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Saturday, 8 February 2014

There’s no place like Penang, said Briton

Briton lured by multiracial culture to settle down in the Pearl of the Orient

Home sweet home: Makins, in his Scottish kilt, posing for a photograph with several hikers during a recent hiking trip up the Moon Gate Point Five trail in the Penang Municipal Park.

BRITON Jonathan Makins has travelled far and wide and lived in various places around the world but Penang has a special place in his heart.

Makins, 59, born in Italy to a Scottish father and an English mother, has been living in Penang since February 2012.

He hopes to continue staying in George Town, which he now calls home.

Currently enrolled under the ‘Malaysia, My Second Home’ programme, Makins has lived and worked in Africa, London and Sweden.

The avid traveller, who considers himself a global citizen, also spent four years in Bangkok before coming to Penang.

“I wanted to stay in an Asian country as I love the climate here, which is better than in Europe,” he said.

“Besides, my Thai visa was coming to an end and I was also not very happy in Thailand.

“I visited Penang about four times before settling here, and I find that it is the right place for me.

“I visited Kuching, Sarawak, once but it is very quiet, while travelling to other areas there takes long hours. I have also been to Kuala Lumpur a few times but it was too noisy and dusty,” he said.

After he was born, Makins’ parents briefly brought him back to England before taking him to Tanzania when he was two.

“After Tanzania, I was raised in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, when I was about six, before I left for school in England at the age of 10, while my parents remained in Kenya.

“After university, I worked as a civil and structural engineer in South Africa and Botswana for about nine years before becoming a cabinetmaker in London, England, for seven years,” he said.

Makins then went on to become an English teacher in Sweden for nine years before settling down in Thailand, where he spent the following four years.

“Having been to so many places, I consider myself a citizen of the world.

“As of now, I hope to continue staying in Penang. I love how it is so multiracial and everyone has friends of different races, religion and beliefs,” he said, adding that among his favourite delicacies were Indian vegetarian meals and simple home-cooked Chinese dishes.

Makins, who lives on his own at a condominium unit in Tanjung Bungah here, said besides the unique culture and heritage, he also found it easier ‘to make friends’ with the locals in Penang.

“The people here are friendlier and more hospitable when compared to some in other places that I have been to,” he added.

To keep fit, Makins goes hiking at the Moon Gate Point Five trail in the Penang Municipal Park at least twice a week, and recently he drew curious stares from hikers when he went there dressed in a Scottish kilt on Christmas Day.

“I also swim and keep in touch with friends through the Internet during my free time. Music is my main companion.

“I play the flute and am teaching myself the piano,” he said.

Makins, who was born in the Year of the Horse, added that he travelled to Bedong, Kedah, for the Chinese New Year celebrations with some friends.

By  Cavina Lim The Star/Asia News Network

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