Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Shopaholic Let Loose in KL

I love indulging in retail therapy and go berserk especially when on foreign shores. After a relaxing stay in idyllic Langkawi we landed in Kuala Lumpur. By way of shopping, Langkawi doesn’t have much to offer, not that I didn’t try. In Kuah town, famed for its duty free shopping, I was more keen on the Malaysian variety of salted peanuts, slightly hard, crisp with a distinctive nutty taste that we got to sample on our flight. We also discovered the Malays’ knack for humour - unintended of course. On the peanut packets was printed an allergy warning – may contain nuts. In Kuah I did get to stock up on peanuts and also made a startling find - salties can have eyes. Thin, cylindrical, lightly browned things that I assumed were munchies with a local twist and turned out to be dried miniature fish. My shocked expression had my daughter in splits.

So here I was in KL, shopping starved and slightly wary of local delicacies. As our taxi pulled into our hotel kerb I noted to my delight that we were right next to a mammoth shopping mall. We checked into our room, oohed and aahed at the stunning views of the hotel swimming pool, hassled housekeeping with our list of requirements for the room and we were headed for the mall. There was a slight clash of agenda though, Daddy Ray and Baby Ray wanted to eat and Mama Ray wanted to shop.
How can you not shop when you are in retail heaven? The Berjaya Time Square has three wings, with the East and West wing having ten floors each. I must have looked rather fetching, standing in the central foyer, mouth agape, slightly dazed and my heart singing with joy at the sight of so many stores. Baby Ray was in a state of turmoil though, unable to choose between ‘Borders’ and Krispy Kreme. I did a quick survey (groundwork for my future expeditions) before reluctantly settling down for lunch at Penang House.

Later in the evening as we hit Bukit Bintang KL’s main commercial district, I was banned from indulging in retail therapy with the how-can-you-start-shopping-on-the-first-day-itself logic. That did not deter me from rushing into Zara, my favouritest store in the word and checking out their new collection. I also managed to run in and out of Juicy Couture, Mango, DKNY, Max Mara, Massimo Dutti and paid my homage to Hermes, Prada, DKNY, Aigner... I can window shop, can’t I, I reasoned. This is when all my gymming comes handy - two floors, 16000 square feet each, covered in 30 minutes flat. I rewarded myself with a mini splurge at Body Shop. Honey, they are having a SALE, imagine how much I’ll end up saving if I stock up now! Dinner at Jalan Alor KL’s must-visit foodie street was an unforgettable experience. The street is dotted with many Chinese eateries that serve anything that moves. The much hyped Jalan Alor is a lively, colourful lane choc a block with eager, adventurous diners. I was in a reckless mood and I ordered a sea food soup. My advice - don’t see your sea food. Unfortunately I did, I swear I spotted a few baby octopus floating solemnly with their country cousins. When you close your eyes and chomp furiously they all taste the same.

Late at night I sat down with maps and the various city guides, charting a detailed plan, determined to make the most of our next four days in the city. I furiously made notes, marked points of interests with giant sized arrows and consulted many reference guides. Had I studied with as much sincerity for my exams in College, I would have been a noted Economist by now. But hey, am still contributing to the ailing world economy with my shopathons.

When on a shopping expedition, my otherwise cool countenance undergoes a startling transformation. I become focussed, my senses razor sharp, lips pursed in grim determination, much like a predator on a hunt. Magically endowed with boundless energy, the mall never seems too big, the bags never too heavy. Like Wonder Woman I whizz in and out of stores at supersonic speed leaving Papa Ray and Baby Ray on tenterhooks. Oh Dear, am not a kid am I? If I get lost I can always call you on your mobile.

KL as a shopping destination appeals to all senses and suits all budgets. The Central market which dates back to 1888, is a treasure trove of local pottery, handicrafts, precious stones and knick-knacks to carry back home as gifts. You can encourage the gadget junkie in your husband to get lost at the Low Yat Plaza, the largest electronics mall in Malaysia. If you are a brand junkie like me, shift bag and baggage to Suriya KLCC,The Pavilion, Lot 10, The Starhill Gallery (way too upmarket for my taste & budget). To catch a whiff of the local flavour, try Sungei Wang, BB Plaza and Berjaya Time Square. From top brands to funky local designers, they all vie for your attention. If you love buying designer rip-offs, Petaling Street on China Town is the place to be. Look out for Croc fakes, they are way better than the original. KL is a shoe-aholic’s dream come true – too many good stores, too many chic styles. The husband had to use a clever combination of dead fish looks and stern, space constraint warnings to contain my unbridled enthusiasm. We gave the much touted Mid Valley Mall, one the biggest in South-East Asia a miss. Yes, even Wonder woman gets tired.

Many accuse KL trying to be a Singapore or Hong kong, trying hard to dazzle the world with its all shiny and new prosperity. True, it’s a concrete jungle and pretty much touristy, but the friendly local people make all the difference. Nowhere in the world are Indians welcomed with so much warmth, our culture and cuisine so lovingly embraced. We have walked the streets of oh so chic Paris and have had racist remarks hurled at us. Why even the supposedly friendly Thais are a tad hostile towards Indians. Strangely in Malaysia, I felt at home.


  1. brilliant!!!!
    loved your vivid description of seafood soup and -"The husband had to use a clever combination of dead fish looks and stern, space constraint warnings to contain my unbridled enthusiasm"
    it is such a pleasure reading your posts! am addicted to it now!

  2. Lovely post...Shopping is therapy :)

  3. Deepak... Addiction is good, you better not change your mind :)

    Lazy Pineapple...Absolutely and we need to educate people about it :)

  4. so had a great time shopping in KL ... shopping is therapy - 99.9% women know that :)

  5. Should visit Luna Bar and Sky Bar on Pan Pacific and Traders hotels respectively.

    Breathtaking view of the twin towers form the top.

  6. wow my favourite word in the dictionary- shopping!!!

    enjoyed your post.. it was therapy in itself ;)..

    I've been to HK and Singapore, and my my. I just didnt want to come back home.. Sight seeing is good, but shopping incomparable!!!

  7. Sharmila...Men and women. Men just don't want to admit to it.

    Gyanban...Next time maybe?

    Pooja...Singapore is good but unreasonably expensive. Great place for shoes though :)

  8. hey, really enjoyed reading your shopping experiences. Havent been to KL. Do share some good photographs, if you are going to blog about this again.

  9. I also visited Langkawi and KL last year.
    I did not liked KL much but langkawi was very good.

  10. Hahaha, Brand Junkie, Body Shop Sale: Through half of your descriptions, I was vigorously shaking my head..:)

  11. Joshi...sure and thanks for your comment

    Pankaj... Langkawi is gorgeous, it has something for everyone.


  12. Wow ... that is some narrative ...all "retailed" !! I am a big fan of Malaysian food and do not spare myself whenever I am near any joint. Recently spoke to a couple (close friends) who were in KL and have to admit not one item on their list matched yours. LOl !! You had racist remarks thrown at you in Paris ? That is sad. Enjoyed this !! Will pass on the details to Onga's Mom !!Though neither of us are familiar with most of the brands mentioned. :)

  13. I beg to differ whn you say men don't admit they like to shop :).......most men hate to shop,thats the reason men's stores are on the ground floor,two inches from the door :D

  14. LEB....HA at retailed expression.

    Experiences will always differ, after all they are based on perceptions. And I intend to visit Paris again, it's a beautiful city and I will not let one demented man change my mind.

    Wiity Jester...Come to think of it, they mostly are. LOL

  15. Congratulations - you have any award from me ... !!

  16. Well, while going through a post at Shilpa's post, I came across your posts.
    Very interesting.
    I will return soon

  17. Shopping is a woman thing. It's a contact sport like football. We enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase. :P And this post reminded me that I have to go to Winners Apparel for some shopping.

  18. B K Chowla... thank you and looking forward to it.

    Angel...LOL. Yea and if she wants it I want it more.

  19. Was at the Golden Triangle in my first trip and obviously not too keen on shopping. My second trip was a food trip and my friends made sure that I stayed away from GT. Went to Mid Valley though for chicken rice and char siew. I am off to KL tomorrow and this was a good read before I left :)

  20. Great shopping experience. Its an art and one should learn from this article.


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