Time Traveller

Words and Art by: Meili Tan, Monica Ouk, Dina Ivkovich, Lily Anna, Tiffany Forbes, Joseph Lew, Dena Tissera & Kiera Eardley respectively. 

Our contributors take us on a trip down memory lane, providing a glimpse of their childhoods through the lens of a camera (a vintage 2000s one, no doubt).

​​Though I was born in Wellington, New Zealand and spent the early years of my life there, I don’t remember much (if any) of it. However, I’m still fond of the place and it gives me a homely feeling. Pictured is my Dad, brother and I at the Wairarapa Balloon Festival.

Growing up in Australia I was rather disconnected from my Chinese-Malaysian heritage and culture, though I came to appreciate it more through my grandpa (Kong Kong) while visiting Malaysia. He showed my brother and I his paintings and how to mount them using traditional scroll mounting techniques. 

I grew up in Siem Reap near the ancient prasats (temples) of the Khmer Angkorian empire. I would play in ancient stone ruins as a child, not knowing how important they were. Pictured here is my mother and I at the South Gate bridge of Angkor Thom built in 1200 AD by Jayavarman VII. 

I spent my younger years in Cambodia attending religious Buddhist ceremonies and temples. Pictured here is my father who was a Khmer Rouge survivor and a devout Buddhist for 50 years. The photo was taken in 2004 and I was 4 years old at the time.

I was eight months old with a trophy in arms when my parents decided to take the three of us out for an impromptu photoshoot. After multiple knock-backs, they’d managed to harass the judge panel of an Oakleigh Central baby pageant into crowning me the “Most Beautiful Baby” In the World City of Monash. A year before these photos were taken, both my parents were in Serbia fleeing airstrikes during the 1999 NATO bombing of former Yugoslavia — they just wanted someone to tell them their baby was pretty. 

When I look back on these keepsake photos of my childhood I see a bright, colourful girl. Someone I’m so proud of and whose remnants still remain within my being today. I’m still dressing like I did then, constantly playing dress up and I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of it. If there’s one thing my childhood taught me — life is zesty and you should dress accordingly.

I spent the first four years of my life living in Sri Lanka. While I don’t remember much from this period of my formative years, I somehow recall this snippet vividly, where my best friend Lavinia and I were chosen to be flower girls at my aunt’s traditional Sri Lankan wedding. With my puffy green dress on and my frilled socks folded in place, I can happily report this was the first of many ‘main character’ moments I’d be lucky enough to experience.

In every photo of my childhood following the birth of my little sister in 2002, she is either with me, next to me or lurking somewhere in the back. We were inseparable and gave the phrase ‘two peas in a pod’ a whole new meaning. This picture is just one example. Fast forward to the present day, while we rip eachother’s hair out at least once a week, our bond is still just as strong. She is my best friend.

We’ve always had pets at home, but one of the ones I most fondly remember was Kitty, a feisty little ginger cat who showed up at our door one day and wouldn’t go away. He kept me and my brother company when my parents were at work, and I knit him pompoms and taught him to sit. 

This photo was taken in Buffalo, New York in 2004. My mum was completing her Masters at the University of Buffalo and the whole family was over there for a year. I was five and my older brother was 11.We arrived in the middle of winter and seeing snow was a magical experience for my brother and I. We built wonky snow men and had countless snowball fights. This is one of the happiest memories of my childhood.

Every two years, my parents and grandparents would take me and my brothers on huge six-week camping trips around the country. I was so lucky to see the most mind-blowing places in Australia at such a young age. This trip was in 2004, when I was six; the photo is of Dad and me at Uluru.

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