Asia 2013 Malaysia

Mall Walkers Unite!

Who travels halfway across the world to go to a mall? This guy! Raise your hand if you’re guilty of this too! Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone (unless, of course, you happen to mention it in the comments, but that’s totally on you). Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s no shame.

Don’t listen to all those snooty travelers out there telling you that you should be out seeing the sights instead! I used to be one of those other travelers, scoffing at the mere notion. Why don’t you go to McDonald’s while you’re at it?

Wai'ing Ronald McDonald
A Wai’ing Ronald McDonald in Thailand. Photo Credit

While we’re being honest with each other, I guess I too can admit that I am guilty of occasionally frequenting American fast food chains while I’m overseas. Heck, when I saw Fatburger in Jakarta I knew I had to go! Sometimes you just have a craving, ya know?

But this isn’t about fast food. We’re talking about malls. And how I nearly spent a week in various malls around Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, meandering the various levels with the company of fellow bloggers Talon (of 1 Dad 1 Kid) and Juno (of Runaway Juno). Now, I know what you’re thinking… Not one but THREE (four if you count Talon’s 12-year-old son Tigger who was with us and would get a wee bit antsy when we weren’t walking) travelers just chilling in malls? But we had a (mostly) good reason! It rained every day we were there. And, honestly, who wants to go do stuff in the rain?

Mid-Valley Mega Mall
KL’s Mid-Valley Mega Mall

Not that we didn’t do anything. We made it to the National Mosque, where Talon and Juno donned some pretty fabulous lavender robes for their shorts-wearing ways. And, of course, when it started to rain we got stuck there. Kicked out of the mosque for prayers, we hung out on the steps, robe-less, I might add, which after an hour became a bit of a problem. “You in mosque!,” the lady working the front desk said as she ran and threw a robe over Juno. She was the epitome of all those visions you’ve ever had about strict Catholic school nuns. Now if only she’d had a yard stick it would’ve completed the image…

Lavender and Fabulous
Talon, Tigger and Juno looking lavender and fabulous at the National Mosque!

And we went to those famous Batu Caves, a series of monkey-fied Hindu Temples that are, you guessed it, in some caves just north of KL. The monkeys definitely stole the show here (as they always seem to do). And we joined Rab of Ramble and Wander for a trip to the cool Blue Mosque a commuter train ride away in Shah Alam.

Batu Caves
Batu Caves
"Blue Mosque" (Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque)
The “Blue Mosque” (Which is officially called Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque)

But what will I remember KL for? Those malls! For in our rain avoiding ways, we not only got in a bit of exercise and enjoyed some great conversations, but we also got the grand tour of the mall scene in KL, which, as everywhere in Asia, is a bit of a big deal! The (mega) Mid-Valley Mega Mall, where it’s a maze from one end to the other. Suria at KLCC, which is the mall at the base of the Petronas Towers, offering some interesting tower views through the skylights! And the oddest of the bunch, Berjaya Times Square. Nothing quite like seeing your own city depicted in mall form. Why, yes, I’d love to take a walk through Central Park…

"Central Park"
“Central Park” at Berjaya Times Square in KL
Petronas Towers
Looking up at the Petronas Towers through the skylight in the Suria mall

I even kept up my mall walking later on in my trip when I got to Bangkok, quite the city of malls, if I do say so myself. I was very familiar with the likes of Siam Paragon, CentralWorld and, my personal favorite, MBK, from previous trips. New to me this time though was Terminal 21, which, a friend, upon learning of my traveling ways, insisted on taking me to. Here, each floor is themed as a different city around the world. Tacky and Vegas-y, I know, but rather clever if I do say so myself. Up and up those “Departure” escalators I rode for my own mall walking exploits!

機場風 @ Terminal 21
“Departure” Escalator at Terminal 21 in Bangkok. Photo Credit
Bangkok’s MBK mall

So don’t be ashamed of your mall walking habits! Embrace them! That’s what we did and we learned to appreciate mall walking for the art form that it is. So come right out and say with it me:

“I travel and sometimes I walk around malls and I am not ashamed to admit it!”

There, now didn’t it feel good to get that off your chest?


By Aaron

Hey there! I'm Aaron and this is my travel site, where I document my adventures to all corners of the world. My love for travel started at the ripe old age of four, when a midlife crisis uprooted my family to Ecuador for five years. Since then, I've been to countries on 4 different continents. When I'm not blissfully on the road, I reside in New York City, where I become the ultimate travel junkie and spend my days dreaming up my next great adventure! Read More...

22 replies on “Mall Walkers Unite!”

Maybe it’s a consequence of having spent my adolescence living in a desert, but I kind of hate the rain! And besides, clearly I can’t go out and dance in the rain without a musical sound track to accompany me! 😛

Mall’s of the World! Fun post and it’s timely. I had a conversation this week with a friend about the fact that some folks place a mall high on their list while traveling – then I realized, I don’t do malls but I do make a point to visit markets (a lot like a mall in many aspects) and I do like airports that offer a variety of shopping outlets (more as entertainment between flights) – end result, we’re not so different. 🙂

The somewhat hilarious thing about it is that I do not frequent malls in the U.S. I also don’t frequent fast food places in the U.S., yet abroad, I seem to frequent both with some regularity! And yes, I do make attempts to visit traditional markets. Sure, they have a similar concept to malls, but they’re so much more atmospheric! And you would love Singapore Airport. Shopping/just about everything else mecca of the world!

Now that is funny Aaron… you’re playing the zip code game. 😀

From what you say about the Singapore Airport, I bet there’s some seriously good people watching opportunities there – and I do love to people watch.

You know at some point you’ll have to hit the Mall of America or something similar so you can judge Malls around the World properly. ha!

Um, not just the Mall of America! What about the West Edmonton Mall? Isn’t that the largest mall in North America?

Singapore Airport is amazing for people watching and just about everything else in so many, many ways! Though I happen to think that nothing quite beats NYC for people watching opportunities. Ok, maybe Las Vegas, but we have a lot of randomness here!

Yeah Terminal 21 is new and it’s not in that main shopping area. It’s off the Asok BTS stop. And yes, funky indeed. The food court level is “San Francisco,” complete with a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge!

I happen to enjoy malls in foreign countries as well, and have also been known to frequent fast food I otherwise wouldn’t eat back home in the US. No shame! :0) I think it’s the best way to get a feel for a culture when you go into a mall. That’s where the locals are, so for me, it’s fun to people watch, see what kinds of things are for sale and just explore. MBK was a wee bit overwhelming in BKK though!

Malls can also be great ways to “beat the heat” on those sweltering days in Southeast Asia. And it’s true, that’s where the locals are, though in most modern malls you’re faced with a healthy dose of American culture in the shops and brands. And BKK is definitely an acquired taste. I can definitely see how it can be a bit overwhelming. But that’s exactly why I love MBK… It’s almost a traditional market, and those tend to be a bit crazy in nature.

Did you make it to the Chatuchak Market while you were in BKK? It’s HUGE. And overwhelming. And wonderful…

I spent way too much time at malls in BKK!!! Chatuchak Market was my favorite. I think I went three times. Mostly just to walk around and people watch. I went to MBK a few times, and I also went to another one, but I can’t remember the name. It was also ginormous but all clothes. In Chiang Mai, I went to the night market almost every night…again, lots of people watching and food eating and just enjoying being around the locals.

There’s no shortage of ginormous malls in BKK. Siam Paragon? CentralWorld? And night markets are always a blast! Unless they’re just touristy, like this new one in BKK called Asiatique.

Haha yes, that is one great use for a mall! Though I found plenty to do in Jakarta. And everyone kept telling me about that park that has mini-versions of every island and culture in Indonesia, though I didn’t go.

So funny with Malls as the subject! I hit them when in a new country, they are another example of the culture after all! I can look at all the stuff that I cant buy since it wont fit in my backpack!
The last Mall I was in was 5 months ago in Mexico City. Montezuma had his revenge on me and I found the English language movies at the theatre a great place to suffer in silence! And with my stomach, I at least knew what to expect form the American Fast Food!
I have not been anywhere that is large enough for a mall since…perhaps in Tirana, Albania next week…

I don’t know if I would agree that it’s a great example of local culture. Most malls, at least in Southeast Asia, are stuffed with American shops selling all the same stuff I can get back home for the exact same price in local currency. Yes, there is some variations, though, and some are wildly different from their Western counterparts. Bangkok’s MBK is a great example of this (and I happen to think it’s one of the greatest malls in the world).

I hear ya, though. The minuscule size of my backpack is a great deterrent to buying stuff! Maybe you’ll find some English movies in Albania…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: