Five Things Not To Miss In Ipoh Town

Everyone has a hometown outside Kuala Lumpur that they usually balik kampung during festivals and holidays. I was always a little bit jealous when friends said they were going out of town to see relatives in whichever state their parents families were at. While they were having a rowdy good time with everyone in their hometown, my family and I were one of the families left in an empty town. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds really — we liked having the roads to ourselves, and my brothers and I got to practice taekwondo moves right in the middle of main roads with no one to run us down.

If anyone asked, my closest claim to a “hometown” would be Ipoh. I was born in Hospital Fatimah and spent my first year of life on earth in Ipoh. Of course I don’t remember anything — or did I? I have fuzzy memories of facing upwards, looking at fluorescent lights, a fan spinning overhead and those patterned air vents built into the walls — but if we did join the balik kampung crowd, it was usually to Ipoh to visit my parents’ friends. Continue reading

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!

How Not to Handle a Train Malfunction

On Tuesday, all I was hoping to do was get home and spend a nice evening not thinking or talking or listening to anyone; just a nice, quiet evening to myself away from anything and everything. Alas, it was not meant to be, thanks to the LRT breaking down, and the incompetence of RapidKL in handling the crisis. Thanks so much for this. And on my birthday too. Happy effing birthday to me.

If ranting on social media is anything to go by, Malaysians are truly a tolerant bunch. This wasn’t a short delay — it was three hoursThere we (commuters) were, sardine-packed into these tiny four-carriage trains and — in this tropical heat — forced to smell each other’s stink from the day, when announcements started going off about “technical difficulties” at Pasar Seni. Stops at every station were at least five minutes or longer, and when my train finally arrived at Pasar Seni, we were ordered off the for no reason other than it was “out of service,” and each train that passed after that was more jam-packed than usual. I couldn’t get back on for an exasperating 45 minutes, during which I grew progressively angrier in my Tweets to RapidKL. Okay, so I only tweeted them four times, but as you can guess, I made no bones about their incompetence.

Clearly I wasn’t the only one affected-many had an axe to grind, for the ordeal they were put through: Continue reading