Trip Report – Kuala Lumpur Eat Street, Central Markets and Chinatown
If you missed Part 1 of the Kuala Lumpur trip report you can read it here.
In the early evening, I called my youngest son on Skype who had visited Kuala Lumpur a few years previously and asked if there were any “must-do” things/places we shouldn’t miss.
He knows me well, with no hesitation he insisted that we visit Kuala Lumpur’s “Eat Street”. Its official name is Jalan Alor and is filled with locals offering the freshest of foods.
He also recommended getting out of KL and heading for the Cameron Highlands for a few days too.
I love this style of eating, there was so much on offer from chicken, fish, prawns, cockles, mussels, pippies, vegetables, noodles in all shapes and sizes and duck. I’m sure I’ve missed some food out, go and explore it yourself if you visit Kuala Lumpur. Jalan Alor runs parallel to the main drag of Jalan Bukit Bintang. Let me know what you think!
We ate about halfway down the street and enjoyed prawns (shrimp) and dim sums. It noisy, vibrant, dirty and not to be missed! Our fresh seafood dinner only costs $8!
A late start the following day, we did have a plan though to visit Central Markets and Chinatown.
Central Markets reminded me very much of a bazaar, mostly indoors with a short outside market outside.
Lots of different artefacts, clothing stores, arts and craft stores and food there, unlike what I was expecting. I pictured an open market, heaps of little stores, fresh fruit and vegetables with the occasional T-shirt stall throw in for good luck!
It was way more sophisticated than that with timber flooring and air conditioning, however, Central Markets, still had the tradition of a market place with bargaining.
We saw quite a bit of knock off pewter there and an interesting tiny hole in the wall type of stall that sold various artefacts from Iran of all places. Can’t say I have seen such a stall in my travels. The trader sold a few Persian rugs and spectacular looking chess, backgammon, draught, set made from camel bones and doubled as a coffee table if you threw a piece of glass on the top.
Apparently camel bones are used frequently in their work, e.g. Certain jewellery boxes, plates, etc are made from camel bone and then decorated accordingly. I would have loved to have taken some shots to explain, however, although I did ask Mr Stall Holder did not have like that one bit!
We had brunch at the markets at the Old Town Cafe. Spicy minced chicken and rice for me with Kevin opting for a clear rice noodle soup with a few pieces of chicken and prawns to soothe his upset stomach.
Our delicate western stomach can react to a mere change in water and eating the (sometimes) rich and spicy cuisine on offer in Asia can definitely attract protests from our digestive system!
We always carry emergency tissues with us and sometimes finding a western toilet can become a national sport! Not that we faced that in Kuala Lumpur as modern shopping centers are plentiful with most upmarket hotels also offering amenities somewhere in their lobby. That said, some toilets can be key or card protected so the likes of you and I wandering in off the street are prohibited! How cruel is that???!!!
After visiting Central Markets we headed in the general direction of Chinatown, to Petaling Street, famous in Chinatown for its market stalls, here was the open market place I imagined Central Markets to be.
Having holidayed in Bali a few times I have watched the quality of the T-Shirts, shorts and polo shirts diminish over the years. I’m pleased to report that the quality in Kuala Lumpur is great for board shorts, some shoes, T-Shirts and the old favourite of DVDs too.
Some of the items we purchased were designer name polo shirts ($8) T-Shirts ($5) designer name handbag ($35) Billabong boardshorts($10) iPad folders ($12) iPad Bluetooth keyboard ($30) 4 piece designer name toiletry bag set ($3) pair of designer shoes ($25) and 2 designer business shirts ($25). All prices are in Aussie Dollars.
In case you haven’t been into an Asian market place, bargaining is a friendly banter exchange between you and the stallholder. Generally, the starting price is always high by the stallholder and then it’s your to offer a price.
I generally start just below half and come up, and the stallholder comes down, with an agreeable price of around 60%. I am always pretty mindful that this is their livelihood, with a family and possibly an extended family to feed, clothe, etc.
4 Tips for Bargaining at Central Markets Kuala Lumpur
- Always keep it upbeat and light-hearted and have a laugh
- Be willing to walk away
- Some times when you walk away, they say OK, OK, you can have your price (this happens most of the time, although with K and the DVD’s they didn’t, which to me is an indication that they have reached their absolute bottom price)
- If you are there first up you will have “special morning price” or “my first customer price for good luck” it will always be a great price!
I have found no matter the country be it Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia or Vietnam, the stallholders are all superstitious about the first sale, the sooner (they believe) they have a sale for the day the more money they will make that day.
Rather than find the hop-on-and-off bus and have to sit through another 2-hour city tour we opted for a monorail as it stopped right at our hotel. There is a stop close to Chinatown just check out a map.
#Tips – Map
Collect a map from the concierge at your hotel when you check-in, they are an invaluable item to carry around with you at all times. We’ve often opened the map and asked a local person where we are on the map and how to get to where we want to go. We have found the Malays love to help.
We caught the monorail back to the hotel it’s is convenient, quick and so cheap. We traveled 2 stops for just 50c each, in fact, the public transport is a great way to get around the city if you are tired of walking like we were at the end of the day.
Have you a travel tip to share? Leave your tip in the comments below!