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.