Adventures in Shopping; Malls in KL; Gothic lolita shop “i-socks”

It was a very hot sunny day (hooray!) when I set off up Jalan Pudu and Jalan Imbi to go visit the Berjaya Times Square. On the way there was a group of Malay women in exotic colours that I quickly snapped (but not without one’s husband spotting me – SNAP!)

I love that here – the Indian women wear brightly coloured saris or kameez, the Malays brightly coloured hijabs, and the Chinese girls…they just wear mini skirts and trendy stuff, but not particularly colourful. When I started out, I wore these fab teal mules I’d bought in Nine West before I left…

….but with the pavements being uneven, I quickly purchased, and then wore, these shiny green flats in Times Square. They match the leggings really well, and only cost $8 AUD. (Yes, I wore leopard green leggings – got a problem with that? Hey, anything to deflect attention from my green hair).

So, Berjaya Times Square itself. Jeebus, It’s big!! Like not just wide, but tall.

See what I mean? Floor after floor after floor as you look up – it almost gave me a nosebleed.

The only thing I had in mind to do, really, was visit i-socks, the chain that has a few gothic stores I wanted to see. And I quickly found them. Look for the gollum in the cage…

At the first one I got chatting to the manager, a young dude with long hair that also travels to Japan a lot. We chatted about travel a bit, and he seemed to think Malaysian people were backward or closed-minded unless they’d travelled. I felt bad for the 2 girls who worked there with him; he did seem a bit imperious, and I wanted to change the topic.

“Are there any places that play rock, punk or goth music here in town?” I asked, but he said no. Again he said unless people had travelled overseas they weren’t really exposed to that sort of music.

“Like your hair”, he said, “lots of people in Harajuku have hair like that, but not here. Do you get a lot of comments?”

BOY, DO I ? (Most think it’s a novelty and pay me compliments, but Indian men in groups of 3 or more, perhaps the most bound by conservative restrictions, feel the need to laugh loudly and unkindly, like schoolgirls. Or loons. But I digress…)

He told me about another of their goth lolita stores on the same floor, that was members only – however, I’d purchased a few items, and he clearly thought I was a cool chick, so he gave me a card to present to get me in. Sweet!  On I went to the next store – it had hanging heads out the front, skulls up the back, pics of stars who looked like Mana…oh, and lots of clothes, platform boots, mini hats, jewellery, bags, stockings, fake eyelashes etc

See the chain across the doorway to keep non-members out

Again I just had to buy a few things, eyelashes, mini tie/cravats (one in lime, one in aqua, and a bowtie in skeleton fabric – how predictable).

It was time to move on, and bypassing the Imbi Plaza as it was mostly electronics, I somehow segued into Sungai Wang. Where Berjaya was stately and widely laid out, this was chaotic, labyrinthine and easy to get lost in.

I stumbled into Parkson Department store and bought a gorgeous vintage looking bikini in black and white stripes with contrast in black and white polka dots, with little contrast frills on the bra top, and an assymetrical frilled skirt on the bottom half. It covers the very tops of your thighs…so important as we get older and more wobbly, n’est-ce pas?

My tootsies were decidedly tired and sore, and so the first place that offered me a pedicure and foot massage, I accepted. I never do this normally, but thought it would ne nice to treat myself, being on hols and all.

Anyway, I quickly flitted through Bukit Bintang Plaza and headed for the newest and greatest of plazas – the Pavilion! If I thought Berjaya Times Square was big… gulp! Cue the “2001, A Space Odyssey” music. “Dum, dum, dum, dum, dum dum, dum, dum, DUM..”

Even the teacups out the FRONT were big. OK, they’re asian rice bowls, but in a fountain – dig?

Inside was a circular section like a theatre, with a cavernous high ceiling and blood red velvet drapes falling from it to the ground several floors below. Very dramatic.

My tummy was grumbling badly by this time, and I decided to check out Cafe Kopitiam (with merely the nariest of glances at Topshop).

It sounded Malay, so I figured it woudn’t be western like the numerous Starbucks I’d seen around. I wasn’t wrong. All sorts of yummy Malaysian food could be had, and I had the Penang Curry Noodles. It looked like laksa, but the manager assured me it was slightly different.

When it arrived, it was steaming hot, and had various noodle types as I’d requested – wide flat white silky rice nodles and yellow thin wheat noodles, as well as chicken, fish balls, fried tofu and bean sprouts. Oh, and a GORGEOUS sweet coconut curry broth. Topped with green beans over crunchy fried onion or shallots. DELISH!

I finished off the meal with my first Teh Tarik so far – medium sweetness and strength. Very refreshing.

I checked out Topshop, and giggled when I saw a turquoise singlet top – cos I’d bought that very top when I was in the UK recently, at the Oxford Circus store, and in fact was wearing it right then! I have to admit I’m a Topshop girl; I visited the Harajuku store when in Tokyo too. Alas, the only pants I could fit into were leggings, and I’m just talking about getting them up over my calves. I’ve got chicken legs, so lawd knows who can get into these leatherette pants – teenagers, probably. I resisted the Shu Uemura lash bar, though I really need new purple ones.

After Pavilion, I hit the imaginatively titled Lot 10. See?

All very modern, with beautiful coloured lights on the escalators and so forth. But half the shops weren’t open yet. There were large posters on the hoardings saying what designer store would be there: Matthew Williamson, Nicky Hilton, etc.

I went up a few floors and saw the funniest thing. You know the saying, “be my guest?”  It was also a song in Beauty and the Beast, I think, sung by that randy French candlestick. (Feather Duster: Oh, No! I’ve been burned by you before!)

Well, this shop got it a teensy bit wrong. I present to you:

Yes, B my Gas. ROFL. I actually tittered. TITTERED, I tell you! Someone in the shop turned round, such was the titular quality of my utterance. My husband’s gonna love this one. Not that he struggles with flatulence, mind. Just sayin’.

Anyhoo, I wanted to go on, but my heart wasn’t in it. Time to go home.

I was adjusting to the bright sun outside again, when I spied a sign for a hair salon: shampoo and blow dry 8 ringgits – less than 3 AUD. I went for it, and had the best head massage ever, as well as having my frizzy hair smoothed and semi-straightened. Of course I was the only westerner there, and of course, being hairdressers, they loved my hair.

Of course it rained on the way home, and despite my brolly’s best intentions, the hair ended up wavy again.

You can’t win them all.

My first night in KL Kuala Lumpur.

My last post came from the Citin Hotel in KL, on Jalan Pudu. Jalan Pudu is the road that links you from Chinatown up to the Golden Triangle area of Bukit Bintang etc. It’s therefore a short walk either way to get to these centres, without being smack bang in the noisy middle of it.

Although J Pudu is a busy road, you can’t hear it from inside the hotel. Indeed, the first room they put me in, had air-con so rattly and noisy that I could hear nothing but, and I went back to reception to ask sweetly if might have a different room.

To my utter astonishment, they upgraded me to a corner room on the 8th floor, with sweeping views of the KL cityscape. Oh my! Take a look – Petronas Towers, KL Tower, some other gorgeous old sandstone building I can’t find the name of, and the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve…

The room…see the turquoise above the bed?

View from one of the windows

and more views…

I felt like a queen. 3 large windows gave me a vista on KL, and the room itself had high ceilings, a big flat-screen TV and bar fridge, and a soothing colour scheme of cream and turquoise with the odd chocolate brown touch here and there. A modern clean citrus green bathroom with frameless shower fairly zinged.

But one can’t stay in one’s hotel room on holiday, no matter how nice it is (honeymooners excepted).

I set off on the first night for Jalan Petaling Street – the Khao San Road area of KL, if you like. Although it was raining, this area is under cover, so you can haggle and ogle and purchase to your heart’s content without struggling with your brolly.

As I remembered, there were night-market stalls everywhere, largely selling knock-off designer handbags, wallets, watches and perfumes. I got done for a leather wallet that I knew full well wasn’t Hermes.

I sidle up, eyes drawn to the aqua and lime green wallets.
The stall owner first says “250!”, then, “for you, 125”.
Yeah, right.
“75”, I say, confidently. He shakes his head.
“It is leather, ma’am, feel it, smell it. No vinyl, like these ones”, and he showed me some cheaper pvc ones.

I smelled the leather. He smelled a sale. He came in for the kill.
“Ok, 100 for you”.
I didn’t even really want the wallet, but before I knew it, I’d countered his offer with “90”. (Doh! Should have said 70).
He looked momentarily pained, then smiled brightly and agreed, “ok – 90”.

It was then I knew I’d been had.

Oh well 30 Aussie dollars for a leather wallet aint so bad. And it was the fun bargaining experience I was REALLY after. After a saunter round the rest of the markets, checking out the tropical fruits and other foods, I decided I’d try a new part of town before the night was through. Luckily, the showers had slowed to a very fine trickle.

After checking out the Central Market and deciding its touristy products weren’t for me, I walked northeast on Jalan Pudu and up Bukit Bintang, mentally noting where the malls were for tomorrow’s excursion.

I discovered Jalan Alor, which certainly wasn’t mentioned in my guide book. It’s a street full of, well, street food. Bourdain would love it. There were low-key restaurants everywhere, with plastic chairs and tables on the street for you to eat at. The good thing was, unlike Petaling, this was all about the food. No market stalls of tourist tat anywhere, YAYUH!

Yes, there were touts at the front of each establishment, beckoning you in with a glimpse of their menu; I’m fine with that. I knew I wanted Malay food, not Chinese or Thai or Indian. I ended up at maybe the 4th or 5th one down on the left hand side, and opted for chicken satay and kway teow (see below). It was yum!!

I reckon, no matter which place you ate at, you’d get a good feed. I asked for a Chang and got a large bottle – but I managed to get through it, hehe. There was the odd monk, seller of postcards, beggar etc that came up, but nothing too obtrusive. (I did give to the monk, despite considering the orange robes may well be for show).

So there you go. Even if your tra
vel guide doesn’t mention it, Jalan Alor is a nice buzzy little food street you should check out. It runs off Cangkat Bukit Bintang. I’ll definitely head there again when I’m next in KL. Stomach full, spirits lifted, I walked slowly home. After the day’s travels and mucho walking, a good night’s sleep was definitely in order!