In March, Liu Haoran went on a surprise trip to Kenya with Tiffany & Co. for their Save the Wildcampaign. The goal of the trip was to bring awareness to the Save the Elephants project, and to promote the brand’s Save the Wild jewelry collection, which donates 100% of profits to the Wildlife Conservation Network.
Tencent Fashion was the media outlet that tagged along for the ride, and one of their journalists kept a running diary of the six day trip – specifically, following Haoran as he explored Kenya and learned more about the elephants, the land, and the locals. There are a lot of fun anecdotes here, and we get a first hand account of both Haoran’s playful and serious sides.
Most of the photos/gifs are the ones she used and are kept in the order in which she published the first-person perspective article, to keep the “travel photojournal” feel. All the wildlife/land photos included were taken by Haoran (the photos of the campground are her own). LOTS OF PHOTOS/GIFS, so probably want to view on computer.
Note: I’m translating from famous fashion blogger gogoboi’s post of the Tencent Fashion journalist’s original log (they’re friends) – for whatever reason, Tencent actually edited their original article after publishing it and basically changed it a lot. I’m still so annoyed about this because it took forever to track down gogoboi’s original – he only had screencaps on his Weibo. I ended up trying to combine the two.
gogoboi: You say, do I need to have saved the entire world or universe in order to accompany Liu Haoran on an African safari trip for 6 days and 5 nights? I have a female friend who actually accomplished this – she went to Africa with Liu Haoran for work, and called me right after she got back, bragging and gushing for 3 hours.
“I sat with Haoran didi in the same car to see the elephants! Do you know how that feels?!”
“Haoran didi climbed a tree and picked fruit for me! Do you know how that feels?!”
“I sat in a plane that Haoran didi piloted! Do you know how that feels?!”
I rolled my eyes, “Of course I don’t, I didn’t go. I only care about the juicy gossip – tell me what he’s like in real life!”
She replied, “Pretty much just like I had thought. Very sunshiny and bright, and incredibly nice and easy to get along with. But…he really is talkative and active!”
I said, “Okay! Tell me more about those parts.”
(Her first person account of the trip is below)
Liu Haoran’s Africa Trip
Liu Haoran says that he’s always wanted to go to Africa to see the wildlife, and it just so happened that Tiffany & Co. invited him to Kenya to participate in their Save the Elephants campaign this time, allowing him to realize his small dream~
Going to Africa is actually pretty complicated – you have to get travel visas, physicals, vaccines. Tiffany also gave each of us a checklist of what to pack (like swimsuits). Like the rest of our crew, Liu Haoran prepped his own luggage.
Tiffany & Co. Kenya Trip Day 1
In total, we went for six days. The first day, we had a 15 hour flight to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, and rested there for a day. At 7am the next morning, we took a small plane to the Samburu National Reserve in the northern central part of Kenya, at an elevation of 3,000+ meters. It’s been nicknamed “the heart of Kenya”.
Because the plane was so tiny, we were very limited in how much luggage we could bring along. Liu Haoran ended up just bringing a large suitcase along with a smaller one, which mostly consisted of clothes for photoshoots. But he did also bring his laptop – the Internet addicted youth had originally planned on playing games during downtime, but because of the weak Internet connection ended up not being able to do so.
Also, because he had a new film to prepare for, he needed his laptop to review the materials. During the Africa trip, he had over 2 gb worth of material to look over to prep for filming.
The first day at the Samburu National Reserve, our campground’s conditions were pretty decent. We had bathrooms and were able to shower.
Going to bed that night felt very strange. Firstly, because Haoran didi was in the tent next to mine. And secondly, we could hear the sounds of wild animals in the distance.
Because water is a limited resource here, when we showered, most of us had to ask for an extra bucket of water that the locals would bring to us. I was fast among the women in the group, but even I still had to awkwardly ask someone to bringing me more water when my shower stopped. However, Haoran didi didn’t ask for any (meaning he was trying to conserve water and not use more than what was initially available).
Our friends here in Africa provided us with quite a delicious meal! There was porridge and pickled vegetables. For dinner, there was even Peking duck and our national goddess Lao Gan Ma (a famous hot sauce among the Chinese and one of Haoran’s favorite condiments)!
There were a lot of bugs though, so we were trying to shoo them away as we ate. Haoran didi had a great appetite and wasn’t picky at all. It definitely added bonus points for him!
Our main goal of this trip was to see the wild elephants, so we headed out that same day. Haoran didi changed to a white shirt, and because of the photoshoots, he also had his hair done.
Getting to ride a jeep through the grasslands of Africa was already quite an amazing experience. In addition, Haoran didi, who loves animals, was incredibly excited and would yell out every once in a while.
His song choices were also very suitable to the scenery, as he started singing “Camel in the Desert” (popular song on Douyin). He said that he knows a lot of old songs, because if he goes to karaoke, it’s usually with his parents.
Also, you can literally talk about anything in the world with him. He first started about “Captain Marvel”, which had just hit theaters then, and then went on to comparing Marvel and DC.
Including how DC superheroes have the higher peaks, but that Marvel is all-around stronger…and then I was lost…
I’m a bit of an idiot, and wasn’t sure how these animals differed from what the ones we usually see at the zoo, but Haoran didi explained to me in great detail. The taxonomic ranks, the habits of the different species, and which ecosystems they typically live in…he knew it all.
Why there are lions here and no tigers here, the difference between African and Asian elephants, he described it all to me. I couldn’t help but wonder..he’s so busy, how does he have the time to learn all of this?!
During our long road trip, I realized that Haoran didi’s talkative personality is great, because there was never an awkward moment. Plus, I gained a lot of knowledge in an area I wouldn’t normally get to learn more about!
So, how was Haoran didi’s (photoshoot) performance? You probably saw on Weibo the photos he took on this trip! (T/N: Like the Iceland photos, this group of pics went viral on Weibo)
If I wasn’t right next to him during the shoots, I wouldn’t have even believed it. What I saw in person was exactly what you saw in the photos. I had my phone out and as I snapped pics, all I kept saying was, “Wow, wow.”
We were very lucky and were able to see the elephants on our first day due to our guide. The enthusiasm that Haoran didi showed upon seeing them was essentially how I felt when I first saw him!
His eyes lit up and he kept repeating, “Elephants! Elephants! Look at the elephants! They’re so cute! Look how huge they are! What are they doing?”
He wasn’t just talkative – he also had a lot of energy. He got up at 6, 7am every morning to see the wildlife. Because he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to get up in the mornings, he also went to bed very early each night.
We later changed campgrounds. Haoran didi said that the first time he went to the bathroom, he realized how much closer this one was to nature when a monkey stole the tissue that he brought with him.
Most of our trip was to look for the wild elephants. With the exception of the first day, Haoran didi didn’t have his hair done at all, and wore a hat as he set forth in a loose blue shirt.
In the jeep, he was like a child who couldn’t sit still, and kept standing up, sometimes climbing to the roof of the vehicle, to greet the wildlife.
The trip overall was quite exhausting, and we got to take a break during noon to rest. However, Haoran didi ran off to a swing nearby.
I followed him, and was surprised by the strength in his waist, judging by how high he swung.
I took a moment to take some photos of the scenery, and when I turned around, I discovered he had climbed up a tree. Take a moment to visualize that moment: a popular idol (T/N: Chinese media use the term “idol” in a different way than their Korean and Japanese counterparts – it basically can be used to describe anyone popular) who runs off to Africa and just silently climbs up a tree. I felt like he had grown up in the wild!
Haoran didi explains that he climbs trees in order to get a better view of the surrounding landscape. But what I’m concerned with: he can climb trees in flip flops? He says flip flops actually makes it easier to climb, and then explained in great detail which trees are easy to climb, and which are hard…
As he stood in the tree, didi said to me that the scenery was beautiful, and that he wanted to climb it again in the evening to pick stars for me. What? Liu Haoran wants to pick stars for me??? I almost lost my balance!
But then someone next to me clarified that he meant he would pick fresh fruit, and not that he’d “pick stars”…
I guess I misheard because I was too excited. But he didn’t get to climb the tree again, as his manager forbid him from doing anything dangerous.
Tiffany & Co. Kenya Trip Day 2
Later, we took a helicopter to Olokowe Mountain, where we learned about elephant tracking. He was extremely curious and listened intently to the experts explain.
Our trip also included using a plane to track the elephants by GPS. I don’t know if it was okay or not, but the pilot asked Haoran if he wanted to try flying it, and he agreed.
And he really did try! During the turbulence, he almost scared off all the love I had for him…
He was having a blast though, even as the rest of us were shrieking. After a while, he turned around and asked us how we were doing.
After we landed, he was still full of enthusiasm, and climbed onto the plane for a One Piece (Luffy) pose.
The fourth day was mostly hiking, and he was still that enthusiastic child. As we walked, he used a stick to draw little elephants.
Under the glare of the hot sun, we finally made it to the peak of the mountain. Even though we were hot and exhausted, Haoran didi gave it all in dancing with the locals, and learning how to make animal calls.
He was at his quietest when taking photos. He really enjoys photography, and is pretty good at it. The entire way, travel blogger Haoran is wrapped up in the excitement of exploring a new land, and even invented a new photography style – he used a combination of the binoculars and his phone to take photos of the animals in the distance. And they came out quite decently!
On the final day, we visited the elephant orphanage, and Haoran didi wore a Dumbo t-shirt to cheer them on.
He had a motherly, gentle smile as he looked at the baby elephants, and even interacted with them by rubbing their trunks.
Later, we watched as the workers fed milk to the baby elephants. The elephants actually spend most of their time in the wild, but come here during mealtime to get their milk.
Haoran didi says, “On this trip, we got to see the beauty of the adult elephants, and the adorableness of the babies. Most importantly, we gained a lot of knowledge.”
Tiffany & Co. Kenya Trip Day 3
Even though it sounds quite romantic in text, the truth this was a tough trip. Haoran did took a few days out of his busy schedule to come to Africa, and had to cram in photoshoots, videos, learning, explaining – all for one purpose: to gain awareness for the Save the Wild Elephants campaign.
Haoran didi says it’s only now that he really knows how amazing the elephants are. They can change a landscape, can create paths, can turn soil – they are very important for the local vegetation. They can also use their tusks to dig out water resources, and allow other animals to drink from it as well.
What can we do in the cities then to help protect them? We can boycott against the selling of ivory, make the ivory trade illegal, and spread the word through awareness campaigns.
Finally, here is Liu Haoran’s own summary of the trip, and call upon all of us to do our part in spreading awareness for the Save the Elephants campaign.
From this trip to Africa, I personally experienced and saw the land that the elephants live in, the life that they have. I also saw the brutality that they face, how the pursuit of their ivory has led to the mass hunting of elephants. And from this experience, I’ve really come to realize the importance of the elephants, how much they contribute to the harmonious balance between the other wildlife, between humans and nature.
— Liu Haoran