Take It From Me: Franki Turner Shaik

The Malaysian experience

My parents were expats, and we moved here when I was 11 years old. I have met so many crazy bunches of incredible friends through school and 25 years later, we are still the best of friends. Because I grew up here, working here has been quite easy – I understand the work culture well and have made many contacts since I have been here so long. I met my husband through work, so that’s a huge bonus!

Starting Frankitas

I have always loved fashion since I was in my early teens. Even back then, I knew that I would be doing fashion at some point in my life – it was just a matter of time. When I became a mother of three, time became more limited. I wanted to enjoy motherhood and spend quality time with my children whilst having a career too. The only way I could do both was to have my own business. So, I knew the timing was right to start Frankitas.

Favourite Malaysian textiles

A piece of any Malaysian traditional textile makes a versatile souvenir as you can make them into anything. I love batik and songket for the craftsmanship, tradition and heritage they represent. I would go to Masjid India for any sort of textile. You can try putting a brooch on a kebaya or baju kurung; that always adds a little oomph to the outfit. If you’d like to wear a saree but aren’t sure how to tie or wear it, get it tailored – it makes it a lot easier to wear. It’s quite common to have outfits tailored here because it’s very reasonably priced, and it means it will fit your body.

Interesting Malaysian habits

The biggest, most obvious and interesting Malaysian habit is the ‘jom makan’ (let’s go eat) attitude, regardless of time. It could be midnight, four in the morning or four in the afternoon; Malaysians will find time and go to any lengths to satisfy their cravings. I must admit, I have become that person. I feel like a true Malaysian.

Favourite places to eat

My favourite places are Lai Poh Heen at the Mandarin Oriental and China Treasures at the Sime Darby Convention Centre for dim sum. I would go to Green View Restaurant in Petaling Jaya for some seafood, especially for the freshwater prawn ‘Sang Har Noodles’, as well as their salted egg squid. Mmm!

Favourite family day out destinations

We love going to Desa Park City because it has everything for the family – a beautiful, clean park with a man-made lake where we can feed the fish, and the kids get to cycle around without us having to worry about their safety. It also has plenty of restaurants and cafes that cater to different palates.

Making new friends

I think that it is easy and quite straightforward for new expats to meet other expats. It just depends on the sorts of people that you would like to meet. There are many organised international societies that you can become a member of, and meet other expats there. Meeting the locals, though, is a little bit trickier, I think. But I would suggest going and joining IBU Family Resource Group if you are a mother as both locals and expats are members, plus mums/dads and kids get to interact socially quite a bit.

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