Memories of a Malaysian Childhood

A while back I wrote a post about my childhood in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the process I found some fun photos that I can’t resist sharing.

The first four years that I lived in Malaysia, I attended a British school called Alice Smith School. I have many fond memories of the school and I hope to visit the campus if I ever make it back to KL.


We had the cutest gingham uniform and wore sandals with socks. Long hair had to be tied up and we couldn’t have any jewellery. If going out after school in our uniform, we were required to behave, as the uniform gave us away as Alicesmithers. We carried our books, water bottles and lunch in a basket like the one I am carrying in the photo above. I always filled my water bottle in the evening and put it in the freezer for the night, to ensure that I had cold water during the school day!


Swimming – that was something I did every day at our condominium pool after school. When I was older, we joined a club that had beautiful pools, great restaurants, tennis courts and a golf course. I played tennis on the weekends. But a love for outside swimming pools has never left me.


Sometimes guests visited us from Finland. We took them sightseeing and showed them the specialities of Malaysia. Here we are looking at fruits which were unknown in Finland. I spot jackfruit and perhaps mangosteens, can you recognize any others?


We ate out every weekend, gladly discovering the culinary wonders of the Chinese, Indian and Malay cuisines Malaysia is known for. In addition, my father loved a western restaurant called The Ship – said to have the best steak in town. Inside, you could imagine you were actually on a ship, as everything was decorated in that matter. I always had the pepper steak with french fries. The restaurant still exists and has many branches around the city.


Even now, there are sounds and scents that transport me instantly to Malaysia and tug my heartstrings. The last time I went back was in 2009, so it’s high time I returned, don’t you think?


Where did you grow up? Let me know in the comments below!

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51 thoughts on “Memories of a Malaysian Childhood

    1. Hi Zyra! Thank you for reading 😀 Actually I don’t think I’ve tried it unless it’s been in a dish and I haven’t known about it… Is it used for any particular dish? 👍


      1. Yes, i think? Some people add it into ‘sambal’ nasi lemak. Some will just eat it raw as ‘ulam’ (salad). Or it is sometimes pickled in brine. All are eaten with rice. If you can stand the pungent smell and bitter taste, you might want to give it a try. Come back to Malaysia! 😁😁

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Reedz! I really miss Nasi Lemak, it’s my fave dish! Also satay and roti canai. You can’t get authentic Malaysian food in Finland. ☹️ Thanks for your visit!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. These are very informative, thank you for sharing! 🙂 You seem happy indeed, good to see. I grew up in Slovenia, formerly a part of Yugoslavia, no school uniforms, no private pools, no mango till very late in my life (love it!) but I could post similar grinning photos. I had a great childhood and now it’s not too bad either. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. From the old pics that I saw , you were cute and chubby.From the fruit stall, we can see pomelos, petai (or pungent beans) ,
    I am surprised that Ted Miles granddaughter Caroline Sell is reading your blog.Ted Miles was from Kansas later went Malaya to teach in a Methodist school in Bentong,Pahang before settling down. Later he was appointed as a principal at George Taylor’s school better known as Taylor’s College.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What wonderful photos & memories! Thank you for sharing them!

    I think I see some pomelos in the fruit pic. And I think those hanging pods are petai beans – we use them in sambal, sometimes with ikan bills (the tiny anchovies). My husband loves them!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Suvi! Thank you for sharing this! We share lots of similar childhood memories! I was in The Alice Smith School from 2000 to 2006. What a precious school we have! I later moved to Vaasa, Finland from 2009 to 2011! I’m currently living in Canada! I especially appreciated the many cultures and nationalities we had at school. Hearing from old schoolmates always brings back warm memories and lots of smiles.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Love love love it all!!! Your uniforms were nicer than the Chinese school ones my cousins wore… and my mom brought back their hand-me-downs for us to wear on the first day of school here in the US! The horror! Haha 😀 but I love all your photos, reminds me also of the summer months each year I spent in Malaysia with family (especially the food!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Heheh, I have to admit that the Alice Smith uniforms must be the cutest in Malaysia!! Have you been back to Malaysia lately and did you usually stay in KL? I’d love to hear more 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I went back last summer with my mom for my cousin’s wedding and to visit for a few weeks! When we were younger we’d split time between KL where my aunts/uncles/cousins live and my grandfather’s house in Pahang… but KL was always more fun and exciting 😀 I wish I could go back more often but tickets are expensive and you really need a good chunk of vacation time to make it worthwhile!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Karoliina! I really must go back, hopefully in 2018. One of my childhood friends from my stay in Malaysia in the 90s will come and visit me in Finland this year! It will be awesome ❤️

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Well I did dream of it and might have if I hadn’t had a family of my own. I got married at 20 and of course moving to Malaysia would’ve meant that hubby should’ve been into it too and have a job there. But who knows what happens in life, I’m not going to say never, as anything can happen 😊

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Nice post, Suvi! Love the photos – you look so happy and sweet! Hope you get to go back – I haven’t been to my childhood Australia since 2000! :O Time flies! We also wore socks with sandals, knee-high socks actually. They needed to be pulled up straight. Quite weird rules for the tropics but cute in retrospect, I guess! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seventeen years, imagine! My daughter has been to Malaysia more than me lately – she loves it too 🙂 I guess you have to have rules to have smart looking kids, LOL! I always dreamed of going to the International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL – even the name sounded cool) as they had the cutest guys and more lenient rules!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. That was fun! I got the biggest kick out of your lunch basket; it looks like you are going to a social event or maybe a high-society horse race! Love the uniform, too – much cuter than the hideous outfits I had to wear!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I always thought it would be wonderful to live in another place. I, however, have lived in the same state in the U.S. my entire life. Lucky for me, Maryland is a great place to grow up. I too wore a uniform in elementary school but mine was scratchy blue plaid wool. I had my long brown hair braided every day until I was old enough to take care of it myself. Ribbons could only be blue or white. We even had a uniform beanie to wear to church. I grew up in the 1960s, when things were changing — and yet it was all quite idyllic in my neck of the woods.
    Thanks for sharing your memories and reminding me of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So lovely to hear of your memories Mary ❤ A wooly uniform sounds quite uncomfortable but surely it was warm 🙂 I love the idea of color-coordinated ribbons!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A lovely look back at your childhood in Malaysia Suvi. I grew up by the sea in north west England and my school was also very strict in that we couldn’t remove our felt hats in winter and summer panamas before we arrived home as we were setting an example to the school.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. These are great, and you looked like a really happy child. Glad you have such fond memories of Malaysia, and thanks for sharing! Love the parquet floor in the first picture, my old house used to have those too.
    I see petai (stinkbeans) and honey dew, hehe.
    Funny you should mention The Ship; I recently ate at one of their newer branches and it was terrible! It’s better sticking to the original one.
    Do hope you can come back and visit soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading Luna, I appreciate it ❤ Imagine that you'd just had a taste of The Ship's dishes, my goodness, it certainly sounds like it wasn't a good experience!! I guess it's better to just remember the old days when it was at it's peak and not go back. Ooh petai and honey dew – I trust you on this one 🙂 I love parquet floors like that too, they don't make them quite the same over here. xx


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