I met Jess for the first time in a park in Toronto. A friend of a friend. Her bike was pink and her laughter was loud. It was one of my very first days living in Toronto and I did not know anyone yet. I needed a place to stay, some good company and kickoff to the new city. It was insanely hot, I was hungry and thirsty and more than anything I didn’t want to admit to myself – I was slightly lost with thousand of thoughts, spinning around in my mind: “How would things go with Toronto and me? Where would I live? Would I feel at home?”

Travelette of the Month: Jessica Tjeng

(Photo: Luis Mora)

 

When she and another soon-to-be friend (and roommate) entered the scene, I somehow knew I would be okay. Their smiles were warm and welcoming and they fed me ice-cold beer, wrapped in brown paper bags and soft chocolate cookies. It was everything I needed at that moment!

As I was getting to know my new friends, I immediately liked Jess and how she just goes out there and gets shit done. We became close friends and although I left Toronto we have stayed in touch. We may not live in the same city but we maintain our international friendship and keep each other posted on our traveling plans to meet each other all around the world.

(Photo: Tabea Mathern)

In Jess’ day-to-day, she works as a creative producer, where she travels a lot, collaborates with very talented people from all around the globe and always needs to be on point. She has a big heart, crazy amounts of energy and often knows more than any Lonely Planet guide could ever teach you. So for June’s Travelette of the Month, I sat down with her for a little chat about her job, her travels, the feeling of home, the beauty of pressed flowers and much more…

(Photo: Tabea Mathern)

Tell us a little about yourself.

Growing up in my early 20’s I had trouble understanding myself because people didn’t understand me. I was super organized, controlling and always planning. It can get relentless but thank goodness I found the perfect job. I have been a creative producer for over 7 years now. All those traits that seemed like a nuisance are very welcome in this job field.

How does your own multi-cultural background impact the way you see the world and other countries and cultures when you are en route?

I’m Chinese/Indonesian born in Canada. My parents taught and raised me to be very “Asian” but I was surrounded by a Western environment. When I was young I started traveling back to Asia during summer holidays because my mom used to get homesick. At that point I was exposed to many environments (bustling night markets, noodle stands and hectic street life) that were very different to my suburban upbringing. I realized that there’s always more to explore outside our comfort zone.

(Photo: Tabea Mathern)

Did you always have a love for traveling?

Yes! I love traveling and exploring new scenes, life and cultures. I love the feeling like I’m on the TV show “Amazing Race” and I have to beat the finishing line in discovery.

You love to bring stuff home from your journeys; do you have a favourite souvenir?

I started pressing flowers and collecting rocks from my travels. It’s an unconventional idea but I felt like I didn’t need more stuff. These mementos are very personal. It’s so nice to look through my note book and box when I want to recount my memories…

And one (or more) favorite spot(s) somewhere in the world?

I have many favorite spots; they are separated into two categories, work and leisure. For work I travel all across Canada bringing my crew for photo shoots. I love Whistler/Squamish, British Columbia for amazing nature, Montreal, Quebec for old nostalgic vibes and Halifax, Nova Scotia for a good seaside/port city scene.

For leisure I love Iceland. It’s one of the most spiritual places that I have explored. I went there solo and every time I turned a corner I encountered that feeling that nature is far greater than me! You can see it as the ocean is roaring on the black beach in Vik, the icy blue glaciers in Jokulsaron and the lush moss fields.  Other places that I love are France and Italy. You can always guarantee good food and people watching!

(Photos: Jess Tjeng)

How to you prepare for a trip – work or private? What do you always take with you?

I’m a minimalist. I travel with my black carry-on size Rimowa filled with all my black outfits. No matter if I go for 3 weeks or 5 days, it can all fit in there.  Plus I’ll have a good book, a pouch full of adaptors, aux cables and advil.  I’m good to go!

What are the fun parts and what are possible issues have you come across when working with a big international team?

When working with big teams, everyone has different expectations. We work long hours in a foreign environment and are all coming from various cultural backgrounds.

My job is to make sure everyone’s needs are met by creating the best authentic experiences in a controlled and curated environment.

(Photo: Jess Tjeng)

How do you solve issues when traveling and manage to stay calm and confident?

I think the best thing to do is to remind yourself keep calm (I’m always trying to perfect this). In retrospect, there are never issues so great that we can’t find solutions. Taking a moment to assess and then figuring out a gameplan is the best way.

Being en route all the time is fun, but what does “home” mean to you?

Home is being able to chill with my boyfriend on the couch and sit with my cat, Princess. But sometimes that can’t happen when being en route so you have to create “ homely” solution. Finding my temporary local coffee shop, bar and nail salon is always a quick fix.

(Photo: Nick Seaton)

What are your next planned trips? What is still on your bucket list and why?

I’m heading off to London and the Netherlands. Those places are my second home because my boyfriend lives there. We are a “long-distance couple” (hopefully not for too long). As for the bucket list: Race car driving in Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah , Wine touring in the Bourgeon region, France, Island living in Sicily, Italy, Bungee jumping in Auckland, New Zealand…


Follow Jess on Instagram for some of her adventures and keep on exploring!