15 Sep 2016

The Expats: Jude Day in Sabah, Malaysia

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 3:25 pm on 15 September 2016

Jude Day lives in the small town of Menggatal in Sabah, which is one of Malaysia’s 13 states.

She came to live in Kota Kinabalu in 2007 after a life of teaching English and training non-native speaking English teachers.

That career has taken her and her partner to 12 different countries. 

The wandering life started back in 1974 and has taken in Malaysia, Japan, USA, Australia, PNG, Tanzania, Poland, Namibia, Vietnam, UAE, China, and Qatar.

Jude came to live in Sabah in 2007 and Griffin her partner joined her a year later.

“Now it's good to be in one place - and to have time to get involved in the community and, hopefully, contribute something - even though this isn't my own country.” 

Menggatal is 13 km out of from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah.  

“We have a lovely house that looks towards Kokol Mountain, part of the Crocker Range. Mt Kinabalu is part of this range and it's the highest mountain between the Himalayas and PNG, being just over 4000 metres high.”

Jude says Sabah is a pleasant place to live with friendly, relaxed locals and great food (a mix of Malay, Chinese and indigenous cuisines), and has the advantage of being relatively close to New Zealand.

And it’s a full life for the Kiwi expats.

Jude organises the annual Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival which has been going for 8 years now, is involved with the Sabah Society, her church, the Cheshire Society (for people coping with disabilities) and the local arts scene.

But she says it’s not all roses. KK’s traffic jams are bad and the laidback pace of life means getting things done to a deadline is a challenge.

But mostly, life’s a joy she says.

“The wonderful opportunities we have to get to know people from the 30 different indigenous groups here in Sabah, as well as the diverse flora and fauna - orchids, orangutans and proboscis monkeys among them!”