Relatively, Kelantan is all unique! Yes, unique! You can actually spotted Kelantenese everywhere bringing with them their local dialect eventhough it is hard to understand for those who are not familiar with. What we can see is that, Kelantan did not experienced any rapid industrialization making it keeping the Kelantan’s cultural rich legacy till today. They even managed to keep alive the old customs and traditions. Not to forget, they are gifted too with a high number of population of local craftsmen that can be seen in the cottage industries producing local textiles from ‘Batik’ and ‘Songket’, silverware, local kites ‘Wau’, brass ware, wood craft and many more.
That’s the reason why we decided to spend our weekend for a short trip to Kota Bharu just for 2 days 1 night. As it tucked away in the Northern Eastern corner of Peninsular Malaysia and gonna promised us a 7 to 8 hours drive all the way from Kuala Lumpur, we then decided to take the fastest mode to get there which is via flight and the best is to rent a car at the airport too. With just a RM60 per day, you can actually secured yourself a decent automatic transmission car. And this is what we got.
With this 2 weapons on, let’s hit the road! Moh kite.
Our first destination of the day is the Istana Batu at Jalan Hilir Balai. It was transformed as a Royal Museum in a grand ceremony by Sultan of Kelantan in 1991. Previously, it used to be an official residence to some of the Tengku Mahkota Kelantan. Nothing much you can see here except the official family tree and throne, clothes used, equipment, souvenirs and others. No photograph shall be taken inside the museum too.
Right in front of the Istana Batu is the Kampung Kraftangan (Kelantan Craft Village). Our main agenda here is to get ourself the famous ‘Nasi Ulam Cikgu’. Serious tak sabar nak makan. Since we’re too early for it, no harm of exploring. It offers a wide range of handicraft produced by the local craftsmen and it can actually spurs the development of the traditional handicraft industry of the state too.
What actually attracted us is definitely how they named every each building of the complex after a popular name of flowers and plants. The main building, Balai or hall is called ‘Getam Guri’, is a handicraft museum. ‘Balai Bayam Peraksi’ houses the office of the handicraft foundation meanwhile ‘Balai Kenerak’ ‘Balai Kecubung’, ‘Balai Tapak Leman’ and ‘Balai Saga Kenering’ are where handicraft are retailed. This is where we got ourself a selection of fridge magnet to bring back home. A local friends challenged us that we won’t find any fridge magnet around but she was definitely wrong.
And this is the highlight of all! ‘Nasi Ulam Cikgu’! Nasi ulam is normally served with white rice and a whole variety of local greens comprises of vegetables, herbaceous plants, edible wild plants, shoots, leaves, and stems. Amazing! And not to forget the most important ingredient which is ‘Budu’ and ‘Tempoyak’! This is a very mouth-watering experience. We was surprised as we only paid RM10 for just 2 of us. How cheap is that? And super healthy too. We started to love Kelantan bit to bit.😀
Next is definitely Istana Jahar. Istana Jahar is located right in front the ample parking lots provided by the local municipal and near to Bank Pitis. You definitely won’t miss this. It has been a regal museum of Kelantan since July 1992. It takes its name from the Jahar tree grows in the palace compound. The palace was built-in 1887 during the reign of Sultan Muhammad II as a gift to Long Kundur, who was a Raja Bendahara. It was a royal residence during the reign of Sultan Muhammad III and a few of other Sultans too. What makes us enthralled is definitely the intricate wood carvings showing a superb craftsmanship of the Kelantanese. It open everyday except Friday with a small amount of entrance charges.
The front view of Istana Jahar.
One of the gift from King of Thailand, Your Highness Bhumibol Adulyadej
A very very old and rustic spiral staircases that really attracted us.
We later moved to Muzium Kesenian Islam (Islamic Art Museum) where it houses the Islamic artefacts and inscriptions. Kelantan believe to be one of the centres of Islamic learning in the ancient history. Without doubt, it is also called as ‘Serambi Mekah’. Again, another thing that attracted us is definitely the history of ‘Masjid Kampung Laut’. FF came up with some crazy idea to find our way to the original masjid too. Let see how it goes. Besides, we considered as another mission accomplished as we finally witnessed the original piece of ‘Pitis’. ‘Pitis’ is a tin coin issued in several states of South East Asia such as Brunei, Terengganu as well as Kelantan.
And now, shopping time! Naaaah, we don’t shop that much while we travel but FF got hooked up buying a new songket as we got it at a bargain price. Like seriously! We just couldn’t resist but to purchase it immediately. Bargain hunters will definitely have a great time here too. Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah is the most vibrant sites in Kelantan where you can actually experience and see how traders display their brilliantly fresh garden products. It’s not something new to see that majority of the stalls are run by women. Perhaps, this is a throwback where Kelantan was once ruled by a princess, Cik Siti Wan Kembang. The market offers local handicraft including ‘batik’, ‘songket’, silverware and local snacks too.
The famous octagon aerial view of Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah.
We couldn’t resist to the most super cheap Nasi Kerabu that we had which only cost RM1 at the food court. Oh my! It taste good with enough gravy and condiments.
Kota Bharu is treating us good so far!
We will continue our journey on Part 2 soon.
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma