Come to Mari Market in Bangsar

Just when I was beginning to write off new “bazaars” and “artisan markets” around town as unworthy of mentioning, a friend tags me on Facebook to the page for Mari Market. Still, it wasn’t until I saw it mentioned in TimeOut KL that it really caught my interest, and I’m glad I went to check it out!

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The problem with other markets is that there’s often a mix of vendors — some who sell original, handmade goods or edibles, whilst others could be your typical stall-in-the-mall vendor, peddling made-in-China cheapos. If you don’t already know, I’ll tell you why this is a problem: 1) It dilutes the authenticity of vendors who create their own products, to have stalls nearby selling mass-produced goods competing with them for customers; 2) because mass-produced vendors have a handy excuse to charge artisan prices for non-artisan goods — and that is an utter SHITE business practice, to both customers and genuine artisan vendors.

But there was none of that at Mari Market, or at least, a whole lot less. Every vendor was a local entrepreneur selling something they believed in and crafted from scratch. Whether it was the booth selling jars of organic belacan or the lady who could build your portrait out of coffee cup stains, everything was a joy to discover and browse. Mari Market successfully replicates the atmosphere of a European/American crafts market, but with a distinct local flavour (a coconut water stand, organic chili padi and papaya preserves are things you won’ find in an American farmer’s market.)

I’m told that Mari Market is held every four months, but this is the first one I’ve been to since coming back a year ago. I hope it runs again soon!

Bastille Live in KL

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Famous band or not, a good, live concert always gets me going. In the case of last Saturday, Bastille was in town for a show at KL Live, an entertainment venue in the Life Center shopping complex on Jalan Sultan Ismail. The space reminds me of a slightly better 9:30 Club (in Washington D.C.) but based on the venue website’s event listing, much poorer in terms of concerts they can offer to the public. This is definitely a downside to living in Malaysia — unless they are EDM djs, good live acts are hard to come by.

Back to Bastille: fame and recognition is still new territory to this band, and while they’re certainly pleased to have earned it, there’s a raw honesty and humility from all the lads that endears them to fans. I had the privilege of interviewing them for my day job, and yes, every band and artist is practically obliged to give the same the same jenny-from-da-bloc shtick, but with the Bastille guys, they sounded sincere, and that down-to-earthiness translated well in their live performance. At one point during the show, lead singer Dan Smith left the stage and made his way through the crowd and upstairs where overjoyed concert-goers must have all lost their voices the next day from screaming so hard. The girl next to me nearly had a seizure after she was bold enough to run right towards Smith, where she was then rewarded with a great big bear hug. A band with guys as cool as this, you can bet I’m rooting for them to win the Grammy for Best New Artist, and a long career ahead.

A really enjoyable time with great energy, good melodies and groovy vocals at a pretty cool venue — a wonderful way to start the year off. Now can we have U2 — provided Bono is all healed up — come to KL, pretty pretty please?

A Sanctuary for Art at Galeri Petronas

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It’s unlikely that visitors to Suria KLCC go with the intention of visiting Galeri Petronas, an exhibition space for showcasing the work of up and coming artists — not because the gallery isn’t good, but because people are there to shop rather than look at art; and for that reason, it tends to fly under the radar of things to do in KL.

The first time I went was out of curiosity, since I’d seen it umpteen times before — presumably always empty — and never went in, but came away quite impressed by the gallery contents. Since that first visit, I’ve been back three times because exhibits change within two to three weeks. I’ve seen an exhibit featuring Islamic influences in art, a showcase of the decay or the rise of cities in the world, as documented by various photographers, and most recently, an exhibit of #tanahairku, a street art project in KL sponsored by Petronas themselves. Continue reading