Stepping off the beaten path


One can often tell the concept of an inn through its architecture, interior design and the environment in which it is built.

In the case of the Kamo Home homestay house in Sauk, Perak, the thing that best reflects it is its owner, 26-year-old Kamo Kam, who has poured his heart and soul into the project.

“Kamo Home has no specific theme or concept, I just manage it on a ‘as-I-see-fit’ basis.

“I don’t think an inn’s unique quality lies in its physical elements — it’s found within the exchanges between the innkeeper and guests,” Kam says.

He said that without communication, the inn would lose its purpose.

“The inn is basically an empty shell, it’s not so different from a regular hotel; it’s what transpires inside that counts.”

Kam says that the inn is a place where he entertains friends, and he always looks forward to guests coming as strangers and leaving as his friends.

“Even so, the innkeeper can only do so much. Guests must also open up to the possibilities, to immerse themselves in the lifestyle here in order to truly connect with this place,” stated Kam, adding that the inn is just a platform for this to occur.

When Kam first returned to the village where his grandfather used to live, he learnt more about his grandfather and the place from the neighbours.

“It’s like discovering your own roots, and I’m collecting history that can be passed down to the next generation,” he says.

The house started as an old house with heaps of miscellaneous items before becoming an inn.

“Actually, I’m still in the midst of clearing the clutter. I’m gradually fixing up the place,” said Kam.

He has even offered stays to his friends in exchange for their help to spruce up the inn.

“My friends have also connected with this place after taking part in the inn’s makeover,” said Kam.

Kam described Kamo Home as an inn that is still ‘growing up’. The inn grows everyday through the touches left by guests and friends.

“This place is filled with footprints of people who have been here,” remarked Kam.

“Take the books on the bookshelf for instance, some were left behind while some were gifts. Even the murals were the work of my guests. There’s just all this tangible traces. I couldn’t have done all of it on my own,” he adds.

Kam says that the biggest challenge of managing an inn is how to persist with it.

“I realised that it’s not about how you manage it, it’s about the passion and drive that makes you want to continue managing it.”

He said that a continuous desire to better himself is avital element.

“You can’t just upgrade physical items, the innkeeper himself needs to improve. This requires more networking, a willingness to try new things as well as travelling to get more experience,” stated Kam.

As such, people might encounter a message on Kamo Home’s website that reads, “Homeowner off to wander.”

“We need to learn how to let go sometimes, you can’t always have everything. I won’t devote all of my hours to just making money. You just have to manage time more wisely, leaving some for yourself to do what you like,” said Kam.

Travelling is Kam’s way of recharging.

“I’ve seen how it’s like for some inn owners; no rest for 365 days. One or two years down the road, they become so jaded they don’t have to heart to run the place anymore,” he stated.

Even so, Kam admits the spontaneity has to be guided by self-discipline.

“You need to work when you have to, never take things for granted.”

Even as one walks, one would get tired.

“When I find myself getting tired, slowing down and stopping altogether, I remind myself how life is short and I need to buck up,” said Kam.

“People often think there’s always a tomorrow; but one inches closer to death every day.”

He says he notices how people seem to understand the value of time, but tend to forget it often.

“I hold that notion dear to me just so I can always remind myself not to slacken.”

The realisation about the value of time isn’t his only motivation though. Kam says he draws inspiration from the fact that he has also inspired others.

“I just can’t imagine my little story of opening my own inn has the power to inspire others to pursue something of their own. I feel humbled sometimes, knowing that I’ve positively influenced others.

“This is one of the most surprising and satisfying rewards I’ve reaped since I first started my business.”

n Get your copy of Red Tomato, the country’s first free Chinese weekly, every Friday at selected convenience stores and shopping centres.

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