The Art of the Escape: Sherlyn Soo

Written by Josh Lee

Meet Sherlyn - a razor-sharp professional in the office space...organized and systematic. After hours, she turns on the spontaneity as a wildcat adventurer in search of natural beauty. She's mastered the art of unwinding, mini-retirements, and retreating to places where time stands still - a 21st century escape artist.

Sherlyn, normally as mysterious as much as she lives her life with zest, gives us a peek into her journey.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Lao Tzu

Tell us a little about yourself - who are you, what do you do?

Who am I? I was born in Malaysia, raised in Singapore, went to high school in Texas & have lived in LA for over 20 years. I am an Asian American immigrant, an explorer, a nature enthusiast, kitchen experimenter, tinker-er (I love playing with power tools) a life long learner, sunset chaser & I'm known to have my own solo dance parties.

What do I not do? ;)

What do I do to pay the bills - In the past, I designed apps & websites across multiple industries, built a UX team & established a UX culture for a major retailer, worked with start ups to create digital products from scratch & also ran my own digital design consulting business. I've started transitioning into interior design recently — I've remodeled a 4 bedroom house, designed & built a converted camper van, and I am currently working with new clients to create multi-functional spaces for communal areas in an apartment complex. I am currently on a journey to discover my purpose, part time living in LA & part time traveling in my converted van.

What do I do for fun? Oh, there's so much fun to be had! Anything outdoors (hiking, biking, rollerblading, hugging trees), yoga, pilates, trying new restaurants & traveling.

I LOVE working with my hands. I really enjoy giving a new life to old stuff (think sprucing up an old piece of furniture, or turning a wine box into a cabinet). I especially enjoy spray painting, mainly furniture. I love it so much that my boyfriend gave me a bottle of gold spray point for Xmas one year — I love him for that. I get a lot of satisfaction using my power tools — also an anniversary gift from my boyfriend, did I mention he's amazing? ;) I love building things out of scrap pieces of wood. Wood is one of those materials that you can sand, resand & restain/paint and turn it into something beautiful. I love running my fingers across a piece of wood that has been sanded well so that it's very smooth & amazing to touch.

What inspires you to travel? Are you heading towards something or away from something?

Seeing places in nature that are pretty much untouched by human development. Beauty is everywhere is you just pause & really see what's around you. Seeing how other people live/travel & connecting with them.

Probably a bit of both - heading towards a life that I don't need an escape from & away from... well, my life that I was not that content with. When I travel, I feel so much more at peace when I'm out in the middle of nowhere & discovering a new place. I also get so much freedom from traveling in a van — your home is truly wherever you park it. I do miss the stability of my old life — income, friends, family, WiFi, knowing where I will be spending the night. I am currently experimenting with finding the right balance for me.

How did you get started/tell us about your travel journey?

With vanlife-ing, it started with my previous van. I converted a Ford F350 van so that I could drive Lexy, my 4 legged best friend to Texas from LA to spend Xmas with my family in Houston. She was 14 at the time and a road trip was the only was to go because a 50lb lab mix is a no go on an airplane. What was a necessity at the time turned into one of my passions - building a van & then traveling in it.

Favorite travel destination so far?

This is a tough one, I've been to so many amazing places in my life. By flight — Iceland, Kos & Crete in Greece, Girona in Spain, Nusa Lemgonan (Indonesia).

Road trip — Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Big Sur, Andrew Molena State Park (CA), Pagosa Springs (CO), Goose Island State Park (TX), White Sands (NM), Santa Fe & the mountains surrounding it (NM), Guadalupe Mountains National Park (TX), Arches National Park & Moab (Utah).

What do you like to pack for travel-wear?

When I'm on the road, I don't have to pack. That's the beauty of van traveling, all my stuff is with me. Most recent addition to my van adventure gear: my bike. Most important: hiking shoes. Most recent discovery: kimonos are great for keeping your skin covered when you're getting blasted by the sun.

Best part about traveling alone?

I get to choose where I want to go & whenever I want to go. I also meet more people when I'm traveling alone, get to process my thoughts & I feel like I get to really experience my new surroundings more. Spending more time with myself has also allowed me to be more comfortable with just being me. Sometimes it's tough but just like a tootsie roll, you have to get through the not so great stuff to get to the good stuff.

#1 advice for single travelers?

You don't always need a plan, just go.

What’s next for you/next adventure?

Currently on it! I am traveling up the CA coast & things off the beaten path. Right now, I am parked at Hollister Hills OHV - beautiful golden hills of the central CA coast line & it's fun to watch dirt bikes do tricks. Next? Not sure, we shall see where the road takes me.

Tell us about an activity you've done while traveling that...

  1. Calmed your nerves.
  2. That put you in a state of awe.
  3. That made your heart beat faster.
  4. That refreshed your soul.
  5. That made you miss someone.
  1. Calmed my nerves - Wandering in the redwood forest - I hugged a lot of trees. Note: Life is short, hug more trees.
  2. Put me in a state of awe - Arches National Park & ALL of the surrounding area of Moab
  3. Made my heart beat faster - Getting chased by a skunk in a state park in Texas - thank goodness I escaped. It was also before I had coffee. Yikes! What an experience & a great way to wake up sans caffeine.
  4. Refreshed my soul - Taking a bath in the natural hot springs at Pagosa Springs.Side note: This was after not showering for 5 days... I know, I get dirty on the road. So what? A little dirt never hurt anyone.
  5. Made me miss someone - Visiting White Sands National Park for the 2nd time - it made me miss my boyfriend (he really wanted to go there) & my dog Lexy (she passed when she was 16 in 2021 and she traveled with me in my previous van to White Sands NP. We strolled along the white sand dunes and she had an amazing time sniffing every grain of sand). I released part of Lexy's remains in the dunes & wrote my boyfriend a note in the sand (& took a picture of it to send it to him).


She Spruces Spaces

She Spruces Spaces is Sherlyn's passion site for her recent projects - remodeling, modding, fabricating, and crafting sensory tantalizing spaces.

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