Visited Ipoh, Malaysia twice last year to visit relatives and do some shopping. Inspired by Budget Barbie, I decided to do a blogpost of what I managed to buy with $100 there!
My mother was from Malaysia and most of her relatives are in Ipoh. It is one of my favourite places to be (second to Singapore) because of the different lifestyle – less urban, stronger family ties and of course, the thrill of doubling my wealth (read: currency exchange).
I’d probably blog more about what happened in Ipoh later this month, so let me get to the shopping part first now! Note: All the prices stated are in Malaysia Ringgit.
1ST STOP: MR DIY, IPOH PARADE
S20 – 2nd Floor, Ipoh Parade, 105, Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil, 30450 Greentown Ipoh, Perak.
Ipoh Parade is a new shopping mall that I managed to visit during my two visits! The place is extremely spacious and it seems like Malaysians aren’t as passionate about malls as Singaporeans. I even managed to snap a photo of the atrium Christmas stage without anyone getting in the way.
But a mall being a mall, it is quite similar to Singapore. There are Shihlin Taiwan Snacks stall, Sushi Tei, Baskin Robbins and I Love Chicken Rice.
My favourite discovery there is a store called Mr DIY, which sells a huge range of stuff. They have hardware tools, children’s toys, beauty tools, household utensils and even gifts, which makes it a great place to go when you’re out with parents and kids because there’s something for everyone!
Best part is that their prices are extremely low. Taking a water tap for instance, what we have in Singapore for $32 only cost 20 ringgit, which is like, less than SGD$10? Super affordable and now I have a hotel-looking atas tap in my room.
You can find out more about them here – http://www.mrdiy2u.com/ .
Small Environment-friendly bag, $4.50
The first thing that attracted me was actually the illustration! I mean, how cool would it be to carry a camera in a bag with a camera illustration? I actually used it to bring back all the Ipoh food to prevent all the crackers from crumbling in luggages!
Sewing Kit, $1.50
The store has quite a collection of DIY sewing kits and I thought that the pair of rose is extremely pretty. As a gift for my sister-in-law, I think it’s also a good symbolism of the couple and hopefully, like the flower bud, they’ll have kids soon, hah.
Card holder, $0.50
I actually bought two of this! It’s a card holder but about 2cm bigger in width and height, so I could actually fit in my keys, cash and even some coins. Unlike in Singapore where I felt comfortable bringing an L-shaped wallet, I feel that it’s safer to bring a small pouch in Malaysia that I could easily stuff into my pocket, and much harder for snatchers to… snatch.
2ND STOP: CHING HAN GUAN BISCUIT MANUFACTURING CO.
145, Jalan Sultan Iskandar, 30000 Ipoh, Perak. (Hugh Low Street)
Ching Han Guan is a traditional manufacturer of biscuits including Iced Gems, Tau Sar Piah (bean paste biscuit), peanut candies and Heong Peah.
One of my absolute favourite food from Ipoh is Heong Peah （香饼）but it’s a dying trade in modern times. If you google the term, the first search result is another famous retail place but personally I prefer to buy the traditional type in pink bag from Ching Han Guan.
The shop is newly renovated and the uncle is a friendly but traditional Teochew. Another cool thing about them is that they are so modern that they actually use QRcode instead of barcode during payment scanning! That being said, they have what I think is the most traditional heong peah.
What is the difference, you may ask? In my personal opinion, the most traditional heong peah has charred bottoms (haha) because they are stuck in the barrel ovens (I don’t know the correct term) and the core is hollow with chewy and slightly sweet gooey filling. Because of their delicate layers, there’s A LOT of crumbs when you bite into it. The modern type is perfectly round, the layers much thicker and the filling is excessively sweet.
Anyway, aside from heong peah, here’s what I also bought from them.
Low sugar peanut candy, $8.80
This is a traditional candy that we usually see at Chinese wedding betrothal ceremonies and it’s cool that Ching Han Guan offers a low sugar version. I actually bought this for my brother’s mother-in-law but I heard that it’s good.
If anything, sachima is extremely sinful. It’s basically fried batter bound in a block with syrup. Fried, sugar, I know! But it’s still extremely awesome to cut a small block and eat it once in a while.
Funny story – When I was studying in Wuhan years back, I actually had 2 small sachima blocks in small buns for breakfasts when I was running low financially. A block of Sachima, RMB3 and mini Buns, 20 for RMB7 meant that 10 meals only cost me SGD$0.28 each. Major money saver!! I’m not lying and I even have a photo to prove it!!! (The plastic ribbon is just OCD on my part.)
Chicken Biscuit, $7.50
Chicken biscuit is a direct translation! Sadly though, the one from Ching Han Guan isn’t the one I remember from childhood. Disappointment. This is just like regular Subway cookie, kosong version.
BBQ Chip Stick, $4.00
BBQ Chip Stick is another Wuhan memory and I was so pleasantly surprised to find it in Ipoh!! It’s basically like chip-fries, but instead of spicy flavor, Ching Han Guan sells the BBQ version, which is very awesome!
Sadly though, I couldn’t find the picture from Wuhan. I guess we always finished the pack when we buy them and the sticks didn’t have a chance to lie around in our hostel room. XD
THIRD STOP: TOY STORE
Row opposite the famous Sin Yoon Loong kopitiam, Jalan Bandar Timah, Ipoh, Perak, 30000, Malaysia
While waiting for my aunt in Ipoh, my mum and I wandered around the stretch of shops at Jalan Bandar Timah. I chanced upon a HUGE toys shophouse that sells a lot of toys, including the traditional dolls, toy guns and even the modern fad rainbow looms.
15-color Rainbow loom kit, $18.90
I have seen the rainbow loom kits around in Singapore but have always been hesitant to get one because of its price. Like, how do you justify paying $20+ for mini rubber bands?! But when I saw the toy shop in Malaysia, I WENT FOR IT. And I must say, it’s quite addictive a hobby!
I guess it’s a 00’s generation’s equivalent of 90’s friendship bands and it makes me feel young to know that I’m following their fad, haha.
I actually managed to make half a dozen of bracelets and three keychains for 3 good friends. 🙂
YouTube is a great source for learning the basics and different designs! I guess Qoo10 is also a great source for buying cheaper loom bands if anyone’s interested to try it out. Take note though, that the cheaper bands break easily and may be more greasy to the touch.
FOURTH STOP: THE STORE (JALAN DATO ONN JAAFAR BRANCH)
Jalan Foo Yet Kai, Kampung Jawa, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
The Store is like our Metro/BHG/Isetan and it isn’t really a budget friendly kind of place unless there’s promotion going on. Being a multi-storey department store, the cheapest sections I saw are the household glassware, electronics and… no more.
When we first enter, there’s a guard that would use a cable tie to seal your plastic bags, and they have lockers (optional) for you to store your heavy haul before you enter, pretty much like local sports complex.
One thing I realized though, is how much more Malaysia is about their local brands and products. They have less of international brands like VS Sassoon, Tefal and KDK and instead, promote Malaysian brands. One great example I’d always remember is how I did not see a single place selling my favourite Heaven and Earth Green Tea, not even in their coffeeshops, provision shops and even restaurants.
Sonix Multi Style Hair Straightener, $20.90
This is the first time I come across Sonix and I actually bought it because of the price. I’ve been using VS hair straightener for years now and it’s still working brilliantly, but what attracted me was that the Sonix has comb teeth so my hair is combed while straightening. At $20.90, it comes with 4 interchangeable (albeit average quality) crimper plates, although I’ve yet to put it to use.
Planner 2015, $10.90
Honestly speaking, I think $10.90 for a planner notebook is not cheap at all. But it has the sections I need and I bought it to save the hassle of hunting for one in Singapore, like a by-the-way kind of thing.
FIFTH STOP: A RANDOM BOOKSTORE
I actually had the chance to drop by into a bookstore where my cousin picks up her weekly order of organic vegetables (weird, I know). I came across a pretty notebook that I bought for my bestie Miao, haha.
One great thing about being in Malaysia is that the written languages are either Malay or Chinese. It felt great to be back in a land surrounded by my mother tongue language, especially in a bookstore. It’s sad that Singapore bookstores are so majorly populated with English books.
My Journey Ring notebook, $12.90
SIXTH (AND FINAL) STOP: YONG PENG STOPOVER FOODCOURT
Yong Peng Stopover Foodcourt is not the official name, but it’s where coaches (Sri Maju in my case) stop during the journey for mealtimes. That means I get to visit the place twice – on my way into Ipoh and on the way back to Singapore.
Yong Peng food isn’t that great. The portion is small, the price is considered relatively expensive in Malaysia. But there’s an awesome stall selling roasted sweet potato next to the magazines stall.
I actually bought Crispy Chocolate Rice Cereal bar from them during my two trips into Ipoh and guess what? The first time I bought was 3 Ringgit and the second time was 3.50! Inflation in less than a month! Then there was the Durian biscuit that Taiwanese Xiao S was also crazy about, haha! That though, I think was from another stopover stall but I can’t remember where, so I just include it here.
I think that’s all for $100! Does the sum add up? Hopefully!
The greatest thing about shopping in Malaysia is that whenever you see a price and half it in your mind (into Singapore currency), you usually find that it’s EXTREMELY cheap. However, that isn’t the case for Malaysians because that isn’t how the Math works for them. While their stuff cost the “same” as Singapore, their salary is also “similar” to Singapore, so they perceive $3 just like we do.
That aside, I feel that Malaysia is more interesting to explore compared to Singapore because they still have the traditional provision shops, kopitiam (that are much cleaner than Singapore’s food court chains, sadly) and small hangout spots, which means more variety in terms of choices and cultures. The fact that the country promotes local brands is also something that Singapore can learn from, as it would enable local brands to grow better in domestic economy and have a better chance of competing on an international level in the long run. 🙂 #Cheemology