One famous Chinese vlogger who goes by “Li Ziqi” on YouTube is making content that could be just the distraction you need in the time of COVID-19. Many stressed-out students, especially those in dense cities where physical distancing is difficult, could benefit from watching some of her soothing YouTube videos.
After watching only one of her videos that popped up in my Facebook feed three years ago, I was enthralled by the stunning visuals and lulling soundtracks that showed the peaceful resonance of country life. I live in the fast-paced, vivacious congestion of New York City and can only dream of being surrounded by nature, away from the shrill noise of traffic and the tall buildings that block the skies.
With COVID-19 still posing a threat for tourists, I channel my desire to travel through Li Ziqi’s videos instead of vacations. The scene of her walking through a beautiful rose garden in a flowy skirt only enhances her fairylike image, making her appear absolutely magical. Still, her magic extends past the visuals of her videos, because of her many skills.
From cooking delicious meals with foraged ingredients from the mountainside to crafting sturdy furniture out of bamboo, Li can do it all. Want to bake some bread? She will show you the process of making a kiln out of dirt, glass bottles and water. Want to learn how soft silk quilts are made? She can nurture silkworms and stretch their gathered cocoons to produce silk. By showing the preservation of traditional techniques alongside eye-catching visuals, the Liziqi channel invites viewers to take a brief glimpse of what it is like being a fairy and farmer at the same time.
Similar to Cinderella, Li Ziqi was mistreated by her stepmother and went through many hardships, including poverty, to get where she is now. Currently, her YouTube channel has 12.7 million subscribers from all around the world, many of whom applaud her for how independent and hardworking she is.
Li Ziqi lives with and takes care of her grandmother, feeding her tasty meals every day and making warm clothing for her in the winter. In turn, her grandmother is always shown smiling and laughing in her videos, making it clear that she loves Li very much. The beautiful ancestral connection between a grandmother and her granddaughter is another important factor that makes watching Li Ziqi’s videos worth your time.
Li’s vlogs are so inspirational and otherworldly in part because of how they show the whole beginning-to-end of a long process in a matter of minutes. From one minute to another, seasons change and months pass. One particular video, “How to make Salted Duck Egg Yolk Sauce,” took around a year to produce. She began with the process of hatching ducklings to raising them until they finally laid eggs. Afterward, it took another month to marinate those eggs in order to produce yolk powder.
The patience, determination and organization skills it takes to produce these long-term videos is no joke. When she records for one video, she records several others at the same time because each individual video posted on her YouTube channel is dedicated to one area of expertise.
This year, in January 2020, Li Ziqi started “The Life Of” series, which essentially showcases the broad range of uses for specific ingredients. She promised in the title of the first video that she would change the name of the series; however, she ended up keeping it.
The series took months to film since she starts with preparing the soil and planting the actual seeds for these particular plants before transitioning to their “rapid” growth. Through the power of video editing, the time lapses make it seem like the time is going by in a blink of an eye. It is easy to forget that she is a vlogger that lives happily with her grandma in southwest China. Despite the prolonged time lapses in the majority of her vlogs, Li’s youthful appearance never changes and her wonderful grandmother remains ever vigilant by her side.
There are moments where Li breaks the illusion of her being “perfect” and “fairylike,” allowing the viewer to know that she is human too. For example, the process of traditional papermaking requires a lot of time and patience, and sometimes things do not always come out the way you want them to. Near the conclusion of this video, Li accidentally rips the paper she wanted to write on to show off her calligraphy skills and ends up throwing the product into a fire after expressing her frustration.
This moment elicited a lot of laughs and support from her viewers, who admire that she was honest about the way she felt after making a mistake. What made this moment even more inspiring was the fact that she ended up salvaging the paper before it burned completely to write on it, deciding that despite its imperfection, it can still be used for something.
To journey to the mountains and forest of the Sichuan province, where time feels at a standstill, consider watching the Liziqi channel and checking out her product website. There, you can immerse yourself in the sights of heavenly aesthetics and the resonance of gentle instrumental music. Approach viewing Li Ziqi’s works like she makes her videos — start from the very beginning and work your way toward the end — and soon, you may feel more at peace.