Sematan holds a special place in my heart.
We were travelling by bus from my school in Kuching to Sematan for a holiday excursion. Sematan had only gravel road then. I remembered seeing the sea and the waves for the first time from inside the moving bus. We had not yet reached our destination, the site of our camping ground. The site was nestled among coconut trees, in a small coconut plantation away from the town. I was so excited at seeing those beautiful pounding waves and at the prospect of being pounded. It would be fun. I had always been fascinated by the giant waves of Hawaii. On that first trip to Sematan, I was 17 or 18 years old.
(Did we stay in the huts on the left among coconut trees back in the early days? I can't remember the scene.)
We were just camping there, enjoying the beach and the sea. Some were doing the cooking. Others were playing games or strolling along the beach. I was taking photos and hoping to collect sea shells, after having had enough of the waves. But there was hardly any shells to collect. As night fell, the water receded further and further out into the sea.
I could still remember listening to the song "Sad Movies" by Boney M while lying on the floor unable to sleep. It was such a romantic and sentimental song. For many years, whenever I listened to that song, sweet and nostalgic memories would transport me back to Sematan, to the time when that song played in my ears. We stayed in a simple wooden hut. There was no shower in the house, just a simple cement water tank in a dark bathroom.
I could not sleep well that night. I woke up early the next morning. By that time the water has receded very far out into the sea. I strolled towards the edge of the sea, hoping that there was sea shells to collect. It was then that I found the further I went, the more beautiful the beach. Looking back towards the coast, I realised the expanse of the beach.
There was an old caretaker taking care of the huts then. From him, we beg for coconuts.
Twenty years had gone by when I visited Sematan beach the second time. The old man has gone. So had the simple hut. Or was it that I could not find it? I searched up and down the beach but I just could not remember where we stayed. I had lost the old photographs, and have no reference. I only remembered that there was a stream flowing beside the hut where we stayed, forming a barrier to prevent us from going across. I did find a stream, but not the hut. Has time taken a toll on the old hut?