9. Something That Happened In A Mall
My neighbourhood mall, IOI Puchong, has been around since 1998. Puchong was not as large and as busy a city as it is today; back then most of the area was covered in palm oil estates and abandoned mining pools (you can still find a very large one behind the mall, although these days people call it a ‘lake view’ lmao).
Many things have happened for me in IOI; it almost feels like an old friend that has watched me grow. I have also watched it change, from its early days with the old wing up to the expansion of the new wing, new coat of paint, new facilities, etc.
When the mall opened, it was very grand as there were no other big shopping malls in the area. Their anchor tenant was JUSCO (Jusco doesn’t exist anymore; now it’s called AEON). What I remembered best was riding the carousel in the centre court as a kid. My parents would pay a few ringgit at the concessionaire, and my brother and I would excitedly clamber onto one of the ‘horses’ for a spin.
When I went to high school, it became a hangout spot for my friends and I. The LRT didn’t exist and Grab wasn’t a thing, so we’d take a good old-fashioned bus. We’d go to the arcades, watch a movie, go bowling, play snooker. I’ve even gotten trapped in the lift once!
I had dates there, usually at a fast food place or Sushi King (very fancy, back in the day). When one of my best friends left to study in the States, we had our farewell party for him there (haven’t seen him for a decade. Wow.)
Today, I still go to the mall regularly. It’s good that they’ve managed to keep it updated with renovations and also new tenants, so the mall doesn’t go the way of those old, tired shopping malls that look like they’re going to crumble any second. In fact, I think it’s doing better these days, what with new restaurants and entertainment outlets.
IOI Mall holds a special place in the hearts of Puchong-ites. It’s not so much the outlet as it is the memories and experiences it has offered to locals, and I can’t imagine the city without it. Although there are many other places further away that are grander, this neighbourhood mall will always remain my go-to.