IN THE SHADOW OF MOUNT SANTUBONG From an article by Colin W Campbell. Sarawak Tribune, 07 Dec 2011 Most people in this world live out their lives in the country in which they were born and brought up. This article is by an old Scot who has chosen to live far away from home in Sarawak on the lovely green island of Borneo. So, why Sarawak?  I must confess I found Kuching in Sarawak quite by chance through a visit with a university delegation. And what a happy chance this was, for in just a few days I had realised that this was an unusually friendly place. However it is a big step from liking the people I meet on a short trip to spending my twilight years on the other side of the world. Of course, I spent a really long time on the Internet first, rather like a due diligence for a business decision and life changing decisions are so much more important. I liked what I found then and I am very pleased to be able to say that after spending much of my time over the last six years here in Sarawak, I still like what I find. As well as such a fine welcome at a personal level I must say I really appreciate being made to feel welcome at a formal level through the Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H). Of course, there were forms to be filled in, documents to be produced and very strict conditions to be met, no surprises there for such an arrangement has to suit all involved. From my perspective and rather obviously I do have to say that if you’re going to commit to a new country you need to know you will actually be allowed to stay there long-term. MM2H provides this sort of security better than most places in the world and Sarawak is my new home. I like it here so much that I often find myself saying to folks, “You are lucky to live here!” I certainly feel lucky to live here. The climate is just right. Too hot? I don’t think so. For too hot, try Shanghai or the Spanish resorts in high summer. Too much rain? Any warm country will soon be brown and dusty if the rains don’t come. Borneo is lovely and green. What’s more, this is such a good place for parties and eating out! There is one other big bonus for the ex-pat coming to Sarawak. Most folks I meet here speak English and lots of other languages too. Oh yes, I am impressed. I can manage a bit of Mandarin but only at a level that could probably be best described as entertaining. I sometimes think of old folks from the UK who retire to the shores of the Mediterranean only to find they might be a little too old to learn a new language. So there’s one ex-pat’s view but I don’t actually like the ex-pat label. It clearly implies being an outsider. Please, could I be called an in-pat?  So, I’ve now gone on a bit about why I chose Sarawak. Perhaps I should now also try to present a case for why you should let me stay. Please let me stay! What can I say? I promise to be well behaved and respectable and to spend much of my pension income here thereby benefiting the local economy. I drive a Myvi and I can assure you that my house was also locally produced. I do eat rather a lot and again this will be mostly local produce. I have paid for professional services from the insurance, legal, medical and dental sectors. OK I know one old pensioner’s spending habits won’t make much difference but the MM2H programme is not just for me and I wish it every success. I’m not allowed to work here under MM2H rules. Oh good! I’m retired, I don’t want to work. However, folks of a certain age will likely be mindful of the need to continue to exercise the grey matter or lose the grey matter. For me, this necessary exercise comes in the form of spending far too much time writing poetry and very short fiction and polishing my personal website www . colincampbell.org I find my poetry has like me, fallen strangely under the influence of Malaysia for I have come to like writing pantoums a form which originated in Malaysia and travelled to Europe many years ago. I like the kind that has three stanzas where each line is used twice. Now there’s a labour saving device. One of my favourite places is Santubong near Kuching. It has rainforest, mangrove, super views out over the estuary to the South China Sea and often enough a perfect sunset. It is a place where nature still has a secure home and there’s even a pair of eagles to watch out for. It inspired me to write these few lines which were first aired on Radio Sarawak back in November of 2007.    IN THE SHADOW OF MOUNT SANTUBONG (pantoum) In the shadow of Mount Santubong I wait to see the eagles fly. For this is where I now belong beneath the gentle Sarawak sky. I wait to see the eagles fly and this is where I want to be. Beneath the gentle Sarawak sky, down beside the South China Sea. And this is where I want to be for this is where I now belong. Down beside the South China Sea in the shadow of Mount Santubong. _ _ _ Thank you for letting me stay in Sarawak. Thank you MM2H. _ _ _   MM2H in Sarawak (the official version)  
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Copyright  Colin W Campbell A Sarawak based writer.
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