If everything goes according to plan, I should be returning to Borneo for good at the latest by April this year. I have been away for about six years now and the longer I live away from the beloved island, the stronger the urge to go home. During the three of the six years, I lived and work in cosmopolitan Singapore, almost a complete opposite of what life is in Borneo.
After Singapore, I moved to Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, working and living and experiencing a new culture, something different from that of Singapore, all the while feeling that Sabah, the Malaysian state on Borneo, is beckoning me home.
Last month, I spent a month holidaying in Borneo. It’s good that we left our house in Kota Kinabalu without renting it out. This way my family and I can always be assured of a home each time we return to Borneo.
The Kota Kinabalu city that I left six years ago was very much different from the city I visited as a holiday-maker. Spanking new shopping malls are sprucing up and new buildings coming up.
When I was at the Berjaya Times Square, I thought to myself, this is worthy of a place in Singapore.
Other things have also changed, notable of which is the traffic. In 2005, the year I left Sabah, places around the city can be reach in 20 minutes from my house in Menggatal. Now, I’ll be lucky to reach Kota Kinabalu in 30 minutes.
There were cars everywhere — Kancils, Protons, Toyota Hiluxes, Isuzu D’Maxes, Ford Rangers, lorries, Ninja Turtles, Nissan Muranos, Naza Rias, Porsche Cayenne, you name it — but the number of road remains the same, except for the construction of several fly-overs.
At the rate things are going, Kota Kinabalu, or KK as it is known, will be a congested city in six more years, with the traffic looking very much like the notorious Kuala Lumpur jam.
Even with all the signs of losing its tranquility of the past, KK is still an attractive place to live. Thirty kilometres from the city is alerady a laid back place.
But it is good to be away as long as it is not for forever. Being away from home is like taking a step back to examine a large painting. It enables you to see things more clearly, to know where you stand and see things from a new perspective. Then, you can dive back in knowing exactly what you are going to do.