The Pavilion Shopping Centre in Kuala Lumpur is located virtually across the road from the South African High Comm, so we chose to while away the time there.
This mall is huge and spacious. I thought Mid Valley was a big mall when I first went there, but the Pavilion Shopping Centre is absolutely, positively humongous. The gangways alone are wider than most of the roads in Kota Kinabalu (I wish I was exaggerating).
The mall is also way upmarket, so I wasn’t really expecting to buy anything here. However, with my smelly Reeboks barely on my feet, I was painfully aware of what I needed to buy. After breakfast and following our little soiree to the SA High Comm, it wasn’t quite lunch yet, but we did feel the distinct need for a snack.
At first, wondering around aimlessly in the huge mall we were about to head over to Coffee Bean, when we remembered somebody mentioning a really popular donut place at this mall.
J. Co Donuts & Coffee
I immediately liked J. Co Donuts (perhaps it has something to do with the fact that J. Co sounds similar to my name, Jaco?) and was keen to try them out. We had been warned, however, that queues at this donut factory were all too common. It was 11am so we hoped that the lunch time crowd wouldn’t be a problem yet.
J. Co Donuts is an Indonesian company that opened it’s first store on 26 June 2005 and since then has opened in Malaysia and Singapore and soon China. We descended to the basement, which is where the helpful Information Desk assistant pointed us and still on the escalator heading down, we already spotted the hordes of people waiting for donuts.
Julia, Julia and myself admitted to each other that we don’t like donuts more than the average Jo, and the other two J’s weren’t really up for hanging around in the queue that long. I argued that we came so far and owed it to ourselves to prove whether or not the donuts were really as good as their reputations. I offered to stand in the queue (I like queues, or so I claim) while they went to fetch coffee from Coffee Bean.
And so it happened that I would queue for donuts for 40 minutes. Whilst in it, i couldn’t understand why the queue moved so slowly as there were at least 5 service staff behind the counter that dished out the donuts. Eventually, after I quickly ordered half a dozen by going “this one, that one, this one, this one, that one and that one” my box was pushed into a queue of boxes.
It then became apparent that the reason for the slow moving queue was their check-out system. After the initial order of donuts, a second person picks it up to complete the order with donuts spread out further along the counter – it’s the customer’s indecision combined with the too patient service staff that creates a 40 minute queue.
Eventually I managed to jump the queue a bit and quickly pay for my order and we were off to the food court’s table to inspect our purchase. We divided the 6 donuts into 3 pieces each and proceeded with our J. Co Donut tasting session.
The verdict: they’re just donuts. I’ve had Dunken Donuts, and these were not as good as that. The toppings completely smother the actual donut, so you’re sitting with a pastry more than a donut. Will I queue for J Co Donuts again? Definitely not – but I’m glad I did once, otherwise, how would I be able to have an informed opinion, right?
Anyway, whilst we were munching the donuts, we tried to analyse their popularity. We drew a few conclusions: first of all – the queue is artificially created by poor systems and not popularity, but is nevertheless self perpetuating – as social animals, we see a queue and automatically wonder why there is a queue. We see people are queuing for food, so we make a connection between demand and quality – if that many people wants it, marketing would have us believe, it must be good. So we join the queue.
Secondly, word of mouth. After having queued for 40 minutes, to save face, few people will admit that they wasted that much time to queue for a very standard product that was delivered slowly. Most people then lie about how good it is to justify their investment of time. This slightly inflated opinion is then viral marketed and voila! instant fame.
Then we saw the box and J. Co’s company philosophy printed on the side:
The heart of a donut lies in it’s hole. Nonetheless, taste is equally important. Here in J. Co Donuts & Coffee, we value both of them. The making process engages unbeatable collaboration between high technology machines that creates the blissful tastes, and full-of-art human hands the creates the precious holes. It’s always the same hole, same taste, same quality…
Ok, plus points for realising taste is as important as a hole – I would have thought it’s more important, but hey – I’m not running a successful donut franchise. Not sure why they hire full-of-art human hands to create a hole whilst the high technology machines are left to tell me what a blissful taste is.
And they must import boxes and boxes of heavily guarded holes – I wonder if they make the holes in China. Do you need SPM to be able to make full-of-art holes? Or perhaps a degree? And they recycle the holes, obviously, as it’s always the same hole. How do you wash a hole? If you put washing detergent in the hole, does it vanish? I’m happy to know that I queued 40 minute for a quality hole.
Anyway, Big Apple Donuts are coming to KK soon – can’t wait to queue for 40 minutes for one of their donuts and read their philosophy. Wonder if they’re hiring copywriters…
Christmas Decorations – We don’t play play
One thing I realised in Kuala Lumpur – the malls don’t play when it comes to Christmas decorations. It’s very serious stuff. We admired the creations of the Pavilion Shopping Centre and it’s obvious Christmas is the time for spending – and they first spend on Christmas decorations, clearly.
After our donut adventure we explored the mall. John, the Engineer who is working on an upcoming mega mall himself, suggested we go to the higher floors, as he claims that the higher it goes the cheaper it gets.
With Mont Blanc, Tiffany & Co., Tag Huaer and the like on the ground level, we saw his point and ascended to find shoppable shops. Eventually we happened upon a place called Stadium, a sister outlet that falls under the Royal Sporting House of which we have a not-so-well stocked branch in Kota Kinabalu.
As most of their shoes were 30% to 70% off, a shopping frenzy ensued amidst their wide variety of brands and excellent range of big sizes. All three of us are big-footed and we thus reveled in the fact that they had all the shoes in sizes that fit us.
After spending a good hour in this shop I left with a pair of Nike sport sandals and a pair of all terrain Merrell performance footwear, all for around RM300 – best of all, they were both UK size 12 and a very comfortable fit on my poor feet. I’ve been wearing my bought-in-China UK size 10 Reeboks for 2 years already – it was overdue.
John also got himself a pair of Merrells and Julia was happy to leave with nothing, as she knew there would still be plenty of opportunity for her to fill her quota.
With our shopping needs filled I gave the South African High Comm a buzz and had a chat with the softly spoken Mr. Kruger. He confirmed that he had never before encountered somebody in Malaysia who wanted to register their divorce back home and wasn’t sure whether or not they had the forms. I assumed this to meant that they didn’t have it – but at least he was nice about it.
He pledged to find out for me and that, if I phoned back on Monday, he would give me the answer. At this point, it was good enough for me – a no is fine, if at least it’s given in a nice way.
The 3 J’s headed back to John’s car and we headed home to our place for a cat-nap before our big South African dinner planned for later. We looked forward to the dinner leaving a much more pleasant taste in our mouths compared to our High Comm experience.