Last weekend, we took our little girl to Avillion Village Resort in PD for a small vacation, tag-alongs to my hubby’s offsite partners’ summit in this supposedly beautiful place – a fact that’s hard to swallow when you know PD houses an oil refinery or two.

We took the highway there as we started late in the evening last Friday, reaching the hotel at about 9pm. Having lowered my expectations, thanks to my hubby’s pre-emptive measures, I was taken aback by how beautiful the place really was. The chalet we got was a scenic hut right in the middle of the sea with an open-air shower, a kinky four-poster bed and what my hubby calls a ‘love-nest’, a window day-bed that overlooks the ocean and right outside the lush gardens of spices and some plants I have not seen since I was a kid (eg bunga tahi ayam). Indeed, how little faith we had in our own tourist spots. In truth, Avillion was one of the most rustic/luxurious places I had ever stayed in. Or maybe I’m just a country bumpkin!

Avillion, which friends have said is over-priced and rundown, is probably the best seaside hotel this side of the coast and not as badly maintained as some would have you believe – altho they could do something about the sand flies there. With two super sized pools, one with a water slide that did not look at all water-park wannabe, and waters that lap gently at some Roman-themed terracotta stairs that go up to the poolside restaurant, the landscaping is commendable (unlike A Famosa, its watery neighbour not so far away, which is your ‘typical’ Malaysian holiday spot).

And while Avillion may really be targeted towards the desperately holiday-seeking couple (Mat Salleh or otherwise) who cannot get away for more than a romantic weekend, the kids are not forgotten as well, because Avillion IS also a family resort. As far as childish pursuits are concerned, you have your petting zoo of mostly feathered friends and a rabbit or two, greyish sand dunes that’s almost attractive if not for the oil-slick you can feel in the water, and ntm the lovely walks one can take on a windy evening between the lush flora – if you don’t mind the occasional gentle shower.

One of the best things I enjoyed during our weekend there was dining in the “Red Onion”, a round open-air banquet hall in a platform right at the end of one of the piers looking out into the open ocean. Lucky for us, there was an orange sunset to accompany us that evening, and there’s really something therapeutic about hearing the sounds and smelling the smells of the ocean – even if it’s covered with grease!

I told Lokes that we should get out to the beach more often – sans the oil. I suggested Cherating next and he concurred. And I hope I don’t have to wait to a point where ANY seaside resort will do!

On Sunday afternoon, we said farewell to lovely Avillion and took the coastal road to Malacca to have its supposedly famous chicken rice balls and durian chendol, which I was actually more excited about than Avillion before I saw the place. I thoroughly enjoyed our ride there, showing Raeven all manner of Malaysian country life, such as miserable-looking thin cows crossing the road (she called them ‘moomoo’s), rubber trees, palm plantations, small towns where life seemed to stand still (even more so on a Sunday afternoon) and of course, the ocean. Lokes even drove us to a strip of sand he used to spend much of his adolescence in, the Blue Lagoon, which has, obviously, seen better days. Dirty and crammed with weekenders, Blue Lagoon is most definitely not as romantic as it sounds. Still, I was shocked at how little I knew of my own country’s “places of interest” because I NEVER knew we had a Blue Lagoon!

Unfortunately, our relaxing little road trip took a turn for the worse in Malacca, food-wise. While I love nyonya cuisine, what we went there for (the CRB and the durian chendol) were utter disappointments.

The chicken rice balls turned out to be just salty chicken with overcooked rice shaped into balls, and the durian chendol part was just bizarre. After purchasing our coupons at the “smaller” Tan Kim Hock store, we were asked to go next door to a dingy, strange-smelling place where only two customers were seated, having their bowls of chendol. Since it was self-service, we were asked to go to a small little darkened window at a counter where a hand came out for our coupons. THe window was slammed shut and a big no-entry sign reminded us not to poke around on the door. Within minutes, the window opened and out came two styrofoam bowls and our durian chendol: ice, chendol, santan, beans and a smidgeon of durian flavouring. And it was RM3 a bowl. Suffice to say, Lokes and I were pretty disappointed as I had skipped most of the chicken rice balls for durian chendol, which sounded really nice.

On our way home, we passed by the ‘big’ Tan Kim Hock, where buses and tourists seemed satisfied enough with their cincaluk and satay fish purchases – and of course, what looked like large, bountiful, delicious-looking bowls of durian chendol. Lokes asked if I wanted another. One bowl of powdered Santan chendol was enough for me.

I wished that we had time to take the coastal road home but it was already 4pm and we had to hurry home. Raeven was already quite tired and a nice, relaxing evening at home was very tempting. A holiday from our holiday.

So the next time YOU want to go to PD and MAlacca, try Avillion, but skip the durian chendol or CRB in Malacca!