“It’s a little different from Sydney here, but where else can you be surrounded by all this natural beauty everyday?” asked Litsa Francis née Ikonomidis. The 30-year-old originally from Sydney, Australia, has been living in Ipoh for the past four years, a city that she ended up in, in the pursuit of love.
Recalling the series of events that had brought her to this part of the world, with a smile on her face, Litsa shared, “I met my husband, Aaron, in college in Sydney and after one year of being best friends, I knew he was it! We started dating and things moved swiftly after that, although we were in a long distance relationship for a year.
“I first came to Ipoh in 2011 for two weeks. I left Sydney in the middle of freezing cold winter and after an 8-hour flight, was in the tropics! It was my first trip to Asia and I wasn’t prepared for this kind of heat!
“We had fun doing touristy things. I found so much beauty in Ipoh, beyond its limestone hills and local food. After four years here, I still think of Ipoh as an undiscovered gem even among many Malaysians. My decision to quit two jobs and sell my car in Sydney to come to Ipoh was the best one I ever made and we now have a beautiful 6-month-old daughter, Scarlett Emery Love, as proof of it!”
Local food is also a major attraction for Litsa, who has a newfound love for Chinese fare, a cuisine that she did not take a liking to while in Sydney. Additionally, she is spending more time in the kitchen dishing out Indian curries, Aaron’s favourite, thanks to guidance from her wonderful mother-in-law.
Working in the aviation industry now as Senior Marketing Manager for YOU Wings Airways, Litsa finds that a great part of her work is in promoting Perak as a tourist destination. It is a highly competitive industry and Litsa has adapted well to the local work culture, very different from the work-life balance in Australia.
Nonetheless, seeing the growth, surely and steadily, of the tourism industry in Ipoh and Perak, is rewarding enough for Litsa.
She added, “Australians travel all the time. I hope that through my job, I am able to offer similar accessibility to Ipohites.”
Passionate about youth issues, Litsa hopes that Ipoh will see sustainable development and be economically strong to support the youth of Ipoh, without forcing them to seek better opportunities elsewhere and lose out on living in such an idyllic environment. Believing that an improved education system and more opportunities will help bring up the entire generation, Litsa is an advocate for hiring and developing young staff fresh from college.
As a devout Christian, Litsa’s greatest passion is her involvement in her church, River City Church, on weekends, where both she and Aaron serve as Pastors.
Living in Ipoh, one of the things Litsa misses is the beach. Therefore, the family occasionally makes time to go on short weekend excursions to Pangkor, an island which holds treasured memories of Litsa’s engagement to Aaron and subsequently, their wedding.
“Malaysia holds a special place in my heart and I’m glad that my daughter will always be able to say she was born an Ipoh girl, no matter where life takes us!”
Note: An edited version of this article [At Home in Ipoh] was published on 23rd Jan, 2016 in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.
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