Countryside to City: Childhood Memories of Borneo – by Sue Tan

Modernisation and urbanisation have changed our natural scene to a great extent.

When I was little, I lived in the countryside. My dad had bought a big piece of land for farming in the northern region of Borneo (an area now known as Sabah).

We reared a lot of chickens, they were all kept in cages. We sold the eggs every day for our livelihood. We had pigs too, and some fruit trees like papaya and coconuts. These were all for sale to earn money for the family to live.

The environment was quiet and peaceful, and we used to go to bed and get up early. My dad used to ride his bike to city once a week to get household goods and foodstuffs.

That was during the early 1960s, when we didn’t have a television set and mobile phone yet. But we had radio to update us with news from around the world, and songs in English and Mandarin too.

Later, we moved to the capital city of Jesselton (now known as Kota Kinabalu), because the farmland was sold for a high price to develop into a new housing estate.

I remember when I first reached the city, I accidentally fell down a staircase, but luckily just had slight bruises.

City life in the mid-60s was still quiet, because the city was still in its early development. There were still some wooden shops with rooftops made of leaves. There were also many wooden houses built on the water, just across the road from where we lived.

As modernisation and urbanisation gradually came to Malaysia, coupled with the advance of new information technology, the place changed. The countryside where I once lived was turned into new housing estates, with new infrastructure, and the city also expanded into a new dimension.

Life still keeps moving in the midst of fast-paced changes, but my childhood homes remain in my memory forever.

Photo by Carles Rabada on Unsplash.

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