hala hala

Anyone from the 70’s Penang would have known  what  the  term  ‘Hala  Hala’  means.

‘Hala Hala’ is coined by the locals  to  describe  those  broomshaped-cut  fashionable

pants  known  elsewhere  as  bell-bottoms. To  imagine  how  it  looks  like,  the  most

vivid   images  that  came  to  mind  was  hip  swaying  ‘Elvis  Presley’  and  ‘Englebert

Humperdinck’,  each  wearing  a  pair  with  ‘side-burns’  to  match  not  forgetting  ‘The

Osmond Brothers’ and ‘Abba’. The ‘Hala Hala’ era was also an era of jeans and to get

one a nice pair of ‘Hala Hala’ jeans, the  most  respected  shop  to  be  seen  buying  a

pair  was  ‘Pitchay Gunny’ situated  along   Penang  Road.   They   were   the   exclusive

dealers of  Saddle King,  Lee  and  Levis  Jeans.  As  fashion  evolves,  the  preference

for looser jeans at the thighs came by as ‘Hala Hala’ gave way to ‘Baggy’.






Before the advent of ‘ready-made’, visiting a custom tailor then was the rage. As such,

textile shops were well patronized both  by  men  and  women.  It  sounds  hip  to  get

clothes tailor-made but then, that was the only option one has lest one wants to walk

around with unsightly creases, bulges and darts shooting all over, the  result  of  four

exclusive sizes  of  Small, Medium, Large and  Extra-Large  found  in  ready-to-wear’s

of that time. It is like say  paying  a  visit  to  Jimmy Choo to get  a  pair  of  fitted  heels

made? and in fact it is as in the 60’s-70’s, most hipped shoes, like clothes of that era

were   also  custom  made!  ( Think  Travolta  and  one  would  understand  why  it   is

crucial  to  ride  your   bike   down  Wembley  or   Campbell  Street  to  have  your  next

fitted shoes or pants made!) Ready-mades or ready-to-wear as we all  know  started

with  clothier  Monsieur  Pierre  Cardin  who  tries  to  standardize  sizes   to   fit   every

living  torso  and  it  took  years  for  the  world’s  clothing  industry  to  experiment  with

the feasibility before the idea arrives  on  our  shores,  longer  again for Penangites  to

adjust themselves to the standards he introduced.




khau hong

In the late 60’s till early 70’s,  to ‘khau hong’ was an  ‘in thing’.  Invariably,  it  means  to  ‘scrape

the wind’ in local Hokkien  lingo.  That  means  inviting  your  buddies  for  a  drive,  sometimes

stopping by the coffee-shops for supper  in  an  era  devoid  of  Starbucks  or  Macdonalds  but

usually, it is drive as you chat along while enjoying the cool wind  that  catches  the  car  interior.

To other more adventurous/mischievous groups, their  favorite  haunt  would  be  the  Botanical

Gardens, the Polo Ground or Pearl Hill wooing as they pass by every stationary car or bike  that

has couples lurking in funny contortion silhouetting against the dark shades of the night. Some

love to get chilled  in  groups  holding  the  hands  of  your  chosen  date  stopping  by  the  more

‘talked-about’ haunted houses and get freaked out! Of course you need to be from a certain age

group tobe fascinated by all these (usually late teens) and from  a  more  privileged  family  that

owns a car to be able to ‘khau hong’.