Some of the most stunning homes in Malaysia are owned and occupied by expats seeking to create an oasis for themselves in their new country. Manveen Maan takes us on a tour of one of these beautiful habitats.
Shanti Savitri has lived all over the world but feels right at home in Kuala Lumpur. “I love it here,” she says, enthusiastically. The Indonesian-born Shanti moved to Malaysia from London four years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
“We travel a lot because of my husband’s job, but there’s something about KL that makes me want to stay,” she tells me, over some tea and cake. Having lived in England before moving to Malaysia, Shanti feels that the lower cost of living in KL and the warm weather play important roles their lives. “It’s more affordable to live here than in London, and we all get to lead active lifestyles because the weather is so great,” she says from her tastefully furnished living room in her Hijauan Kiara apartment. Nestled in the leafy suburb of Mont Kiara, Shanti loves the vibe of the area, the proximity to amenities and the greenery surrounding her apartment. “It’s a great place to live as it is close to supermarkets, shops and other comforts, and we’re also well connected to the city centre via highways” she says. “My three children also attend the French International School in Segambut, so it’s only a short drive away.”
Despite living much closer to her home city of Jakarta now, Shanti admits that she prefers to call KL home these days. “It’s definitely less polluted here, and the traffic is actually better here, believe it or not – although it is getting worse these days!” she quips.
Having lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bucharest, Morocco, and London prior to settling in KL, Shanti’s home reflects her global upbringing, with furniture and paintings from all over the globe finding a spot on the walls of her four-bedroom home. Her vast painting collection brightens up the entire house, featuring island scenes from Tanah Lot (Bali), Vietnamese women in paddy fields, Indian elephants, Cambodian Buddhas, Balinese dancing girls, Chinese cherry blossoms, and French street art. “We like to collect pieces from places we visit. It’s like carrying a piece of each country and bringing it home,” she says.
Most of their furniture comes from Indonesia, China, and here in KL, showing the blend of cultures that makes Shanti’s family unique. Decorative wayangs or Indonesian dancing dolls sit atop Chinese treasure chests, and their fluffy Persian cat, Prance, lazes on an antique Balinese chair while Shanti whips up cups of oolong tea in her bright, modern kitchen. “When I buy something these days, I think about it having a place in my house in the long term,” she says. “No more impulse buys, as it ends up just being clutter!”
An avid cook, most of the action in Shanti’s house happens in the kitchen and living room areas. “I love cooking,” she confesses. “Usually I make Indonesian food for lunch and more Western-style dishes for dinner.” Seeing as her children are half- Indonesian and half-French, the lucky darlings get to enjoy the best of both worlds in their kitchen daily!
Next to the hub of the dining area, there is a designated “Kids Corner,” fully equipped with a piano (“All my children play the piano and practice for 30 minutes every day!”), comfy minisofas, and beanbags for a quiet spot of reading from one of their many books displayed on the tall bookshelves. “It’s important for children to have schedules. Of course all kids should get to enjoy television and play time, but they also need to understand the importance of doing homework and reading,” the loving mother tells me. “I have no homework today, maman!” chimes in Aline, the youngest in the family, resulting in much laughter all around.
Equipped with a gym, swimming pool, and outdoor sport areas, the Hijauan Kiara apartment’s facilities fit in nicely with the health-conscious Shanti’s exercise regime of working out for two hours every day: “It’s important to have a healthy lifestyle, and I feel we achieve that here.”
Alongside this energetic lifestyle, Shanti confesses that the ease of life in Mont Kiara makes it tough for her to envision her family moving to another country. “Raising three kids is not easy, so the accessibility to amenities and outdoor recreation areas is very convenient,” she professes. “I also love the open concept of my home. It’s rare to find quiet areas with lots of space and green views, so we are very lucky. I’d like to stay in KL for longer if possible.”
Right then, Aline finishes practicing her piano piece and quick as a flash, Shanti gets up to start dinner preparations. “The life of a mum is always busy,” she smiles. Back to work she goes.
Source: The Expat December 2013
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