Monday, June 14, 2010

Malaysia: To Sungai Wang, to Sungai Wang.

This is arguably one of the must-see places if you're ever in Kuala Lumpur.

Spent a couple of hours just exploring the entire mall (once again). I cannot remember when was the last time I've been there. It was too long.

My family used to make much anticipated shopping trips there when I was a kid because there was only one Metrojaya in BB Plaza. It's amazing how things have not change! My perspective certainly has. I remember the place was really big. Huge. But today I realized that if I was a foot taller, I could touch the ceiling. The shops didn't change much. A hodge podge of Asia, yeah, truly truly Asia. Cultural packages masqueraded as goods borrowed from Taiwan, China, India, Middle East, Japan, Thailand sold in Ringgit by other non-Malaysian Asians from Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, I'm telling you, this place is amazing!

You can find anything and everything in Sungai Wang, they're cheap and come with equal value of quality but they're fun. You'll find the most bizarre fashion inspiration here that you really can't identify its trend origin. But you know what they say, one man's meat is another man's poison, distasteful to some but these could be canvases for really original and daring self-designers. Nevertheless, they're cheap and I'm sure if you dig deep and well, you'd find a piece or two of something something which you really like - everything that you can adorn on yourself, including mobile phones.

The bundle shops in the adjacent BB Plaza are amazing! Heavily influenced by the 60s and 70s culture - The Beatles, Vespas, Rolling Stones, Woodstock - it's a haven for vintage-lovers and wearers. Well, if you feel bit icky putting on someone else's clothing, rest assured that some shops sell new stuff from three decades ago. Not too long ago, I was searching for Eric Cantona's jersey almost via everyone I know till I finally gave up. And the wisdom of 'when you stop searching for something, it will come to you' rings true. There's a shop called 'Cantona 7', although it was closed but I presume they sell everything Cantona. Dang. Well, now I know.

And for braveheart, go get your hair done in Sg. Wang's many salons. Some shops are wholesalers for salon equipments and beauty products which are simply a wonder to explore. But be warned, many of my friends have told me that whilst the hair cuts are cheap but can be pretty inconsistent. So... cut at your own risk. But hey, you only live once? And fortunately for you, hair grows...

There were some restaurants that looked like they never evolved at all! I remember them, yet I have to admit, while they don't seem very appetizing they still command their own crowd of loyal customers. And then there's the video arcade on the top most floor - think Daytona, Street Fighter (woohoo! 90s!). The entire set-up was surreal bordering dodgy actually - dark, smoky (albeit this huge no smoking sign), arcade addicts, underaged kids, loud music blasting from video games console. As ardent students, we use to skip school for a game of pool or snooker, race with each other on an AE86, Integra or WRX STi, or battling it out with superpowers in the form of Chun Li, Ryu or Ken. And then there were the cybercafes that brought about early gender equality via a game of Quake or CS and of course the eerie wonder-why-we-did-that meetings with strangers from the cyberworld and exciting bad romance. Reminds me of what grassroot youth culture was like in the curious 90s.

So well, if you're in KL for a couple of days. Don't forget to drop by Sungai Wang Plaza on Jalan Sultan Ismail. It's a gem. Maybe as a foreigner, you will not feel the nostalgic sense of endearment I hold towards this place. Nevertheless, it will be an eye-opener for you. And if you're a non-KLite Malaysian, you'll be able to experience the KL counterpart of raw youth culture. And if you're a Klang Valley-ite, well... welcome home ;)

Seriously? I'm glad some things don't change :)

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