06 Travelers of the PNW: Ashley Lim

Ashley Lim, 26

UW Seattle, Foster School of Business - Accounting

Sunny Singapore! I spent 21 years in Singapore before moving to Seattle for my undergrad degree. I'm now living and working in San Francisco.


Photography, sports, hiking; I love the outdoors

What is your relation to the Pacific Northwest?

My second home. I did four years of undergrad at UW. In a way it's also my second home. I love the PNW and sometimes regret making the move down south.

Why is travel important to you?

Travel is perspective. I love meeting and learning about other communities and cultures’ ways. I feel that travel deepens my perspective through the lens of others. It's amazing how we live so far apart yet we are so similar.

What is your most memorable travel experience? How has it impacted your life and future travels?

I did a 45-day solo backpacking trip prior to freshman year. It started with a 3-week wolf adventure in Sweden in the middle of nowhere. I loved the Scandinavian wilderness and the midnight sun. It was such a peaceful and blessed experience. I would never trade for anything else. After this, I spent some time in Stockholm before visiting Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary. It was made the most memorable because of the people I met along the way. I was really hungover in between Split and Zadar, cities in Croatia. However, I had the most amazing conversation with an Aussie who teaches English in Germany on a three-hour bus ride where I originally planned to take a nap.

A few months before this trip, I was in Japan and randomly met an Austrian couple at a couchsurfing event. I told them if I was ever in Austria, I would hit them up. I never thought I would but I did when I was passing through Austria (the original plan I had was to skip Austria but found sometime in between to stop by Vienna). The next few days were insane as my friend brought me through the winding streets of Vienna on bicycles. I ate hummus off his balcony and met his friends and checked out his college. My favorite part was definitely having some famous chocolate cake with his friends and watching Mission Impossible in an opera styled theater (the film was set in Vienna too). I'm definitely overdue for a trip, having skipped my plans post-graduation. Word to you college kids: don't skip that graduation trip. There's no time after.

How would you describe your travel style? Are you a meticulous planner or a go-with-the-flow kind of traveler? What are some best practices you have learned to help you travel as best you can in your own way?

Solo traveler all the way. Yes, stranger danger is real but don't shut yourself off from all the opportunities to meet people. Keep an open mind but be wary of your actions.

What do you love experiencing when you come home? What do you miss about home? How does coming “home” (wherever or whatever that may be) feel after you travel?

My bed definitely. Eating home-cooked or local food. I've been away from home for almost five years now (I'm from Singapore) and while I initially thought I'd grow out of Singapore, the little things like food and friends start to pile up.

What are your future travel plans?

I really want to travel through Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Cyprus - that whole area. I love the food.

How has the PNW helped shape who you are?

The PNW made me realize there is so much more out there in the world. Four years there definitely shaped the way I approach things in a more empathetic and enlightened way. I have been so heartened by its people that I believe it has helped make me a better person.

If you were to describe the PNW in three words, what would they be and why? Feel free to add a short story that supports your reasoning!

Beautiful, adventures, rain. I grew up as a Boy Scout in Singapore. If you know anything about Singapore, it is very urban. Our tallest natural formation is a hill that is 100m. As a Boy Scout, I never thought beyond what was around me in terms of nature and adventure. Camping was on a grassy patch next to a street soccer court at the back of my school. Hiking was always to the same places on the island. When I came to the PNW, my whole perspective changed. People will not understand how lucky I feel to have spent the last 4 years in such an amazing place. It's proximity to the ocean, mountains, forests and even deserts open new gateways for weekly adventures. I am glad that I found a group of friends to go on adventures with and want to come back one day for even more. I still haven’t won that central enchantment lottery yet...