Ireland. I thought to myself, ‘A weekend trip… Ideal because I don’t miss work, I get to see the world, and hell, why not.’ So he helped me find a plane ticket, answered all of my anxiety questions in a realistic manner, gave me useful travel trips, and took my travel abroad virginity.

Although we only spent literally 24 hours in Ireland (10 a.m. to 10 a.m. the next day) because of the flight time, I had one of the BEST/top journeys of my life. If you’ve never traveled before and you’re scared – it’s okay. The only person stopping you is you. Traveling with the Monsoon Diaries is affordable, flexible, and fun. There are a variety of trips you can choose, all ranging in activities, locations, and duration of the trip. The friends I’ve made from my two trips (Ireland and Bulgaria) are respectable and I still keep in contact with them. If you’re looking for a pack, but still want to wander off – Monsoon Diaries is great with this too. Through Monsoon Diaries I’ve learned the experience of travel is incomparable. Grab your camera, passport and go!” – Brenda Duong

“Hnnngggg…Having major withdrawals while editing the photos . . . UGHUGHUGHGUGHG, I’M HAVING SO MUCH [WITHDRAWAL] RELIVING THROUGH YOUR POST. I’ll go to you for all my travel questions, and you answer them like a coach. I loved traveling with you and you take care of me since I’m a newbie!” – Brenda Duong

“Sidenote it was cool finally getting to know you.” – Christine Ortiz

Destination Arrival
1 Vieques, Puerto Rico February 15, 2016
2 San Juan, Puerto Rico February 17, 2016
Monsooners: Michelle “Miss Honey [of Matilda]” Duncan, Sandra “The Cadet” Davis, Amber Lee Makhani, Anonymous “In Denial” Anonymous

Destination Arrival
1 Amsterdam, The Netherlands January 19, 2016
2 Bruges, Belgium January 20, 2016
3 Brussels, Belgium January 21, 2016