It’s easily the best value for $179 I’ve spent in a long, long time — say, decades? That’s what it cost me for a 2-day-1-nite trip to Melaka with a one nite stay at its famous Hotel Puri — something i wanted to do since March 2010 when on another trip — a free holiday courtesy of a friend — when I chanced upon the entrance of what I thought was the Puri.
As I discovered this week, it wasn’t the Puri; that entrance wasn’t even a hotel entrance! It was part of the Geographer Pub but in my daze in March 2010, rushing in the 33+C heat that’s a typical Melaka afternoon, looking for coffee and chendol, I somehow thought it was a Balinese hotel entrance. 🙄
That mistaken memory I took away with me metamorphosed along the way into the Puri, much acclaimed on the Internet, especially by Tripadvisor.
So I gladly signed up when old — I mean former! — school mates, many of whom I’ve not clapped eyes on for decades, proposed a side trip to Melaka as a post celebration jaunt apres the dinner proper to mark the XO years since we left secondary school.
Yet along the way, I developed reservations about the trip, starting with the shifting goal posts of the departure hour. It went from 9am to 830am, then to 8am and horrors I was told at the 11th minute to midnite that my pick-up was arriving at an ungodly hour of 715 am to ensure we would all be on time at the meeting point in Bishopsgate. 😦
Indeed between our anniversary dinner on July 23 and July 25 when we were scheduled to leave for Melaka, I toyed repeatedly with the idea of junking my full payment for the trip (already with the “treasurer”) and perhaps causing displeasure to my newly re-discovered school-mates.
Indeed, if be4 I made the trip, I had chanced upon this website that overflowed with vitriol after the blogger’s one-nite stay at the Puri , I might have thought it a divine signal that I shouldn’t go and acted accordingly.
Fortunately for me and my purse, I only found the nasty post on my return and so enjoyed a great-value-for-$ short break.
Here is a breakdown of the expenses as well as where the money went.
Transport: $50 per pax. That included a dedicated driver, petrol, 14-seater minibus, to, from and around Melaka.
Accommodation: $58 for a superior deluxe room at the Puri with a sumptuous buffet breakfast thrown in. The cost would have been halved had I not opted for single-occupancy.
The Puri turned out not to be at all like what the negative blogger made it out to be though its bedsheets could be more pristine white and well starched like those at La Residence in Hue but then I didn’t pay La Reisdence prices @ Puri so why should I bitch?
The rest: $71 for food, a 45-minute nite cruise on the Melaka river, tips for the driver and even his accommodation and the cost of a guide who was with us for the better part of two days.
And in case anyone imagined we ate poorly, think again!
For our first lunch on arrival, we ate at Nancy’s Kitchen at Jalan Hang Lekir for multi-course nyonya food that included kueh paiti, assam pork, lady fingers, omelette and a whole lot more.
That nite after the cruise we went to Klebang’s Seafarer Seafood restaurant (on the pavillion abutting the seafront) where we had so many crabs in butter sauce (so many pincers and crab top shells that we couldn’t believe we had just four crabs!), prawns, tender sweet potato leaves fried in blachan and other dishes I can’t remember, plus Calrsberg beer and individual fresh young coconut for dessert.
The next day after breakfast and an extended tour of the elegant, electically-styled and privately owned Chee Yam Chuan Temple, the ancestral and architectural highlight along Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and directly opposite the Puri, we went to a no-name place at the corner of Lorong Hang Jebat and Jalan Tokong Kuli for satay, durian and home-brewed herbal drinks.
What a contrast! We went from a mausoleum that spots a neo-classic blend of Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese and English styles conceived by a Eurasian architect in 1919 to what’s the grubbiest of eateries by Sg standards to sit on dirty plastic chairs and eat from similar tables hastily thrown together to accommodate 14 hungry diners.
Yet our appetite was unimpaired as we polished off 159 sticks of pork and purut satay freshly grilled and three large plastic boxes of pre-shelled and chilled durian.
But our eating adventure wasn’t done yet. By 6pm we had reached Johor Baru and headed for Restoran Pekin Sutera which is somewhat like our Imperial Treasure mid-range outlets but with prices that’s nothing short of peasant.
Thirteen of us (the guide had left us; the driver ate Muslim separately) had Hock Chiew soup, Peking duck done in 2 styles (I skipped that being no duck fan), fragrant deboned pork ribs, big prawns fried in curry leaf, homestyle beancurd, fried tang hoon and dessert of both yam paste and black herbal jelly.
The ex-classmate who recommended Pekin as serving the best food in JB was spot on! 😀
Thinking back, had I opted out of the tour in a huff and puff, not only would I have lost $179 for nothing but also waved good bye to some gr8 meals! As well as the Puri experience which is as good as any of the small hotels I’ve raved about in Bali like Ixora Villas and Puri Cendana, both of which have become much more expensive since I was there!