And so this is it: after 15 years of residing outside of Kuching, my husband and I have finally made the decision to move back home! Within these 15 years, I have lived mostly in KL and a few years in Albury, Australia when I went to further my PhD.
I first came to KL in year 2000, a “freshie” in awe of KL and its many malls. After graduating, I was offered a job and a scholarship to further my PhD. And so I took it. In between, I got married to a Kuchingite and had my first child.
Reality hit when we moved back to KL to work in 2010. With a young child, and eventually a second one, we struggled daily to meet the needs of cooking (I ended up catering), spending time with the kids, laundry and of course, making money. We left our work during weekends, but weekends were spent fine dining (because we couldn’t bear to bring the kids to not-so-clean kopitiams) and leisure in the malls. My kids were introduced to the world of indoor gyms and fancy art and cooking classes that cost a bomb, but which we nevertheless indulged them in because there was nothing else to entertain them.
Being Kuchingites, my husband and I never failed to go back to Kuching at least once a year with the kids. We would always go back on Chinese New Year and the first thing my husband would look for was kolo mee. And there would begin a week of endless quest for Kuching’s good food: laksa, popiah, lui cha, kueh chap, tomato mee, pork satay….you name it. And we would revel at how slow the time seems to go by and how laidback and carefree people are, how we used to be. We would take the kids to the beach (only half an hour’s drive away) and there was always a family member to entertain the kids or babysit them. There was home-cooked food whenever we wanted (as our mothers are just around the corner). And so we started talking about going back… in fact we talked about it for a few years before we finally dared to take the plunge.
When we first told everyone our decision, 99% thought we were crazy. We are leaving our steady jobs behind, a place where people supposedly make a lot of money and have a supposedly enjoyable life. Life is so fast paced it scares me, because my kids are growing up too fast and before I know it, their childhood will have slipped by me. And so, having made a decision, we went back last year to look for a landed property (Yay! No more living in a fancy box of a condo) and fortunately we found an old house we like, with a sizeable garden the kids can run around and play in.
And so here we are, ready to embrace, explore and rediscover Kuching again and bring our kids up as Sarawakians….
Etain is a speech-language therapist who has lived in KL for 15 years. Her recent move back to Kuching is motivated by a better lifestyle for her family and the need to further develop and enhance speech-language therapy for Sarawakians.