Malaysia – A Shoppers Paradise
By Shereen Shabnam
Living in Malaysia for nine years meant I cane to Dubai with a lot of traditional souvenirs as the arts and crafts industry is unique while every part of Malaysia has something interesting to offer. In this feature you will find some pointers on souvenir-buying in Malaysia.
Fine Malaysian batik is usually made of silk upon which beautiful designsare hand-painted in various colours using a wax-and-dye method. Usually, alongside the silk batiks, vendors would also sell cotton batik. These are a steal as they can be made into table-cloths, a wallcenterpiece, or simple cotton skirts with beautiful designs inspired by nature, flowers andanimals!
Every culture swears by a potion for all occasions. In this case, Malaysiansreach for their gamat for every single incident in life – cuts, bruises, headaches andother pains. Gamat is actually the essence of a type of Malaysian sea cucumber thathas been extolled for its recuperative abilities. Good pharmacies will have superiorbrands of gamat concoctions that used to treat all manner of maladies.
Then there is Melaka, famous for its beautiful handmade nyonya beaded slippers orkasutmanik. These slip-on heels are decorated with tiny beads, individually sewn on tocreate colourful and intricate designs of flowers, birds, butterflies and such. The fineworkmanship and effort that go into each shoe are the hallmarks of thehighly accomplished skills of its maker.
Royal Selangor is the world’s largest pewter-maker and their Visitor Centre gives an insight into the world of pewter with interactive exhibits and games while their retail store offers an exciting range of pewter homeware, silver filigree jewellery and other gifts.
There are alsoMelaka wooden clogs, or terompah,are typically Malaysian. The authentic ones are simple in design – with a slight heel anda base made of sturdy wood with a piece of red plastic strapped across the top. These days,souvenir shops sell clogs with hand painted designs. It’s possible to get smaller, fridge-magnetversionsofthisfootwear.
Also a good buy would be Pearlsfrom Sabah. At the Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market, one can shop for some beautiful Sabah pearls — from bracelets, brooches, and ear-rings, to necklaces. Thepearls here come in various colours. Ceramics from Johor are also nice and found inAyer Itam, famous for its ceramic,porcelain and pottery items. The bazaar-like atmosphere makes shopping andbargaining a fun experience.
When in Perak, get a labusayongfor thefolks back home. This gourd-shaped water jug or carafe is made of fine clay, kneadedand shaped into a double-bulb design, perfect for keeping water cool on hot days. It isbelieved that drinking water stored in these jugs have curative effects on variousailments.
If you like bamboo,the Bidayuh people of Sarawak are master craftsmen andcan turn a simple piece of bamboo into pretty boxes and containers perfect as small souvenirs. The bamboo is carvedand hand painted with beautiful ethnicdesigns.
If you head toSabah, there’s a variety oftraditional dresses in various styles. Accessories are a must, and some of the mostbeautiful ones are the Rungus bead necklaces called pinakol in various colours anddesigns. These make great souvenirs and can be bought at any handicraft and souvenirshops in Kota Kinabalu.
Shopping is a lucrative sector of Malaysia’s tourism industry with more than 320 shopping malls and the country’s top 10largest shopping malls. While my favourite, Pavilion, Suria KLCC, Mid Valley Megamall have become the main shoppingmagnets, newer malls springing up elsewhere means that shoppers can look forward to more exciting retail therapy all over Malaysia. On weekends, I enjoyed going to Penang and the Gurney Paragon is a beautiful oceanfront location where shoppers can enjoy the relaxing sea breeze over coffee after their shopping indulgence.
Paradigm Mall is the iconic lifestyle mall in suburbianPetaling Jaya and has six levels with one million square feet of retail, food and beverage and entertainment space.Setia City Mall in Shah Alamis best known for its beautifully landscaped parkland where visitors can shop, dine, and enjoy nature all at once.
Publika is a unique and yet trendy shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur where cultural activities take placewhile the Intermark Mall offers shoppers a relaxing shopping experience or you could head to Citta Mall near the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport before heading back home.
On our way to Singapore, we always stop at Johor Premium Outlets with many designer and brand outlet storesfeaturing great savings every day. If you go to Sarawak, make sure you stop at Plaza Merdeka in the centre of Kuching that offers a wide selection of local and international brand names or at the Spring which is another great shopping mall.
Winner of numerous local and international awards, Pavilion KualaLumpur is my favourite while for an outstation experience, I enjoyed visiting Sunway Pyramid which is Malaysia’s first themed shopping andentertainment mall.
Popular among ardent shoppers is Sungei Wang Plaza, suitable for trend-setters, budget-conscious shoppers or even souvenir hunters.SungeiWang is a haven of local and imported fashion brands and a favourite shopping hangoutamong the locals. If you like Asian Fashion, visitKenangaWholesale City for the Asian fashionwholesale industry. Shoppers can find everything from tops and pants to accessories andshoes – all in riot of colours!
The Central Marketand China Town are also my favourite for evening shopping as they have a wide variety of souvenirsand offers a fun streetshopping experience. There is also the interesting Malay village, Kraftangan Malaysia that houses an artists’ colony, handicraft shops, an art workshop, craft museum and food court. Tourists can spend a day here to learn batik-painting, weaving, jewellery-making or pottery.
Get your fashion fix at some of Kuala Lumpur’s trendiest malls and night markets. With an attractive price range and a wide selection of products, Malaysia is a truly a value-for-money shopping destination.