2019

Destination Arrival
1 Majuro, Marshall Islands December 29, 2018
2 Nauru, Nauru January 30, 2019
3 Tarawa, Kiribati January 3, 2019
4 Honiara, Solomon Islands January 5, 2019
5 Port-Vila, Vanuatu January 7, 2019
6 Nadi, Fiji January 10, 2019
7 Funafuti, Tuvalu January 13, 2019
8 Suva, Fiji January 15, 2019

Monsooners: Alistair “Mother” Riddell, Gareth “Father” Johnson, Melissa “Drill Sergeant” Weinmann, Anonymous “That Girl” Anonymous, PD “Food Monster” Shah, ChristyAna “Butterfly” Taveras, Mikhael “Comrade UrbEx” Chai, Paul “BAFTA” Bailey, William “Rock the Casbah” C. Linda “Charge Nurse” E, Lisa “If You Build It, They Will Climb” Vitaris, Jennifer “Hot Toddy” K., Erin “Drunky McDrunkface” S., Melissa “80s Party”, David “Bailando” P., Shawn “The Gun Show” O., Bok “Slippery When Wet” McD, Justin “Kubrick” M., Al “Forever Young”, Martin “MTP Award”, Christoph “Business Card”

Remarks: “I would like to recommend Monsoon Diaries/Young Pioneer Tours. 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 YPT 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 Visited Countries” 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, whose passion for travel and adventure is parallel to none. And Alistair Riddell of YPT Cuba was another group leader for this trip, as was my good friend Dr. Calvin Sun of The Monsoon Diaries.

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 Monsoon Diaries/YPT, and I look forward to my next excursion with them.” – PD Shah

Destination Arrival
1 Prague, Czechia January 17, 2019
2 Budapest, Hungary January 21, 2019

Monsooners: Ann “Czechmate” Wen, Donna “Hungary For More” Vo, Daniela “Joy” Zarzer, Evan “Wingman” Danek, Ravi “Voight-Kampff” Panse, Katy “The Natural” Xian, Anthony “Dutch” Lui, Esther “Happy Feet” Park, Daniel “Wisconsin” Reesman, Christine “Spidergirl” Liaw, Aggeliki “Pilates” Mavromoustakaki, Sidian “Kiss Me, I’m Greek” Lan, Jommel “Infant Jesus” Banaag, Li Li “Ballroom” Bian, Joanne “Salvation Army” Loo, Elisabeth “Group Photos” Koechlin

Remarks:

“What would be travelling without the people you meet along the way, without the conversations you share and the memories you make. I am lucky enough that I have met up and travelled with the Monsooners a couple of times already. It will not be just an ordinary experience where you tick of the sights of each city. You will get part of the Monsoon family, create lasting relationships and get out of your comfort zone.

These trips always had an inspiring effect on me. You get asked questions that you have to answer yourself, you will gain perspectives and be immersed in thoughtful conversations. The cities and sights will get a personal touch. A memory full of adventure. All you need is to bring the right attitude – ‘cause in the end it is still up to you to make the best out of the trip 

“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.” – Katy Xian

“A few weeks ago I was standing in a kitchen in Prague with Calvin, Ravi and Aia, talking about attending Ali’s wedding in Islamabad. Still can’t believe we actually went, all thanks to Ali and his family’s amazing hospitality! Shout out to @monsoondiaries for the planning and logistics.” – Evan Danek

“Many thanks Calvin D. Sun, for the perfect trip, best company.. Hope to see you soon ..!!! ❤️” – Aggeliki Mavromoustakaki

“Thank you Calvin! Thanks for all your hard work organizing this trip. Much appreciation for you! 10个星的领导!哈哈” – Li Li Bian

“Thank you Calvin for the nice trip, it was all perfect, many greetings to all from Greece, we are waiting all of you in Greece the summer!!! Have a nice time in Budapest. ❤️❤️❤️🙂🙂🙂🙂” – Aggeliki Mavromoustakaki

“Hey we just landed in Athens! We had a lot of fun hanging out with you guys. Thanks for having us. Enjoy Budapest!!” – Sidian Lan

“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.” – Ravi Panse

“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.” – Donna Vo

“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 🙂” – Elisabeth Koechlin

“We are ready for the next trip!!! See you soon! ❤️❤️❤️❤️” – Aggeliki Mavromoustakaki

“Hey monsooners it was a pleasure meeting you and spending time together in Prague! Just sat down on my couch about to relax. Special thanks to Ann and Calvin for organizing the trip. Enjoy the rest of the adventure!” – Sidian Lan

“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!! The rapid pace of the trip was unlike most others I’d been on with other people- and allowed us to see a lot more in a short time, and become much closer as a group.” – Evan Danek

“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!” — Donna Vo

“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!” – Ravi

Destination Arrival
1 Islamabad, Pakistan March 12, 2019
2 Lahore, Pakistan March 14, 2019
3 Rawalpindi, Pakistan March 16, 2019
4 Khewra, Pakistan March 17, 2019
5 Murree, Pakistan March 18, 2019

Monsooners: Daniela “You Had Me At Hello” Zarzer, Evan “Quest Cookie” Danek, Elisabeth “Proud Soccer Mom” Koechlin, Venla “Bride of Finland” Maki-Ikola, “Prince” Ali Raza

Guest Monsooners: Eugene Master, Amy Tse, Emily Wong, Jen, Christanto “Better Late Than Never” Hadi

Remarks:

“You know the feeling when you cant even go to the toilet in a restaurant without people trying to take a selfie with you? And if you say yes to one, then there is going to be a whole crowd of people around you mobilephones ready for some action. In Pakistan if youre white or South Asian be prepared to take so many selfies that after your trip you will never want a selfie again hahah. Other than that Pakistani people are amazing! Didnt meet any terrorists. Only some peacefull minded people.” – Venla Maki-Ikola

“A few weeks ago I was standing in a kitchen in Prague with Calvin, Ravi and Aia, talking about attending Ali’s wedding in Islamabad. Still can’t believe we actually went, all thanks to Ali and his family’s amazing hospitality! Shout out to @monsoondiaries for the planning and logistics.” – Evan Danek

“[The Mehndi was the] day when I felt like a princess.” – Venla Maki-Ikola

Destination Arrival
1 Bridgetown, Barbados April 11, 2019

Monsooners: Evan “F1” Danek

Destination Arrival
1 Saint John's, Antigua May 15, 2019
2 Codrington, Barbuda May 16, 2019

Monsooners: Victoria “Imperator Furiosa” Lu, Tanzia “Sonic The Hedgehog” Islam, Thao “Celine” Le, Thuy Uyen “Mikaela Banes” Vo, Calvin “The 3 Eyed Raven” Ng

Remarks: “I can honestly say that this trip was the best decision I ever made in my life.” – Thuy Uyen Vo

“Antigua ❤️ #goodvibes #antiguaandbarbuda #newmemories #newbeginnings #rekindlingfriendship #noregrets #everythinghappensforareason” – Thao Le

“Quick R&R Trip to the beautiful Antigua & Barbuda: Thank You Thuy Uyen Vo Calvin Ng Calvin D. Sun Thao Le & Victoria for making the last few days so memorable. First time to the Caribbean was beautiful. 🤙🏼💜” – Tanzia Islam

“Thanks for the trip Calvin, it was a blasty blast.” – Victoria Lu

“If you’re looking for a predictable, meticulously planned vacation, this is not for you. If you are someone who cannot handle uncertainty or ambiguity, this is not for you. I don’t think these trips are for everyone, but I believe that if you are willing to keep an open mind and step out of your comfort, you will have an experience that money can’t buy. There were a lot of ups and downs and things didn’t always go according to plan, but it was BECAUSE of that chaos that we were able to find serendipity.

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.” – Calvin Ng

“With zero expectations and no idea of what’s to come, I experienced a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows. What may take others a lifetime to develop a deep friendship, I soon found myself experiencing the surrealism of heartfelt friendships one could only wish for. When you are young, you believe that you will meet many people with whom you’ll connect with, but later in life you realize it only happens a few times. This was one of those times. ❤️” – Thao Le

“As we embarked on this new journey together, to my first international destination: The Caribbean Islands of Antigua and Barbuda, we began forming relationships as we learned more about each other. Like in any group, there was conflict and tears. There was also fear at some point in the trip and there was a great deal of frustration as well. And there was fun, adventure, and so much laughter between us all. We made the most pure and beautiful memories with one another. The kind of memories that you hold dear to your heart. We all experienced new food, new land, but we also experienced a lot of shock when visiting lands much different from our own. When I look back, I can only think of how much this trip has changed my life in the most awesome way possible. I am not saying that I found god, but what I did find was very very different people coming together to experience an incredible journey through a foriegn land together. These 5 people that I met were incredibly unique people that were enjoying living in the moment as much as I did. It was like entering a new universe and finding out what lies there for you to experience for all of us- but doing it together made this journey such a life changing experience. And that was the beauty of it all. This trip was essentially a bunch of strangers learning about each while being immersed on an island to enjoy time off and venture as we form close bonds with not only each other but the land too. This was my first time out of the country. In sum, I can confidently describe this experience as finding my own soul in another world. In it all, I hardly got any sleep, however, I felt the most at peace, replenished, and happiness within myself that I have never felt in my life.

And to think I came into this trip just go on some trip for 5 days for the cost of 1500 (from MN). What I got instead was indescribably priceless.

That is why today, I am reaching to my friends on facebook: JUST DO IT. Go on that trip you’ve been waiting for. Don’t let your life pass by filled with excuses or whatever reasons to not go. Instead, I urge you to go outside your comfort zone because only when you take risks, it is rewarding. I know for a fact each of you have some reason that is holding you back, but I hope that this message can inspire you all to leave whatever it is holding you back because YOU DESERVE IT. So just go. Life Is about living in the moment and making memories. So do what I did, and make memories and bonds with others that will last a lifetime.

Lastly I want to thank the universe for somehow aligning and giving me the chance to meet these couple of awesome people that I now hold dear to me. Four of which will hold a close place in my heart, especially Thao Le. You are the most perfectly kind friend that I have met. My soul sister, we have become inseparable by heart. I will see you again soon!

Last thanks to The Monsoon Diaries” – Thuy Uyen Vo

“This trip definitely pulled at my heart strings.” – Thao Le

Destination Arrival
1 Manchester, UK May 27, 2019
2 Douglas, Isle Of Man May 28, 2019
3 Belfast, Northern Ireland May 29, 2019
4 Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland May 30, 2019

Monsooners: Sam “Are We There Yet?” Yeung, Donna “FOMO Queen” Vo, Alfred “Dairy Queen” Yeung, Melissa “Employee Discount” Rios, Joe “Steady As He Goes” Duvall, Grayson “Doc Brown” Lang

Remarks: “The Monsoon Diaries has just taken a trip to beautiful Northern Ireland (and the Isle of Man)!! While I unfortunately could not meet up while I was in Coleraine (so close yet so far  ) I am so glad they enjoyed their time here! Check out Calvin D. Sun´s blogpost about what they did, it’s given me ideas, in particular that Michelin star restaurant in Belfast 😲 I also strongly recommend reading about all the different countries he’s been to on his blog (from classics, to North Korea or Afghanistan), and contact him if you’d like to travel somewhere off the beaten track! You’ll always get friendly and great advice, and a safe way to travel with a lovely crowd (I can personally attest to that ❤️).” – Elisabeth Koechlin