VICKY QIAO – Motorbiking through a twisting mountain pass in Vietnam, exploring the Nepali mountains and immersing herself with locals; Angela He is a true adventurer when it comes to travelling.

Completing a double degree in Ivey and MIT at Western, He is fascinated by cross-cultural experiences and spends her spare time traveling across the world – oftentimes on her own.

He took her first-time motorbike journey during her solo trip to Vietnam this summer. “This is one of the moments where I probably could’ve died,” said He in hindsight.

The Hai Van Pass connects the Vietnamese cities of Hue and Da Nang. The pass is famous for its breathtaking view, but also its treacherous turns.

“No challenge is too immense for me,” said He with a smile. Being the daredevil she is, He decided to bike the four-hour route “on a whim”.

He ended up speeding in the rain while braking and holding the umbrella with the same hand. She only found out later that it is illegal to hold an umbrella while motorbiking.

Rewind to summer 2018, the surprise she encountered during her Nepal trip was much more pleasant. To He, this four-day solo hiking trip was all about putting trust in others.

He connected with a local tour guide through WhatsApp, who also drove her through the mountain for six hours and became her homestay host. The tour guide’s mother cooked her a delicious Nepali meal with butter – a rare commodity used only on special occasions.

“I wish they know I still remember the taste of the butter,” said He as she swiped through some pictures of the homestay family on her phone.

While hiking in Nepal, He said that her senses were “fully in tune” with nature as she could not communicate with anyone. “I can still smell the air,” He said while recalling standing on the Nepali mountain, “it was just so fresh and amazing.”

In the summer of 2017, He traveled to Chicago as a post-sophomore year trip. The eight-day stay marked the first of her many solo journeys.

He met many interesting people in her hostel in Chicago, including a breakdancer from the mid-west and an international model from Australia. She still keeps in touch with some of them.

“It is always about the people,” He said, “traveling for me means expanding one’s world view and experiencing all the different cultures and diversity of people on this earth.”

After the somehow traumatizing experience in Vietnam, however, He is currently taking a break from solo trips and has decided to enjoy a friend’s company while traveling instead.

She also prefers a travel companion who lives there and can “show you how they see the city and help you have love for the things they love about the city.” To He, this adds an “extra layer of sentimentality” to the traveling experience.

He has been enjoying home after a summer of adventures abroad. But it will not be long until she takes off again – for quite a while this time. She is going on a six-month exchange to Singapore for her final semester of university.

What is she looking forward to the most in Singapore? He’s answer is “getting to know and creating bonds with people.” And she certainly will.

P.S. Angela makes some dope travel vlogs you can check them out on her YouTube channel

This article was originally published on February 10, 2020 in Fish and Water.

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