Pack the clothes you need - 18th March

Today we ventured into Ipoh Parade Shopping centre during the Malaysian School Holidays. Our purpose was to observe the habits of young Malaysians in their Natural Habitat. It was a rich learning experience. The centre was bustling with the Ipoh ethnic mix. We positioned ourselves after a brief reconnoitre with a cup of iced coffee to begin our observations.

Halal section at food court

Halal section at food court

It is was the first food court we have ever been in where there is a Halal section and a non Halal section. We soon realised that we were in the Halal section as all the females were wearing head scarves and Muslim dress (some wore jeans under their Muslim tops). They were grouped just as Oz schoolgirls might be and we noticed they did observe a group of boys nearby but not overtly as is the Oz custom. Interestingly a group of half a dozen ethnic Indian boys trawled the food stalls and eventually finished up buying Thai food! The food court prices were about double the street but the air conditioning makes up for it.

Noticed that the ethnic Chinese once again appeared to have a propensity to be plump. Most of the older Chinese (other than the rich ones) were in reasonable shape. The Indians were basically of normal body weight. Ethnic Malays suffer the same problem as the Chinese. Obesity is not Australia’s sole domain.

There were no Chinese with bleached hair that is so common in Oz. One Chinese waffle maker remarked to his adjacent stall holder (a Muslim) “You want to marry me?". I give you one big house and BMW. It says something about what Malaysians want in life and brought a smile to her face and ours.

When we left Oz the “Experts” told us “don’t take many clothes as you can buy it all cheap over there”. Fortunately we did not listen. Apart from the fact that they only stock small sizes in Ipoh there has not been one stitch of clothing offered in the shops here that any self-respecting Australian would wear! If I can paint a picture imagine all shirts and tops are in bright patterns with no plain colours in sight. They appear to have incorporated too much unnecessary detail in every garment.  I have include a photo of Erica standing at the entrance to a high fashion dress shop.

Another thing we have not seen before is the scooter riders here wear their jackets on their front while riding to keep the hot air from their bodies. On wet days they wear rain capes the same way. It seems a very sensible idea even though it looks a little strange.

Feeling greens deprived we ate a plate of green vegetable leaves in a tasty sauce before purchasing a bag of great pastries including a Curry Puff, a Tuna Puff, a Blueberry Danish and an Egg Custard tart to take away from a marvellous establishment called Born& Bread.

Looked in all the myriad of Mobile phone shops and it seems brand names are priced as in Oz. In their Harvey Norman equivalent refrigerators were slightly cheaper as were TV’s. Stove tops of the major brands only had two wok burner on them over a black glass base.

Anything you could possibly want to buy is available here. A taxi back to our hotel from the shopping centre cost just 8RM or A$2.85. Last night we dined again on Bean sprout Chicken with Rice Noodle Chicken Broth soup. We drank Sour Plum tea. We left well satiated!

On the way this morning we walked in a large park near our Hotel. The kids were using an old concrete slippery dip that would fit half a dozen on at once. You needed to sit on a palm frond to slide down it!

One of the unique things about Ipoh is the height of the curbs. They can be so high at times that only the very fit with good knees are able to mount them. Some gutters are so deep that if you fell into one not only would you break many bones but you may not be found for many days. The same rules for Aussie surfing apply here. Always have a friend or partner with you while reconnoitring the streets of Ipoh.