mon•soon män-ˈsün, ˈmän-ˌ verb
1 : to travel despite limited time and money
2 : to take advantage of one's youth in sampling all of the
 world so one may know where to return and enjoy when older
3 : to efficiently and thoroughly explore vast regions of the
 world in a short amount of time

Examples of MONSOON
• "The intrepid backpackers planned to monsoon through South Asia, 
 the Middle East and into Eastern Europe within 3 weeks time."
Origin of MONSOON
• From the original word monsoon, inspired by the behavior of a
 periodic wind and heavy rainfall covering a large region of the Earth
First known use: May 2010


The photo that started it all

THE MONSOON DIARIES: It was 2006. His father had died from a sudden heart attack and life didn’t quite make much sense anymore. In the weeks after the funeral, Calvin was cleaning out his father’s closet when a pair of camera lenses fell into his hands. Wiping the dust off and finding them a new home, he promised that he would one day put them to good use.

Another few years would pass until Calvin came across a picture of Halong Bay. Unable to tear himself away from the idea that such a place could exist, he decided to travel. But a kind of travel where nothing would stop him, time or money be damned. However, his friends gawked that he wouldn’t, that he was a medical student, that he didn’t have the funds, that he was insane, or that he would burn out. To prove them wrong and to prove it to himself, Calvin started a blog: The Monsoon Diaries was born.

51 countries and 36 months later (AND about to graduate from med school on time!), Calvin is still moving. His mission has been and always will be: monsoon the world, break down the stereotypes, dispel the ignorance, and uncover the obscure. And with his father’s lenses by his side, Calvin knows that wherever he’ll be, he’ll never be alone.

Want to join him on his next adventure? Just ask!



It takes just the right conditions for a monsoon to form. For CALVIN SUN, it was the sudden loss of his father, an unexpected parting gift of camera lenses, a picture of Halong Bay, and a serendipitous trip to Egypt (and unexpectedly being left there alone) that stirred up the inexorable winds of wanderlust in him.

He found himself paradise lost in the crevices and hidden coves of the Halong Bay of his mind, and knew he had to dig his feet in faraway sands. His father left him with a yearning inquisitiveness that couldn’t be satiated until he captured the perfect shot of Halong Bay for himself.

And Egypt had taught him that it wasn’t just the destination that mattered; how he journeyed there and whom he would meet were just as essential. It was while left to his own devices in Egypt with no guide but his own imagination that he decided to launch the bold experiment that’s become The Monsoon Diariesjust how many far flung destinations you’ve only ever read about could you go to in one short sprint of a trip on a limited budget?




Andrea Trillo, Mel Tri, Danny Tran, Jenn Lau, Tracy Thai, Bill Zhang, Alistair Morgan, Suhrid Mantravadi, Freema Vinnikov: Iceland (Oct. 31 – Nov. 03, 2013)

Reny Pascual, Jackie Ho, Sam Wong, Ben Tso: Haiti & Dominican Republic (Jan. 01 – Jan. 06, 2013)

June Kao, Go Yang Park, Calvin Lin, Melissa Le, SeulBee Lee, Jane Yee, and Yiru Li: Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Portugal (Dec. 22nd, 2011 – Jan. 2nd, 2012): “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, “Thanks for the awesome trip. I came out poorer in the wallet but richer as a person.”-Jane

Anna Wong: Guatemala & Belize (Nov. 23rd – Nov. 28th, 2011); Iran (Apr. 5th – Apr. 14th, 2011)

An Wang: China & North Korea (Aug. 7th – 13th, 2011)

Karen Wong: India (July 16th, 2011 – July 20th, 2011)

Kseniya Khamara: Perú and Colombia (Mar. 26th – Apr. 3rd, 2011)

Corinne Fukuyama: The Philippines and Vietnam (May 31st, 2010 – Jun 13th, 2010)

George Mu, Erick Capoulong, Bill Zou, Matt Chen, Jun Wakabayashi, Angela Chen, Kym Pham: Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama (Jun. 22nd – Jun. 30th, 2013)

Mandy Cheuk, Cynthia Koo, Kai Tan, Carolyn Hou, Ying Zhu, Andrew Chang, Simon Lu, Olgi Qendro, Ry Willie, Jan Ferrer, Jennifer Le, Ruchika Sangani, Alana Tung, Krystle Jiang, Maria Villa, Gareth Johnson: Poland, Ukraine, Germany (Dec. 26, 2012 – Dec. 31, 2012)

Cynthia Koo, Anna Wong, Nina Yang, Evan Jones, Sonny Tieu, Jade Shyu, Gai Olivaires, Andrew Chu, Gareth Johnson: Germany, Austria, Iran, Switzerland (April 4th, 2012 – April 14th, 2012)

Maria Funes: Guatemala and Belize (Nov. 22nd – Nov. 28th, 2011): “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

Anya & Joyce: India (Jun 30th, 2011 – Jul 17th, 2011)

Sonya Chandra: Turkey (Jun 11th – 18th, 2011)

Hilda Poulson: Colombia (March 2011)

Caitlin Halpern: Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, & Singapore (June 20th, 2010 – July 8th, 2010)



CYNTHIA KOO (Recurrent Monsooner: GuatemalaIranEastern Europe) likes to travel/monsoon (thanks to Calvin), and making bucket lists that, in Calvin’s opinion, are way too easy to check off. 

She makes kickass websites for fun. She’ll fill in the rest sometime soon (or maybe never).

GO YANG (Travel Date: December 22 2011 – January 3 2011 from Spain to Morocco) is the kinda girl that breaks the mold. For one, she’s not gonna write in the third person. Hey, I’m Go. I met Calvin at Columbia when I attended Barnard College my freshman year, but I ended up getting my degree in English and History at the University of Michigan, and spending a year and a half or so in Seoul, Korea, not teaching English (see? breaking the mold) but studying at Yonsei University and freelancing at everything from translations for artists to voice acting. Right now I’m one of the few students over the age of 21 at Art Center College of Design getting a second Bachelor’s degree in Illustration (more mold breaking), and I’m really excited to be traveling, drawing and blogging with Calvin.



STEPHANIE QUAN (Travel Date: June 10 2011 – August 14 2011 from Turkey to Myanmar) went to Columbia with Calvin. She has no idea who Annah is, but is sure they could be good friends. Hi Annah! She’s currently transitioning from being a chemistry teacher at Harvard-Westlake to being an inorganic chemistry grad student at UCLA because while she loves her 10thgraders (even when they call her mom by mistake), what she really wants in life is low pay, long hours and the satisfaction of synthesizing Metal Ligand Complexes. When not pursuing academia, Steph cultivates a faux hobo-hipster lifestyle. Rock climbing, beginner’s guitar and driving through canyons are listed among her favorite activities. She also really enjoys listening to bands she found on commercials, starting really long email chains and organizing things like film festivals for fun. Here is an adventure-y photo of Steph. See how innate ADVENTURE is to her? Like I said, faux hobo-hipster.

ANNAH KIM NELSON-FEENEY (Travel Date: May 31 2010 – July 15 2010 from the Philippines to Korea) is a relatively overcommitted International Relations-French and Music student at Mount Holyoke College. At MHC, she’s on the executive board for Model UN as the Events Coordinator and she’s in charge of Publicity on the executive board for Orchestra. She’s also a CMS Fellow (Web and Media worker) for Mount Holyoke. Adopted at the age of 6 months, Annah is Korean with Polish-Swedish and Irish parents. Unfortunately, she speaks none of the languages that coincide with the above nationalities and instead speaks French and had a brief relationship with Mandarin. Last summer, Annah worked a lot doing a couple internships and jobs. This will be the last collegiate summer before she starts with the GRE’s, GMAT’s, LSAT’s, more internships, grad school applications, and job applications. In short, it’s the last time in her collegiate career to do a trip like this. So she is absolutely psyched to be taking the opportunity to backpack this summer – even if not everyone approves of it!