Kuala Lumpur has more shopping malls than durian stalls. It seems like on every corner there is a shining, multi-storied monstrosity dedicated to the religion of consumerism. I really don’t know how there are enough people with enough money to keep this number of giant shopping malls alive.
I had some birthday money and wanted some stuff, so Rob and I decided to
check out what a mall looks like in Malaysia. I didn’t want to go to
just any mall, I wanted to go to the biggest and most consumer-crazy
mall. So we went to Midvalley Megamall, which has a floor space of 4.5 MILLION square feet! And just in case that wasn’t enough mall for us, there are two other malls on either side of Midvalley, connected by sky bridges.
K.L. is a major shopping destination for SE tourists from other SE Asian countries. One neighborhood, Bukit Bintang, has over 10 malls! These are not the rundown storefronts and dingy tile floors of the mall in my hometown. KL malls are glitzy extravaganzas with huge floor-to-ceiling advertisements and all the brands, which are usually organized by category. For example, on the top floor of the mall you will find Adidas, Puma, Mizuno, Nike, Speedo, Reebok, New Balance, and some others I’d never even heard of all in a row! This made for very easy comparison shopping. I bought a new pair of running shorts while Rob got obsessed by the new minimalist running shoes.
I really don’t know what was with all the Mickey Mouse
statues scattered around the malls. I’ve seen similar art projects done
with elephants or bears statues, but they’re usually a bit…happier. In my hometown, local artists decorate
smudge pots, the skinny metal pot bellied stoves the pear orchardists
use in the spring time to protect the fruit from frost. But why were all
the Mickey’s so… creepy? One Mickey had a swollen black eye, while his
other eye glared crazily at shoppers. Another Mickey had a series of
octagonal metal bolts for eyes, like a robotic bee. The Mickey on the right had
broken glass shards glued vertically on his shoulders.
When we got hungry we headed down to the Carrefour, a fancy-shmancy grocery store located on the lower ground floor (but not the ground floor). We had never seen an entrance to a grocery store like this! Check out the neon lighting, the shimmery floor, and the huge flat screen television.
If we’d wanted, we could have eaten durian right in the mall! They weren’t selling the fresh fruit, as the odor might offend the delicate nostrils of the upper class, but they were selling a variety of durian pastries, including durian puff pastries, durian chiffon cakes, durian swiss rolls, and something called a durian pancake. I’ve seen this around, but have little idea what it actually is. It doesn’t look like what I think of as a pancake.
Luckily for us, there was something even better waiting inside the Carrefour. Indian Mangoes! Chris Randall gave me an Indian mango for my birthday back in Penang, and I had not forgotten how wonderful it was. Compared to the elongated, slim Thai mangoes we’ve been eating, an Indian mango is a squatty little pudgeball. Fat and round and incredibly fragile, it has more in common with a peach than any mango I’ve ever had. The fruit explodes the moment it is sliced, expelling a flood of sweet orange nectar.
We chose to eat our Indian mangoes in McDonald’s. We used a tray with a large picture of hamburger on it and enjoyed gushing our mango’s excess fluids all over it. It was an easy clean up, and the Mickey-D’s staff didn’t seem to mind, although we got a lot of stares from their french fry munching customers. Maybe they’d never seen someone eat a mango before. At least not at McDonald’s.