I spent several hours in the 1 Utama shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur this week. Utama is the Malay word for ‘main’. This is the largest shopping centre in KL and the fourth largest shopping centre in the world apparently. I went there because it is a convenient taxi ride away from Jim’s KL office and because there are some stores there that I wanted to go to. But it is overwhelming and exhausting finding one’s way around and one trudges for miles to get to a particular store. What struck me most was that the only people you see in those glitzy designer stores are the shop assistants. How do stores like Gucci, Armani and Tiffany survive when they never seem to have any customers? However, there is an café in 1 Utama that makes a coffee like one I would enjoy in New Zealand and I know exactly where it is. I headed there first. Then I went to the large bookstore but came away with only one book. The selection of books in English is very limited and most of the books displayed I’ve either read or I don’t want to read. I also went to the upmarket grocery store where they import food from all over the world, including New Zealand and Australia. This is indulgent because there is plenty of good food in our three local supermarkets in Ipoh. I bought kiwifruit, new potatoes, Marmite, hummus and, best of all, a beautiful salmon fillet which they packed on ice for me. I had it for dinner last night and it was delicious, especially as I also opened the bottle of New Zealand sauvignon blanc that I had lugged the length of 1 Utama!