The Monsoon Diaries
Join the international community of thousands Traveling Far, Together.
The Monsoon Diaries: A Memoir
Our experiences over 10 years of monsoons around the world, curtailed by a worldwide shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been turned into a book by HarperCollins with a foreword by Lisa Ling — The Monsoon Diaries: A Memoir and was just published this past September 27, 2022!
Drawing upon the lessons from traveling to more than 190 countries in ten years, as well as from the grief Dr. Sun experienced as a teen when his father died, he shares his journey from growing up as a young Asian American in New York to his calling first to medical school and then to the open road.
We have learned that the fight for a better world creates meaning when all feels meaningless, and we hope that telling this story will help readers reframe tragic moments in our lifetimes into possibility, with the goal of building a more empathetic society.
“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”
We’re a community of students and regular folks all with full-time jobs who have visited 190 countries in 10 years without skipping class, quitting jobs, missing shifts, or breaking budgets. We find ways around the excuse of “I don’t have time or money” and make it work. We come home with too many stories to share, fill ourselves with setsunai, saudade, and maktoub, and then we do it again.
We don’t vacation, we monsoon.
You no longer have to choose between a normal life and a life of travel: You can do both. So let the trade winds catch your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Monsoon.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Slider drone footage courtesy of Justin Martell
Until Our Next Adventure!
February 2-7, 2023
March 23-26, 2023
South Korea & Jeju
March 27 – April 5, 2023
Horn of Africa
Greek Island Hopping (Yacht Week)
July 15-22, 2023
July 23-27, 2023
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Where We’ve Been
This morning we explored the old neighborhood and grasp the feeling of what life was like in old Burkina Faso, or as it was known during the colonial times – the Upper Volta. Burkina Faso, the name given by Thomas Sankara, can be translated as “The land of the...
Waking up early at 5:30am for a 6am departure from our hotel in Banfora, breakfast became an afterthought as we drove out for an early sunrise boat trip on the Tengrela Lake. Trusting our fate to the lake, we paddled out to see local herd of...
After breakfast in Ouagadougou we set off at 7am for a grueling 10.5 hour drive to Banfora via passing through Dedougou and Bobo Dioulasso, with a handful of stops and a quick half an hour lunch. The ride was forced to be interesting over intense...
Meet Some of Our Travelers:
Despite considering myself a decently travelled solo traveller to a number of off the beaten track destinations, having met Calvin in a chance encounter in Sydney I originally signed up with him to his recently organised trip to Armenia for the specific reasons that:
- It was very cost effective, compared to solo travel in that country
- The itinerary and approach to travel appeared to be well aligned with my own, in that it was hard and fast, adventurous and hitting all the sights whilst still keeping flexibility to change plans, and
- Overall he seemed like a pretty decent guy.
What I encountered surpassed these expectations. On top of delivering on the above, I encountered a trip with like minded individuals sharing what was to prove a remarkable experience in a remarkable country. For many a traveller who prefers solo travel, there are times when you would prefer to give the sometimes rigorous amounts of organisation a break, whilst avoiding the cookie cutter approach of a tour or sometimes having to acquiesce to an itinerary planned out by friends that might not match your preferences.
That is where for me Calvin’s approach really excels. We saw all of the key sights of the country, pushed the boundaries in our venture to the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh, in an informal, flexible setting, and all the while making some personal friends whom I will no doubt retain for a long time.
Perhaps the most remarkable consideration concerning Calvin’s compelling argument to travel is that there is no compelling argument from Calvin. He does not push unwilling souls to take the plunge. Instead he inspires by example, moving along his (loosely) planned route on his own accord and, much like the force of nature for which his travel approach is named, leaves you to (re)act as you see fit. . . .
[Calvin], 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, Maria extending her family’s hospitality, etc. . . . yep, truly something special.
Altruistic realism: to meet the urgent need for people throughout the world to see each other and reality fairly.
I just figured you should define it: I think you’re creating a home everywhere you go in your monsoons. You’re making a global home through the connections of the people on each trip. I was thinking the song [To Build a Home] says it all – and that you’re connecting the globe – showing people home is a feeling shared together. And we find ourselves in the insecurities of the unfamiliar…and so the people become the familiar.
And the bond becomes home. Security through partnership.
What would be traveling without the people you meet along the way, without the conversations you share and the memories you make. I am lucky enough that I have met up and travelled with the Monsooners a couple of times already. It will not be just an ordinary experience where you tick of the sights of each city. You will get part of the Monsoon family, create lasting relationships and get out of your comfort zone. These trips always had an inspiring effect on me. You get asked questions that you have to answer yourself, you will gain perspectives and be immersed in thoughtful conversations. The cities and sights will get a personal touch. A memory full of adventure. All you need is to bring the right attitude – ‘cause in the end it is still up to you to make the best out of the trip 🙂
Today as I was watching a movie and they talking about the Cape of Good Hope and I got goosebumps knowing that I was there. This feeling has happened many time to me since I have been traveling with Monsoon Diaries and YOU. I also saw Table Top Mountain and Denmark in recent movies among others. It’s so amazing to have this personal point of reference when I read and see places that I have been. It’s especially MAGNIFICENT when I get to share my pictures, videos and experiences with my students. I use my experience to encourage them to think about the world as more them their three block radius.
Without Monsoon and You I don’t think I would have broaden my horizons when it comes to traveling.
Let’s get something straight first. I kind of hate group travel. The nature of my career has made me the type of person to prefer serendipity (and some level of chaos) over the structured comfort that group travel usually offers.
But Monsoon Diaries is not your usual group travel. Monsoon Diaries is more like – a friend corraling a bunch of his friends onto the Magic School Bus. Adventure and serendipity are a key part of it all, but you’re free to explore and vibe with everyone else *because* your friend is handling the logistics. By the end of it all, you find yourself on the plane texting about life with people you didn’t know the week before. Who wouldn’t love that?
Calvin reminded me that NO ONE, not even my future husband, will ever understand or have shared the moments I shared with you all — my first trip outside of the U.S.A. and discovering myself through backpacking.
I’m so blessed to have met each and every one of you. It’s amazing how 17 different personalities managed to get along; there was not one person on this trip that I did not enjoy spending time with.
Continue to travel the world, get to know yourselves even more, and thank you for sharing your stories with me and allowing me to share parts of myself with you too. You ladies and gents are beautiful people!