Andrea tell us about yourself and how you got into traveling.
My name is Andrea Nicolaou and I am a 21 year old from Queensland, Australia. My first trip out of Australia inspired a lot of it; I was able to visit Greece and Paris with my family when I was 15. Once I had finished high school and university I went on my first solo trip to Indonesia. Those first few days spent lone in another country are indescribable. That’s where my desire to explore the world truly began.
You’ve spent 10 months in South-East Asia. I’m sure these 10 months taught you a lot. Please share some of that insight with us.
Each day I was blown away by everyone’s warmth and their willingness to share with you everything about their country. Each day I was able to experience something new. I witnessed how other human beings exist on this planet – the different foods, the culture and the rituals. It’s so enriching to be able to observe it and then actually participate in it. I guess that’s when I started comparing and contrasting the life I was so used to. It’s eye opening and uplifting to see and then realize just how little you need to be happy and gratified.
How long was your stay in Vietnam? Tell us about Vietnamese people, cities, and the lifestyle.
I spent two months in total in Vietnam. I spent some time in the bigger, more populated areas such as Hanoi and HCMC (Saigon). You learn to love the organised chaos that is apparent in the busy streets. Hội An, one of my favourite destinations from the trip, holds a very different atmosphere. There is a lot of Japanese, French and Chinese influence. The Vietnamese will go out of their way to show you what they consider to be the highlights of their town. They’re also not afraid to invite you into their homes, despite the language barrier. Some of the best food I ate in Vietnam was a home cooked meal from a family I had met in Hội An. The woman, the mother of the family, was the one who invited me over with her daughter translating the invite for me.
Looking back, what do you miss the most?
I miss the diverse scenery and atmosphere that changes from each town to the next. It’s easy to find yourself on the beaches of Mui Ne one week and then the rice fields and trekking tracks of freezing Sa Pa the next.
What advice will you give to those heading to Vietnam?
I would give this advice to anyone going to almost any destination in the world – plan as little as you can. Don’t be scared of getting lost. Do as much as you can without skimping on each experience.
How has traveling effected the way you perceive the world? photography?
When you set foot in another country, everything becomes really rich and crisp. You’re able to take in so many details with all of your senses. It’s a new energy and a new way of living. I really wanted to share those feelings with my friends and family through some imagery. I bought my first camera a few weeks before I left Australia. I was able to do a lot of experimenting and practicing within the 10 months.
What are the difficulties of going back to the reality?
The few days before I left were filled with a lot of apprehension about coming home. Once I was home, however, it was different. It was cool seeing family and friends. Seems like the time to appreciate what is in front of me.
Andrea Nicolaou is an Australian born traveler and a photographer. Photography became her interest right before her two month trip to Vietnam. She loves creating memories of people she met along her journey by taking their portraits.
A new Instagrammer shares with us the hospitality of Vietnamese people, stories about the cities that should be on your travel radars, and of course her vibrant and exotic photographs of her trip.