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.