Shopping Malls and Plastic Bags

Shopping Mall

There’s a mouse in the house

Penang is sometimes a bit overwhelming, take today. I decided to have a lazy morning, mainly because I spent most of the night searching for the mouse in my room. I woke to a rustling noise and saw it jump out of the rubbish basket and scurry under the bed. This then entailed me moving the bed which turns out not to be a real bed but a feat of clever engineering, finely balanced wood which utilises a mattress to hold it all together. The mouse had vanished through the hole next to the air conditioning pipework. So now he has gone how was I going to prevent him returning and disturbing the rest of the evening. Luckily I had been to a stationery shop a few days ago and bought A4 plastic sheets to make a hologram (video coming soon). I used the plastic sheets to cut out shapes which would cover not just the hole next to the air conditioning pipework but every hole and there were a few. This had the desired effect and although prevented the mouse from returning to my room, it didn’t prevent him from trying to get in the room. He obviously was a bit confused at why he could see his way in and had previously been in but now there was some kind of force field preventing him entering. The noise woke me again but I just lay on my bed and watched the confused mouse until he gave up. I’m not sure how long it was before I heard my neighbours complaining loudly that they had a mouse in their room, plastic sheet anyone?

So that is why this morning was slow, I spent between 06:00 and 09:00 writing and then slept until 11:00 followed by a shower and then out for a wander. I decided to go in the opposite direction than usual and came across a big shopping mall. I have come to the conclusion that shopping malls are all the same. Once inside I could have been anywhere except this shopping mall had some interesting and funny characteristics. I entered via an underpass where lots of rickshaw drivers were asleep.

Trishaw siesta time

I went into the right side of the mall first, straight into the mobile phone and gadget area. I think I have a sixth sense when it comes to gadgets. What was remarkable is how cheap it all is, some brands I had never heard of but comparing an Oppo F1 smart phone to a flagship brand like Samsung or Apple the price for the specs were unbelievable. A hopefully won’t burst into flames Samsung sells for around £600 an Oppo is around £189 I say around because it’s priced in ringgit’s here. If I was in the market for a phone I would definitely buy one from Malaysia.

As I turned the corner I saw a cordoned off area with a black carpet, a stage and in the middle a car covered up with a black cloth. The huge flag style sign above announcing that this month and only in this mall you could win a Mercedes.  Very nice I thought and noticed they were still setting the stage for this event. A company had turned up with flight cases full of screens and they were followed by even more flight cases which I have no idea what the contents were. I was curious at first and thought, what if the prize was just the big Mercedes-Benz cloth, it would make a good bed sheet. I then did something I wouldn’t normally do, okay I probably would, in all the commotion I took a peek under the cloth to see the Mercedes and to my surprise there wasn’t a car under the cloth but a frame in the shape of said Mercedes and boxes of stuff under the frame. Well I suppose it would be a waste to have a real Mercedes sat there for a whole month, crafty buggers!

I have no idea why but I scarpered pretty sharpish and headed back out to the underpass and across to the opposite side of the mall. Surely this can’t be the same mall, it looked dingy, I followed the sign downstairs to the food area which consisted of 2 expensive restaurants, back on the escalators and up 2 floors which is the sexy shop floor, condom world, love house and my favourite name ever for a sexy shop “Willies”. I headed back over to the real mall and went for a wander. Nearly made a typical tourist error in the bread shop, the price was 3.50 for my bakery items, however I gave the cashier a 50 instead of a 5, luckily she was honest and chased me out of the shop to give me my change. Next incident and this one was in my favour, now I’m not saying all McDonald’s staff are like this because I know a lot of people who work at McDonald’s.

As I was walking around the mall people would pass me with a McDonald’s ice cream, you know the 50p ones that you can’t resist. So I couldn’t resist, I search each floor until I found McDonald’s, in Malaysia there is a separate counter for desserts. So I joined a small group of people who were getting ice cream. Above the counter was a sign saying that my ice cream was going to cost me 2.50 ringgit about 50p, so I’m happy with that. The next series of events tickled me, first the young chap behind the counter told me off, not in a big way but I was at the pickup end of the counter and not the order end. He was very stern but I complied as I really wanted my ice cream, luckily no one else was queuing so I ordered 1 ice cream, expecting to pay 2.50 ringgit.  I gave our young employee a 10 ringgit note, he then took a double take at the change he had got for me, then he counted it again. He had 9 ringgit in his hand and gave it to me, of course as an honest individual, I kept it! He then proceeded to pull 2 ice creams, when he offered them to me I said I only ordered 1, my turn to be a bit stern now! The young employee gave me 1 ice cream, threw the other in the bin and went for his supervisor. I waited to see what would unfold here and to my amazement the supervisor came over, opened the till and gave me 2.50 ringgit back. Thanks I had just been paid by McDonald’s for my ice cream, don’t feel bad McDonald’s surely doesn’t pay enough taxes.

So with a smug look on my face I wandered some more, I ended up back in sexy shop land before heading out of the mall.

Buddy Bears Penang

Okay that recollection of my day mentioned nothing about plastic but wait, here it is.

I’ve noticed when in Asia that they love plastic and I wondered why! Here if you order a takeaway drink it comes in a plastic bag tied at the top and a straw pushed through into the liquid. Every time you buy anything the cashier gets a plastic bag out to put your items in. In fact you get a funny look when you refuse the bag, the funniest thing I saw was McDonald’s making an effort to use paper bags, however they then put the paper bag in a plastic bag before handing it to you. Double bagging! Buy a drink, you automatically get a plastic straw, pot noodle plastic spork. It just goes on and on, I then started noticing the discarded rubbish around the streets and you’ve probably guessed its mainly plastic.

customize waffles

Finding an alternative isn’t that easy because if you use paper or cloth and visit a market, the floor tends to be soaked and that water contains bacteria from everything that’s washed. Fruit, vegetables, fish, meat containing blood and even the plates from the market cafe all get mixed together in that goo you walk on.

So I wouldn’t say Asia is a third world country far from it but people’s priority is to survive daily life. Removing plastic from the environment is low down on their list because Asia is a developing country that is a struggle to earn a living in. Some are trying, take George Town where I am staying. They have just announce no plastic bags, which is fantastic except no one is taking any notice. So I ask that when you visit Asia make an extra effort to refuse plastic. Leave room in your day pack to fit your shopping, carry a reusable cup for your drinks and please refuse straws. You won’t notice the difference but you will be making a difference because this country is clogged up with plastic and it doesn’t go away. Here’s a weird analogy. If Every time you went to the toilet (poo) you had to store it in your house, how long would it take for you to find a better way? What if anyone who visited your house, you had to store their poo too? Did you know astronauts have a diet which reduces pooing because they can’t store a lot.


So I am committed to doing something about reducing plastic use, will you join me?

Here’s a saying I heard but I’m not sure it’s origin.

Every time you spend money you are voting for the world you want to live in!

What kind of world do you want to live in?

Single Buddy Bear