We went out last night with the Fulbright students that live in our towers, and had dinner in a well-known area called Bukit Bintang (Star Hill) that has lots of fancy Western establishments there. Well, not really fancy, unless you think that Borders, Starbucks, and KFC are fancy. It was actually quite amazing to walk through the area. You honestly could not tell that you were not in some section of Los Angeles, except for there were relatively fewer Caucasians walking around. But, if you turn off the main drag, you realize that you are in Asia. In this area especially there are a lot of Chinese food stalls, markets, and shops…again, off the main drag. We ventured down a pretty big side street called Jalan Alor which is known for its abundance of Chinese seafood stalls with names like "Fatt Lock Chinese Fish" and "Chim Lee’s Happy Corner." The clientele was 75% Chinese Malaysian, and 25% Western tourists. We picked a stall and sat down, and for about MYR 120 (about 35 bucks) had dinner for five with plenty of left overs. We had grilled sting ray and grilled chicken fish, which were both excellent. The Lemon Chicken was also quite good, as were the fried unidentified leafy greens. We did not try the shrimp, but the others did. Unbelievably, we have had no negative digestive reactions to the food (knock on wood). Our digestive systems seem to have calmed down considerably since we arrived in KL.
On our way back we passed by a very funny scene. There was some guy with a motorbike parked on the sidewalk, and this motorbike was just covered with cats. They were all sleeping peacefully, and a bunch of them were teeny tiny kittens–we should mention that the motorbike was turned on, and there was a stereo playing, and there were about fifteen tourists crowded around it. It was really cute. We were worried that there would not be any cats here, but our fears have been unfounded, and they even look healthy. The apartment that we believe we will be living in is down the hall from our realtor, and she has two big cats with bells. Maybe they can replace Tika Splotch, who in turn was replacing Voltron.
We ventured yesterday around the big malls in search of grocery stores, and found several. They seem to be a little cleaner and more sanitary than the ones in Jakarta, so that’s good. We even found banana leaves. In Indonesia, you simply cannot buy non-halal food in the supermarkets. Basically, that means no pork or pig products. In Malaysia, you can–lots of Chinese, remember–but the non-halal section of the butcher is in its own special room, and there were no Malays working there whatsoever. It was staffed with Indians, who would probably prefer not to work in the regular butcher section, which is full of beef. Predictable, but funny.
There is just something about malls in Malaysia and Indonesia. They can’t build enough of them. They are huge, filled with people, and crammed with Western fast food establishments. In the Mid-Valley Megamall that we explored yesterday, we found Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, San Francisco Coffee, Dunkin Donuts, Auntie Anne’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Chili’s, Friday’s (Cinnabon and Burger King were in evidence at another mall). They also had an Ace Hardware, because Ace is the Place, even in Malaysia. One of the Fulbright students, who studies fast food in Malaysia, claimed that there are 380 KFCs in Malaysia alone.