Growing up in Batu Pahat

During my recent trip home, I found lots of old photos of me (and with my family members and friends) collected over the years and picked some out to put it into this posting with a bit of story behind the photos.

My younger brother, Andino, and I had lived with Mum's side of the family till I was about 13. Dad was working in his hometown in Muar while Mum was working in Batu Pahat at her dad's construction office so we (my brother and I) would only see Dad once a week when we all commuted between the 2 towns.

Yes, I know what you must be thinking - my brother and I have Spanish-like names, Andino and Angelica! I didn't think it occurred to my parents that the names were Spanish-like. They just liked the name and named us so. Not common names in Malaysia and I have yet to meet a person of the same name to date - makes us rather unique! To family and close friends, we are known as Andin and Angel. Both of us also have Chinese names but hardly use them (you would probably find that we do not respond if you called us in our Chinese names - not deliberate, just not used to being called that way).

I was born in September 1981 and was the first born in both Mum's and Dad's side of the family. No doubt I was very pampered and had all the attention from my grandparents, aunts and uncles. Mum's side of the family had more boys - 2 of her younger brothers (5th-ku and Be-ku) were still in highschool when I was born. I believe they owe their good parenting skills to me from all the diaper-changing to milk bottle-feeding they had to take turns to do back then...hehe...Hey, did you notice that there are many people born in the month of September? I've got lots of friends who are September babies. Wonder why...

Jeanette aka Jean, my cousin sister (Mum's younger sister's 1st daughter), was born in 1983, and 2 years down the road, her sister, Janelle aka Jan and my younger brother turned up. Mama's house was noisy having us 4 rascals under the same roof. Jean and I also spent quite a lot of time at 3-yipo's house (3-yipo is Mama's 3rd sister) as she was our babysitter. Jan was taken care of in Muar by 4-yipo (yep, you've got it - that's Mama's 4th sister) while Andin was with a non-family member. Ah-Yi (Mum's younger sister, also Jean's and Jan's mum) and family moved to Kuala Lumpur before the girls started primary school so we would only see each other during school holidays.

I was told I was quite a clumsy kid and at the age of 3, I fell off a chair and hit head first against the marble skirting at Mama's house. That left me a scar that is still visible today - I was given 3 stitches in the head and a lolly by the doctor. Not long after that incident, I tripped walking up to grandpa's room and looked like Adolf Hitler for a few weeks due to the carpet burn just above my upper lip. And did I mention that I also tripped over a chair and broke half of my 2 front teeth? Lucky those were milk teeth but still, left me with a strange smile for awhile. When will I grow out of being so clumsy??

I attended kindergarden at St Henry's Kindergarden for 2 years. Honestly, I don't remember very much of those years in kindergarden except it was all play but from what Mum tells me, I was rather talkative and occasionally got into trouble. Hmm...Some of the friends I've made in kindergarden are still good friends to date - most of us ended up in the same school or tuition classes in later years.

In 1987, I began primary school at Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Convent (Batu Pahat) where I studied for 6 years in the public school. All the subjects were taught in the national language, Malay, except for English. Outside of school, I took up piano and ballet lessons (it was common that most kids would take up a music and/or sporting activity outside school hours) - there were exams every year for both courses. I also went for Chinese classes but didn't learn much as we didn't speak the language at home.

My first overseas trip was to Australia in 1989. I went to Melbourne with Mum, Mama and 3-yipo to visit my uncles who were studying there and we travelled around Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. If you ask me whether I remembered much of my trip, well, I only have flashes of scenes in my head - I could remember going to Phillip Island to see blue penguins coming ashore at night, visiting Kryal Castle, playing with snow at Lake Mountain (was disappointed that snow wasn't fluffy and soft but hard as ice) and having to treat my hair with head lice shampoo (I brought head lice with me to Melbourne...). I enjoyed the trip and cried heaps when it was time to fly back home. I remember telling myself then that I will return to Melbourne to study and that had been one of my goals for many years though I didn't end up going to Melbourne but went to NZ instead.

Photos selected from the 1980s:

I entered Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Convent (Batu Pahat) in 1993 and did 5 years of highschool there. Both my primary and secondary school was located in the same area on Jalan Tan Swee Hoe. Coincidentally, Mum attended the same schools I went to.

I think teenage years are the most gruelling times growing up in the sense one tries to find their own identity and fit in with the different groups that emerged. I did felt somewhat left out in highschool as most of the students spoke in Chinese and I couldn't speak it well. Circumstances forced me to learn and try to speak the language to fit in. I can recall the many laughs at my own mistakes and I believe I still speak Chinese with an English accent. But the effort did pay off and I got to know more people in school.

In highschool, I took part in the school choir, was a salesgirl in the school stationary shop and a member of the Chinese dance group. At some point in 2nd form, I decided to cut off my very long hair which I had grown for a few years. I also started to wear glasses and changed to contact lenses in 4th form. Boys also became a constant topic of discussion among us girls - who's dating who, who likes who etc. Long conversations on the telephone with girlfriends, diary entries, hanging out at the shopping malls - part and parcel of being a teenager, huh?

I went into the science stream in 4th form and completed highschool end of 1998. It was a sad time when we had to part - everyone was going to different states and colleges. It was also the beginning of a new phase in our lives, key word being 'responsibility' - in highschool, we didn't have to care about money, work, food or accommodation; going to college was a whole new story. I'm glad that most of my friends from highschool still keep in touch and we try to meet up whenever possible though it is more challenging these days given our busy lives (and I live overseas).

Photos selected from the 1990s:

I won't talk about my uni years here as I've mentioned it in previous postings. Some photos taken during my time in college and at university:


  1. Yeah I remembered the school days and the pictures really bring back memories. I was in the same class as Angel since Primary One(But in between there are some switch in the class-school policy). As long as I remembered, we weren't that close till Sec 1. And I was so happy to meet her again in Singapore after nearly 6 years we didnt meet. Time really flies, huh... =)

    Ee Ling


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