|1||Manila, The Philippines||December 2, 2014|
|2||El Nido, The Philippines||December 3, 2014|
|3||Secret Lagoon, Palawan||December 4, 2014|
|4||Big Lagoon, Palawan||December 5, 2014|
|5||Puerto Princesa, Palawan||December 7, 2014|
|6||Bali, Indonesia||December 8, 2014|
|7||Dili, East Timor||December 9, 2014|
|8||Bacau, East Timor||December 11, 2014|
|9||Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei||December 13, 2014|
Monsooners: Gareth “The Guvnor” Johnson, Samantha “FML” Kay Miller, Dave “Tarzan” Zhou, Alfred “20 Questions” Yeung, Tan “Lieutenant Tan” Nguyen, June “Mamabear” Kao, James “Leaps of Faith” Stephens, Lilliane “High Stakes” Ng, Kevin “Rabies” Zhao, Mariam “The Queen” Dar, Jenny “Ayurveda” Chu, Gordon “The Trainer” Pan, Anthony “The Artist” Lui, Christina “Detours” Gee, Eric “Where’s The Party Yaar?” Chen, Adison “One Shoe” Song, Tim “GoFlow” Chen, Jennifer “The Nomad Strawberry” Li, Christina “Conference Calls” Elise
Guest Star and Loyal Monsooner: Andrew “Hot Wheels” Chang
Remarks: “With Calvin leading the pack, I went on a trip with Monsoon Diaries a few years ago (Palawan in Philippines) and had a fantastic time with a sizeable but close-knit group of travellers. The itinerary was carefully planned but not set up in a systematic way that made it feel too “tour group”-ish. Other than shimmery blue oceans and sandy beaches, the fact that I was with such fun and engaging people made me appreciate the trip even more. (I’m still pen pals with one of the travellers I met from this trip! Hi Tan 👋🏼)
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!” – Lilliane Ng
“I’ve been on two trips so far, South East Asia and Balkans, and I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences with The Monsoon Diaries. It is the type of trip where it will test your limits and come out with a story to tell, whether it’s emotional, physical, or spiritual. These are not trips where you stay at resorts catered to an American sensibility, but these are well planned out trips that take in account the history and geography of the place. If you plan to join one of these trips to fulfill your need for adventure, party with a bunch of cool people, go to different clubs and bars, yes, probably you’ll get that, but you’ll also get to know these places with intimacy where its history (both the wretched and marvelous) gets intertwined with your experience.
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” – Anthony Lui
“The Monsoon Diaries is not your average tour group. Yes, they will take you to cool places not often visited (for me, it was the Palawan Islands in the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and nearly all of Central Asia). Yes, Calvin is very cool and relatable. And yes, the people who go are also very cool. But in hindsight, what really set the Monsoon Diaries apart was their opportunity to let me see who I was as a person. There is an itinerary to each trip, and that the itinerary always includes ample Individual Time. Don’t know how to entertain yourself without your 4G smart phone in a foreign country whose language you don’t understand? This is the time to find out. Both of my trips enabled me to experience and to begin to understand a new part of our word, both on my terms and with a group of people in search of something as well (sometimes that something was just the next beer, but hey, that’s okay too!).” – Tan Nguyen
“Thanks again for the opportunity to travel with you all…it was such a wonderful experience.” – James Stephens
“Happy Lunar New Year! Aside from the usual family, friends, health and wealth that I’m grateful for, I’m also thankful to YPT and The Monsoon Diaries for helping me discover the world and decide to become a “nomad expat” 3 years ago! I’ve been on 4 trips already and even led a group in Southeast Asia, can’t wait for the next one.
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!” – Dave Zhou
“13 cool kids + 1 army jeep in East Timor…can’t get crazier than this! [And, Baucau]: one of the best nights hands down. By chance was able to join up and tour Southeast Asia with Calvin; looking forward to future trips!” – Tim Chen
“Thanks for a good time Monsoon Diaries :-)” – Lilliane Ng
“Having withdrawals” – Mariam Dar
“Thanks for the trip. I’ve meet some incredible people and had some unforgettable experiences during our travels.” – Anthony Lui
“How we roll out in one of the NEWEST COUNTRY of the world” – Eric Chen
“Missing…monsooning” – Jenny Chu
“For the first few days since coming back from SE Asia, I was suffering from a case of the post-vacation blues. I probably wasn’t ready to leave sunny SE Asia and return to the drudgery of my day-to-day ‘real’ life. But what I’ve come to believe is that a big reason why the trip was so fantastic was because everyday I was hanging with fantastic people like you. I am reminded that there are also fantastic people in my ‘real’ life, and they too are making my life great. Now, I am past my post-vacation blues, and things are generally swell. I have great memories from the trip, and I hope I can remember this trip’s lesson of surrounding myself with fantastic people in the real world.
It has been a true privilege to meet and travel with you all, and I hope to see you again in any part of the world.” – Tan Nguyen
“Flawless weekend…yes, I said flawless…don’t let that get to your head” – Jennifer Li
“It’s been an amazing journey together over the last two weeks…Homebound after an amazing trip.” – Alfred Yeung
“Thanks for letting me monsoon with you, Calvin! I definitely had a great experience seeing Southeast Asia with you. Sorry I couldn’t explore East Timor with you, it was just a little bit too much for me. Hope the rest of your trip is going well, and maybe we’ll be able to monsoon again in the future.” – Kevin Zhao
“[Baucau]: one of the best nights hands down” – Tim Chen
“It’s been 10 years, back with 16 semi-strangers and exploring this wondrous city with fresh eyes” – Mariam Dar
“Calvin, Thank you for the experience” – Christina Gee
“Live life like a movie for 10 days, then snap back to reality!” – Adison Song
“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.
Three people deserve special recognition. 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. Gareth Johnson is our logistics guru and founder of YPT. He is outgoing, brash, friendly, and incredibly worldly. Without a doubt, he will get us where we need to go. And without a doubt there is a madness to his method. Every beer with him is a roulette of conversation topics, from his wild travel exploits to a deeply personal discussion of matters of the heart. Bing Carullo is our administrative and logistics coordinator. She anchors the group with her confident and calm demeanor, and is ever ready to provide information and support for our individual endeavors. Many impromptu activities were possible only with her help. On a personal level, Bing is as friendly and sweet as they come, and it is a pleasure getting to know her.” – Tan Nguyen
“Thanks for letting me discover the Palawan trip. It was an awesome trip and I had a fantastic time!
There’s plenty of reasons why anyone should travel, but I think what sets trips like these apart are the people you go with. I really believe you’ll learn and grow as an individual from the others on the trip, in many ways that complement the trip itself!
Also, 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 school and go to Singapore, and then study abroad in Hong Kong. I know we only talked for a couple minutes during then, 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!” – Varun Munjeti
|1||Cancun, Mexico||April 23, 2014|
|2||Havana, Cuba||April 24, 2014|
|3||Cienfuegos, Cuba||April 26, 2014|
|4||Santa Clara, Cuba||April 27, 2014|
|5||Trinidad, Cuba||April 28, 2014|
|6||Havana, Cuba||April 30, 2014|
|7||Nassau, The Bahamas||May 3, 2014|
|8||Ocho Rios, Jamaica||May 5, 2014|
Monsooners: Gareth “The Guvnor” Johnson, Jan Elma “Green Lights” Ferrer, Jan Christian “The Warrior” Ferrer, Anonymous “Splinters” Desi, Anderson “All-Star” Lee, Sam “The Honeybadger” Wong, Jason “The Rock” Ea, Laima “Fifth Amendment” Tazmin, Samantha Kay “Alice” Miller, Cathy “CIA” Cao, Christine “Surgeon” Park, Vivian “DJ” Trinh, Andy “The Dentist” Tran, David “Tarzan” Zhou, Justin “Fedora” Huang, Gabino “The Ambassador” Chu, Leslie “Sea Urchin” Auquilla-Cabrera, Joy “Make it So” Achounjei, Steve “Iron Man” Su, Siddhi “Princess Badass” Mittal, Alfred “Umbrellas” Yeung, Edmund “The Translator” Fong, Nicholas “The Wise Man” Chong, Adam “The Vet” Murphy
Remarks: “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! @monsoondiaries @youngpioneer” — Nicholas Chong
“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” – Edmund Fong
“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. Cuba libre para todos!” – Steve Su
“Welp, despite the anomaly of getting my U.S. passport stamped by Cuban immigration officials upon entering/exiting Havana, I am back! Fell head over heels for Cuba but home is home is home (especially when you’re not sure they’ll welcome you in). More pictures to follow…” – Jan Ferrer
“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…!” – Leslie Auquilla Cabrera
“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.” – Nicholas Chong
“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
“Made it though US customs so I wanted to say that with the proper planning Cuba is an amazing country to visit.
– Its beautiful and the people are great.
– Its a country that is seemingly stuck in the 50s so it was a great experience riding the classic cars and walking past beautiful mansions/buildings from the early 1900s.
– No internet for over 10 days was liberating
– The company through Cuba was great and I made a number of new friendships during the trip.
– I was able to dive some untouched reef walls in Trinidad with swimthroughs with a young divemaster who wanted to play professional football.
– Drove a classic car though the cobblestone towns and countryside
– rode classic chevrolet convertibles from the 50s through the Havana coast. Fun.
– Jumped over a waterfall and walked the Malecon at sunset.
– Partied in an underground cave with no ventilation.
– Found out the classic Cuban sandwich doesn’t have pork in it.
– Coca Cola is everywhere, even in Cuba.
– Oh and the cigars…. ridiculous! Plenty of hardworking people in Cuba and I hope that slowly their economic conditions will continue to improve. The improvements and progress can already be seen coming from Europe and Canada. Back to the daily grind and pictures soon!” — Edmund Fong
“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!” – Joy Achounjei
|1||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||April 10, 2014|
|2||Fos de Iguacu, Brazil||April 12, 2014|
|3||Ciudad de Este, Paraguay||April 13, 2014|
|4||Puerto Iguazu, Argentina||April 13, 2014|
|5||Buenos Aires, Argentina||April 14, 2014|
|6||Mendoza, Argentina||April 16, 2014|
|7||Santiago, Chile||April 16, 2014|
|8||Valparaiso, Chile||April 17, 2014|
|9||La Paz, Bolivia||April 18, 2014|
|10||Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia||April 19, 2014|
|11||Quito, Ecuador||April 21, 2014|
|12||Lima, Peru||April 22, 2014|
Monsooners: Angela “The Lieutenant” Chen, Jun “Poker Face” Wakabayashi, Quechau “Altitude Warrior” Thai, Chris “Gets Up For Pregnant Women” Chen, Ben “The Photographer” Dumond, Cindy “Oakland” Lu, Natasha “The Translator” Neris, Andy “The Virgin” Wu, Shanika “The Alchemist” Jayakody, Karthik “Memory Cards” Ganapathy
Remarks: “15 Memorable Moments + 15 Things I Learned from South America
1. Pulling an all-nighter to catch sunrise at Copacabana
2. Free, open-your-mouth-and-say-ah bar shots from our bartender dressed in a penguin suit on Easter
3. Illegally crossing/being smuggled into Paraguay
4. Jumping the fence along the river at Puerto Madero at 3 am to photograph and marvel at the Buenos Aires skyline
5. That time a few select members of our group were attacked and pillaged by possums at Iguassu Falls
6. Brazilian and Argentinian men UNF (p.s. heyyy Enrique)
7. Backpacking solo, getting lost and off the map at 10 pm in Santiago with no money, carrying 50 lbs of gear
8. Struggling for ten minutes to figure out how to ask “Do you sell espresso by the bag?” in Spanish only to find out our server spoke English
9. Ordering lunch in Spanish all on my own for the first time in Buenos Aires
10. Every instance of someone saying “frcking Bolivia” while shaking their head in disapproval
11. Late night, deep conversations shared over beer and cigarettes on hostel balconies
12. This picture: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151954237061582&set=t.1258996090
13. Waking up from our “Buenos Noches” sleeping pills just in time to catch the sunrise in Bolivia
14. Views of the sun setting during our last meal in Valparaiso, Chile
15. Finding salt from the Salar de Uyuni in my pocket on my flight home from Nashville to NYC
1. Never trust ATMs in Rio
2. Gunshots fired in Bolivia are to be treated casually, as if hearing thunder during a storm; take no action
3. Altitude sickness is a real thing
4. Night life in Rio gives Sydney’s Kings Cross a run for its money
5. Keep your camera out of sight in South America – not because it’s unsafe, but to avoid the annoyance of having EVERYONE tell you how unsafe it is
6. Buenos Aires wins the award for most confused identity for a city – are you trying to be Europe or Washington, D.C.? You can only pick one
7. Word of caution to fellow vegetarians: brace yourself for a strict diet of bread and cheese (read carbs, carbs, carbs) and do not expect to lose weight
8. The $300 flight from La Paz to Salar de Uyuni may just be worth every penny, unless you prefer the exhiliration of a non-stop ten-hour “bus ride” (or what I like to refer to as an earthquake/the Armageddon) and the pleasures of motion sickness
9. Stray far from the phrase “put it on my tab”
10. Also, put a daily limit on usage of the phrase “I deserve it, I’m on vacation!”
11. Salt from the salt flats of Uyuni tastes like salt; try it anyway
12. The driving in Rio is worse than all of Asia and the Tri-State area combined
13. Thinking of Jesus puns is definitely the best way to spend the bus ride on the ascent to Cristo Redentor in Rio (i.e. how old do you think this statue is? Probably 2014 years old; We found the stairway to heaven; Through Rio, I found Christ; What would jesus do? Hold up, lemme ask him)
14. When using maps, always check the scaled distance – i.e. that fifteen minute walk to San Cristobal Hill? Yeah, no, more like an hour
15. It’s not always about where you travel or what you see, but who you’re with when you do” – Ben Dumond