Childhood 80s and 90s

Sometimes I do think back the times where I was a kid growing up in Ipoh. I mean, like a 6 years-18 years old kid (as far as my memory can backtrack). Although my mother was confirmed a tiger stayed-home mum, she allows us to do whatever we want after school hours (but studies comes first, of course). Despite being strict, she was the kampung-type, so she knew her kids needed some good old’ childhood.

What I meant was that we had a lot of (outdoor) freedom back then in the 80s-90s compared to kids growing up in this 21st century. Those days wasn’t e-economy, everything was k-economy, and therefore had less foreign workers at that era; people around my taman were mostly medium class; trust was REALLY trust (between parents and kids, neighbours with neighbours); there were no mobile phones; neither did the word social media existed yet (do ICQ and IRC count?). So kids were relatively ‘dumb’ due to the lack of access to information of the world compared to kids today.

Here’s what I went through knowing that the current generation are ‘missing-out’ (or are not):

1. Connecting to my first ever internet via Jaring dial-up. Oh mann, it has this dial-tone (the damn tune!) that I could remember to this very day. Dial 1511 and you get to look at internet some pages (using Netscape) which are bombarded with prompts of pornography ads. My computer processor was a 486, and I was so happy my friend Yeong (15 years old, probably) who is a self-made IT genius at his age, taught me to play games on DOS (e.g. Paperboy, Prince of Persia, Dune, etc.), and I taught me to write scripts on DOS. And that is already like damn genius. Worth mentioning is my house phone which was a orange rotary dial-phone and you need to pusing-pusing the entire phone numbers one-by-one clockwise before making calls.

2. My first mobile phone was at age 20 (!) where I was given my brother’s Ericsson BLUE(!) flip phone (no Sony that time, ok). I got this mobile phone all because I needed to go university in KL for the first time in my life. And that time, the trend was to see: WHO COULD TYPE SMS the fastest amongst us all, using ABC, DEF, keyboards.

3. I will cycle alone the whole of Ipoh Garden East with my BMX. Alone was nothing to be afraid of at that time because many girls around 14 years old also do that. We girls have this biking gang at Ipoh Garden East. My bike was the coolest because it was my brother’s bike and it is NOT a girly bike with pink bells and basket in front. I felt like the king of the road and I wore baseball shirt and cap every time I ride on the bike. I bike by my own sometimes to as far as Wooley foodcourt. Last time, there was a game arcade up the first floor of Wooley and I would go see people play arcade games such as Street Fighter 1 and played a game of Tetris on my own. My mum let me because she trusted me to not talk to strangers and there was no such thing as: Indonesia/Bangladesh workers will kidnap you, etc…..NONE. But she said this: Thai people kidnap you to be handicap child beggar at Thailand (that does scare me, ok).

This was the arcade tetris interface way back then


4. I will also bike to tuition at Canning Garden, yes, all alone. I have some girlfriends who could roller blade (I could not) and will drag the back of my bicycle for a free ride on their blades. We girl friends just roam the whole Taman ourselves with no fear whatsoever.

5.  On some evening, I will walk/bike all the way to the padang at the end of Persiaran Perajurit 2, near Taman Kemuncak. I will go meet my playmate, Liza Oh to play masak-masak at the playground or climb the monkey bars and swings and claim them our own ‘territory’. We will also go play at each other’s homes. Without any adult supervision. There was no clock in sight so, we just make sure we are home by 7 pm (we can see that when the sunsets, it’s already late). Mom doesn’t care if I go to playground, but she will scream crazy when I come back late.


6. I will force my mum to buy me cloth and made her make batu seremban out of rice. And made her buy a box of rubberbands or stole those she has collected in the kitchen to make jumping ropes. Those were my muses. Also, I would buy cardboards of japanese ladies and cut-out clothings where I will dress my my 2D paper dolls. My mum loves to buy those cardboard dolls for me from Kampung Simee market.

I remembered I can’t get enough of this. Mom approves.


7. There was a point in my life, 7 years old, where I go up the then on-going North South Highway which was yet to be completed. It was just piles of sand that time. My friend Pei Jet and I will bring our bikes and hike up the sand dune and slide down the slope! We will bring up our bicycle to the top of the sand dune (now the infamous NS-Hiway) and cycled up to Tambun interchange (which didn’t look much of an interchange at that time).


8. Those were the days where it took 4 hours from Ipoh to KL. My father, who was a KL-ite, would drop by at Tanjung Malim to eat pau curry/kacang at Yik Mun corner shop. Also, gone were those times where people will use the coastal highway to KL.

9. When I sat on my first MAS flight ever (from Ipoh to KL), my dad said I should dress well. No shorts/jeans because people who gets on the plane are privileged people. wth. Those times, if you can go on a airplane, you are like the luckiest person one earth ok. You must appreciate this privilege by being well dressed on board. Those days, no everyone could fly.


10. Mechanical pencils was an unknown invention until I was 7 years old, til I brought one mechanical pencil from Rashid Mini Market (my brother bought it for me) and I brought it to school at Standard 1. Because no one has seen a mechanical pencil nor how was this going to work better than a staedtler, so I demoed by clicking several times on the pencil top and then new lead pops up. Every dumb friend in my class was wowing as if I was its founder of the most amazing creation on earth. *clap*clap*


11. I remembered walking alone to school (SRK Mahkota Sari) from home in the wee hours of the morning when I was living in Gerik, Hulu Perak . At age 12, I walked 1 km(!), through a lane that farms pigs (sty), to the main roads of Gerik, and straight to school during some mornings and no one kidnap me pun. Like no fear pun. I still wonder why those days are so safe and parents are sooo trusting of their kids.

I did primary 5 & 6 (1992-1993) here in the once awarded “Cleanest school in Malaysia”. SRK Mahkota Sari Gerik. 


12. Most of us girls are shorter than the current generation at the same age. You can attribute it to genetics, but I believe it was the previous formula milk powder that lack of DHA, EPA, etc. LOL! We girls get menses only at 13-14 years of age on average (that’s late compared to average 10-11 years old these days). We were late bloomers with small boobs. Nowadays, if you see the 12-13 years old girls, they talk mature like they are 20s and have large boobs hovering over their chest.


13. We are exposed to nursery rhymes and movies like Sound of Music. But today I see no kids know about a single nursery rhyme that I mentioned (maybe I was child genius in English nursery rhymes and Aesop Fables). Nope, dunno Humpty Dumpty, Nope, dunno Jack and Jill. Nope, dunno Jack and the Beanstalk. Nope, dunno who what how a mirror can speak of beauty. Nor do they know what the hell I was talking when I mentioned Do Re Mi from Sound of Music. Hello, what happen to early-school education lately? I see kids being taught the toughest vocabularies and grammar as well as chinese characters as young as the age of 5 with a bunch of meaningless homework.

Oh well, maybe kids learnt different things now compared to my time. Like how to dance like SNSD, identify suave hair like Lee Min Ho’s, how to protect yourself from the Walking Dead, and how to hack into your parent’s iTunes password. Lol.
I am just reminiscing the times we had and what our child is exposed to these days. How to give them the best of both worlds: the pre-globalization and the post-globalization times. The time will come and we shall see.