For many of us, it takes years and years of figuring out the things we truly want and choosing the path we want to take in life… but for some, the lucky ones—the paths choose them. For then 19-year-old travel videographer Ashley Yee, all it had to take was voyaging to a deserted island—that forced him to disconnect from technology and the digital world—to open his eyes to the very wonders around him. This made the young artist pick up his camera, capture everything that he could, compile it into a travel aftermovie, and the rest is history. Little did this Philippines-based artist know that he would travel to countless cities for the next two years, while doing what he was ultimately born to do: filmmaking.
And isn’t that the ultimate dream: getting paid to travel while documenting your experiences for all the world to see—Ashley covers music festivals and big shows featuring global artists, and shoots travel content that rake in thousands of views on social media. Don’t get fooled, though; this young blood may be all about that chill life—constantly escaping to the great outdoors and shooting one sick drone video at a time—but he’s far from done taking over the world. Keep up as Caveman Travels learns that sometimes, all you gotta do is take a pause and ~chill~, and the rest will follow.
Caveman Travels: Tell us about your roots.
Ashley Yee: I’m Ashley John Yee, a freelance travel videographer from Bacolod City, Philippines. I discovered my love and passion for photography and videography when I was in (third year) high school. I started shooting weddings and events, but eventually stopped. I realized that I could go beyond my limitations and leave my comfort zone, so I began to shoot travel videos, outdoor adventures and music festivals. It helped me find a greater perspective and widen my knowledge in everything.
How old are you?
AY: I’m 21 years old.
How long have you been traveling and what made you start doing it?
AY: My love for traveling started two years ago, when a friend of mine randomly invited me to join them on a three-day trip to an island. Unfortunately, there was no electricity and zero phone coverage. I kinda struggled at that time, because I was really hooked with the Internet. And since I had no choice, all I did was to appreciate everything the island had to offer. But good thing I had my camera with me! Then later after the trip, I decided to make a quick recap video. The feeling of seeing places through my camera lenses was different and it made me want to explore even more.
You seem to love the water and outdoors. Tell us about this.
AY: I really love the outdoors. It’s way different from the usual city life. My love for it made me realize the importance of the little things in life. And of course, the chance to appreciate God’s creation makes it more special.
What’s the one thing you look for in every city that you visit?
AY: Given the fact that every place is different from the other, nothing is better than experiencing their culture. That’s probably one of the things I always look forward to when I travel.
When traveling, do you become friends with the locals and fellow travelers? If so, how do you do it?
AY: Yes, I’m a friendly person! Being talkative in nature (haha), I also love to ask questions whenever I have the chance.
You have an amazing travel reel. Can you tell us how much time you put into filming during your trips?
AY: I’m a run-and-gun type of shooter. I don’t usually plan my shots—everything is done spontaneously. So, I just take whatever I can, whenever I can.
Your drone videos are otherworldly. When did you get into droning?
AY: I learned to fly a drone about a year ago.
How long did it take you to master it?
AY: It took me a while to master it, of course with some crashes. But it’s always worth it to learn how to use one because for me, it always gives me a different perspective and a different view of a certain place that not a usual camera could take.
What’s your advice to aspiring drone/travel videographers?
AY: And my advice to aspiring travel videographers is to always follow what you love and never stop chasing your dreams. No matter how far or hard it is to reach, as long as one is persevering, you will eventually make it. And most importantly, keep a positive mindset about everything that’s happening around you, because for sure it’ll help you in a lot of ways you could ever imagine.
What are your top five travel essentials?
AY: I’m a light traveler, but the top five things I must always have with me when I travel are: my camera, glidecam, headphones, mobile phone and a power bank.
How often do you travel?
AY: It depends on my work schedule, since I’m freelance. I usually travel for work, and leisure comes after it.
We see that you travel a lot with your girlfriend. Who takes more time preparing before heading out?
AY: It’s always my girlfriend. She loves to plan and organize our trips. She’s like a Human Wikipedia, so I trust and leave everything to her. Hahaha!
What’s your most favorite travel memory?
AY: My favorite travel memory was when I hiked Tinagong Dagat (one of the best mountains in Negros) last year. I will never forget that trip because it was the day when I met Jowee, my girlfriend. I can still recall everything that happened during that trip.
Craziest travel experience?
AY: As far as I can remember, it was when we went to the crater of Kawah Ijen in East Java, Indonesia. We traveled for almost 30 hours from the Philippines. We had connecting flights, plus an eight-hour train ride going to the jump-off point—all in one day. We arrived at around 11:00 PM, then our guide informed us that we had to start hiking at 2:00 AM. It was a crazy two-hour uphill climb to the peak—to think we hadn’t had enough sleep. Me, my girlfriend and another friend of mine, decided to go down to the crater lake. But unfortunately, as soon as we reached the crater, the sulfur smoke got thickened and people were starting to climb back. It was a long way up, and although it was quite dangerous, we decided to stay. We had a hard time breathing. The sulfur was too strong that even our gas masks were not 100% safe to use. But despite what happened, it was worth it. Especially when we saw the blue flames! It was definitely one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had.
Do you have a travel playlist you can share with us?
AY: Yes, on my Spotify account.
Top three countries?
AY: I’ll mention the countries instead: Philippines, Indonesia and Dubai.
Which cities do you want to visit next?
AY: I’m looking forward to doing a Euro trip in the future.
Follow Ashley’s outdoor adventures via @ashleyyeee_ on Instagram.