(This is me at Lamma Island in Hong Kong. I’ve been living in HK since 2018.)
Hi, I’m Prime Sarmiento, a Filipina journalist based in Hong Kong. This blog used to be known as The Gypsy Gals as it chronicled the many travels that my sister and I used to do (either together or on our own). But life happened so in 2022, after receiving guidance from the higher spiritual realm, I decided to revamp and relaunch this site as as sort of a memoir of my spiritual journey. It will also serve as my personal project as I just signed for an online memoir writing class.
I’ve been blogging on and off since 2005. I set up my first blog in 2005, shortly after I quit my job in Singapore as a commodities reporter. While I loved the journalism profession, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of reporting on the rubber prices in the Tokyo Commodity Exchange for the rest of my life. I ended working as a commodities reporter because I needed the money.
But in exchange for that I had to give up my dream to become a travel journalist.
I left the university in 1994 and started looking for a job as a newspaper reporter. I wanted to become a travel journalist – but there were no opportunities. Freelancing was out of the question. I needed a stable income to help my parents. The only thing that paid decently and which would at least allow me to become a member of the Philippine press was to cover business and finance. Later, I would specialize in commodities reporting as this was the only well-paid gig that allowed me to help my family.
I did manage to travel around the Philippines for free thanks to sponsored press trips. I had fun but I always wanted to travel on my own, outside the Philippines, just enjoying the discovery of a new place and writing about it in my journal.
I was 25 years old when I got my first passport – and I used it to be able to attend a company-sponsored journalism seminar in Singapore. A year later, I was promoted and landed a high-paying job in Singapore working as a commodities reporter for one of the world’s biggest media companies.
Finally, I had the money to travel for leisure! Since I prefer to do my own stuff, and enjoy my solitude, I often travel on my own. And thanks to my annual 20-day vacation leave, I was able to travel all over Asia, Australia and Canada.
But these mini-breaks were not enough. I am a writer and it’s important for me to also write about what I want and make a living out of it. I was unhappy with my job – bringing me neither career nor personal fulfillment.
Here’s the thing: I was unhappy and yet it took me several years to hand over my resignation letter.
Here’s another thing – and which is something that my friends (and frenemies) will never believe because they thought that I was a brave girl: FEAR prevented me from quitting my job sooner.
I was AFRAID to let go of a cushy corporate job and my friends in Singapore. I worked so effing hard to win awards and snag a more decent paying job as a journalist. How can I give it up for something as frivolous as backpacking in Asia?????
Recognizing my fears, however, allowed me to confront my demons. I prayed a lot, meditated, wrote in my journal, talked to my friends and family. I also saved some money – I was pragmatic enough to know that I needed money to do whatever I wanted. I knew I was taking a risk, (there was no job waiting for me in Singapore or in Manila- so many journalists, very few job openings).
So after months of planning, I quit my job and used my first career break to travel around Asia.
Oh I was soooo happy. I finally had the time to do whatever I want – meditate all day, read, attend writing and yoga workshops, discover my writing voice, explore Buddhist and Hindu temples. I met some interesting people along the way and made some friends. I blogged and some of my travel pieces were published in magazines.
It was overwhelming, exciting, liberating. Traveling solo empowered me. I believe that if I have the guts to give up a lot of things to follow my dream then I can do anything !
After a few months of traveling, I returned to Manila and in between freelancing jobs and attending graduate school, I managed to travel around the Philippines and Asia.
I lived in Manila for about eight years before I finally decided that it was time for me to grow and move again. I stayed in Hanoi for a few months, but in the end decided to go to Brunei to accept a job as a newspaper editor. After the paper folded in 2016, I went back to Manila and stayed there for a year. Now I’m an expat again, this time reporting on Southeast Asian for a state-owned media company.
And if you’re curious about my Lil Sis (the other half of the old The Gypsy Gals, here’s her short bio):
I love to travel because I like to experience first hand what I read in books. I want to feel the “pulse” of certain place, I want to visit historic places and embrace the culture. I’m one curious cat who want to know more about different places and different folks.
Travel provides an exhilarating experience. It’s really different to experience a new place. That traveling also gave me bragging rights is just a bonus.
I prefer to travel on my own because few of my friends appreciate what I want. I’m into art tripping and taking photos of monuments, churches and other architectural wonders.
I also want to follow my own travel schedule without having to consider what my travel companion wants. It’s also more practical for me to travel on my own because I can just survive with eating biscuit for dinner.
The downside of course is the security risk and the fact that I can’t go out and booze every night because it’s too risky for a solo woman traveler to do that.
I had my share of bad travel experiences. I’m not good at navigation and always get lost even if I have a map!
I was once stranded in a place for days because of a typhoon. There was also one time I almost got mugged. There was even a time that I spent so much money shopping that I only ended up with 5 Euros!
And yet I still love to travel. I work full time as a programmer in Ireland, and my personal philosophy: I work hard but I also play hard. I’m not keen on being a part of the backpacker generation – people who quit their jobs to travel the world. I’m just practical because I want to retire properly. As of this moment, leaving my job is not an option because I might end up not only jobless, but penniless.
For me, time management is essential. I travel during the holidays and when I avail of my annual vacation. So what, if I can only spend few days of traveling? As long as I have planned out my itinerary then I can enjoy my vacation without wasting my valuable time.