My blogger friend Snow wrote a post all about being a kid in the 80s. I was inspired by it and thought it would be fun to write a similar post myself.
I lived in both in Finland and Malaysia in the 80s. However, my Malaysian childhood was the one that made more of an impression on me. When I returned to Finland in the late 80s, I was considered quite strange compared to everyone else. I wore different kinds of clothes, played with different toys, spoke terrible Finnish with an accent and so on. I was so weird that it was sort of cool but not enough to be considered into the cool gang.
In Malaysia I went to a British school called Alice Smith School on Jalan Bellamy. In 2016 the school celebrated its’ 70th anniversary. I almost didn’t get a place in the school, as you were supposed to be fluent in English in order to be accepted. For some reason the school looked through their fingers even though I was frightfully behind in maths and my English was nowhere near the level that was required. I had to take English lessons before starting school officially and I remember how one terrible day, I dropped and broke the teacher’s eyeglasses by mistake. She was furious! I’m still a bit traumatised by that. Her beautiful and colorful saris made an impression on me. I couldn’t figure out how she tied the dress. I met an Italian girl called Ciara at English class. She had a lovely pool but we once watched a rat swim in it, yikes!
We had a funny uniform – a green and white checkered dress. The children who attend Alice Smith still wear them in Primary school. The uniform had to be specially made at a tailors. The tailor was in Chinatown and going there was always an adventure. The sports kit was a white shirt with your name on it and white shorts. I looked hideous in the pe kit as I was very chubby.
At school we had these folders with plastic pages for assembly. The folder had song lyrics in them. It’s a pity I don’t have the folder anymore. I’m sure it contained God Save the Queen and the Alice Smith School Anthem. If you forgot your folder at home, you’d have detention and would have to write “I will not forget my folder” 100 times in your text book!
I always went to Jalan Bellamy by school bus. There wasn’t one sort of school bus – they were all different colors and sizes. Ours was red/white and it would pick me up and drop me at our condominium’s gate. It said Bas Sekolah on the side which is Malay for School Bus.
The school was next to Kwong Tong Cemetery – a Chinese graveyard. If I were ever to go back to Malaysia, I would want to visit this cemetery. Another interesting place round the corner of the school is the Istana Negara – the Royal Palace.
Actually,many members of the Malaysian Royal Family attended the school when I was there. Apparently Alice Smith is the school where the Royals still educate their children. I wasn’t friends with any of the Princesses though.
In Malaysia we most often went to the pool after school. I even had birthday parties by the pool and once my mom made a Strawberry Shortcake cake!
We had my bike shipped to Kuala Lumpur from Finland but there really wasn’t anywhere to ride it except the condominium grounds so it was quite useless. Besides, I was more interested in the small shop in the condo area where you could buy ice cream and sweets. No wonder I was chubby hey!
We used to go to friends’ houses for sleepovers. At Australian Emily’s house I was allowed to watch Ghostbusters. Wow, it was scary. She wanted Milo after dinner but I thought the taste was horrendous. In case you’ve never heard of Milo, it’s a chocolate and malt powder which is mixed in milk and drunk like hot/cold chocolate. But it tastes nothing like chocolate IMHO.
We once had a dead snake on our doorstep and at another time, a huge live monitor lizard. When we first moved to Malaysia from Finland, we lived in a house with the rainforest right next door. My mom and I would often be too afraid to go out because the monkeys were making a mess outside – throwing our rubbish bins about and making a racket. Living in a house didn’t last too long as my parents soon stated that we were not built to live in a house in the tropics.
I had papayas and mangoes for breakfast every morning. I miss fresh tropical fruits…
I was a bookwork for sure. When it was time to sleep, I would often read without permission. You may wonder how I managed that in the dark. Well, with a flashlight of course! I loved to read Enid Blyton books.
One really strange place we went for a holiday was Mimaland, a theme park. You could find a water park with slides and a huge pool – it was lots of fun of course. But in addition there was an eerie Jurassic Park kind of area with dinosaurs you could pose with. Now it’s in ruins and favoured by urbex types. Apparently some of the dinosaurs are still in the overgrown jungle, stuck in time.
We sometimes liked to go to the highlands for cooler air. Cameron Highlands was one of those hill stations. I will always remember how fascinating it was driving there and stopping to see the Orang Asli (aboriginal people of Malaysia). We’d give the children chewing gum. Quite awful now that you think about it – gawking at people going about their lives.
One holiday was to Terengganu. We were woken up at night to get up and see the turtles laying their eggs on the beach. How horrible! I would never, ever go and disturb the turtles these days but back then it was just a way to lure tourists to the area.
MY FAVOURITE TV SHOWS:
It seems I watched quite a bit of tv, as I can think of so many shows I loved!
Monchhichis – my goodness they were cute!
Punky Brewster – she was the same age as me and so cool with her funky hair! I read later that she dated Mark Wahlberg. I’m quite envious of that, haha!
The Wonder Years
Alf – why, oh why, what an awful show!
MY FAVOURITE TOYS:
Barbie – in addition to zillions of Barbies and Kens, I had a Barbie McDonalds, Barbie pool and a Barbie office – I can’t believe I took these to the charity shop when we moved last Fall – I could’ve made a lot of money by selling them as they’re collectibles… groan…
Cabbage Patch Kids – I had two, girls with red hair
Strawberry Shortcake – I didn’t have any but played with these at my friend’s house
Speak & Spell, an electronical game
Snakes & Ladders, a board game – I’d quite fancy a go at this again!
I realize now that there are many stories to tell about my childhood in Malaysia. Maybe I will write more posts on my adventures in the future too. It’s nice to document the memories and look at old photographs.
I’d love to know – where were you in the eighties?