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A MALAYSIAN SHOPPING EXPEDITION

by Donna Yuen

Shopping is definitely my favourite pastime! While New York and Hong Kong are obvious shopping destinations, the upscale malls and high-end boutiques in Kuala Lumpur are also growing rapidly. Since I am in Malaysia during their year-end sales blowout, I am thrilled at the prospect of completing all of my Christmas shopping in one go.

The Sunway Pyramid is a mega mall complex that is focused on fun, shopping, and entertainment. With an Egyptian style pyramid and sphinx at the entrance, it also boasts an outdoor amusement park and scads of restaurants.

Designer brands fill the Starhill Gallery and the Suria KLCC mall. . I linger in upscale stores, dazzled by the options: Versace, Fendi, DKNY and Chanel. They scream, "Buy me, Buy me!"

My guide Wan suggests that I visit the Central Market. Previously a "wet market" selling produce, the art deco building constructed in 1888 now houses Malaysian handicrafts, jewellery, and textiles. My guide, also an avid shopper, informs me that since the prices are reasonable, bargaining is discouraged. I select typical Malaysian items like hand-made colourful Batik garments and a kris, (a Malaysian dagger with a wavy double edge, symbolizing strength, status, and nobility). Despite my guide's advice, I take a shot at negotiating the price. She is surprised when I obtain a further 25% off the sale price!

Having done the rounds at KL's Pudu wet market and the popular Chinatown Night Market, I travel to Langkawi, off Malaysia's west coast.

Langkawi turns out to be a bargain hunter's paradise, as it is a duty free island. Tobacco, alcohol, and luggage are particularly inexpensive, while fragrances are similar in price to most duty free stores worldwide. I buy a gigantic suitcase to accommodate all my purchases before leaving for Penang.

Shopkeepers yell out to catch my attention as I walk by the dozens of stalls lining the Batu Ferringhi beach in Penang. The night market here offers knock-offs of every kind. 'Coach' bags hang from little hooks, walls of silky 'Fendi', 'Gucci', and 'YSL' scarves flutter in the breeze and row upon row of 'designer' wallets are neatly arranged on the tabletops. Displayed alongside costume jewellery are hundreds of high-fashion imitation watches. I buy a few 'Rolex' timepieces for a mere thirty ringgit (or ten dollars Canadian) each.

As I pause to look at colourful beaded necklaces, anklets, and bracelets, I notice a nearby stall selling underwear. Children's sized 'Calvin Klein' panties are a steal at three ringitt, per pair, so I buy ten as a gift for my little niece back home.

Back at my hotel, I congratulate myself on snapping up such wonderful shopping bargains, until I look more closely at the pretty little panties. What I'd thought was a 'Calvin Klein' product is actually made by Calvin Kleen!

A luggage handler helps to haul my overstuffed suitcase off the ramp belt, and smilingly shakes his head, "You did quite some shopping didn't you?" I nod smugly. "Yes, I did. I actually managed to finish all my Christmas shopping!" I walk out of Vancouver airport, happily dragging my heavy suitcase bulging with clothing, curios, jewellery and, of course, my niece's Calvin Kleen underwear!

IF YOU GO:

2007 is Visit Malaysia Year as the country celebrates its 50 years of independence and nationhood. Their biannual Mega Sales Carnivals run from mid-June to early September and during the entire month of December.

The Trader's Hotel: Attached to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, it is centrally located, offers great service and breathtaking views of the Petronas Towers. http://www.shangri-la.com/kualalumpur/traders/en/

For reasonably priced and frequent service to the islands, visit Malaysian Airlines at http://www.malaysiaairlines.com

For more information: visit Tourism Malaysia's official website at http://www.tourism.gov.my/

Tel (604) 689-8899 Toll free 1-888-689-6872 www.malaysiatourism.ca

Photos: Donna Yuen

1. Vendor selling fish at the Pudu wet market
2. Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Twin Towers
3. Langkawi's west coast

Travel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit www.travelwriterstales.com

 


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