Monday, January 28, 2013
Grocery shopping in Malaysia has been one of the most trying experiences for me thus far. It's exhausting.
First, you have to find the items you're looking for. For the most part, it's decently arranged and the more I go, the easier it is to find things. I still don't understand why there are 4 different sections of refrigerated juices... and a whole aisle of non-refrigerated juices four aisles away. And other such questions. :)
Then, you have to find replacements for items you're looking for that can't be found or are super expensive in Malaysia. I've only found cottage cheese at one store. It's expensive and it doesn't taste good. I wanted to use it in quiche the other day, but had to substitute in yogurt instead. You can't buy frozen spinach, so I have to use regular spinach. The brown sugar is red.. should I still buy it?
While I grocery shop, I also am constantly doing all sorts of math in my head (or sometimes on my phone's calculator... haha). Divide the price by 3 to get the US $ equivalent. Compare to what I remember the prices being in the States. Is it WORTH $6 for a box of pop-tarts? No, probably not. Should I buy them anyways? No, probably not. Will anyone reading this send me a box of pop-tarts in a care package? No, probably not. :)
Did I also mention that if I go grocery shopping on Sundays, it's like an episode of Hunger Games: Adult Version? There are people everywhere, elbows flying to be the first in line at the vegetable weigh station, cart racing, line cutting (with or without machetes... to be determined), and pretty much just all out chaos!
Another thing that makes grocery shopping so exhausting and dreadful? White Fungus. Quail eggs. Fatt Choy. Corn-Flavored Ice Cream. That is correct. Those are real items I have seen at the grocery store while shopping. It's almost as if I live in Asia where they have really weird tastes or something?! See for yourself. Others, not pictured include, chicken feet, fishballs, and numerous items that I don't recognize or care to identify!
So, I make it to the check-out and this part has become less exhausting and more funny. Although, still ridiculous. As I'm checking out, if there's an item with no tag or veggies that I forgot to weigh, the cashier looks at me and says, "No price. Do you want?" In my first few months, I semi-freaked out each time and said firmly, "Yes, I want it. I'll go find a price. Now, let me ask you a question, WHY WOULD IT BE IN MY CART IF I DIDN'T WANT IT?!" After living here 6 months, though, now my response is a smile and "No". Notice to all who are reading this: Do not grow attached to anything at a store in Malaysia until after you have checked out. Chances are as good as not that you will leave without it. :)
Finally, the MOST exhausting part of grocery shopping in Malaysia is going home. I don't have a car here. There is a service road blocked off by a barrier that separates me from the street with taxis. I may not have always been considered the strongest girl around, but let me tell you, I've learned how to carry some groceries! There has been more than once where I physically lost feeling in my fingers because the plastic bag handles were cutting off my circulation, but it comes back. :) So, yeah, carry them to the taxi, put them down while I negotiate a price, pick them back up and put them in the taxi (or carry them to the next taxi), ride home, carry them up the elevator and across the apartment complex until they finally find my kitchen. I sure do miss my garage that backed up to the kitchen on grocery shopping days!
Thankfully, I love to cook and love eating even more, so even a weekly grocery-shopping adventure is not enough to keep me away! And, the longer I'm here, the easier it gets. Maybe by the time I leave in a year and a half I'll actually like corn ice cream and fishballs. Or maybe not.