. . . . 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.
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 1) it was very cost effective, compared to solo travel in that country 2) 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 3) 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.
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.
Thx for an awesome trip! See you on home turf . . .
Meh. I don’t wanna work. I wanna be retired lol and travel more!!
Missing the group. It was honestly so much fun. I’m really happy i did it and so appreciative of the level of effort you put into it. Your super power is travelling and letting us commoners get to see the word through your eyes through your eyes
The crew for my first monsoon trip! There’s nothing like making new friends when you’re all in a different country together.
Let me know when you have the reunion and book party and I will fly out to NYC [from Kansas City]!!
Lmao @Calvin Sun the guys from karaoke night are sitting next to us at the airport right now. Serendipity?
^ It’s kismet
^ You’re a kismet.
It’s been a while since I took a solid vacation. It’s been never that I’ve travelled with a group of strangers to a country I didn’t know much about. Verdict: I’m so happy I did it. Not only were the Faroe Islands the most beautiful & peaceful sights I have ever seen, but this group of amazing humans made the experience beyond special.
We all bonded on several levels and became one with the sheep and rolling hills (booger especially). It was an experience that has changed me as a person. It ignited something inside me that has long been dormant & stifled by a busy life/career. It reminded me that the world is a powerful force that connects you to yourself, as well as to others.
A huge thanks to @monsoondiaries – he guided us seamlessly from one spot to the next to ensure we were able to witness some of the most incredible marvels created by Mother Nature’s hand. I told him that his super power is connecting people through travelling and showing us common folks the world through his expert eyes) It’s a gift that I, along with many other monsooners, will cherish in my heart for years to come.
I’d like to end with a quick toast ~ to all my new, fabulous friends, to the sheep and their soothing bahhh’s, to the puffins for posing for us, and to Johann for not banishing Bruce. If we had been in NYC, #RIPBruce.
I am on the security line for oslo. Hope to see you guys sooner than later. Enjoy Tromso. Going home with a lot of joy
. . .
these peeps. Miss you guys already.
Hey, thanks for organizing another great trip!! Hope your travels home go smoothly!
Just got back to Chicago – thanks to all you crazies for an unforgettable week!
Yes truly. I am joyfully overwhelmed by this trip and the beautiful connections we all shared. So much gratitude in my heart for you all!!
So I’ll take this opportunity to thank you guys for an entire week of fun and laughter And to our fearless leader for making this happen . I’m so grateful for each one of you and appreciate you guys more than you think!
Friendships and life lessons are priceless !! Worth every penny. . . . Surprisingly I’ve actually learned much about myself So thank you for that.
^ Me too Alicia. I think I just paid for a really expensive therapy session, trauma included.
Really love [this photo of us]. Thanks for the great trip Calvin. Looking forward to many more. I’m excited to see [the beginning of another era] and enjoying becoming your friend (ah, the post Monsoon sentimentality). But I am. 🙂
Every monsoon has been unique, very different, (some superior to others by comparison ). Some of the most memorable moments shared with those who were part of the journey, bring empowerment to the soul, warmth to the heart, and gratitude to the mind. The bold contrasts between what you experience in daily life vs. what you experience during a monsoon – are exactly what contributes to the feelings you may have now. But home is where the heart is, and is more than just a place. And sometimes, it’s ok to follow your heart to see where life takes you.
Thanks for an amazing trip everyone! You all made it wonderful! Travel safe
. . .
And…that’s a wrap to our roadtrip in Wales. Not a typical way of traveling for me but what a FUN experience and met many wonderful people. The week went by real quick. . . . Wales, your sceneries are breath-takingly gorgeous. Wish I had few more moments to take it all in.
I miss you guys. I don’t normally miss people.
^ Well we definitely miss you.
. . .
Finally HOME! Longest Sunday ever! Thanks everyone for an amazing trip! Stay in touch!
SO MUCH FUN – and I’m usually hard to impress.
Pleasure meeting everyone! Had a blast!
What do you get when 15 Americans + 1 Australian jump into 4 cars for a weeklong #monsoonroadtrip through Wales? An unforgettable adventure down tiny country roads & infinite roundabouts, breathtaking vistas, and most important the amazing human connections we made along the way.
Thanks again @monsoondiaries for bringing the 16 of us together for #monsoontrip in Wales!
. . .
An unforgettable trip through London & Wales. Thank you the 15 travel companions that made the trip truly special
Thank you all for a journey that each and every one of you made so special, memorable, and SO MUCH FUN. From strangers to monsooners to new friends (and the Hawaiian therapist I never knew I needed ) – this isn’t a goodbye, but a see you later safe travels everyone!!! xo
Update: I changed my flight to be a little later tomorrow & got a hotel here in Amsterdam & i am LOVING it I hope everyone has a great weekend & i loved meeting you all! Thanks for the memories & thank you Calvin.
Alright sentimentality time! this trip with everyone has been a really great time. it helped me keep my mind off of things i didn’t want to think about and helped me gain inspiration for things that i did. i had sooo much fun meeting and hanging out with everyone and i know that i have become closer to the people i know and gained new friends from the people i didn’t. i am excited to hang with you again sometime in the future at a reunion or maybe on another trip. whatever it is thank you everyone for making this a memorable trip!!! travel safely and stay healthy!
Catching glimpses of the sunset from the train home while listening to the YW playlist. Missing you all and our time on the water together.
You guys are absolute rockstars and I miss you all dearly, thank you for being so much fun, so much energy and so entertaining! I loved every minute of it and I can’t wait to see you all again
I feel really happy today, happier than I’ve felt in a long time I feel empowered to do whatever I want.
Awwwwwww Donna!! You got us in the feels
Thank you ALL so much. I loved meeting all of you and I’m sad to leave! This trip made me super nostalgic of home but you guys made it very very homely. Looking forward to a future reunion or another trip! You guys made this trip absolutely wonderful. Thank you. Safe travels and stay Covid free for future adventures ♥️♥️
I’m not crying or anything such a good summary of our trip . . . It was eye-opening.
It was a life changing trip.
Now I’m sentimental again. Calvin, does this always happen after Monsoons?
^can confirm… prior to Monsoons I was basically the tin man, now I’ve been sentimental for an entire year
In my quest to make meaning of humanity’s bleak but relentless existence, explained as the emergence of a random interplay of chemicals and gases by modern science, I somehow found myself meditating in the middle of the White Desert. To think that if I had changed any of the smallest to biggest decisions I’d ever made, I might have missed the serenity experienced at this moment, so beautifully captured by @monsoondiaries.
I’m unsure if I can fully encapsulate the complex sense of grief and relief that emerged as I sat there and reflected, but dare I try…
The recovering perfectionist in me couldn’t help but think about the moments when I failed myself—moments when I allowed absence and emptiness to define me more than the abundance and fullness that suffused my life. The irony of this grief is that I felt sorry for the time I lost on feeling sorry for myself. Fortunately, another part of me that is compassionate and forgiving pulled me out of that self-critical narrative that haunted me.
As I noticed this negotiation take place in my mind, I realized that this polarity that constructed the enigma that is my mind, even to myself, was something I battled for as long as I remembered… However, in defiance of my usual response to frantically intellectualize my state of confusion and contradiction, I chose to simply accept that this consciousness, congruent or not, consisted of essences that make me whole. In allowing this dissonance I once thought could never coexist sit in harmony, I felt that I unlocked the most profound sense of relief I had ever felt… a liberation from the subjugation I had placed on myself.
In my newfound laissez-aller, I surrender myself to the process that has and will continue to propel me to become truer, wiser, braver, stronger, and kinder; the process that never failed to manifest dreams and lead me to adventures that were meant for me…
Why ask for directions from anyone else if they have never been to the places we will go?
Why martyr ourselves in the name of others, as if ceasing to exist in our own rights is the only proof of our worth and testament to our love?
Why limit what we know, feel, and dare to imagine based on social constructs that put us in neat little boxes, when true human connections require us to reach beyond what bounds us?
Why submit to our instinct to avoid uncertainty, even though the beauty of life lies in the unknown—a place where all possibilities and impossibilities exist?
Though I may never figure out the significance of my existence, I am humbled and grateful to be just a little person with the privilege and conviction to spread compassion and a sense of belonging in this vast universe in ways that only I can.
P.S. Thank you for capturing and showing me the version of myself you saw, one that I would’ve never seen otherwise @monsoondiaries
Iraq is a beautiful country rich in history and culture, but for so long it has been synonymous with conflict and war. 20 years ago, I would have never guessed I’d have the opportunity to visit the Middle East let alone Iraq. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the experience.
‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do… Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain’
My favorite thing about Iraq? The people and the food … the hospitality matches the Egyptian mentality and it felt like the Texas of the Middle East … So go BIG or go home so to speak! Despite the many check points and many questions and some spikes in anxiety, we were safe in the end. I appreciate the opportunity to feel a part of something greater than myself which was to show the world that Iraq is beautiful and full of riches. I also appreciate the bonds I’ve made. I can’t thank @monsoondiaries enough.
Looking back isn’t always a bad thing though. I know I’ll always look back and remember how I relished and dwelled in the beauty of life on this trip. Also, should you ever look back, I’ll be there watching and supporting you. I got your back.
What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us. Thank you for bringing me to Cairo, this trip meant a lot to me.
Breathtaking sunrises, sunsets, & a night under a full moon & stars in the desert! We went on an unforgettable adventure in a region so many wish they could see yet few dare to go.
Thanks for an unforgettable experience you guys! Hope everyone get home safely
This journey has been profound.
Surreal — everything [at home] is the same here but I feel different . . . It has been unreal… feeling grateful for every moment and experience. ‘We do not remember days, we remember moments.’ – Cesare Pavese
Just landed back in DC! Had such a grand time with you all, thank you for being such wonderful and inspiring individuals. Looking forward to our next adventure together!! In the meantime, stay in touch xx
“All love here … despite the up and down of it all I’m glad I did this trip … Glad I met all of you.
It was a life changing experience hanging out with y’all for the last couple days.
The thought of visiting another African country other than the one I am originally from was not an option until The Monsoon Diaries got my wheels turning and I am glad I took the risk. Mali: its culture and people are sure breathtaking . . . a once in a lifetime opportunity and I wouldn’t have gotten a better group of humans to take all this experience in than with my new tribe, The Monsoon Diaries.
[And] I would like to thank you Calvin for the last couple days from Mali to Istanbul. I had a great time in both countries but Istanbul was for the books. I appreciate you sticking around to show me around. You have such great personality and great to be around.
I hope we go in more trips together but until then maybe we will run into each other either in your turf or my turf 😊
It was one hell of a trip and the two days in Turkey wrapped things up beautifully.
Hey world: It’s been a whirlwind of a journey this past year. I’m extremely [grateful] for the friendships made this past week. What a great way to start off 2022! Here’s to more experiences and meaningful connections. Can’t wait to see what this year holds for all of us.
This week on the water and being away from work technology really put things into perspective. I wish I had more words to describe how I feel and what we went through, but I’ll reserve that for a blog post (yes, I’ll blog more this year!). Yes, expect to see more picture posts and stories over the next few weeks.
Signs – Do you see, believe, interpret them? After several days of obstacles, uncertainties, & moving parts on this trip, we were finally welcomed to Saint Lucia by a vibrant (double!) rainbow & enthusiastic dolphins.
Rainbows tend to show up at significant moments in my life, & the sight of them always leads me to think about the meaning behind it. Are such events coincidence? Perhaps. But would it hurt to be open to the idea of it being more than that? It’s when we’re open – to signs, people, …life – that things come most easily and abundantly.
I took these rainbows as a sign that we were exactly where we were supposed to be. What signs are significant to you?
Hey! Thanks so much for the last week. It was an amazing experience and I enjoyed getting to know you and everyone better.
Cry on the outside and live your dreams.
Many ask ‘how do you do it?’ This is how. Go to amazing places with amazing people. Often. …Thank you very beautiful people for a very beautiful weekend in St, Lucia! … MISS YOU GUYS ALREADY.
I love yall. I’m crying inside cos I miss everyone.
When I agreed to join The Yacht Week for the first—and last—Sardinia & Corsica route, I thought I knew what I was signing up for: living on a yacht for a week, sailing the turquoise waters of Costa Smeralda, exploring new islands and eating Italian/French food every day, and attending extravagant themed evening parties to dance the nights away. It was everything I expected… but it was also so much more. I fully expected to have a good time.
What I didn’t expect was to have one of the best and most memorable weeks of my entire life. I expected to meet new people and make new friends, but what I didn’t expect was the instantaneous connection I made with so many kindred souls and like-minded individuals, and the deeper friendships I forged with so many incredible, insightful, and truly inspiring people. I expected to be a degenerate for a week; what I didn’t expect was to also grow so much from the entire experience, and to learn from each encounter with every new person and from each new place.
From first-thing-in-the-morning photoshoots, to disco dance-offs on top of the yachts late into the night; from casual biking adventures with the most incredible views, to fancy Michelin-rated dinners by the water; from relaxing float-parties in the most gorgeous crystal waters, to fierce competition in a regatta; from our skipper Umberto trusting me enough to give me a chance to drive our boat, to accepting an invitation for a spontaneous joyride from the millionaire whose sailboat I tried not to crash into while driving the boat; from partying every night and sleeping 2 hours a night, to still waking up to catch the sunrise… through it all, I saw people come together in so many ways to support each other, encourage each other, teach each other, and above all, celebrate each other for all our unique differences, flaws, and for everything we are and everything we could be.
We came together as strangers, and we left as a family. I will always cherish the photos, videos, memories, and friendships that I made on this trip. Till the next adventure
Depending on the type of person you are, one’s affinity for risk-taking falls on a spectrum. And, there are different types of risks – ones that harm others – and ones that do not. As we say when reviewing patient consents, no procedure or activity ever comes with 0 risk.
But we can do our best to minimize it. You miss out on *life* if you don’t decide to take some risks.
This trip was an experience where I was able to test boundaries, find an escape, create a rush of adrenaline… all while minimizing risk, to myself and others. When @monsoondiaries asked if I wanted to join his Yacht Week trip, I responded with reluctance. I had doubts about joining an event I would not typically sign up for.
Yet… my desperation to temporarily escape, coupled with my knowledge & confidence in the effectiveness of our vaccines.. pulled me towards a spontaneous, moment-seizing, “yes.” Fast forward to September 2021: I’d held my breath all summer in anticipation of what could change & interfere with my chance to finally escape..
We made it.
Somehow, we got 34 people (in our group alone) over to Sardinia, safely vaccinated & with negative covid results in hand. And…34 people returned home, still negative for Covid. It might sound miraculous, given the way the virus is spreading in certain areas back home, but in actuality.. it just demonstrates the direct, positive correlation with behavior & prevention measures.
Of course, I’ve got much more to say about the trip itself but for now, this is an appreciation post: Gratitude for the privilege to have been vaccinated, for science, & for all of the people who worked tirelessly so that we could have a bit of respite from the work we all put in towards forward progress.
I’ve been missing y’all since Wednesday. I hope we can all get down to business again soon.
It just hit me that it’s over and I heard “the business” at the airport and burst into tears – I never thought tiesto would make me cry. I’m gonna miss you guys a lot
What an awesome week! with The Yacht Week! So thankful to have met all of you (and so many of you who I didn’t get a photo with but you know I love you ). I will cherish our connections and how much fun we had forever! Thanks The Monsoon Diaries for inviting us on this trip. I can always count on you for new experiences outside of my comfort zone!
Thank you . I didn’t realize how bad I needed that trip. I’m so antisocial sometimes but it really opened me up. I’m legit still crying
As a firm believer in being created and placed in our current lives for a purpose…the right place at the right time is no small thing. The late night walks over the course of just a few days definitely opened up a part of me that I had lost or maybe just allowed to be hidden away long ago… I’m very thankful and looking forward to future adventures and experiences.
Thanks for a great trip guys!! I had so much fun even though I was dying half the time lol. Look forward to hanging out in NY again and make up for all the late night convos i missed while I slept!!
Thanks for a great week! loved it.
Ditto to everything. Exceeded expectations. Hope to see everyone at some point soon! Also thanks Calvin. I’m sure you felt every pebble in the road that did come our way and that surely wasn’t easy.
So, how was yacht week’? this pretty much sums it up — here’s to my new favourite people.
Definitely hit the jackpot in my opinion. While the trip may have cost a pretty penny, the relationships fostered and experiences collectively are priceless. the potential of where these relationships and experiences can take us,
Phew! What a week. Thank you all for bringing your incredible souls, to adventure, to explore, and to open our hearts while party our brains out together. We had a stacked roster of people coming from all across the world – and collectively decided to spend a week sailing la costa smerelda with a bunch of strangers – now FAMILY . I love you all! This is just the beginning of extended shenanigans
Y’all got me feeling mad soft.
Excited for future reunions and monsoons
Justin and I just landed back in EWR . I’m loling at all the missed transportation!! At least we all made it into Olbia for such a fun week. Can’t wait to sleep for 24 hours straight lol but I had such an amazing week with all you incredible people! So glad I got to meet all of you. This is not goodbye, this is just a see you later!!
Another Monsoon in the books . Feeling so lucky and thankful for this experience to meet incredible new friends from all over the world! Too many to tag . As usual I wish I had taken more photos, but I suppose that is a reflection of living in the moment.
You listened to me when I was finally able to open about . . . You provided insights that I wouldn’t have been able to come up with on my own . . . our friendship has grown deeper for that and I’m so thankful.
Sailed across Sardinia and Corsica with a group of 25 yachts from all over the world and it was such a dream! Thanks to Calvin for bringing us together and everyone for the incredible memories.
Where do I even begin about the best week ever?! I was surrounded by like-minded, beautiful, extremely intelligent individuals in the same age range (except Trashley ) who have their shit together. Each of you contributed to this amazing week and my positivity and excitement throughout this trip This is why I had to include as many of you in this post.
My appreciation goes to The Monsoon Diaries who invited me on this incredible journey. As someone who grew up wanting to fit in with society, it caused me to become part of the same crowd minorities call “self-hate” group. I did not want to be identified with other Asians for most of my life. I learned so much about everyone and their similar experiences from this trip. I have learned so much about who I am and my experience and I am finally able to say I am proud to be an Asian American. https://linktr.ee/monsoondiaries
Bonifacio, Corsica perched atop a pristine medieval beach town with majestic white limestone cliffs hugging the sparkling shoreline …easily the best-kept secret in France and one of my new favorite places in the world, thanks to the crew The Monsoon Diaries x The Yacht Week who made this the trip of a lifetime.
I’ve only be awake for a few hours but can’t stop grinning. Feeling so lucky to have crossed paths with you all.
I would have never imagined agreeing to go on a trip like this . . . Unknowing and reluctantly saying yes to The Yacht Week was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Some of the most fondest memories were made with these once not too long ago strangers.
Special thanks to The Monsoon Diaries and The Yacht Week.
Agreed we are blessed~ this was such a smooth trip
I have after emotions so of course I’m crying now that I’m at the airport – I think the song will have way more emotion/ be better tomorrow
It’s those moments that go by so fast, but last in your memories forever – these are the times we live for
Met some amazing people on this trip and can’t wait for our next adventure! This is what’s possible when everybody’s got their shit together and is vaccinated and tested! Zero covid cases for any of us this entire trip.
Over the years, I’ve read dozens of Monsoon Diaries blog posts, listened to your speeches, interviews, and (currently listening to the recent Lucky Boys podcast on this flight to Athens) – building my interest to see more, learn more, be more, live more, and travel more. To be part of the journey visiting your last EU country, to be part of the first post-pandemic international monsoon, to finally having the courage to becoming a Monsooner – this was special.
Embarking on a journey to Cyprus with you and 10 other incredible Monsooners, was a dream come true. I have never traveled with a group of such genuine, adventurous, beautiful people who all down to share a journey with each other. The extensive planning, itinerary, and adapting to ever-changing situations really shined through, and contributed to the success of this trip. Since you don’t accept tips, the least I could do is sign up for more monsoons in the future.
While “Nicosia later” is bittersweet and y’all almost made me cry on multiple occasions, I am so grateful to have joined this monsoon; a monsoon that felt like a celebration of life, new friendships, and revitalization of traveling the world to our hearts’ desires again. It was such a privilege to be part of the journey, and thank you for making the monsoon magic happen.
Cheers to more adventures! Safe travels.
I’m having a tough time trying to put into words my feelings of this past week. The best I could come up with is that this trip really ‘hit different.’ This past year I felt like I was living outside my body. The past week I felt so present and joyful I stopped myself from crying multiple times a day. (I’m not crying right now, you’re crying)
Being surrounded by you all and engaging in meaningful and playful conversation while exploring a new place has reminded me of the beauty that exists in the world. I hope each one of you knows the immense level of badassaery you hold within you.
I would love to see you all again soon. I look forward to our paths crossing again in Sardinia. 🌊🚤💃👯👯♀️👯♂️🧉🍹🍾🍷🥳👙🍳🌅🍭
Miss yall too 😪. Hopefully we meet soon again 💓
THANK YOU ALL FOR A GREAT MONSOON ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
thanks to you and the crew for a transformational trip, definitely will try to do at least one monsoon a year 😃
Calvin, thank you as always for putting together monsoons that bring together such a diverse group of interesting people. Thank you for setting up monsoons where special moments and events have the potential to happen, it’s one of the best parts of monsooning. I really appreciate what you do and your friendship and support during monsoons. But this one was especially touching after such a tough year of being in a pandemic.
Definitely having withdrawals but also back on the hustle!! First day of a new job!! Did my first anesthesia, pacemaker, and emergency patients ever. Working 13 of the next 14 days until another trip. Monsoons are empowering when you are surrounded by baddassery x11 😎🙌🏼
All of this!!! 😭😂❤️ I was so nervous for this trip and now just feel like the luckiest person in the world to have met you all and spent the past week together. Tackling pandemic travel and life challenges together 👊🏼
Y’all are badass and I can’t wait for more adventures!!
Each and every one you of incredible humans, THANK YOU for an amazing first monsoon, best birthday EVER (seriously, this was epic),for sharing your stories, wisdom and for being part of such a special experience. This journey was inspiring, meaningful, and reignited the fire to travel the world again post pandemic. Till next time! (yacht week and beyond!! 🛥 ☀️🌊🌎) xoxo ❤️🤗
Currently sitting on the plane with Uriah sleeping next to me (thankfully without the alcohol 😂). Jeanette, Uriah and I (although 98% delusional from no sleep) were in shock that we are quite literally going to be In 3 countries at once within 12 hours LOL all while tackling Athens by foot. And both of which are doing this for the first time ❤️ Thank you all for a much needed post pandemic trip full of healing, love and recovery! Forgive me as I had to spend half my weekdays working through the evenings, but I appreciate you all for your patience, and the courage it took to get on a plane to come to a red taped, divided small island in the Mediterranean with 11 other strangers to share your stories, make a new friend and find a new home in us. I can hands down say this trip is the epitome of “independent, strong ass women” LOL this is the biggest group of women on a single trip I’ve witnessed and been on, but y’all crushed it. No drama, just good vibes, good energy, and endless support.
Deenah, special shout out for producing content and fighting through the exhaustion & your own hardships [back home]. You all took leaps of faith (more than you know) and I’m both humbled and honored you chose to leap with us. Uriah and Jeanette, blessed to be in NYC with you both and thank you for trusting me with your lives in Greece 🇬🇷 Donna, you know I love you but thank you for checking in on me during my work hours to see if I was OK. Mihaela, you already know the deal….don’t get me started. Let’s just cuddle LOL Belle, thanks for coming and being one of the chic-est fashionistas blessing us with your wisdom. Gina, for the best bartender story turned night club private access EVER. Patricia, for shedding new light on architecture and how we observe things from the outside in LOL and for taking the chance to love monsooning. Please don’t be strangers if you’re ever in NYC ❤️ time to have yachts of fun at yacht week 🚤🛥 for an epic reunion. FYI, I won’t be working at all then 😉 we’ll start that online shopping cart soon! And lastly, TY to calvin and ambrose for your patience with us and the awesome company LOLOL safe travels ❤️
I am a bit late to adding my own thanks and thoughts about the Cyprus Monsoon, but I don’t think I would be able to put together words as well as everyone else.
Like some people have pointed out this monsoon was a huge leap of faith after a year and a half of being in a frigging PANDEMIC! It reinvigorated my passion for travel and reminded me why I join monsoons in the first place. Everything that happened was a highlight for me, but my favorite was getting to hang out with such a big group of people who got along so well throughout the entire trip! Thank you everyone for all the stories that we made together and for all the future plans that we will make together. You all inspired, encouraged, and touched me deeply with your amazing energy throughout the trip. Until we all meet again, take care and stay strong! ❤️
I felt like we were in an alternate dimension; one where the pandemic is real but also distant — we traveled within the confines of the pandemic yet there were so many moments of what felt like freedom or some type of liberation from the confines of the virus even though the type of travel was because of the virus. I feel like the closest thing I could relate to is it felt like I was in a comic book and we would sometimes break the 4th wall. And now I’m crying again.
And Calvin- truly, it was wonderful. Thinking about it now, I’m so glad. For all of it.
Not gonna lie at one point looking at all the countries I have been to I felt a bit empty because of realizing how much more there is to see, but I’m excited to do so. White desert and yesterday am were some of the best things I have ever done. That silence in the desert is something that centers you and makes you stop and think about what you value and what you have.
Thank you again for every pre planned detail, every well thought out day, every surprise, everything! You crushed it and it was so thoroughly enjoyed. And moving forward I’ll see you in NYC ASAP.
Have to, I want to be your therapist – get you out of the ‘it’s just luck’ headspace. You deserve the good things that come your way 💜
And for all those who travelled along, thanks for the wonderful memories.. it wouldn’t have been nearly as amazing without you all. Cheers to all the new friends I’ve made, and looking forward to more Monsoons with you all. #MonsoonDiaries
But I woke up that second morning still tired. And when I got into the car to begin the trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, I barely had the energy to take pleasure in the beauty I was witnessing outside my window, let alone hold a conversation. So, after driving to the lookout in the Olympic Mountains National Park, I told Calvin I had decided to go home. After he asked what was on my mind, I just told him that very simply I was exhausted.
After a quiet pause, he just simply said “you have no more spoons”.
I can’t tell you what a relief it was to hear him say that — it is rare to have someone bring up the spoon analogy. I didn’t have to explain myself any further, because he got it.
The spoon theory was an article written several years ago by Christine Misanderino. In it, she tries to explain to a friend what it is like to live day-to-day with chronic illness. If you’ve never read it, you can check out the link in my profile. The spoon theory basically serves as a metaphor for fatigue and the mental or physical energy a person has available to perform everyday tasks of living. People with chronic illness just generally have less spoons.
Enter in the things that I don’t talk about here. I have lived with several auto-immune disorders for about a decade now. Many of my health problems served as a huge inspiration for me to go back to school. I don’t talk about them because I never wanted them to be an excuse. And to an outsider, it would be extremely difficult to perceive. I put myself through nursing school while working several jobs, become an ICU nurse, competed in triathlons and bike races, and traveled the world alone. I’ve climbed mountains in Morocco and gotten altitude sickness, had my first seizure on the streets of Mexico and, four years later had three of them my senior year of nursing school.
I diligently take 3 pills a day, every day, and have done so for years. I reign myself in, knowing that the energy I expend in one evening could prevent me from being clear-headed at work the next day. I have chronic infections that pop up when I’m stressed and overtired.
But I don’t talk about it. It’s not shame or fear of stigma, although I do pause to decide whether or not I want to check off the disability box on a job application. Because I don’t think of myself that way. Even when I kept getting new diagnoses, it was just a new thing I tucked under my belt. A new mystery for me to learn about myself, a new biology I had to learn, and, when looked at from that perspective, something to add to my medical book of knowledge. And when my patients look at me with fear or uncertainty and ask me how they will go on with whatever new illness that they have, I can press their hand and tell them, “I know that it’s scary, but it doesn’t have to run your life.”
Because I do know. And I ran myself right up against that wall and, once so got there, completely depleted, with no spoons left, there isn’t anything left to do but sit down and rest until they come back again. It’s with gratitude that I know my body so well and can say what I need.
Do I wish I could have finished the trip? Absolutely.
But never have I felt like I’ve been held back and I don’t feel that now. I got to see more of this beautiful country than I ever have before. I’ve met incredible people. I was joyously reunited with others. And I do believe, to the depths of my being, that I did finish the journey that I was meant to go on. That I poured everything I could into the experience and that I have received far more than I even realize now, in this moment.
Calvin is the most accommodating and caring group leader I have ever met. He really went out of his way to perfectly plan our trip and make sure we experienced everything there was to the fullest. It was nice to have a mix of tour-like organization and time to explore however and wherever we wanted. So worth it!
I’m really grateful for the words of advice and shadowing experience you gave me, and wanted to say thank you! They were an important part of my journey
But Monsoon Diaries is not your usual group travel. Monsoon Diaries is more like – a friend corralling 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?
As I reflect back on this amazing awesome trip I’ve had exploring Africa and some really amazing places (The Monsoon Diaries Goes Off The Coast Of Tanzania!) I realize that I am incredibly lucky and privileged to be able to go on these adventures.
Throughout the trip I saw two extremes of the affects of the climate crisis and the preservation of our natural landscape. In many countries we visited plastic bags were banned, water and electric was conserved and efforts were made to empower the local populations to find work in land and animal preservation. On the flip side, we visited places like Madagascar, Mauritius and Comoros where they are literally tossing all their garbage by the side of the road and burning rainforest in order to create viable farmland.
Because of this, I’ve calculated the carbon emission cost of the flights for this incredible trip (~10 carbon tons, which btw is half the global per person averages 😳 ) via myclimate.com and made a donation to https://support.conservationfund.org/…/Donation2;jsessionid… to offset this carbon emission.
This is just one organization working to change our global climate crisis, and I would encourage those who are as lucky as I am to recognize that the same privilege that allows them to take these trips can be used for some good.
I honestly didn’t think that much could happen in a two-day trip. For me, sometimes a week would go by like a dream. The Antigua and Barbuda trip really helped me understand that it’s not about how much time we have, but how present we are in those moments.
Thank you for putting together this trip. Also thank you for showing me the city that means so much to you. I see why it’s your favorite.
It was one of the best experiences of my life. Very good organization.. The company was amazing…!! Many thanks Calvin D. Sun, for the perfect trip, best company…many greetings to all from Greece, we are waiting all of you in Greece the summer!!! Hope to see you soon ..!!! ❤️
Thank you again so much for inviting me to join I had so much fun and everyone was lovely 💕 … I will also bring you a French gift in February when I come over to NY 🙂
Just landed in NY – I wanted to say this trip was an amazing experience, and I miss y’all a lot already. Special shout out to Calvin and Ann for working hard to create and execute on an amazing itinerary, and I really value the interactions I had with each and every one of you. Keep in touch, and can’t wait to see you soon!
Also 🧀🧀 time- thanks Calvin for showing us around somewhere as important to your life and as close to your heart as Budapest! Thanks Ann for all the planning! And thanks everyone for making this trip what it became!!
I highly recommend traveling with The Monsoon Diaries. I enjoyed every moment of my first monsoon with Calvin. He and Ann did a great job planning the whole thing so that we could experience all the must dos and sees within a span of only 4 or 5 days. You’ll come home full of stories to tell and wishing you were back. Prague + Budapest was my first monsoon but definitely not my last
Yeah honestly man, none of this would’ve been the possible without you. Past couple days definitely had a pretty big impact. Looking forward to the next adventure.
Thank you Calvin! Thanks for all your hard work organizing this trip. Much appreciation for you! 10个星的领导！哈哈
Hey we just landed in Athens! We had a lot of fun hanging out with you guys. Thanks for having us. Enjoy Budapest!!
Thank you Ann for convincing Calvin to do this trip and for making plans and letting me tag along. Thank you Calvin for organizing the trip and creating a packed itinerary. Also it was a great pleasure and honor hanging out with everyone and I hope that we will meet again soon-ish. 😃 See y’all next time!
I want to take a brief moment to write about my recent spring vacation to Cuba. I only had a week, and couldn’t lose days flying over multiple time zones, so Europe and Asia were out, and it had to be Central America or the Caribbean (South America flight times too long.) So I chose the Caribbean, and I wanted to choose an island to which I have never been, and “off the beaten path.”
I spoke to my good friend from college Dr. Calvin Sun of The Monsoon Diaries and he suggested Cuba. And he put me in touch with his colleague Alistair Riddell of Young Pioneer Tours, who does Cuban tours.
And that was that–I arranged for my own airline ticket, and they took care of lodging, activities, guides, etc–the only thing I was responsible for on my own while down there was my food (except for breakfast–breakfast is included) and of course drinks and cigars. This saved me a lot of $$. Previously when I had been booking vacations, I would simply go on Priceline and book a package including flight & hotel so as to simplify it as much as possible. Or go on there for the flight, and AirBnB for the lodging. But I saved a lot of $$ going through Monsoon/YPT as they provided me prime locations WITH English speaking tour guides every day of my trip (in fact Alistair, the head of Cuban YPT, did 3/4 days of my Cuban tours in Havana–and it was great 1×1 tours–and he knows a lot about and is passionate about Havana and Cuba in general).
In Varadero, the beach resort town, the accommodations . . . was a ~5 minutes walk from the beach. And I very much enjoyed Varadero–some of the most beautiful crystal-clear blue waters and fine sands I have seen not only of any beaches in the Caribbean, but the world–and trust me, I’ve been some places.
So that’s it–you book your ticket–and they take care of the rest, and you will not only save $$, but you will get yourself the cultural immersion you will just not get if you go to one of these places blind not knowing what to do. So I recommend them wholeheartedly, and in fact maybe joining Cal for his September Japan trip and End of the World trip at year’s end. If you need any further info please feel free to ask me, or reach out to Cal directly via his website below or for Young Pioneer Tours, visit their website.
Thank you so much to everyone that donated and made my trip to Haiti possible. I’m still processing all that I saw and experienced, but the trip was incredible, and I can honestly say that we made a difference.
We learned from the staff of Hospital Bernard Mevs and we shared with them our knowledge and experience as well. We worked on patients with spinal injuries, gunshot wounds, electrocutions, and congenital illnesses. We treated babies that were so malnourished, they required intensive care. We gave our blood, sweat and tears, and will be sure to return one day and do it all again.
Thank you again to Calvin D. Sun for organizing the trip, to the staff of Bernard Mevs . . . thank you so much.
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!
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.
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!
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.
While I was getting ready to board Thursday night at JFK, a huge billboard near the gate read “People don’t take trips. Trips take people.” Sounded pretty catchy and all. After I landed back in JFK yesterday night, the message took a deeper meaning. I’ve traveled before, but for once…I feel like this trip took me. Trips always seemed high maintenance for me. From packing a shit-ton and planning every little thing to being cautious of everything that comes with being in a new and foreign place. Was always busy asking myself, “What could go wrong?” But this time, I found myself asking, “What can go right?”
It felt more effortless and low-maintenance this time. The company was great. And I feel great, most importantly. I realized a lot about myself. A lot I’ve been suppressing or telling myself not to think or feel because it’d upset the opinions and thoughts of everyone else around me. Never stopped to really think for myself and feel for myself; but for my parents, my best friends, my friends, and boyfriend.
Since I didn’t know how to not burn myself on fire to keep others warm..I grew comfortable and accustomed to the idea of the warmth I was giving off and receiving…even if it meant I was doing it in an unhealthy way by sacrificing a part of myself and my own happiness. Felt super nice letting go of all the baggage (literally and figuratively). . . . when everyone wanted to go chill and drink, I wanted to bike so I did just that. . . .
. . . . And I guess that’s what self-love does for you. It allows you to give others so much love without expecting anything in return from others because you are already receiving sufficient love from yourself. You don’t need anyone but yourself. You can want them, but you don’t need them. You can live without them, but you choose not to. You are the one giving love to yourself. . . .
. . . . I’m so glad I didn’t shy away from this. I’m so glad I didn’t say no to you and this trip. I’m grateful for the nudge. And I’m grateful for you, and everyone else that opened my eyes and made my vision a little clearer. I’m most grateful for myself because I feel like I just took 100 leaps forward from all the steps I’ve been taking back. There’s a liberation that comes with loving yourself, and I got to taste and feel a tiny, tiny part of it from this trip this past weekend. All of this self-realization and self-confrontation was step 1. . . . Thanks for giving me the chance to see the part of myself I tried to not see for a long time.
Australia & New Zealand, and Japan…so far
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 https://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 🙂
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
I would like to recommend the Monsoon Diaries. I am a repeat client, and will likely repeat again the next time I get the chance to take a holiday. My first trip with them was Cuba in April 2018, where Alistair Riddell, the director of Young Pioneer Tours in Cuba, was my personal tour guide. This was definitely a good trip to take and Alistair is the man to see if you want to have a great time in Cuba.
My review however is for my most recent trip with them, the “Least VisitedCountries” tour, which took place from late December 2018 through mid-January 2019, and covered 5 of the least visited countries in the world (#1 Nauru, #3 Tuvalu, #4 Kiribati, #7 The Marshall Islands, & #15 The Solomon Islands) as well as Vanuatu & Fiji. This was one of the best trips/cultural immersions on which I have ever personally been, and I’ve been some places.
We saw some of most unspoilt white powder sandy beaches as well as crystal clear blue waters in the world (these islands are in the middle of the south Pacific Ocean), and we had reliable and trusted local guides to give us a true cultural immersion of the locales in which we stayed. And on top of that we had YPT leader Gaz Jonsen guiding us on this trip as well as Alistair Riddell of YPT Cuba, as was my good friend Dr. Calvin Sun of The Monsoon Diaries, whose passion for travel and adventure is parallel to none.
So these guys combined with the local guides on the ground in each of the countries which we visited provided a cultural immersion that simply would not have been possible were one to take on a travel endeavor like this on their own.
So I recommend and endorse the Monsoon Diaries, and I look forward to my next excursion with them.
I’m so blessed to have met each and every one of you. Until we meet again my fellow globetrotters!
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!!
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.
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.
It’s been amazing! Great food, making new friends, and truly inspiring Gaudi architecture. Proud to be a Monsooner.
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 Plovidv with The Monsoon Diaries!
AGAIN A BILLION THANKS and continue to do this important work. Now I’m thinking about my first solo trip and I SOOOOOOOO excited. Can’t wait for the BALKINS! YOU’RE A SPECIAL PERSON!
I’m sitting in the airport lowkey crying because I’m missing everyone already and looking back on these three weeks is giving me the feels. So bare with me as I get sappy for a sec.
I’ve been traveling for 5.5 months now, and I’ve had some truly incredible experiences but I don’t think any of them standout as much as this group of people that started out as strangers but quickly became family (I think it was the mafia and ridding each other off that really solidified our bonding). I learned so much from each of you, and a lot about myself as a result of the connections we created and experiences we had. So thank you all for being part of this experience with me and helping me wrap up my travels with a bang.
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!
I just want to say that despite all my jabs, Calvin is one of the best people to travel with. I feel our personalities mesh really well in the stress and joy that travel situations can bring, and even if I am in a crappy mood or tired or feeling snippy, he balances it out with shared frustration or humor and lightness. This is one of those moments…
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!
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!
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!
The trip to Tibet was intense; between the altitude sickness, brutal cold winds in Shigatse, and constant scaling up monasteries, I was ready to fly home by the last day. Despite all of this, the experience allowed me to show a lot of compassion towards myself; during my trip, I was convinced I had to figure out a lot of things on my own since most of the people in the group felt very comfortable with each other. The people I met on this trip were very supportive and luckily, Calvin created flexible itineraries in case we wanted to rest a bit more than the others.
The people you meet in the Tibetan cities had a welcoming curiosity about people who were not from Tibet. Even if you could not speak Mandarin, a smile and a wave of your hand was worth more than any RMB you could offer to the “Future Buddhas” in Tibet. Even if I was not fluent in Mandarin, I was grateful for Calvin encouraging me to use what I remembered in the Bazaars in Lhasa. That was a big step for me, in terms of guiding other members of the group on how they should approach bargaining with locals. It’s been 6+ years since I’ve used Mandarin but it was one of the best moments of the trip for me.
Also, most people think Calvin’s trips are not complete without a hookah session; however, the real truth of it is that his trips are not complete until you have delved into the deepest parts of yourself during the group conversations and realizing you are already more than you thought you were (from the beginning of the trip).
As for Beijing, it will always be one of my favorite cities (Xi’an is a close second!). People are a lot more helpful and friendly than you would expect. It’s even better to see people’s faces light up when you geive them RMB with two hands or even say ‘ni hao’ or ‘zaijian.’ If you know a few words in Mandarin, Beijing will reward you with a lot of unexpected happy memories. I’m in Beijing for a couple more days but I will really miss it when I go back to the USA. No doubt, I will miss the food, company, and irreplaceable scenery of Tibet as well.
It was quite the adventure, all thanks to Calvin and The Monsoon Diaries.
Thanks again for everything! Can’t wait till the next adventure!
Made it back to JFK, again, thanks again Calvin for another awesome and memorable trip!
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.
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!
Let me go ahead and say it was absolutely worth it. . . .
I found that, for me, merging my trans identity with travel can be a radical act of self-love by saying “fuck you” to the system that is designed to hold us down and doing something for me simply because I deserve it even though we live in a world that teaches trans people that we aren’t worthy. Traveling while trans has taught me that I am worthy and has inspired me to take on the world as an out trans person, carving out a space for my existence to be seen and validated. . . . (more)
The countries that we went to were places that I never thought I’d set foot on. A few fond moments were: chancing upon a bioluminescent filled body of water while swimming in Bacau on a starlit/moonlit night. Hitchhiking through Kosovo after taking a dip in a cold ass spring by Radavc cave. Trying to find god in a monastery on the side of a cliff. Almost being stranded on an island in Palawan when a typhoon came and cancelled our flights. (That was moreso an adventure for and a testament to Calvin’s wizardry with bookings while I was chilling on a beach by a giant bonfire)
In addition to getting you feet wet with travel, you’ll also meet random ass strangers that have a similar sense of adventure. By the end of the trip, it will be uncanny that you once thought of these close friends as strangers.
Also food…so good. Everywhere
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!!!!!
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).
I just wanted to reach out and say thank you so much for planning out such an awesome trip! [Our guide and friend] Aaron really did an amazing job and we were sure to give him the nicest bed at all the hostels as a minor thank you.
I also wanted to let you know that I appreciate you booking everything. This was one of the best experiences of my life, and without a doubt the best travel experience! I definitely plan on going on more trips and will keep an eye out for The Monsoon Diaries.
I can’t believe it’s the last day of an amazing journey with these goof balls (and of course everyone else who isn’t pictured). Tonight we say our goodbyes as they fly home tomorrow while I board a 40 hour train back to Beijing where I’ll then spend 2 more days exploring and hiking the Great Wall. Thanks for an amazing 3 weeks. ❤️
I had a lot of fun. Definitely a memorable trip. Taylan is fantastic and awww… so responsible and detail oriented!
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.
Thank you for being in this trip. Hope I can see you again soon!
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.
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.
That seemed to be a theme for the day compared to a lot of my recent trips. I was focused on just enjoying the moment instead of capturing every single moment which was a nice change of pace. Don’t get me wrong, I still took photos, it just wasn’t as obsessively as I tend to be.
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!
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.
It was great meeting all of you guys. Thanks for the wonderful memories. Expecting a lot of great pics during the week.
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!
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
Thanks for everything during this insane, hilarious, awesome and memorable trip.
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 [Calvin] for all you have and continue to do with leading us.
It was great to meet everyone, thank you so much for making this trip incredible! Of course, biggest thanks to Calvin for putting this together and making it all possible! Keep in touch everyone and see you in NYC soon for a reunion!
Omg its only been a day back home and I already have withdrawal. Miss you guys!
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!
Calvin is also great at making sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time. I highly recommend Monsoon if you are too lazy to plan your own trip and want to meet like-minded travellers that you don’t have to actively seek out!
It’s been one hell of an adventure. From Chicago to San Francisco, wouldn’t have it any other way.
My feet are tired, my stomach is satisfied, my mind is joyful, my soul is captivated and my heart is heavy as I bid farewell to this incredible journey that, for me, has been about giving myself room to breath and second chances. The places I’ve seen, people I’ve met and conversations I’ve had over the past 3 weeks and 9,000+ miles will forever be ingrained in my memory.
I’m not yet ready to go back to the familiar, but rather yearning to continue exploring the world, learning about others and growing as a person all while living out of a backpack. But alas, the term beckons so until the next adventure I bid you adieu.
thank you Calvin D. Sun! life changed forever in the winter of 2012! Thank you to you and all of the Ukraine/Poland monsooners for inspiring me to NEVER stop . What a wonderful group of people to start my world adventures with ❤.
It was a wonderful experience! Thank you so much!
We should do another one sometime. 🙂
My Route 66 Family of Road Warriors It’s been real and unreal.
This was really out of my comfort zone. Which I needed!
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.
Thanks again for the opportunity to travel with you all…it was such a wonderful experience.
Thanks for a good time Monsoon Diaries 🙂
Live life like a movie for 10 days, then snap back to reality!
Flawless weekend…yes, I said flawless…don’t let that get to your head.
Thanks for the trip. I’ve meet some incredible people and had some unforgettable experiences during our travels.
It’s been an amazing journey together over the last two weeks…Homebound after an amazing trip.
Thanks for letting me monsoon with you, Calvin! I definitely had a great experience seeing Southeast Asia with you. . . . Hope the rest of your trip is going well, and maybe we’ll be able to monsoon again in the future.
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…!
When I first looked into spending three weeks with The Monsoon Diaries backpacking through Russia, Mongolia, China and Tibet, I couldn’t be more excited at the possibility. But I was also terrified. It’s not like those are places that are known for being LGBT-friendly but rather the exact opposite. I mean who doesn’t remember the controversy from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi? I kept questioning whether or not the experience would be worth the fear, discomfort and risk.
I found that, for me, merging my trans identity with travel can be a radical act of self-love by saying “fuck you” to the system that is designed to hold us down and doing something for me simply because I deserve it even though we live in a world that teaches trans people that we aren’t worthy. Traveling while trans has taught me that I am worthy and has inspired me to take on the world as an out trans person, carving out a space for my existence to be seen and validated. . . . (more)
Alana and I always say that Ukraine was the best, most well rounded, trip.
It was a blast! Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts, along with your hand warmers and beers. It’s been a serious pleasure getting to know all of you and I’m humbled by all of your experiences and stories. . . .And finally, Calvin, thank you thank you thank you for leading by example. I’m sure our paths will cross many times again.
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.
Hey! Just wanted to say thanks for letting me discover the Palawan trip. It was an awesome trip and I had a great time!
Also, I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but thanks for giving your talk on traveling at MAASU a couple years ago. It definitely sparked the wanderlust in me, and also played a role in my decision to take a semester off and come to Singapore. I know we only talked for a couple minutes, but I think it’s fair to say that it’s made a big impact on me.
So thanks again, and hopefully I’ll be able to join you on [another] trip sometime!
It’s the most epic trip I’ve ever taken. . . . Special thanks to The Monsoon Diaries and Young Pioneer Tours for making this the trip of a lifetime!
This was such an amazing trip and I’m so glad that we had a perfect mix of new friends that came together that made it so fun and memorable. Definitely surreal and felt like a dream with TONS of photos and videos.
Have safely returned from the most remote place on earth with Young Pioneer Tours and the Monsoon Diaries — feeling great.
Antarctica is met stip binnen gekomen als de indrukwekkendste ervaring tot nu toe.
Thanks to everyone part of the Monsoon Diaries/YPT Antarctica trip for making the experience even more memorable and fun. Keep striving!
My trip was amazing. What an incredible end to the year with an expedition to Antarctica and a floating party. Can’t imagine a more perfect mix of friends to experience Antarctica with.
Unforgettable trip to the white desert!
We had wonderful days in Antarctica with lovely and stinky penguins. – Arti
Ice and penguins and more ice and snow and glaciers and a perfect honeymoon. – Dennis
I wanted to thank everyone for sharing this experience with me. Calvin reminded me the night of Ruchika’s birthday 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. I made a comment to some of you that 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!
I left the country for the first time ever spring break. As people know, West Point doesn’t have many opportunities to have big travel plans, but thanks to Calvin D. Sun I was able to work (through the magic he taught me) a trip overseas for the first time in my life! Thank you so much Calvin! . . . . You all have been so kind and generous to me and I owe you all next time you’re in NYC!
I was able to travel to Madrid, Ibiza, Tangiers, Meknes, Casa Blanca, and Rabat! In total for traveling expenses I spent less than $500! I am so lucky to have people like you in my life and have the experience of a new culture as well! And on top of that: I made friends with a world famous Egyptian Opera Singer!! My spring break is going down in the books as the best one yet! I love you guys!
A trip to Antarctica is the reason why I started flight club for you!
Have you felt exhausted after work and just burnt out by the daily grind ?
Thats how I felt in 2012 when I had spent 3 years starting my company TeliportMe and building P360. I was out of money and burnt out with the 18 hour work shifts, I was sleeping on my friends floor and eating ramen, feeling frustrated with my situation and I wanted to get out.
One day while I was going through my Facebook feed and I came across my friend Calvins’ post about a 15 day trip to Antarctica at the end of the year; it cost 4000 USD for the trip excluding the airfare. I don’t know what possessed me and I decided that I wanted to do it, I had to pay 500 USD to reserve my spot and I could pay the remaining one month before departure of the trip i.e 8 months later. I spent 500 USD out of my 650 USD bank balance and booked the trip. Just like that I had something amazing to look forward to and my life seemed just a little bit more hopeful, those 8 months were possibly my most productive 8 months of the previous 30 months and I had a spring in my step, I worked as a freelancer to pay for my trip while working as a full time Founder & CEO at TeliportMe.
For me, booking the trip itself made my life a little brighter and I went from being burnt out; to rejuvenated. It cost me 500 USD upfront but being someone who is not into material things the travel experience seemed like the perfect way to get me motivated to wake up everyday to work and get through some otherwise mind numbing work because I knew I had this amazing trip to look forward to.
Since that trip in 2013, I have travelled to 44 countries (not a single ticket more than 500 USD roundtrip) in the last 4 years and I have become a better person learnt some empathy towards different cultures and learnt a few more languages.
I want everyone to be able to experience this for themselves and if you are someone that needs a change or just wants to destress yourself you should be able to find a great place to travel to. That’s a huge part of why I started this Flight Club and I shall be sending you more and more deals in the coming weeks based on the location you have selected as your departure region.
If you have not selected a region yet please click on this link -> https://teliportme.com/flightclub-select-region
I hope you can find a deal you love and do send me a note if you use it to travel or if there are any specific places you would like to travel to 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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!
I just wanted to say what a pleasure it was to travel with you all. It was a trip in every sense of the word, and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to share the unique experience with such a diverse group. I hope that our paths cross again whether it be a visit to each others’ home cities or serendipitously abroad. If you are ever in the Southern California area, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email or give me a ring.
Lastly, here is a quote that I wanted to recite over a toast at our last dinner in Krakow (thanks again, Calvin!) since I thought it fit our adventure well, but I did not want to butcher it: “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton
I had a great time with you mate – would love to travel with you again, so if not this time (although feeling good about this time), keep me updated as I’m sure I can hop onto your next trip.
Calvin, thanks for the experience I am gonna convince more Columbia Kappas to go do a Monsoon Diaries adventure!
Dude, get your 7 hours [of sleep] tonight. You need it, LOL! I had fun. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you real soon!
I must admit you are quite committed. I am impressed. Will definitely travel again. Thanks for everything (our fearless leader)!
. . . . Had an incredible time with these guys. If you love to travel definitely check out monsoondiaries.com . . . Amazing time. Great peoples to travel with. Go check it out.
Had an awesome time in Iceland, thanks so much for organizing everything. I will definitely stay tuned for future Monsoon adventures!
Had a blast in Iceland!
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.
. . . 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. . . .
Thank you for planning an amazing trip to Central America – it was an awesome experience! . . . I look forward to traveling with you again, perhaps when you go back to India!
Traveling to Iran with Calvin and the Monsooners was such an amazing, insightful adventure. I met friends and explored places that I’ll remember for a lifetime.
Thanks for the great trip as well. Tell everyone it was great meeting them!
[Since my first trip with The Monsoon Diaries], I’ve been to more places in the last year than I have been in my entire life. And in another seven days, I will board a plane for my fourth Monsoon in the last year, this time to Eastern Europe, as a third-time veteran of The Monsoon Diaries’ family. . . .
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.
Words really don’t teach but it was you being an example that help me realize it; I knew you would be an amazing doctor and traveler.
. . . . I really don’t know how you do it as a world traveler and a Med student at Columbia, but now I know for sure there is no excuse and anything is possible if you have the passion and the love and it is thanks to you.
You are all around one of the most inspiring individuals I’ve had the opportunity to meet. Thanks again for such a great trip.
[Remembering] this, after only a few days of home life, brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for a life changing experience. The highs and lows of the last two weeks are the reason why it would be the best two weeks of my life.
Thanks for doing all the planning, teaching us all the survival tips and being a fun and reliable leader for all of us. I got a lot out of this trip.
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.
Thanks for doing all the planning, teaching us all the survival tips and being a fun and reliable leader for all of us. I got a lot out of this trip.
You toughened us up man.
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