Faces of WildChina: Estela Li 李思淼

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If a destination is an endpoint, then the journey is the people you encounter along the way. They are what change “good” to “great”, “standard” to “extraordinary”, and “memorable” to “life-changing”.

Behind the smiling profile picture, the corporate email signature, and the branded name tag, beats the true heart of WildChina; a vigorous network of personalities, dreams, and experiences driving magic and life through the company’s veins. 

So, meet the fairy godmothers(fathers) who take your China travel dreams, and not only grant them but sprinkle a dusting of surprise throughout, so that even when you think you know what your Wildest dream looks like, something you didn’t even know existed is waiting to amaze. 

Faces of WildChina: Estela Li 李思淼
In Ciolorful Danxia scenic spot, Zhangye, Gansu Province

Where are you from and where do you live now? 

I am from Sichuan.  My hometown is a smaller city near Chengdu, but I’ve been living in Chengdu since middle school. I also lived in Beijing when I was a little girl, but came back to Sichuan to start primary school. Now, I live and work in Chengdu. 

Was there a specific moment in your life when you realized travel is what you wanted to do for work? 

In college, my major was in ecotourism, so I visited many national parks in China, especially those in Hunan Province. After field studies in scenic spots and regions home to ethnic minorities, we were required to introduce these places to other people from around the world. While researching the best ways to do this, I learned about WildChina, and it remained on my mind throughout the rest of my college years. After completing my studies, I took the next step and joined WildChina’s Leisure team.

Faces of WildChina: Estela Li 李思淼
In Tongdao Dong Village, Hunan

Throughout your career, was there one piece of advice you received that impacted how you do your job? 

I became a fan of WildChina’s founder Mei Zhang when I learned of her three years ago. What she has to say on social media resonates with me. One of the best pieces of advice she gave was that designing a trip is more than providing a sample itinerary or listing out luxury experiences for clients. Instead, as we are selecting and curating experiences for people, we need to have exquisite taste ourselves and be very observant. As we design and customize many trips for clients from all over the world, I always keep this advice in mind, which helps shape how I work.  

What is the best travel experience you’ve had so far?  

The best travel experience I have had so far was a summer trip to Shandong province in 2021. Three friends and I traveled together and visited Qingdao as well as Weihai for over seven days. Qingdao is famous for its beer industry and the annual beer festival held every summer. We tried various kinds of beer and joined the festival celebrations on one of the touring days. We went to a big church, learned about the history of this coastal city, and saw many couples taking wedding photos outside it. Afterward, we went to the seaside and tasted many delicious local foods. It was a very memorable trip for us as friends, traveling along the coastline and feeling the sunshine and sea breeze every day.  

Faces of WildChina: Estela Li 李思淼
In Qingdao Beer Museum, Shandong Province

What is the most memorable trip you’ve planned for a traveler? 

I remember a trip we designed for a hiking club that wanted to do hiking and sightseeing in China. Their choice was excellent and fitting as China is a country with diverse landscapes and the views change drastically throughout the duration of a trip. This trip left a deep impression on me because I conducted extensive research on the best hiking routes in each destination they mentioned and asked many of our local team members for suggestions. As a result, I collected a lot of key information. To combine the classic scenic areas with wild outdoor activities was a big challenge for me. In the end, the travelers were very happy with the itinerary and enjoyed their trip. 

Faces of WildChina: Estela Li 李思淼
In Lushan, Jiangxi Province

What is the coolest WOW moment you’ve done for a traveler? 

I think most of our WildChina trips contain WOW moments as we provide travelers with custom journeys every single day we work. But if I need to pick one out of the many, the bike and brunch tour I arranged in Shanghai would be my choice. Cycling along traditional Shanghai streets, while appreciating the classic architecture, and enjoying local food – it’s a unique way to experience this modern city with all your senses. 

Faces of WildChina: Estela Li 李思淼
The Bund, Shanghai

If you had to pick one thing that makes a trip outstanding (not just good, but great), what would it be? 

I would say the pace of the trip is the most significant factor that makes a trip outstanding. From my point of view, most people travel because they want to have experiences that are quite different from their daily lives, but they also want to relax, spend time with family, and explore a new destination. Packed itineraries with tight schedules will cause exhaustion and dissatisfaction. Slow itineraries, on the other hand, will leave them bored. What we do is customize trips to suit travelers’ preferences to suit their specific needs and schedules.  

What is your favorite place in China? 

My favorite place in China is Yunnan province, from the easy and slow lifestyle in Dali to the ethnic cultures in the southern part, which exceeded all my expectations. Additionally, Yunnan embodies a significant aspect of traditional Southern China. We can absorb the laid-back attitude of the locals and unwind in the pleasant weather there. 

Faces of WildChina: Estela Li 李思淼
In Moshi Park, Sichuan

Tell us three places on your travel bucket list and why (in China or worldwide): 

I would like to visit these three places: 

  1. Bogota, Columbia 

I like reading books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and one of those is ‘Living to Tell the Tale’, about his life as a young man in Bogota. I want to feel the atmosphere as well as the charming culture of South America there. 

  1. Yellowstone National Park, USA 

Yellow Stone National Park is one of the most iconic national parks in the world. Across the world, it stands as a best practice in creating national parks by conserving nature while creating man-made infrastructure to support tourism. I want to visit the park to better understand the relationship between the landscape and humans. 

  1. Dunhuang, China. 

Dunhuang is a classic trip destination for both Chinese and foreign visitors. I am no exception. I learned of Dunhuang when I was a little girl and got to know more about it from my studies at school. Now I work as a travel designer and read the stories of people struggling to protect and develop this cultural treasure on the Silk Road. The story has made me decide to visit the place sometime in the future. 

What do you do when you aren’t working?

I usually spend time exploring galleries or new exhibitions. I love reading, and I read books on many different topics across all genres.  

What’s a fun fact about you that most people don’t know?  

Recently, I have been learning photography and watercolor painting in my spare time. Hopefully, I can paint portraits for my colleagues to use as their profile photos. (Estela says she is just kidding here, but we love the idea!)