A Trip Down Memory Lane

I was in Sungai Wang Plaza the other day. PuiSee Chu took me to Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts. I was excited at first. I have not tried them before, knowing it is a mega hipster rage even without duck egg yolk in it. I first saw them in a Ramadan bazaar in Singapore last year. Pui See knows her way around Sungai Wang Plaza. She knows the outlets, the corridors, the pink ladies parking and the lift location. Which was a good thing as we found our way around rapidly. I never understood the layout of this old and giant mall. All I know is one wrong turn, I will end up in a row of hair dressing saloons that emanate the most horrific rotten egg odour because Chinese people were perming their straight hair.

That’s Sungai Wang for you. I asked Pu See about her familiarity and she confessed she was a bohsia (or a female teen mall rat) during her Form 4 or Form 5 days. She’ll take a bus here after school. It was the only mall with a cineplex and an ice skating rink during its time. Also the only mall with a filthy food court in the rooftop car park. Tony Warren won’t like this but I met the other Tom Jones of Malaysia working at the garbage incinerator next to the food court. I think it was Mark Sylvester. Would you believe Sungai Wang Plaza is now buying a Harley and getting a man bun? It is now 40 years old, as it opened in 1977. I first met DJ Kenneth MC Zap here too. I think he was spinning at the concourse.

Pui See bought a box of tarts and left me to myself at the table because she needed to get her power bank from her car. Maybe I don’t have enough hipster DNA in my blood. My excitement turned to dismay when I accidentally crushed the tart with my fingers. An ugly mess of disgusting molten cheese spilled into my fingers. How can anyone eat this and not feel jelak? Jelak is a local word to describe over satiation or disgust with certain food that makes you want to puke or burp. Happens when Asians binge eat creamy stuff. This single piece made me want avoid Hokkaido for good!

Not Pui See’s fault though as I wanted to try it. One woman’s cheese is another man’s shit. YMMV. Now Sex Bomb is playing in my mind. All because I checked Mark’s FB and saw a video of him singing the Tom Jones hit. I first saw the Tom Jones of Malaysia Tony Warren when I was a kid when he was singing at Weld Supermarket. It was in a standalone building with a spacious open air car park opposite Weld Swimming Pool. Remember that area? There was Eden too. For hotels around Sungai Wang and the Golden Triangle, see Hotels In Kuala Lumpur. #cheesetarts #tarts #sungaiwangplaza #hokkaido #tomjones #nolstagia #review

Inside Imbi Plaza Today

There are many laptop repair shops, all manned by courteous Pakistani people.

It may look or feel no different from certain corridors in nearby Low Yat Plaza where many foreigners, who are sales personnel, try to lure you into repair shops when you window shop.

The Pakistanis are less aggressive here and less scary than the Ah Beng vendors at the mobile phone kiosks in Low Yat Plaza. Those greet you with an automated “Yes?” when you walk near or sneak a glance at their wares. I call them the ‘yes men’ of LYP 🙂

Panasonic Lumix GM-1, ISO 200, f4, 1/60 sec.

#imbiplaza #mall #itmall #shops #history #malaysia #pakistan #kualalumpur

Most Memorable Imbi Plaza Feature

A follower on Instagram Aina Liyana (@pfrsch) commented about remembering one of my blog posts mentioning how the escalators at Imbi Plaza always break down.

I replied saying I am happy she remembered as it was probably written in the 80s and 90s. Also I was dismayed they are working today. That shattered memories that were so characteristic of the now forsaken mall.

I once described it as the world’s only static escalators. They are always in a state of disrepair and the area was dark. Still is.

You may attribute it to Malaysia’s famous lack of maintenance culture, lousy escalator technology or callous disregard for customers when one is ahead or successful. Probably it was also because it wasn’t built or designed with big crowds in mind.

As you can see, Imbi Plaza’s famous escalators are also as narrow as the narrowband dial-up Internet connections available then. It was surreal and painful to see at the time, large and endless crowds stomping up and down nosily.

Because only one direction can be accommodated at any one time, there was a silent unwritten rule about waiting for the break and change of flow. Not the happiest thing, if you are hugging a heavy CRT monitor in a box.

All these happened in the decade or two before Low Yat Plaza (LYP) opened in 1999.

Panasonic Lumix GM-1, ISO 800, f4 1/60 sec.

#imbiplaza #mall #itmall #escalator #history #malaysia #kualalumpur

We Became IT Savvy Through Imbi Plaza.

We Became IT Savvy Through Imbi Plaza.

Went to Imbi Plaza today. It brought back so many memories. The once bustling place faded when Low Yat Plaza replaced it as the IT hub. Imbi Plaza had so many shops selling cloned stuff then. It was also the place to go to get a replacement Thundercom 56k dial up modem when it was fried by lightning. Yes, kids. Those days were rough.

When your hypocritical foreign friends, who lectured you about IP rights, come to town, you take them there and they will load up with software worth a few thousand dollars for under RM 100. Imbi Plaza was a must stop for tourists. By now, a whole generation of millennials have probably grown up not ever experiencing it.

People used to buy MP3 music tracks there too. And who can resist those clipart compilations? Clipart is now dead, sadly. Imbi Plaza was also the place to go to get blank CDs if you want to burn copies

I bought a 17″ IBM CRT monitor then, Biggest then and weighed a ton. Almost broke my sagging Artwright 4 feet 2 tier computer table. Everybody had an Artwright 2 tier or aspire to own one then. If you own one, it meant another trip to Imbi to get a flatbed scanner and a buzzing dot matrix printer.

Either you go to Imbi Plaza or you wait for the annual PC Fair.

To its credit, Imbi didn’t handle porn. The most adult material you could get was a copy of Leisure Suit Larry. Adult films and titles were the domain of the red table cloth guys outside a 7-11 or the night market.

The sidewalk cafes next to the old coins and numismatic shops are still there. There was also a stamp (philately) shop. These are some of the non-IT shops I remember. There was a also a Pineapple shop inspired by Apple.

Today, my friend Johnny had a delicious looking beriani rice from one of the sidewalk mamaks. Not surprise to see Pakistani food such as biryani since the computer repair shops are now mostly operated by Pakistanis.

Panasonic Lumix GM-1, ISO 400, f4 1/250 sec.

#beriani #biryani #imbiplaza #rice #itmall

The Filo

Pronounced as File-loh, it was short for Filofax, it was a leather bound personal organiser with ring binders where you can add pages as refills. That was the business model. It was like the forerunner of Facebook. Functioning as a diary, everything from birthdays, contacts and business plans were recorded on it.

People were lost like zombies when they misplaced their Filo. Who are they going to call on the showy tiny flip phone that was the Ericsson T28. Who can also remember a brand called OKI?

If you are too young to know, the yuppie was the guy who rolled up his sleeves to below the elbow when they go to a pub for happy hours. The knot of the tie was also loosened in a specific style as a fashion statement.

Their most irritating habit was their penchant to do ‘air golf swings’ at pubs or any open space. A Tag Heuer was their dream possession. Maybe that was why they rolled their sleeves higher, One yuppie told me he saw it on LA Law.

The Filo and the yuppie are now extinct, thankfully.

#nostalgia #filofax #flashback #tbt