Felicity Brown is certain that her journey to Malaysia was destined. Originally from Australia, Felicity’s affinity with Malaysia started when she was just a one-year-old, visiting family friends in Penang. “We went to Butterworth to see them,” she says, excitedly. “There are photos of me being fed rice by the amahs in Penang and shots of me running around in Chinese pyjamas.”
“It definitely feels like I was meant to be here,” she tells me, from the kitchen of her light-filled apartment in Bandar Sri Permaisuri. “I was posted to Kuala Lumpur in 2007, to work with the Australian High Commission here. In February 2008, I met Michael (her husband), and we got married December that year,” she explains. “My posting finished, but I stayed on in this lovely city.”
After notching up some time amid the construction and hectic pace of the city centre, Felicity decided to look for a quieter location to call home. “We chose this area because of its proximity to Michael’s office. After shopping around, we decided this particular condominium would be the best,” she says of their three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.
Housed within the Vista Tasik Condominium property, Felicity’s architect husband redesigned the space, transforming the apartment from a modest home, into a resort haven. “We broke down walls, installed built-ins, and opened up the living room to give it a more spacious feel,” she says. The huge granite top that divides the kitchen and the living room provides the perfect solution for all-in-one décor. “It’s our dining table, our breakfast counter, and is great for when we want to entertain lots of people,” says Felicity. “We did have some trouble getting it into the house. The store had no one to move it, so Michael got nine of his friends to help out. They had to carry it up the stairs because the lift wouldn’t hold its weight!”
Exercise aside, there is no doubt that a move to the suburbs has improved their quality of life. “It’s really breezy up here, and I love sitting in our living room with a good book and just enjoying the serenity,” she says. “The only noise we really get are the birds constantly chirping!”
From the living room of her low-rise building – “We love that this isn’t a high-density condo,” – Felicity and her husband take in the lush greenery and the lake views, clearly visible from the converted balcony space. “You can see the MEX highway from here, and over there is the Cheras LRT station,” she says, as she points out the different landmarks. “This huge lake is where the water from the SMART tunnel empties. Sometimes you can see people fishing in there!”
As we step back into the living room, I can’t help but be struck by the giant wooden carving wallpiece incorporating Islamic motifs, that sits in the centre of the area, exuding a traditional vibe in an otherwise very modern house. “We found a traditional carver in Terengganu to make it following Michael’s design,” explains Felicity.
A built-in bookcase sits to the side of the living room, showing off framed memories from different times in their lives, while a tranquil, happy Buddha sits atop a wooden table, welcoming you as you make your way to the living room.
“This particular Buddha was from Central Market. We were looking around for the right one and stumbled upon this shop filled with stuff,” recalls Felicity. “The lady who owned the shop was a Sarawakian too, just like Michael.”
Having travelled a fair bit throughout her life, it is only natural that Felicity picked up bits and pieces from her adventures around the world. “I lived in Japan for a year so I got some Imari bowls from there. I also lived in Cairo for a bit, and that’s where I got that black, ceramic ancient Egyptian cat. It was from the Khan Al-Khalil markets there,” she says, going through the knick-knacks in her living room.
Although she doesn’t live in an expatheavy area, Felicity finds it a nice surprise when she spots a fellow foreigner while doing her groceries or waiting for the train. “There were virtually no expats here when I first moved, but now there are a fair few around. It’s nice to see the place opening up, but I quite liked being the only one around for a while there!” she quips.
Despite all her travels, Felicity admits that her bond with Malaysia is steadfast and strong. “I found a natural connection here. When I was working with the High Commission, my Malaysian counterparts would call me ‘Siti’. I was nicknamed the Australian Siti Nurhaliza, and until today they still call me that!” she laughs. “KL is like a secret that no one really knows about back home. The people are warm and friendly, and there are a lot of similarities between the locals and Australians. Malaysians are also quite used to expats, so I’ve found it easy to fit in. I’m definitely here to stay.”
Source: The Expat Magazine March 2014
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