Where Were You in the 80s?

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.

My parents and I in Kuala Lumpur by some hotel’s pool

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.

Swingin in Cameron Highlands


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.

The Alice Smith School uniform – we had baskets to carry our books in

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!

Pool party

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!

Bangsar Indah condominium’s poolside

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.

A monkey attacking our rubbish

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.

Always loved breakfast it seems, LOL!

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.

The orang asli girls

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.

Turtle watching


It seems I watched quite a bit of tv, as I can think of so many shows I loved!

Fraggle Rock
Monchhichis – my goodness they were cute!
The Smurfs
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!
Full House
The Wonder Years
Alf – why, oh why, what an awful show!


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
Care Bears
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?


46 thoughts on “Where Were You in the 80s?

  1. I know this is an old post, but I was in Alice Smith School in the 80s as well. I stumbled upon your blog while looking for the school’s uniform images (to use for my ESL lesson today).
    Those were definitely my good old days!

    I really do miss that school…


    1. Hi Carol! How lovely that you found my blog post! I would love to visit Alice Smith one of these days, it really was such a lovely school ❤


  2. Lovely blog Suvi! Last I heard Alice Smith had a renovation or addition to its school grounds, quite “contemporary” but still, it’s nice. Also,the “school basket” is so one of a kind . Didn’t know they had that custom before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting 😊 I’ve understood that Alice Smith is very much bigger these days. Even a swimming pool!!


  3. Thank you for this trip down memory lane, your memories …. how wonderful that you have such lovely photos still of your childhood!

    And I beg to differ: you weren’t chubby, you were just healthy!!! You look so happy!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aawww, Suvi, this is really cool! Alice Smith School at Jalan Bellamy is still there. My office is just around the corner, sometimes we go to the mamak shop (situated like 50 metres away from the school) for lunch. Bangsar is very different now, am not sure if the monkeys are still causing problems in the neighbourhood haha. As for Cameron Highlands, unfortunately lots of development but is still an attraction. In fact, I was there 2 weekends ago – the previous time I visited CH was 20 years ago! I plan to go back there again next month 🙂 I laughed when I read Mimaland – OMG! But I don’t know if it still exists, I don’t think they maintain the place well. Looking forward to see more of your old photos of Malaysia 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How cool to be in an office so near Alice Smith! I guess those uniforms are a very usual sight for you then 🙂 Haha, I think it’s been over 20 years since I was back in the Cameron Highlands. I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize it any longer. How fun that you went to visit it now after all that time. Thanks for reading! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Suvi.Apa Khabar? Alice Smith School. My first visit to KL in Dec.1988 was a culture shock to me. I am living in Johor Bahru opp. Singapore when I first visited KL. It was a total different world even though it the same country.
    Who was the Asian girl in the pic of your pool party with the contempt look ? Those were the days. Were you living at Tmn Dr. Tun Ismail when the monkey came rummaging your trash?
    Linked from https://chinameetswest.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/learning-swimming-in-finland/ comments

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Khabar baik! 🙂 Yes I also remember JB being a whole different world from S’pore. We used to drive to S’pore and would pass JB quite quickly. I’m not sure who the Asian girl was, she might’ve been a girl from Taiwan.. And no, I think the house was in Petaling Jaya.. Thanks for reading!


  6. I just love old photos… some days the photos we take now will be seen “old” too.. let’s hope we tell stories just as well 🙂 that was so interesting to read, Suvi! you look happy, young adventurer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heheh, I love how you put that – happy, young adventurer! I like to think I had a happy childhood. Imagine having to move back to Finland and wear long trousers?!! Plain awful!


  7. Lovely post, Suvi! I’m so happy you decided to write this!!! You were braver than me, posting actual childhood pics – I couldn’t bring myself to do it, it felt so personal. But what a cute and smiley child you were! 😊 I think we would’ve made good friends if we’d known each other back then! Or in Finland, right after. I didn’t speak any Finnish when we came to Finland, what a culture shock! (Also a topic for a future post maybe…) Anyway, I laughed about your rat swimming in the pool, I guess I’d rather have a swimming kangaroo! 😂 And I’d forgotten about Strawberry Shortcake!! And Carebears!! 😊 Nice memories, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Snow and thank you for the inspiration for this post! It was so fun writing it 😊 And looking for those photos too! Oh my goodness that’s even worse that you didn’t speak any Finnish! Did you go to a Finnish school when you returned? You should so write a post on that 👍 Yes please a swimming kangaroo sounds so much better!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I remember there was an episode of my parents thinking I should go to the “English nun’s school” (the teacher’s were nuns or something) in Helsinki when we came back. But in the end it would’ve been too much of a commute to go there every day as we lived in Kauniainen, so instead I ended up going to the neighbouring Finnish school.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting read! Quite a different childhood to mine, I was partly still living in the archipelago in the 80’s, also spent a few years in Nummela as the part of the weird Swedish speaking family😉, remember how my older cousin told me to morn the break up of Dingo and taught me to dance to the Final Countdown.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow living in the archipelago sounds cool! Hahah – funny with Dingo – I kind of missed the peak of their fame when I was overseas. I was into the Final Countdown though. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I absolutely love seeing your childhood photos from Malaysia, Suvi. Makes me miss Southeast Asia, and how cool to hear about your experience growing up there.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is lovely. Quite a different childhood, compared to Europeans, surely. I was age 10-20 in the 80’s, so in a way everything happened to me then. 🙂 I went to school in Ljubljana, Slovenia – then still divinely peaceful Socialist Yugoslavia. Summers we spent by the sea in Croatia, winters skiing in Austria or Italy, New Year Eves in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. I watched series like Pippi, Den vita stenen, Verano azul (Spanish, “Blue Summer”), whole lot of Yugoslav Partisan series, How the West Was Won, Battleship Galactica. I listened to Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Wham and Prince. (The Doors came at about age 19.) At 18, university, there I met my first live-in boyfriend, half Croatian, half Italian. At 20 we had a school of Italian language together, he was our first teacher. I was the director and I never listened in during the classes we organised, that’s why I still don’t know how to speak Italian now that I live here. 😀 (The last time I heard from him, his message was: “Serves you right!”)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog 😊 I was 11 when we moved back. But then we returned to Malaysia when I was 13-14! Both ways it felt difficult but I survived 👍

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I loved reading this blog Suvi. This is the same time that we became pen pals. So many years ago. You bought back lots of memories for me with Barbie and Fraggle Rock !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lisa! I have to say my memory fails me, that’s why it would be a good idea to write things down now instead of later 😅 Hehe no-one in Finland knew about Fraggle Rock and I’m sure they still don’t. I loved that show! xx


  12. Love your 80s story. I was many years from being a child in the 80s. I moved to Los Angeles in 1980 for a job, then to San Francisco in 1985. I spent much of the 80s rocking to earthquakes, including the big one in the San Francisco area in 1989. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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