Besides Kemaman, my parents also frequently made visits to Port Dickson in the early 1970s. Port Dickson located in the tiny state of Negri Sembilan, which boasts a 12 mile stretch of beach south of the town, was a popular holiday destination for not so much Singaporeans, but for many Malaysians. We often stayed at the Lido Hotel at the 8th mile of the 12 mile stretch, which was a somewhat rundown, but clean enough hotel, housed in a single storey building that opened to the beach, with a centre hall which served as the reception as well as a restaurant, and two wings with maybe five or six rooms in each wing.
The beach around Port Dickson was by no means among the best beaches one could find in Peninsula Malaysia, especially compared to the white sandy beaches of the east coast of Malaysia, but they were probably one of the more accessible beaches, close enough to Singapore, during a time when a car trip by the old trunk or coastal roads would take a better part of a day. The winding roads that Negri Sembilan were well known for contributed a large part to the journey time, particularly so when the car you were in was part of a convoy of vehicles following behind a slow moving truck moving at 30 mph round the bends with little or no chance of overtaking.
Although the beach was nice enough for us kids to enjoy, building sandcastles, hurling a frisbee around, and having a dip in the somewhat murky waters, the highlight was often dinners, when we made our way into town to feast on fresh seafood – my favourite was the sweet and sour promfret served at the Peking Restaurant, which operated out of a cluster of food outlets by the waterfront in town.
In the late 1990s, I had the chance of visiting Port Dickson again, maybe some 20 years since I had last been there with my parents as a boy. The building which housed the Lido Hotel still stood at the 8th mile, looking a little worse for wear. Behind the faded sign on the façade and the faded mould covered paint, it looked like a restaurant was still opertaing out of the building, but if the hotel was still in operation, it wouldn’t be somewhere that I would want to stay in, but the sight of the hotel certainly brought memories back.