Where Shopping is not a Pleasure

Trip Start Aug 09, 2009
Trip End Oct 23, 2009

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Thursday, October 8, 2009

Some brochure I picked up bragged that Kuching is one of the healthiest places to live in Malaysia.  They sure got that right...even buying a pair of socks from a cashier at a department store wearing a sticker certifying that she is swine flu free is possible.  It says: Hi. I'm _______.  FEVER FREE on such and such a date.  You just don't know how safe it makes me feel knowing that a simple transaction on the third floor of a store is so sanitary.  Can you imagine telling Two Ton Tessie behind one of the registers at Wal-Mart that she needs to get her temperature taken every morning before her shift like these women at Parkson's?  Before walking away totally spun up for the rest of her shift, she'd tell you that thermometer is going right up your ass and not hers.

But getting those socks to the fever free cash register is a battle in itself if you can believe it at Parkson's where shopping is definitely not a pleasure.  Being that I am stuck where it's hot and tropical,  I thought an extra pair of cargo shorts would be nice and the prices seemed right at the department store.  First off, maneuvering five feet through the stacks of clothing is not possible without a sales clerk hovering two feet behind you.  Granted, she is fever free...but still...  After finally locating some shorts I started digging through the stack for my size and realized I might be a little too big to buy anything.  Sizes for men start at 26 and stop around 32.  I am a 33 or 34 which at home isn't really that big and seems to be towards the bottom of the size spectrum actually compared to some of that girth I see shuffling around.

When I told the hovering yet unhelpful sales help what size I needed she brought her hand up to her mouth, covered it and giggled.  I asked her what was wrong and she said, "Ooooooooooooooooooooooooh.  We not have a short for a fat man.  Sorry sir."  So yes, I have been called fat in the middle of the Malaysian equivalent to Macys or Dillards and now need to find the Malaysian version of the big man's store.  I wanted to laugh back at her because she was wearing some stupid sticker showing she had to get her temperature taken but of course being the polite American I am, I refrained. 

Another fever free sales girl came out of nowhere and produced a pair of shorts with an elastic waistband and told me, "This for big man.  Make bigger with belly expand."  I don't even have a belly and if anything have lost weight on this trip.  I just told her no thanks.  Somehow they then dug up some size 34 shorts and I tried them on.  I couldn't even get them up one of my thighs so I just gave up.  34 here is more like a 22 or something back home.  I'll just keep wearing the ones I bought in Serbia where people are evidently built like me.

Since I was already there in the fever free store, I looked for some socks and of course everything I needed stopped at size 9.  I wear a 10.5 or 11 and these size 9 socks looked more like a 3 to my eyes.  Some one size fits all ones were at the bottom of the stacks, and I will test them out later on.  I may not have been able to find my size in anything but at least I won't catch the pig flu in the process.  Thank God all the sales help are certified healthy.  I'd hate to come all the way to Malaysia, be called fat, and then catch something I shouldn't on top of that!!

My next stop was the drugstore for some shaving cream and toothpaste.  A nice display of Dung Garden brand nuts greeted me as I walked in.  Such a tantalizing brand name but I had just eaten my spicy breakfast noodles and unfortunately didn't have any room left for Dung Garden's samplings.  Maybe next time.  Right next to the toothpaste was a brand of shampoo called Hairfall Reduce.  I can say with confidence that rather than doing whatever "hairfall reduce" is, this product probably burns the follicles right out of the user's scalp.  A slight premium for Nivea is worth every penny so I know what I am buying.  But I don't know what I might be getting from the clerk there since she wasn't wearing any indication she is fever free.  Come on drugstore managers...get with the program.  I expect my sales help to be certifed fever free as well. 

Of course all this is just window dressing.  The girl who sold me the socks sneezed all over the register and the man in the sock department had more success picking boogers out of his nose than I had finding something to fit my feet.  I just find it amusing though that people here will actually become sheeple and let Parkson Dept Store make them wear stickers saying they are pig virus free.  I'm with the Walmart cashier...shove that thermometer right up your own freakin' behind.

With all that energy expended while shopping, I just needed a relaxing morning.  My buddy had the bright idea to go across the river again in the water taxi.  I guess he wanted to prove to everyone he indeed can board a narrow boat without capsizing it.  Naturally the same man from the other day recognized us and immediately started rowing away to the other side.  Seriously...he took one look at us and sped off like a herd of turtles against the current of the river.  I think we ruined it for every subsequent white dude trying to cross the river.

Another water taxi came and I got in no problem and took my seat.  My friend started to get in and for some reason walked to one side and hesitated before sitting.  The boat went about 70 degrees to the right and he fell over and then stood up on the other side.  All of us then went 70 degrees to the left now and the boart oars fell into the river.  The boat rower's tea canister capsized as well and all of the loose change he had laid out on the front of the boat went right into the river before anyone could make a wish. The other guy who smartly refused us transport yelled something to this guy and we were hustled off the boat quickly.  Luckily this other guy was able to retrieve the oars.  I tried to give the guy some money to replace his tea and maybe about a buck's worth of change but he just refused. 

Would you believe that two rental car companies refused to rent to us this week because we are Americans?  Gee, I wonder why now.  This was before we discovered the bus to Bako while we were still looking for a cheap way there.  I am sure word is out now about Americans tipping over the water taxis, too.  Soon all we will be left with is foot travel under the hot tropical sun.  Wait, that is already about all I am left with now in Kuching. Then again the Malaysians think I am fat so I guess I can afford to sweat off a few pounds. 

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