Ep.3 of our Original Series Takes Us Around the World in 80+ Snacks

Our friend Melissa Hie is the self-confessed food and travel enthusiast who’s saying what we’re all thinking: “I love eating and travelling the world.” These two universal passions were combined by Melissa into the master-stroke Instagram account Girl Eat World, a catalogue of Melissa’s travels by way of the snacks she snaps up along the way, and the stories behind each one.

Although her family moved around a fair bit when she was young, Melissa only really got into travelling after university, throwing herself into the unknown by moving alone to Singapore. And this was a game-changer. By 2010 the bug had well and truly bit, and saw Melissa taking full advantage of Singapore’s cheap travel and close proximity to a variety of fascinating destinations, alongside her day job as a UX designer. So far she’s racked up over thirty cities, and plans to visit at least one new country per year.

Melissa’s a natural storyteller with an easy style, who perfectly summarises our favourite new way to travel: “eating my way around the world.”

THE PLUS: Why do you pick the snacks that you do?
Melissa Hie:
I always pick something local so that it can tell a history about the destination I was in. But also I sometimes feature nicely made desserts like the hello kitty donut in Japan, just because I think it makes for a great photo and captures the modern culture of that place.

TP: Let’s talk weird foods: what are weirdest in a good way, and the weirdest in a bad way, that you’ve come across? 
I think the weirdest one has to be the freshly chopped octopus in Korea. I’ve never eaten something that’s still moving.

TP: Do you think your work as a UX designer has influenced your photography?
I think so. I am not a professional photographer by any means, but I think being a designer gave me the basic sense of how to compose a shot. These days, it takes me no longer than 3-5 minutes to take and edit a shot right on my iPhone.

TP: Any tips for editing iPhone travel photos?
Don’t use too much filter, but do pay attention to natural light and different ways to angle your photo. Also, use the grids and tap-to-focus feature on iPhone – it’s 90% of what makes my picture better.

TP: You’ve been picked up by news stations on your travels – do people recognise you in the street? 
Most people actually don’t know what I look like, so I don’t get recognised. However there was a few times where my instagram was mentioned on the conversation and I found out the person I was speaking to had been following @girleatworld, without knowing the person behind it.

TP: You must get offered plenty of snacks for free; does this affect what goes on the account or how you travel?
I do get free snacks offers, but this has not changed the Instagram much as I don’t tend to take those offers up. I tend to take more travel offers that allow me to be flexible with what type of food I can feature on the Instagram.

TP: What advice would you give to people who want to make the most out of their travels?
Try to research ahead of time, no matter how daunting the task might seem, especially about the local history of a place you are visiting. That gives you so much more insight into the local life than you’d get blindly visiting a place and just touching the surface.

TP: Any plans for the rest of this summer?
I have tons! I’m about to leave for Europe in a week, where I will be visiting Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czech Rep and Ukraine. I will also be visiting Japan (again) at the end of July. Aside from that, I might be visiting Korea and Indonesia.