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Kedai KL, Mahsa Avenue – An Artisanal Marketplace for Homegrown Creatives

If you’re looking for a place to hangout over the weekend that isn’t a crowded, cookie-cutter mall, drop by at Kedai KL, a cool hidden gem tucked within Mahsa Avenue in Petaling Jaya. A project by Mahsa Group (which owns and runs Mahsa University nearby), the artisanal market was launched in late 2019 as a space to “bring local entrepreneurs, artists, makers and designers together under one roof”, whilst also giving visitors a curated retail and lifestyle experience.

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Please watch my video and subscribe. I spent six hours making this. D:
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Kedai is located at Block B, and spans two floors, on levels two and three. Inspired by the concept of a street market, the spacious centre court (called The Lorong, or ‘alleyway’) hosts cosy beanbags and low tables and chairs that are perfect for lounging. On weekends, the space is used for pop-up booths, bazaars and activities.

There are about 60 shops at Kedai, mostly featuring homegrown products and businesses; you can find a hodgepodge of products and services here, from shoe shops to stores selling accessories and clothing, chic cafes, a tattoo parlour, a creative workshop space, a digital art gallery, and more. The shops are all really tiny by the way, measuring between 220 to 440 square feet.

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Window display at Mossybola Kokedoma, which sells decorative indoor plants

Social media has changed many aspects of our lives, including how and why we travel – and the last couple of years have seen a rise in “Instagram destinations” – places that are designed to be aesthetically pleasing for the Gram (because Malaysians are obsessed with taking photos). Kedai is one such place: you’ll be hard-pressed to find an ugly corner. The folks at Kedai know this too, and they actively encourage visitors to take lots and lots of photos.

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One of the shops that I found really interesting was Lampu.kl, because it was essentially a showroom with no staff. The shop sells customized neon lights, and there are a couple of setups within where visitors are encouraged to take selfies with. Next to the neon signs are QR codes that you can scan for more info on the pieces, as well as the price. Of course, you can find their social media handles on the posters around the room. Maybe this is the future of shopping.

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Shops are laid out in a rectangular grid, which makes the space easy to navigate. The corridors on the top floor are rather narrow, though. Fine if there aren’t too many people, but it might be difficult to maneuver through when crowded.
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A pink staircase and elevated walkway connects the two floors, and there are dozens of fairy lights hanging from the ceiling. Definite Insta fodder. Unfortunately, I did not have an Instagram boyfriend on hand during my visit.

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You’ll find lots of Japanese-themed decor outside Kai Tattoo House, including a Japanese woodblock print of two cats at the entrance.
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Reka is an artist space that regularly hosts creative workshops.
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At the far end on the 3rd floor is a Digital Art Gallery. The space showcases new media art from promising new media artists in the region. There was an audio visual exhibition going on called Guli, so I popped in for a peek. Entry was RM8. The show was basically a collaboration between local multimedia artist GrassHopper, who made the visuals, and musicians Iwan and Gan, who created the accompanying soundtracks.

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All that walking made me thirsty, so I got takeaway from Degree. They specialise in Dalgona drinks. Prices are very reasonable – my Dalgona milk was only RM7.90.

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Dalgona Milk – fresh milk with dalgona toffee. The toffee has the crumbly texture of honeycomb candy; you stir it into the milk and it melts, creating a sweet and refreshing beverage.
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I was actually surprised that the place was relatively empty during my visit, especially since it was a weekend. My guess would be that not many people know of the place yet; it opened late 2019, then there was the whole pandemic and movement restrictions throughout most of 2020.

KEDAI.KL is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10AM – 6PM. You can park within Mahsa Avenue for RM5, but do note that parking spots are limited.

KEDAI KL

Block B, Level 2 & 3, MAHSA Avenue Jalan Universiti, Off, Jalan Ilmu, 59100 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 10AM – 6PM (*I made a mistake in my vid, it’s 10AM, not 11).

https://www.mahsaavenue.com/kedai/index.html

Travelogue Manila: SM Aura Premier, Taguig

Coming from Kuala Lumpur, I can say we have quite a number of shopping malls. But nothing comes close to Manila, where there seems to be one at every corner you turn. Step out from hotel? Mall. Take a jeep down the road? Another mall. So of course I had to stop by one or two during my visit 😀

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On N’s birthday, we went to SM Aura in Taguig, which is just on the fringe of Bonifacio Global City. It’s not the largest, but houses a good selection of medium to high-end retailers, so you will find some well known international brands here.

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On one side of the mall’s entrance were escalators/staircases that led straight to the garden rooftop, with options to access the various floors.The walls were decorated with murals and paintings, like this piece of the legendary traditional Kalinga tattoo artist, Whang-Od.

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Christmas deco was up at the mall ! They had an underwater/magical theme with a beautiful silver Christmas tree, complete with pieces of coral, shells and a glittering mermaid !

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We had time to kill before dinner, so checked out a Christmas bazaar happening at the concourse area. They had lots of delectable goodies and local snacks on sale, like these colourful and very squishy-looking rice cakes.

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Home made muffins, cupcakes, cakes and pastries.

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‘Hugot’ chocolate bars. Loved these! They all had short (and often sappy) love quotes/pick up lines printed on the wrappings.

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Chocolate cakes and cookies, all nicely packaged and ready to be given as gifts.

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Went up to the rooftop to catch the sunset! There is a church/convention hall located on the top floor and a nicely landscaped garden area lined with bistros, bars and restaurants.

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SM Aura is a nice mall to visit if you’re ever in town and a handy place to shop for everything under one roof. Aside from cafes and restaurants, you’ll also find clothing and souvenir stores, luxury retailers, electronics, home and furniture and more.

 

Travel Blog: Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur – Once Upon A Chinatown

You’re probably wondering why I chose to call it ‘once upon’, like it’s not anymore.

Well, that’s because it’s not. Not really.

Tourists may know it as Kuala Lumpur’s ‘Chinatown’, but the truth is that Petaling Street has long ceased to be one. The grand archway may have tiny red lanterns and a curved green-tiled rooftop, but the authenticity of the place ends there; having made way for a cheap flea-market-esque atmosphere. Bangladeshis, Myanmarese, Indian nationals, etc., are employed by Chinese bosses to peddle their wares. Some of the food stalls are still manned by the Chinese, but even these are slowly being replaced by foreign labour.

I’m not saying its a bad thing per se – many of Chinatown’s businesspeople have worked hard over the years and they deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour in their twilight years, since many youngsters no longer want to continue the fam biz – but it is still sad all the same that this once glorious Chinatown’s culture and spirit have been eroded in favour of commercialisation.

Listen to me rambling! That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t drop by Petaling Street – there’s plenty to see and do if bargaining and shopping for (overpriced lol)ripoffs are your thing. And the place does have a rich history. You just have to dig a little deeper.

Before Kuala Lumpur became the metropolis it is today, it was just another muddy ol’ spot with rich tin deposits. Seeking riches, the Chinese (mostly Hokkien and Hakka clansmen) came to work as coolies in the tin mines in the late 1800s. They were governed by Kapitan Yap Ah Loy, a rich Chinese businessman and prominent figure in the early founding days of KL. It was around this time that Chinatown was founded, playing host to tradesmen, farmers, restaurants and other businesses. If you go hunting around, you might still find some hidden gems like the Yook Woo Hin dim sum restaurant, which was founded in 1928 !

Lots of stalls set up all along the pedestrian pathways sell ‘bargain’ bags, clothes, toys, handphone accessories, etc.

This shop that sold fancy fidget spinners for RM15 uncle nei mou hui cheong

For me, the only authentic part of Petaling Street left are the food shops, which sell various local and Chinese favourites, like pastries, biscuits and baked buns. There is, of course, the famous air mata kucing shop (literally cat’s eye tears) which is a blend of monk’s fruit juice with longan.

Stalls selling bakchang (glutinous rice dumplings) for the Mid Autumn Festival.

An old uncle still making a living from his pushcart selling ‘dai gau meen’ (big face dough?) or apam balik, filled with bits of peanut and sweet corn.

Fresh sugar cane juice and coconuts.

So is Petaling Street worth a visit?

If you’re a first timer to KL, the place is within close proximity to all the attractions like Pasar Seni (Central Market) and Kasturi Walk (similar concept to Chinatown, but with more Malay traders). Bargain hunters or people who like to shop for cheap imitations might find a few gems here, that or food hunters, might also find the place good for a visit. If you’re looking for a slice of Chinese culture though, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Opening hours: 10AM – late

Getting There 

Convenient if you’re taking the train; just alight at Pasar Seni LRT. Petaling Street is about 5 minutes walk away (next to Central Market).

Also read my other Chinatown experiences in: 

Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 

Singapore

Los Angeles, California 

San Francisco, California 

Binondo, Manila 

 

 

 

 

Ramadan Bazaar @ Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi

It’s the holy month of Ramadan here in Malaysia, which is a big deal since most of the population is Muslim. From sahur (dawn) til dusk, they refrain from eating or drinking. Ramadan also means bazaars – an annual affair where traders set up stalls (much like an evening food market) with lots of delectable dishes so that people can buy food and break their fast at home.

I had to go around looking for interesting stalls to be featured in the paper where I work at, so here are a few nice picks from the bazaar at Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi, Sepang!

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Adie and Abdul Aziz’s Gerai John Kupang 

Their specialty? Mussels cooked in a spicy sauce made from garlic, chilli, curry powder and other herbs/spices. Upon passing by their stall, the wafting aroma from the big woks filled to the brim with shellfish is enough to make anyone’s mouth water. At only RM5 (1.57 USD) per serving, this is one store you probably wanna give a try if you’re ever in the area. 🙂

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“We sell about 50kgs per day,” said one of the owners, Adie. The pair learned their cooking skills from working in the hotel industry. The mussels are brought in fresh daily from Malacca, because ‘the ones at pasar borong (wet markets) are put on ice and not that fresh’ – Adie.

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The bazaar itself stretches from one end of the road to the other; at least 50 stalls. Traffic is closed from around 3pm til 7pm to cater to the crowds.

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Thirst quenchers were hot selling items at the bazaar, such as these sweet lotus seeds (lin chee kang), a refreshing beverage with basil (selasih) and chewy tapioca balls. The colourful green, yellow and pink layers make for a very eye-catching display. One packet costs RM3 (0.94 USD).

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One of the hot selling items according to the drink stall owner is the Kathira (the green drink), a Ramadhan specialty. It is made from a combination of local fruits and herbs (?) including basil, kembang semangkuk and getah anggur. The Sanggar Biru (blue drink) is a mixture of longan and coconut water. Sounds very refreshing.

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Other varieties. The colouring in them doe.

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Another stall drawing in the crowds was the one next to the drinks stall, selling fresh off the grill lamb and chicken skewers. Prepared by one Mr Nor Azri, the kebabs are seasoned with chilli and pepper before being cooked for about five minutes to ensure tender, well-cooked perfection. Customers did not seem to mind the wait, judging from the long, patient line snaking away from the stall.

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Large slabs of soft and fluffy looking cheesecake in various flavours, such as tiramisu, red velvet, plain and chocolate. Who canz resist cheezcakez? 

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Spiced and marinated grilled chicken wings going for RM1.50 each. One can opt for other parts to be grilled on skewers, such as the gizzard, liver and heart. Pedal ayam (chicken gizzard)  is seriously the best. That chewy texture. Rawr.

If you’re ever around Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi this fasting month, check out the Ramadan bazaar near Jalan Kosmoplek 1! Guaranteed not to disappoint.