Farewell Kemaman

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So, our days living in Kemaman are now numbered as we are set to transfer to Kuala Lumpur within a few short weeks for my husband’s new position. Like any change, it’s a bittersweet time, which comes as a surprise to me considering my initial not-so-favourable reactions to Kemaman. But who am I kidding, I am an extremely sentimental person in every sense of the word and I never fail to attach myself deeply to my surroundings, often finding it difficult to let go of people, places, and things that I hold dear. You would think that after a decade of changing homes and cities, relocating would become easier, but it is not so.

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The view of Kemaman from the mountain (a highly recommended trek). I say it looks better from the top, no?

The truth is that I actually liked living in Kemaman. There I said it. Do I want to live here forever? heck no. Is it my city of choice? Definitely not. Do I feel out of place here? Most of the time. But Kemaman forced me to face myself in a way nothing else really has. Here, I was forced to deal with many of my fears. For example, the fact that I can now live peacefully with lizards in my habitat is perhaps the biggest indicator of personal growth, as silly as it may sound. To prove how far I’ve come, take a look at how I once hashtagged a lizard photo on Instagram:

#saveme #cantdeal #omg #unprepared #thisisserious #weneedhelp #imscared

Ha! I now see how ridiculous I was being but truth be told, it’s not that ridiculous at all. There is no way to know how to deal with certain things if you’ve never had to. Also, I used to want to pull all my hair out for sheer frustration over the slow-moving, slow-acting local Malays, who I felt never worked hard or fast enough to meet my personal needs and deadlines. And then I looked around me, and relaxing really was the only option…

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When you’ve got coconuts and the sea, you have all the time in the world.

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Kemaman River, a popular place for locals to lounge

Most importantly, I’ve developed skills that allow me to be comfortable being by myself. For almost the entire length of our 4-year marriage, my husband has worked offshore. This makes for a life that only functions with a lack of planning and a heavy dose of spontaneity and independence. For somebody who used to be glued to her day planner, I have had to shake free from such tendencies in order to adopt a more flexible approach to life. While this was also the case in Canada, it was the only option in Kemaman. Not only was I alone more often here, it was much more isolating and disorienting. So, while this may not be the roughest place in the world by a long shot, the fact that I was able to survive here (half the time alone), makes me believe I can survive anywhere. This probably isn’t true but I like to say that anyway. Don’t forget that I’m also a flood survivor title holder. Oh and there were cobras that lived right around my house. Okay fine, I know what you’re thinking- it’s true, I can survive anywhere.

Regardless, this upcoming move to KL brings with it so many exciting opportunities that it’s impossible to not to look forward to living in a place where there are employment prospects for me as an Art Therapist, yoga studios, language classes, and all that good stuff I can’t wait to fill my days with.

Like a blank canvas, or should I say, a batik painting in the making, it’s time to color my world again…

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photo 4photo 5 Sections of my final batik at Limbong Art, Cherating (Dedicated with love to a special somebody who was an invaluable support to me when I moved to Malaysia)

So, a heartfelt farewell to Kemaman and all of the lovely friendships that were made and nurtured here. Without them, it simply would not have turned into a home and indeed it did. (Trust me, I was surprised too) So, Kemaman, I will miss you and I won’t miss you all at the same time.

..And I certainly won’t take the saying “never judge a book by its cover” lightly ever again.


4 thoughts on “Farewell Kemaman

  1. It is true. Never say never! Well written but I don’t believe that you can live anywhere yet.

    You still need to learn a lot. With best wishes.

    Sajid Ahmad + 416-729-8051

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. I’ll miss reading about here but look forward to all the posts on KL and who knows we may bump into you as we’ve friends there. It’ll be so different to your life but very exciting. X

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