Jessie Li (@4eva­jessie)

#Legend - - INFLUENCER -

De­scribe who you are and what you do.

The best de­scrip­tion I can come up with in just a few words I'd say is “banker girl gone blog­ger”. Leav­ing the 80-hour-work-week bank­ing job turned out to be one of the smartest de­ci­sions I've ever made in my life. Grow­ing up in Aus­tralia, I'd al­ways thought fi­nance was my thing; just like all the other Asian kids, I was pretty good with num­bers; and work­ing for an in­vest­ment bank was all I'd yearned for when I was in high school. Over the years, I've slowly dis­cov­ered that my pas­sion ac­tu­ally lies in be­tween fash­ion and travel, and thanks to Kevin and Mike (the founders of In­sta­gram), I started on In­sta­gram just for fun dur­ing my travel days – and my au­di­ence grew from there! I'm now a full-time fash­ion and travel blog­ger based in Hong Kong. As glam­orous as it seems, there's so much sweat and tears that go into it. But at the end of the day, I'm so pas­sion­ate about what I do and it makes it all worth it.

What has been your most mem­o­rable or unique travel ex­pe­ri­ence?

That def­i­nitely goes to North Korea. I went there for a marathon dur­ing 2016, which was only the third year the coun­try had opened up for in­ter­na­tional par­tic­i­pants. Just like how it was de­scribed in mag­a­zines and shown on TV, the whole coun­try is one big liv­ing sam­ple of pro­pa­ganda. We weren't al­lowed to bring any books, mag­a­zines or other me­dia ma­te­ri­als into the coun­try, and each of us got checked in­side out at the im­mi­gra­tion counter after we landed at 4am. The whole coun­try has only one TV chan­nel, and there's no in­ter­net or ac­cess to any phone lines for the lo­cals. I was dis­con­nected from the rest of the world dur­ing my en­tire trip in North Korea, and ev­ery­where we went was pre-ap­proved and mon­i­tored by the gov­ern­ment. We weren't al­lowed to wan­der off by our­selves or even stay be­hind in the ho­tels to rest up; we had to par­tic­i­pate in all the

ac­tiv­i­ties and city tours that were planned for us. We started off our marathon in the May Day Sta­dium, which has a ca­pac­ity of 150,000 peo­ple. On the day of the marathon, the sta­dium was filled with lo­cals as our au­di­ence, with no sur­prises – they all have the same hair­cut and are dressed in al­most the same colour, with a con­stant smile on their face. We just would never know the truth be­hind those smiles.

Any tips or se­crets for tak­ing a great travel photo?

Hav­ing a good cam­era with the right lens is def­i­nitely cru­cial. Some­times iPhones and non-full-frame cam­eras just won't do the job. I'm cur­rently us­ing a Canon 6D Mark II; it's lighter than the 5D Mark IV and it does a very good job of shoot­ing por­traits and land­scape pho­tos when you use the right lens. I nor­mally use a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L for por­trait shots. This is a prime lens, which means you can't zoom; how­ever, it blurs out the back­ground a lot in or­der to em­pha­sise the sub­ject and is of­ten used for fash­ion por­traits. For land­scape cap­tures, I pre­fer a wider lens like the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L. It can cap­ture more of the scenery and you can zoom in. I would also rec­om­mend tak­ing the pho­tos in raw, which al­lows the pho­tos to be edited in Pho­to­shop or Light­room with much bet­ter qual­ity.

What ad­vice do you have for peo­ple who want to travel but feel fi­nan­cially stuck?

Plan­ning ahead is essen­tial. When you know where you want to travel, you can es­ti­mate the costs ahead of time and make a medi­umto-long-term sav­ings plan for it. One other point of ad­vice is to try to join vol­un­teer­ing pro­grammes, so your travel costs will be cov­ered and you can give back to so­ci­ety – two birds, one stone.

What are your se­crets for pack­ing light? Or heavy?

I love trav­el­ling light. If it's not a blog­ging trip, I can eas­ily do a long week­end get­away with just a carry-on. One use­ful tip is to have all your skin­care prod­ucts in travel sizes. The sam­ples the cos­met­ics de­part­ment hands out are handy for this pur­pose, and if you don't have par­tic­u­lar prod­ucts in travel sizes, you can al­ways get some travel-size con­tain­ers from stores like Muji or Ja­pan City and fill them up with full-size prod­ucts.

Is there an ac­tiv­ity you al­ways do when you go some­where?

I love ex­er­cis­ing and prac­tic­ing med­i­ta­tion. Wher­ever I travel, I al­ways al­low some time in the morn­ing for hit­ting the gym and med­i­tat­ing to clear some head space. I of­ten feel pumped and en­er­gised after my morn­ing ex­er­cise, so I can be fully pre­pared for a whole day of my travel sched­ule.

What’s your typ­i­cal air­port at­tire?

Com­fort­able clothes. Since I al­ways have very in­ten­sive sched­ules dur­ing my travel day, tak­ing a flight is where I recharge my­self. I'm the kind of per­son who can sleep from be­fore take-off un­til land­ing. Wear­ing com­fort­able clothes helps with my sleep dur­ing my flight.

What’s the long­est you’ve spent with­out in­ter­net ac­cess?

Ten days! I was is­land-hop­ping in Fiji and most of the small is­lands there back in 2007 didn't have in­ter­net, nor TV or phone lines, and I spent four days in the mid­dle of the ocean on a boat. It was to­tally dis­con­nected from the rest of the world and that was prob­a­bly one of the best trips I've ever had. Not be­ing able to ac­cess the Wi-Fi al­lowed me to become more present. I was more en­gag­ing with the peo­ple around me and ev­ery­thing I do. It's al­ways good to un­plug from so­cial me­dia and the rest of the world from time to time. Ev­ery year, I try to ded­i­cate a few days for a so­cial me­dia cleanse; nor­mally I do it around Christ­mas and the New Year.

How many coun­tries have you been to? Can you list them?

I roughly knew that my num­ber was around 60, but I took the time to sit down and count them. So I'm ac­tu­ally go­ing to list them one by one here, so the next time some­one asks me the same ques­tion, I'll know what to say! Here we go: Ar­gentina, Aus­tralia (well, that's my home coun­try, not sure if that counts), Aus­tria, Bel­gium, Bo­livia, Bos­nia, Brazil, Cam­bo­dia, Canada, Chile, China, Croa­tia, the Czech Re­pub­lic, Den­mark, Fiji, Fin­land, France, Ge­or­gia, Ger­many, Great Bri­tain, Greece, Hun­gary, Ice­land, In­dia, In­done­sia, Is­rael, Italy, Ja­pan, Jor­dan, South Korea, North Korea, Licht­en­stein, Malaysia, the Mal­dives, Mau­ri­tius, Mex­ico, Monaco, Mon­tene­gro, Morocco, Myan­mar, the Nether­lands,

New Zealand, Nor­way, Paraguay, Peru, the Philip­pines, Qatar, Rus­sia, Saudi Ara­bia, Sin­ga­pore, Spain, Swe­den, Switzer­land, Thai­land, Turkey, the United Arab Emi­rates, the United States, Viet­nam. So that's 58 coun­tries in to­tal! I'm hop­ing to tick off two to three more this year in Africa.

If there’s one thing trav­el­ling has taught you, what is it?

Plan ahead. Even when I have last-minute trips, I al­ways plan ahead. Don't you hate it when you ar­rive at your des­ti­na­tion and you re­alise that you for­got to pack item one, two and three? I have an essen­tial travel pack­ing check­list in my phone and I add items to the list when I think of some­thing. So be­fore I close my suit­case, I make sure that I go through the list again so I have ev­ery­thing I need.

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