2012 – 2011


Destination Arrival
1 Odessa, Ukraine December 26, 2012
2 Pervomaysk, Ukraine December 27, 2012
3 Kiev, Ukraine December 27, 2012
4 Pripyat, Ukraine December 28, 2012
5 Lviv, Ukraine December 29, 2012
6 Medyka, Poland December 29, 2012
7 Krakow, Poland December 30, 2012
8 Auschwitz, Poland December 30, 2012
9 Warsaw, Poland December 31, 2012
10 Frankfurt, Germany December 31, 2012
11 New York City, USA December 31, 2012

Monsooners: Mandy Cheuk, Cynthia “The Veteran” Koo, Kai Tan, Carolyn Hou, Ying Zhu, Andrew “Hot Wheels” Chang, Simon Lu, Olgi Qendro, Ry “Shredder” Willie, Jan Elma “Green Lights” Ferrer, Jennifer “Crime Scene” Le, Ruchika “Sangria” Sangani, Alana Tung, Krystle Jiang, Maria “DREAMer” Villa, Gareth “The Guvnor” Johnson


“I had no idea what “backpacking” meant before I joined the Calvin & the Monsoon Diaries family. Boy was I in for a rollercoaster ride! My first ever trip outside of the USA was to Ukraine, Poland, & Germany with Calvin and 17 beautiful souls that I’d never met before. My life changed forever in the winter of 2012 because of this trip! I was so inspired by everyone I was surrounded by on that trip, that I still to this very day carry their stories and their wisdom with me on every single travel journey I’ve had after. I travel with so much ‘backpacker knowledge’ now because of this trip with the Monsoon Diaries – I learned that there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t travel. I think this is how everyone should start their traveling story: by first traveling with Calvin & the Monsoon Diaries because after that, you’re set for life on how to maneuver the roads of the world!

I’m so blessed to have met each and every one of you. Until we meet again my fellow globetrotters!” – Maria Villa


“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, Vee Em extending her family’s hospitality, etc… yep, truly something special.” – Jan Ferrer


“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!” – Maria Villa


“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” – Jan Ferrer


“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.” – Carolyn Hou


“Alana and I always say that Ukraine was the best, most well rounded, trip.” – Ruchika Sangani


“[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—and with newly granted co-blogging privileges . . .” – Cynthia Koo



Destination Arrival
1 Dusseldorf, Germany April 6, 2012
2 Vienna, Austria April 6, 2012
3 Tehran, Iran April 7, 2012
4 Shiraz, Iran April 8, 2012
5 Persepolis, Iran April 9, 2012
6 Yazd, Iran April 10, 2012
7 Isfahan, Iran April 11, 2012
8 Tehran, Iran April 14, 2012
9 Frankfurt, Germany April 14, 2012
10 Geneva, Switzerland April 14, 2012
11 Berne, Switzerland April 15, 2012

Monsooners: Sonny “The Romantic” Tieu, Gai Olivaires, Andrew “The German” Chu, Evan “The Interpreter” Jones, Anna Wong, Jade Shyu, Nina “Weapon of Mass Destruction” Yang, Cynthia “Why I Move” Koo, Gareth “The Guvnor” Johnson


“Sorry for this late response but never really had the courage to thank you for the organizing and planning our Iran trip. I grew and learn a lot about myself because of everyone on that trip. I meant what I said about you inspiring me as a human being. I should have done things that I only love to do and to take action in accomplishing my dreams and and love of life.

Words really don’t teach but it was you being an example that help me realize it. I know 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.” – Anonymous


“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.” – Jade Shyu


Destination Arrival
1 Barcelona, Spain December 23, 2011
2 Madrid, Spain December 25, 2011
3 Granada, Spain December 27, 2011
4 Cordoba, Spain December 27, 2011
5 Seville, Spain December 28, 2011
6 Gibraltar, Gibraltar December 29, 2011
7 Algeciras, Spain December 29, 2011
8 Tangiers, Morocco December 29, 2011
9 Kenitra, Morocco December 29, 2011
10 Fez, Morocco December 30, 2011
11 Marrakesh, Morocco December 31, 2011
12 Lisbon, Portugal January 2, 2012

Monsooners: June “Mamabear” Kao, Jane “In the Zone” Yee, Go Yang “Artistry in Motion” Park, Calvin “Baby Calvin” Lin, Melissa “Dora the Explorer” Le, Seulbee “The Badass” Lee, Yiru “The Other Badass” Li


“You toughened us up man.” – Calvin Lin

“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.” – Seulbee Lee

“Thanks for the awesome trip. I came out poorer in the wallet but richer as a person.” – Jane Yee

“[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.” – Melissa Le


Destination Arrival
1 Miami, United States November 23, 2011
2 Guatemala City, Guatemala November 24, 2011
3 Panajachel, Guatemala November 24, 2011
4 Antigua, Guatemala November 25, 2011
5 Flores, Guatemala November 26, 2011
6 Tikal, Guatemala November 26, 2011
7 Belize City, Belize November 27, 2011
8 Ambergris Caye, Belize November 27, 2011

Monsooners: Anna Wong, Cynthia “The Newbie” Koo, Maria “The Translator” Funes

Remarks: “You are all around one of the most inspiring individuals I’ve had the opportunity to meet. Thanks again for such a great trip.” – Maria Funes