11 October 2013

guest post: of cities, travels and many, many lovers

happy friday! today, i'm honored to feature an honest-to-goodness world traveller and empowered, independent lady. she's also the sister of one of my good friends, nina. i got the chance to travel with ate prime when we went to that eventful myanmar trip, which was a good thing. aside from going with my friends, i also had a travel-experienced older sister, which was a reassuring thought, given what we encountered over there.


i seriously believe each city in the world has it's own personality. ate prime describes some of the places she's visited in her article below, including, of course, singapore. 

When Ays asked me to write a guest post comparing Singapore with the more than 20 cities (and counting…) that I have visited all over the world, I was actually a bit apprehensive of writing it.  The questions that she sent me didn’t really help. Like the proverbial apples and oranges, I really can’t compare any city with another.  My experiences know no parameters.

But here’s what I know. A journey to a foreign country, according to writer and author Pico Iyer, is like getting into a love affair “where you can't quite speak the language, and you don't know where you're going, and you're pulled ever deeper into the inviting darkness, every trip to a foreign country can be a love affair, where you're left puzzling over who you are and whom you've fallen in love with.”

So yes, to me, a new city, a new place, outside of my own home (which will forever be Manila, my Manila) is like getting involved with a new lover – the insanity of lust, the fluffiness of romance, the serious depth of loving.  And while it’s too slutty to talk about my lovelife (not to mention I have an embarrassingly short list of male admirers), I am free to talk about my (wander)lust for the many places that I’ve been to, and how I fall in and out of love, in and out of lust, always searching for “the one” as I craft my own journeys as a true blue gypsygal. 

cancun, mexico

I was 26 when I fell in love with Singapore. Now this is one lover that my ever pragmatic and careerist and competitive self has been seeking for so long,  that I frankly find it orgasmic that I get a rare chance to be with this lover for about five years. Singapore is stable, safe and ambitious – para kang nakasandal sa pader. He is the type of lover that I won’t mind bringing to my mom, and flaunt in my highschool reunions, shoving him in the faces of those popular mean girls who got pregnant in college and married losers (take that, bitch!).  Of course in the end, as I went through a lot of inner work, I realized that Singapore is not “the one”.  

Ubud in the magical island of Bali is my first love. Before you jump to conclusions, Ubud was “mine” years before Elizabeth Gilbert went on her Eat Pray Love journey and published the book. Artistic, bohemian, romantic and temperamental, I was in an on-and-off romance with Ubud for several years and even once thought of settling down with him. But like most first loves, it didn’t really work out because I had to grow up and become pragmatic. Like most first loves, it was unforgettable, and there was this longing to revisit that romance again even if I haven’t see this lover for more than eight years.

There are the “couldabeens”, lovers who I thought I can seriously have a relationship with, but there are always deal breakers. This is what I felt for Toronto, Melbourne, Perth, Baguio and Bangkok. I love them for being cosmopolitan, dynamic, open and independent.  But somehow, something got in the way so I had to leave and continue my journey, the search for another lover(s).

There are the bad boys – Delhi is the man that you’re mother often warn you about but still pursued. How can I resist this lover’s craziness and interesting history? Kathmandu is his not-so-bad-boy little bro, interesting but still dangerous and DEFINITELY not a keeper.

Some like Rio de Janeiro and Cancun are good for a few laughs but not really worth all the trouble (Latino guys are soooo overrated). Bhutan, meanwhile, is a mysterious lover that I am so proud of but only the ‘chosen’ few can understand him.  Ho Chi Minh city is brash and aggressive and might, just might, be put in the ‘couldabeen’ list. Beijing was the lover I almost dumped when I met him for the first time because he’s too rude and crude. But learning more about him and getting lost in the language of Mandarin make me think of him with more affection. And then there’s Hanoi, interesting and classic and mystical – which I’m giving a serious second glance.       


In the end, I found myself, still traveling alone.  Still searching. Still seeking for “the one”. I know that at this stage, I’m ready to settle down but in the end,  have to be happy with the fact that some love affairs will always be an endless journey within and without.    


Prime Sarmiento is a Southeast Asia-based journalist and traveler. She is one of the co-founders The Gypsygals: Solo Female travel Network (www.thegypsygals.com) – a multimedia site that offers inspiring stories and practical advice to solo female travelers. 

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