Vietnamese Model Chau Bui Looks Back on Her Most Salient Travel Memories
The model and adventurer shares her most memorable trips, top fashion-forward destinations and how travel has shaped her perspective on life.
For Vietnamese model Chau Bui, there are many parallels between her profession and traveling. “Travel brings a lot of meaning to my life,” she says. “Like modeling, it broadens my horizons, exposes me to new environments and nourishes my creativity. It also gives me joy and inspiration, and allows me to connect with my family and friends.”
Childhood trips with the family
Chau first fell in love with traveling through the myriad of trips she took with her family as a child. They often headed to places in Vietnam with great natural splendor, including the gorgeous remote island of Phu Quoc; Da Nang, which is known for its dramatic and craggy mountainous attractions; and the coastal city of Nha Trang. For Chau, getting to escape the hustle of Hanoi, her hometown, and venture out into nature was a truly eye-opening experience – one that made her feel “balanced and happy”.
She also recounts taking a particularly memorable trip to the United States. “My dad made a promise to my family that he would take us there as the last trip of his life,” Chau recalls. “He worked so hard, saved up and kept that promise. While we were there, he taught me many lessons about living out our purpose in life – and it remains one of my most cherished travel memories to this day.”
A model’s life in motion
Before COVID-19 hit, Chau was criss-crossing the globe regularly to attend events and fashion shows. The ability to visit far-flung destinations that she may not otherwise have had a chance to experience is a perk of the job that she’s extremely thankful for. “If possible, I try to extend these trips by about a week, so that I can check out the city and even tour the neighboring regions once I’ve fulfilled my work commitments,” Chau says, adding that this grants her the luxury to explore things at her own pace.
One of her most memorable work trips to date has been to Cannes in France to attend the Louis Vuitton fashion show. “It was the first time I was taking part in a global fashion event, and it honestly felt like an absolute dream come true,” she recalls. “I remember having tears in my eyes at the show when I thought about all the hurdles and doubts I had to overcome to get to that point in my career. Needless to say, it was a very poetic and beautiful moment.”
Out of all the cities she visited for fashion week, Chau’s favorite is Paris – the City of Lights. To her, it’s a place that’s filled with so much ancient beauty. She enjoys simply wandering through the city while taking in the awe-inspiring architecture and immersing herself in the atmosphere. Chau also rates its street fashion as some of the world’s best, alongside Los Angeles and Tokyo, and tips her hat to Parisiennes for their “chic, elegant and minimalist” style.
Falling in love with the world
When Chau is traveling, she adopts one of two modes: leisure or adventure. “If I’m in leisure mode, I like taking my time to truly soak up the destination and get to know it on an intimate level, “Chau explains. “But if I’m in adventure mode, I become an explorer: always on the go and ticking items off my list of things to do and see.”
“You’ll find things here that you simply can’t experience anywhere else in the world” - Chau
Japan is one of Chau’s favorite travel destinations, and is where she’s made some of her greatest memories. “Besides enduring cultures, stunning landscapes, delicious food and friendly people, it’s also very unique. “You’ll find things here that you simply can’t experience anywhere else in the world,” she says.
Chau cites Japan’s ability to surprise visitors with its contrasting environments as one of its main allures. “There are bustling metropolises like Tokyo that are packed with people and embody a great sense of energy. Then there are the quieter, rural prefectures where you can soak up the silence and immerse yourself in the country’s breathtaking nature,” she says. “The natural beauty that I saw in Japan – particularly in Kyoto – was beyond my wildest imagination.”
Some of Chau’s best recollections of her trips to Japan include sampling many different bowls of udon from food stalls offering their own unique takes on the dish. She also loves the convenience of riding the subway, especially if she’s rushing around. For those looking to pick up fashion-forward buys, Chau recommends checking out the glitzy Ginza district. “Japan also has a strong thrifting culture,” she adds. “People are open to trying new things, and there is no judgment or limit when it comes to style.”
Another remarkable place that Chau’s seen on her travels is Sedona in the US. Although she was just passing through the area on her way to an event, the sprawling, serene desert landscapes that she glimpsed through the car window left such an impression on her – and she hopes to return to explore them someday.
The meaning of travel
As someone whose job keeps her busy, Chau cherishes traveling as a chance for her to take a breather from the daily grind. “When I’m working, I’m usually on a tight schedule, so it can feel quite pressured,” Chau says. Travelling allows her to hit pause, so that she can take the time to recharge her batteries. These little breaks ensure that she maintains balance in her life and motivate her to work even harder.
“Our world is enormous, and we are just tiny little creatures living in it,” she says, when asked about her travel philosophy. “There’s always something new for us to learn, and I feel like traveling is a great way to do that. I want to keep exploring as much as I can, so that I can continue to deepen my knowledge about the world around me.”