2018

Destination Arrival
1 Sydney, Australia December 31, 2017
2 Brisbane, Australia January 2, 2018
3 Cairns, Australia January 2, 2018
4 The Great Barrier Reef, Australia January 3, 2018
5 Kuruanda, Australia January 4, 2018
6 Uluru, Australia January 5, 2018
7 Melbourne, Australia January 6, 2018
8 Sydney, Australia January 7, 2018
9 Auckland, New Zealand January 8, 2018
10 Waitomoto, New Zealand January 9, 2018
11 Rotorua, New Zealand January 10, 2018
12 Wellington, New Zealand January 11, 2018
13 Picton, New Zealand January 12, 2018
14 Christchurch, New Zealand January 13, 2018
15 Queenstown, New Zealand January 13, 2018
16 Glenorchy, New Zealand January 14, 2018
17 Milford Sound, New Zealand January 15, 2018
18 Queenstown, New Zealand January 16, 2018

Monsooners: Donna “FOMO Queen” Vo, Taylan “Imperator Furiosa” Stulting, Alexandra “Venus Flytrap” De Rosa, Mary “Mad Max” Lin, Isaac “Nux” Johnson, Ann “Joey” Wen, Sampson “Alpaca” Lau, David “Good Guy Meme” Anton, Sarah “Ginger Soul” Parise, Laura “Muy Thai” Bodden, Bryce “Cowboy” Maynard, Rachel “Kiwibird” Xu

Remarks: “As yet another trip with The Monsoon Diaries comes to a close and my own travels start to wind down (I’m going to be back in the states in a week…), I want to take a second to thank this guy for being such an important person in my life.

Calvin, you have become one of my best friends over this past year and easily my favourite travel buddy. From when we first met in Russia last New Year’s Eve to these past few weeks in Australia and New Zealand, I’m so glad I’ve gotten to experience so much of the world with you. You never fail to challenge me and remind me the importance of self-love and embracing all the opportunities that life presents because life is short and there’s way too much to do and see in this world. I would never have embarked on this journey around the world if you never came into my life and helped me find the confidence to just do it if for no other reason than I deserve it. I am constantly grateful for your friendship, support, and guidance. Whenever and whenever our next travel adventure takes us, I know it will be epic.

But for now, I can’t wait to jump out of a plane with you and 3 other Monsooners as our final act in New Zealand.” – Taylan Stulting

 

“Goodbye all thanks for an amazing 3 weeks together. Y’all fam. Can’t wait for our reunion soon. Hit me up whenever you’re in New York ❤❤” – Ann Wen

 

“Hiya Calvin! I just wanted to say that your latest post is gold. It’s such a beautiful expression of your truths, which I’m sure so many monsooners resonate with.

Even though we’ve only known each other for a little while, I’m so proud of you for doing what you do and touching so many lives around you! You continue to be an inspiration, and I truly feel honored to connect with you as a friend. Sending love, always!!” – Alexandra De Rosa

 

“I’ve traveled with The Monsoon Diaries to 21 countries in the past year and every time is an amazing experience. I’m always challenged to grow as a person and the people I’ve met through these trips have become some of my best friends. If it wasn’t for Calvin and my fellow monsooners, I wouldn’t have taken the leap to spend the past six months of my life backpacking around the world which proved to be one of the best decisions of my life. I will always be grateful for this incredible community and I cannot wait for the next trip, whenever and wherever it may be.” – Taylan Stulting

 

“When you’re back to reality and suffering from PTD (post travel depression), so you’re looking through your pictures reminiscing… at 12 AM. I feel so blessed and grateful of the beautiful moments I got to experience during the last 3 weeks. I met and made friends with so many wonderful people on this journey.

I never got to experience the dorm life in college but our trip in Australia gave me a little taste of it and it was great. I’m so thankful I got to share these moments with you all and I will cherish them for the rest of my life.”  – Laura Bodden

 

“Thank you for planning the trip Calvin, enjoy the rest of the trip guys.” – David Anton

 

“When you wake up in the hostel and realize that all your travel buddies are gone… Have fun in New Zealand, y’all! It was a pleasure.” – Sampson Lau

 

“Thanks for bringing us all together and making this trip happen Calvin. Per usual you did good.” – Taylan Stulting

 

“Safe travels. It’s been real . Thanks again for putting this together and bringing us on the trip of a lifetime . Will miss you all, my family of strangers ‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍❤❤❤❤❤.” – Mary Lin

 

“Signed up for a 9 day adventure with a group of 7 strangers, trusting the entire itinerary with someone I met for 5 minutes, 5 years ago.  Everything about that is the complete opposite of the obsessively detailed and neurotically organized person that I usually am. I did things that I never thought I would have the courage to do, such as jumping out of a plane and free falling for 60 seconds.  With stunning panoramas around every corner, I often had trouble believing that this could be reality.  Thank you Monsoon Diaries for bringing us all together and inspiring me to challenge myself.  Will remember these Monsoon Memories with nostalgia.” – Rachel Xu

 

“Read the post and cried inside. Kinda tough telling people here how good Fergburger is and they just have no idea.” – Ann Wen

 

” ALL THE FEELS . . . NOONE WILL UNDERSTAND . . . EXCEPT US ” – Mary Lin

 

“No one will get anything from this trip except us.” – Taylan Stulting

 

“Re: ‘No one will get anything from this trip except us.’ . . .  That’s the point ” – Rachel Xu

 

“The Monsoon Diaries is an experience unlike any other. Anything can happen and you are encouraged out of your comfort zone. When you get out of that zone, you find new experiences and opportunities at any moment. Following through with them makes you realize that it was actually a really cool thing you just did.

You also get to meet and hang out with many different people from different places and backgrounds. You might end up making some really close friends for life. Thank you Calvin, for all the planning you put into your trips and being a supportive presence (whether you were there physically or not) in those moments when I was taking a leap out of my comfort zone. Those are the experiences I treasure the most. 

Australia & New Zealand, and Japan…so far” – Donna Vo

Destination Arrival
1 Stockholm, Sweden March 24, 2018
2 Budapest, Hungary March 25, 2018
3 Bratislava, Slovakia March 26, 2018
4 Vienna, Austria March 27, 2018
5 Linz, Austria March 28, 2018
6 The Hague, The Netherlands March 29, 2018

Monsooners: Aaron “The Prodigal Son” Lam, Jazmin “Falling Overnight” Juarez, Jessica “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind” Hong, Raubern “Waking Life” Totanes, Anthony “Midnight In Budapest” Ventimiglia, Daniela “Before Sunrise” Zarzer, Keseena “Before Sunset” Chengadu, Maria “Before Midnight” Laidlaw

Guest Stars: Jenny “Begin Again” Wang, Brittany “The One-Hundred Foot Journey”

Remarks: “When you make good memories that you know you gonna still remember 30 years later, you know you are on the right path 🙂 The best part of life is to live in the moment and live it to the fullest (in whichever sense it makes to you):

This unpredictable trip to Europe is coming to an end soon.. this whole trip has been full of amazing moments, bonding with great great people. It wouldn’t have been that intense if I didn’t meet them.. I felt connected with so many people during this trip. It started with a memorable weekend in Frankfurt, to a unique night in Berlin and continued to Prague – which was amazingly lovely and such joy kept spreading from the trip to Budapest, Slovakia and Austria.

First time I went to a country that I was pretty much clueless about, other than the name (Slovakia).. and it has been rich in experience, Vienna was ‘super geil (German for “awesome/hot”)’ with Calvin and his super amazing friend [Daniela] who has been a super amazing host with her incredibly good vibes.. I always love to meet people like this- they make me smile to the moon 🙂

I feel I can write a whole book about this trip.. but I think reading Calvin‘s blog give a perfect view of the adventures . . check out his recent post on http://monsoondiaries.com/…/the-brat-pack-reaches-bratisla…/ and if you feel he makes you travel with his post, feel free to read about all his other crazy adventures and who knows, you can join him on the next one 🙂

*This trip started with a talk over lunch with Calvin, and yhen a photo from my amazing colleagues in Frankfurt.. and I hit the airport within a few hours — love this spontaneous kind of living — everyday is a surprise :)” – Keseena Chengadu

“Thank you again for a wonderful experience. I’m at the gate waiting to board the plane. May God continue to bless you and strengthen you as you make people’s dreams and exploration a reality! 🙂 It was a blast . . .  I had a great time and met some decent people.” – Maria Laidlaw

 

 

Destination Arrival
1 Erbil, Iraq May 6, 2018
2 Halabja, Iraq May 7, 2018
3 Sulaymaniyah, Iraq May 7, 2018
4 Mar Mattai, Iraq May 8, 2018
5 Gaugamela, Iraq May 8, 2018
6 Lalish, Iraq May 8, 2018
7 Alqosh, Iraq May 8, 2018
8 Mosul, Iraq May 9, 2018

Guest Monsooners: Rik “For The Beer” Brinks, Christopher “From The Beers” Lee, Venla “Bride Of ISIS” Mai-Ikola, João “Brother Nomad” Leitão, Carol “Nurse Of The Year” Wong, Shane “Long Overdue” Horan, Abdallah “The Transporter” Abdelkader

Destination Arrival
1 Kuwait City, Kuwait May 31, 2018
2 Muscat, Oman June 1, 2018
3 Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman June 2, 2018
4 Wahiba Sands, Oman June 2, 2018
5 Nizwa, Oman June 3, 2018
6 Muscat, Oman June 3, 2018
7 Doha, Qatar June 4, 2018

Monsooners: Ann “Narcoleptik!” Wen, Mihaela “ROFLOLMAO” Kracun, Donavan “Kareem The Generous” Trieu

Destination Arrival
1 Baku, Azerbaijan August 25, 2018
2 Gobustan, Azerbaijan August 27, 2018
3 Yanardag, Azerbaijan August 27, 2018
4 Nakhchivan, Nakhchivan August 29, 2018

Monsooners: Elizabeth “Dr. McStuffins” Silberholz, Brandon “Ip Man” Foo, Nigar “ENT STAT” Ahmedli, Etibar “The Green Giant” Akhmedli, Anya “Nina Simone” Solovyeva

 

Remarks: “ A friend knew that I dearly needed an adventure and recommended that I read Monsoon Diaries to gather inspiration from world traveler Calvin Sun. What she (and my family) did not expect was for me to book a trip with Calvin less than one month later.

I highly recommend traveling with Calvin! He delivered much more than “just” an adventure to Azerbaijan and the contested Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Calvin’s travel savvy, life philosophy, and personality have me returning home more relaxed, confident, and travel-hungry than I was one week ago.

Even before I left home, Calvin prepared me by providing packing and pre-travel task lists. He was also extremely responsive to my barrage of emails as I prepared. With his guidance, I was surprised how little time it took from the “I’m interested” email to having my bags packed!

On the trip, Calvin continued to impress with his meticulous trip planning and travel know-how. Together, we visited places that even some locals did not know about, the most magical of which was Nakhchivan’s Alinja Fortress. Words cannot express the beauty of sitting on a rocky crag, watching the sun set behind an ancient fortress, nestled high above a valley echoing with calls to prayer from the village far below. On a less poetic, but equally important note, I learned a great deal about international travel from Calvin and never once felt unsafe while abroad.

Calvin’s flexibility allowed me to join the trip with very little notice, for which I am so thankful. This same flexibility, combined with Calvin’s exuberant, outgoing personality, led us to befriend multiple Azeris within hours of beginning the trip. The meals and outings we shared with our new acquaintances allowed me to delve far deeper into Azeri culture (and enjoy much better food and drink!) than I would have on any other guided tour.

Thanks to Calvin, my fellow Monsooner, and everyone with whom we interacted along the way, I leave Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan renewed and excited for my next adventure!” – Elizabeth Silberholz

Great trip in Azerbaijan 🔥” – Brandon Foo

Destination Arrival
1 Okinawa, Japan September 1, 2018
2 Nagasaki, Japan September 4, 2018
3 Hiroshima, Japan September 6, 2018
4 Kobe, Japan September 7, 2018
5 Osaka, Japan September 8, 2018
6 Nara, Japan September 10, 2018
7 Kyoto, Japan September 11, 2018
8 Tokyo, Japan September 14, 2018
9 Sapporo, Japan September 16, 2018

Monsooners: Donna “Motoko Kusanagi” Vo, Angela “Mikasa Ackerman” Park, Kelly “Tokyo Me Away From New York” Joo, Shayra “Misato Katsuragi”, Trish “Togo Mimori” Ho, Billy “Lone Star” T, “Cool Hand” Luke Palmgren, Camilla “Charlotte” Pires, Amy “Asuka Langley” Bloch, Natasha “Mari Makinami” Poole

Remarks: “You were the best part of the trip for me . . . you were the person i felt i could open up to the most, and you told me the truth even when it wasn’t something that i liked so thank you for that . . . Thank you for planning and having me on this crazy wonderful trip, i enjoyed myself and with your support (whether or not you were there in person). I got out of my comfort zone and [will] treasure these experiences. . . . Safe travels and thank you for a crazy wonderful first time in Japan. i wouldn’t have had it any other way. 🤙” – Donna Vo

“Thanks for the ride. It’s been a long and thought provoking time.” – Angela Park

“The Monsoon Diaries is an experience unlike any other. Anything can happen and you are encouraged out of your comfort zone. When you get out of that zone, you find new experiences and opportunities at any moment. Following through with them makes you realize that it was actually a really cool thing you just did.

You also get to meet and hang out with many different people from different places and backgrounds. You might end up making some really close friends for life. Thank you Calvin, for all the planning you put into your trips and being a supportive presence (whether you were there physically or not) in those moments when I was taking a leap out of my comfort zone. Those are the experiences I treasure the most. 

Australia & New Zealand, and Japan…so far” – Donna Vo

 

Destination Arrival
1 Yerevan, Armenia November 12, 2018
2 Geghard, Armenia November 13, 2018
3 Dilijan, Armenia November 14, 2018
4 Khor Virap, Armenia November 15, 2018
5 Noravank, Armenia November 15, 2018
6 Tatev, Armenia November 15, 2018
7 Stepanakert, Artsakh November 16, 2018
8 Shoushi, Artsakh November 16, 2018
9 Agdam, Artsakh November 16, 2018
10 Martakert, Artsakh November 16, 2018
11 Dadivank, Artsakh November 17, 2018

Monsooners: Faniel “21 And Over” Yang, Sheryl “Like Her First Day Of College” Zhang, Mihaela “ROFLOLMAO” Kracun, Nishant “The Wolf Of Wall Street” Anandan

Remarks: “I highly recommend monsoon for those looking for adventures or interesting destinations and open to meet new people/friends but don’t have time to plan. As a friend, I knew Calvin is good at organizing and planning. It proved me right and he’s also good at taking care of what we needed throughout the trip.

We had good rest and spent our time super efficiently to see and do things. I also think it’s a great idea to have an experienced traveler to lead the trip for lots of reasons. For one, I wouldn’t know that we could request flight refund when our returning flight delayed for 8 hours if he didn’t tell us. (The delay was actually a good news to us because we got more time to explore Kiev).

Furthermore, Calvin reminded us everything we need to prepare before the trip and gave us options on what we could do during the trip. Finally, I am thankful to my friend Calvin for putting this trip together and much love to the other three (fannybanany, Nishant and Michaela). I believe we will travel together again😊” – Sheryl Zhang

“As someone who has been the planner and leader of every trip, it was refreshing to finally go on a trip where I didn’t have to plan. Calvin is a meticulous planner who made sure that all my needs were met throughout the trip, physically and emotionally. In addition to be meticulous, he is also easy to connect with. I was able to be myself the whole time (and I can get pretty annoying with childish jokes). He was the “dad” of the group and made sure his kids got along. I met some of the most genuine people through our trip in Armenia. As travelers together, we got to know each other. These are people I will never forget Sheryl JiaEr Zhang, Mihaela Kristmas, and Nishant Anandan and will most likely chill with again.

Through experience, I know how travel can be stressful, cause the best of us to lose patience or get overwhelmed. On this trip, Calvin made sure that this never happened. He constantly asked us for our input (e.g. “would you like to explore kiev at night?” “would you rather walk or uber?”). Calvin took us to some awesome thrilling spots such the war zone between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He made sure we were well provisioned (e.g. food, water) and found the right people (e.g. Suzanna) to lead us about. There were never any surprises on this trip (except finding my birthday twin Sheryl haha). Calvin made sure I was informed every step of the way. It’s my first day back in the office and I already plan to go to his Sept 2019 Greenland/Iceland trip. ” – Faniel Yang

“Happy Thans-Kiev-ing!!! while i’m in a serious vacay withdrawal, can’t help but share this with y’all, to memorize the first time to HAVE FIRE ON MY HEAD and feel once again grateful to spend 9 days with these four amazing humans: Calvin D. Sun, Nishant Anandan, Faniel Yang, and Mihaela Kristmas” – Sheryl Zhang