Amongst Malaysia’s multitude of mega malls, Petaling Jaya’s Amcorp Mall is fairly unremarkable.
There’s no sign of the designer chains that fill the ultra-slick, ultra-modern, super air-conditioned centres you’ll find in most parts of Kuala Lumpur and surrounds. Nor is there an entire level devoted to food stalls offering delicacies from all part of the region and from around the world.
There is one thing, however, that makes Amcorp unlike any mall you’re likely to encounter in the area and a place you’ll want to visit if you want to take home something unusual or unexpected.
Started in 1998, the Amcorp Mall Flea Market takes over the centre every Saturday and Sunday and offers up table after table of weird and wonderful collectibles you’re not likely to come across next to H&M or Uniqlo.
While Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur are two separate cities, travelling between the two is fairly easy. For a beginner, it seems a little unclear where one ends and the other begins. Getting around on public transport can be a little complicated and time consuming, especially if you only have a limited number of days to do all that you want. A great alternative is ride-hailing app Grab which allows you to pay cash; one less thing to be concerned about by those not wanting to put their card details into unfamiliar apps. From the centre of Kuala Lumpur, Amcorp is an easy 25-30 minute car ride costing approx. RM20 (approx. AUD$6).
Across the centre’s five levels, there are countless vendors selling antique furniture, second hand vinyl, jewellery, vintage homewares, old books and magazines, comics and comic paraphernalia, camera gear, art and much more.
The Sunday trade was already in full-swing when we arrived at the mall late-morning. The lower level was where most of the action was concentrated and also where the best and most interesting stalls were located.
When you spend a considerable amount of time digging through crates of second hand records, there are always those records that appear time and again, no matter the location. The joy of the hunt, though, means carrying on and when you come across something you’ve been wanting for a long time or something you didn’t realise you wanted until you stumbled on it, flicking through the endless Boz Scaggs and Elvis records is worth it.
Not wanting to overdo it too quickly at the first stall of records, only a copy of the Electric Light Orchestra’s On The Third Day was purchased in spite of the very friendly stall holder’s best attempts to get us to buy his prized Whitney Houston records.
At another stall, the records were far more pristine than at the first; a lot of them were Japanese pressings. It was here, I finally found a copy of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs to add to my Bowie collection (every studio release from Space Oddity to Let’s Dance now in my possession). A copy of Peter Gabriel’s second solo album was also too good to pass up. Together, both cost about RM120 (AUD$36).
On a table filled with colourful enamelware, my partner found a deep blue bowl and a rich dark green container. The stall holder informed her that the pieces had travelled across multiple countries in their life, originating in Czechoslovakia (as confirmed on the labels still attached), before residing in India, then Malaysia.
It’s not just the market stalls dealing in the weird and wonderful at Amcorp.
Also situated on the lower level is Joe’s MAC (Music, Antiques, Collectibles). The store is an unbelievable labyrinth of old musical instruments, art, furniture, books and importantly, vinyl. While some of the records are organised alphabetically and into loose genres, large sections are in crates marked only with the week in which they arrived at the store. There were so many crates there that you could spend an entire day flicking through records and still not have seen everything.
From a little bit of searching, I was able to find an original Australian version of Stevie Wright’s Hard Road – something you’re unlikely to find much at home – for RM23 (AUD$6.74). A great end to a great adventure.
After a few hours of wandering, browsing and buying, it was back to the hotel for a well-earned swim and a drink, satisfied with an unexpected haul of things to take home.