A gap in the market (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

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Having visited KL back in 2009 when we were living in Mumbai, we were intrigued to see if our initial love of the place had changed. It hadn’t.

KL has the best of East meets West. Modern shopping malls with a good choice of shops, local markets and bazaars, green areas & parks, efficient public transport, great social areas for eating and drinking and the most amazing choice of food to suit any budget.

KL was to be our base for 4 nights and I wanted to make the most of being back in a big city.

Backpacking with a baby in SE Asia - Kuala Lumpur

Kuala lumpur street

First thing to tick off the list was to try and buy ‘the boy’ some new shoes.  Before leaving for Asia I’d taken ‘the boy’ to Clarks to be measured and proudly bought him his first pair of shoes. Unfortunately, he was more interested in pulling them off and as he was still at the crawling stage when we left the UK I packed them in the bottom of my rucksack to reveal again once the legs were fully in action.

That day arrived, the shoes came out, but they didn’t fit. In fact they were tiny in comparison to his feet. I couldn’t tell you how much he weighs now, but I can tell you that his feet have grown about ½ inch since leaving the UK ten weeks ago! Unfortunately Asia isn’t the greatest place for buying good quality children’s shoes and given the choice of making him wear a pair of cheap plastic sandals from a local street store or roam bare foot, I chose the latter.

After 4 weeks of ‘the boy’ looking like a street urchin and having to avoid any burnt sole incidents on the hot pavements (almost impossible in 30 degree heat!) we can finally buy him some shoes.

Backpacking with a baby in SE Asia - Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur street and the new shoes...

‘The boy’ and I head to one of KL’s premium shopping malls. It has a floor dedicated to baby/toddler shops so I figure that this should be an easy task. I was wrong. First things first I needed to get the width and length of his feet measured, a simple but necessary procedure for small developing feet. However, judging by the looks I got when I asked each store if they had something to measure them with, I soon realised that t his was a very strange request. Instead, shoes were sourced from the back of the store based on his age. Now, maybe there is method in this madness, but I can’t see it. Take some of ‘the boy’s’ playmates from Wales. Although average in size, he was one of the smallest in his gang due to some super tall baby friends who had equally large feet. Same age, yes. Same size feet, no.

After scouting around every store I gave up and reverted to a simple trial and error method. Get as many pairs of shoes out at once, let ‘the boy’ try them on, toddle around for a few minutes and I’ll try and work out which once fit best by using my eyes.

It took a while, but ‘the boy’ is now a proud owner of a pair of red sandals.

KL’s great, but I think I’ve spotted a gap in the market.

Top tip of the day:
If you’re planning to go travelling for a few month plus, ask a reliable store at home to recommend shoes that you can take with you in a size bigger. There’s certainly more choice at home and you’re more likely to get a better shoe with width and length fittings.

*************************************UPDATE – March 26th 2012**************************************

We’re now living in Kuala Lumpur and I have found a Clarks shoe shop that has the facilities to give your child a proper fitting. The shop is located on the first floor of Bangsar Village shopping mall – one, in Bangsar (there are 2 malls next to each other, one and two, with a link bridge between them). It’s a couple of miles outside the city centre, but only costs about £3 to get to in a taxi.

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