Moonlight Memories

Back in the days when Bayan Lepas was still a wide expanse of muddy padi fields, there were no Tamagotchis, Gameboys, PS2 and computers to occupy our leisure time. The two forms of electronic entertainment were the radio and black and white television with two channels. Now, Bayan Lepas has become the Silicon Valley of the East. I can live my wildest fantasies in computer games while channel surfing the television and replying to an email from half a world away, all at the same time. Times sure have changed. Nevertheless, I still miss those good old days when as kids, all we had to play with were mostly what we could find from around the vicinity we were playing at.

Parents back then were creative. They could make simple toys that kept us entertained to no end. It did not even cost a lot. The materials were easy to get, mostly things we used everyday. One of the more impressive homemade toys that I remember was the spinning water caltrops. This weird looking nut is also known as lin kok in Cantonese. It is only available from the market during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The shell is black, hard and looks like the horns of a bull. It is cooked by boiling in water. Some effort is needed to crack it open to reveal the edible nut inside that tasted faintly like chestnuts.

The materials for making the spinning water caltrops is simple. All that is needed are a few water caltrops with really hard shells, a lidi and a length of string. On the other hand, making it needs some patience as the nut inside needs to be removed bit by bit. I have forgotten how it was made but it was fun when it I was playing with it that time. It may seem to be a mindless toy to children now but during those times it was something novel for us during the Mid-Autumn festival apart from parading the neighbourhood with our lanterns.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

5 thoughts on “Moonlight Memories”

  1. well…when i was a child, i used to play with bottle caps. there would be 5 caps where we would all ‘timbang’ with a hand and see if we could catch all 5 in mid-air. and the winner would being the game by ‘shoot’ those bottle caps. (it’s a difficult procedure to explain). and it was great fun back then. all of us played those bottle caps like it was a ‘game for professionals’ and we used to ‘train’ at home, and practise our ‘shooting’ skills with each bottle caps placed at ‘great’ distances.

    alas..i believe such games are now ‘banned’ (though it’s not stated in the constitution of malaysia), for the fear that the sharp edges of the caps would pierce through the skin of any delicate hands of those who are not careful.

  2. Peter
    Thanks for bringing back the good ‘ole days memories. I lived in Bayan Lepas in the 60s and 70s. Used to go to the cinema for every Taiwanese and Indian movies. It costs only 40 sen for mom and free for me. The chairs have lice (bark sart in hokkien, is that the English name?) and will come back with big, itchy bites each time. Those days when we would stand up and clap when the hero won the fight against the bad guys or cry along with those soppy Chen-Chen, Ching Han, Ling Ching Hsia love stories. Of course, I am a lot older than you so you probably had not been to the cinema in Bayan Lepas.

  3. Dave,
    When I was in the lower secondary, we kicked around a bottle cap much like one would do with a soccer ball. During one aerial tussle for the crown, I fell flat on my face and fractured my two front teeth. Yes, it is dangerous all right but for different reasons.

    I am not much younger than you. I have watched Taiwanese and Hindi movies on a 30sen ticket before too. No air conditioner inside the cinema. It got a kind of weird smell and the floor was full of kuaci shells. Those were the days Lin Ching Hsia and Chin Han ruled the silver screens but I was too young to understand what the soppiness was about.

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