Jale Jale Kota Bharu – Part 1 (Istana Batu, Kompleks Kraftangan, Nasi Ulam Cikgu, Istana Jahar, Muzium Kesenian Islam, Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah)

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.

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With this 2 weapons on, let’s hit the road! Moh kite.

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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.

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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.

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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. ūüėÄ

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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.

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The front view of Istana Jahar.
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One of the gift from King of Thailand, Your Highness Bhumibol Adulyadej
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A very very old and rustic spiral staircases that really attracted us.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Kota Bharu is treating us good so far!

We will continue our journey on Part 2 soon.

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

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Surat Thani – In Less Than 12 Hours

As we will be flying off to Kuala Lumpur via Surat Thani in a morning flight, we decided to end our Southern Thailand journey here. This will be the final province that we could explore while we were in Thailand. But we keep wondering, what shall we do and where shall we go in less than 12 hours?

As what we observed, Surat Thani normally get treated as a transit town to get to Koh Samui to another province within Thailand where there are offering good connection of intercity public transport such as train station, bus terminal and airport . It’s a small town but we believe there’s always some interesting spot that we can explore within the city area.

The first thing that we did is to secure the accommodation while we were there. We ended up with MyPlace @ Surat Thani as they are getting so much of good and convincing reviews via Trip Advisor, Agoda and etc. With the price of 530 baht (with taxes), we finally agreed to that. How cheap is that?

The welcome board
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The detailing at the Hotel Lobby
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The room
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We need to get our feet on the street to start exploring the town. With a drawn map in hand prepared by the hotel personnel, here we go! FF headed the ‘our own kind of way’ walking tour to the nearest spot of Tapi River. We just managed to discover that Tapi River (or Tapee River) is one of the longest river in Southern Thailand.

The river originates at the Khao Luang, and has a wide estuary into the Gulf of Thailand at Bandon Bay near the town of Surat Thani. It has a length of 230 kilometres (140 mi). The river was named in August 1915, after the river Tapi in India, shortly after the town of Surat Thani was named after the town Surat.

Source: Wikipedia

The afternoon view of Tapi River
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Right after that, we explored the Waterfront and this is where the food street located. Late in the afternoon, locals will start setting up their stalls and the first thing that we spotted is definitely some Halal stall! We were a little bit skeptical at first since we couldn’t find any information on Halal food in Surat Thani. So, this is it! Alhamdulillah. As we’re still early, we decided to walk up to the Surat Thani Pillar Shrine.

Fresh fruit stall

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As we reached the pillar, we found that the shrine is a center for locals and it is situated in a center of the city. We just stand right in front of the main entrance without any plan to enter the area.

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We got more attracted lazying around at the Waterfront to photograph and witness the sunset view of Tapi River with the bridge crossing to Koh Lampoo. While waiting for the sun to fully set, we chit chat talking about our life, our trip and things that we really wanted to do after this. It was such a nice view and a personal moments for both of us. The atmosphere, the feeling and everything is just at the right time.

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We then decided to head back to the Food Street area by walking through Namuang Road. Half way, we saw a long queue of locals at one of the shop lots from far and we decided to see what it is all about. It’s a Halal shop selling yellow chicken rice! Oh my! Just in time! Since the last meal that we took of the day is way back in Koh Samui, we decided to get something to eat for dinner. We quickly ordered as the rice in the big pot is running out. It comes with a bbq chicken and this is way different from other set that we’ve tried from other province which come with a spicy fried chicken. We even tried the spicy beef soup as well. Delicious! One of the best clear soup I’ve ever taste. It’s just a small shop run by a family. You can spot the shop as it’s located a few lots away from the Fire Station.

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Just to feel the local night market atmosphere here, we then went to the San Jao Market which located a few blocks away from the hotel. You can find many types of foods and desserts with an ancient style which are waiting for visitors to try. The night market is open almost everyday from 4.00pm to 10.00pm. What makes us impressed is that we could see almost 50% of the stall vendors son and daughter ranging from kids to teenagers came with a full school uniform attire just to help their parents around. Amazing! This is the spirit!

The ‘San Jao’ Night Market
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One of the convenience store, Sahathai
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We wrapped up the day by lazying around at the cozy hotel lobby just to get the free WI-FI connection as we couldn’t get a good connection from our hotel room. It’s time for some social media hooked up.

The cute sofa cushion cover.
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We woke up early in the morning as we need to catch the morning flight. It’s very convenience for us as we walked directly to the Airport Link (Run by Phantip Travel located in Taladmai Road) with a distance of only 300m away from the hotel. With just 100 baht, you will then finally reached airport in 45 minutes time.

We do agree that we did not covered Surat Thani in overall since times doesn’t permitted us. Who knows, we might be back one day?

We finally ended our journey this time. As usual, there’s a lots of hard things and hiccups that we endure during our travel journey all the way from KL – Hatyai – Phuket – Koh Samui – Surat Thani – KL in 7 days and 7 nights. But again, we enjoyed and cherished every moments that we had. We were just close and lucky as we’re not involved in any scam just because we look like Thais. Are we? Hehe. Just forget about it. Again, we considered this as MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

Hat Yai – Klong Hae Floating Market

Assalammualaikum and Hi there!

Klong Hae Floating Market which located in Klong Hae, Hat Yai is definitely not something new among Malaysian. During our recent trip, we managed to catch a short visit to the floating market since we were there on Friday just before we depart to Phuket on the next day.

The floating market is only open on Friday to Sunday from 3.00pm to 9.00pm with 20 to 25 minutes drive from Hat Yai town (depending on the traffic condition). ¬†We managed to get an offer of 300 baht (return trip) with a 2400 cc car from a tour agent at the Tune Hotel Lobby. Pretty deal to us. Initially, we were hanging around at the hotel lobby just to catch others who might interested to go to the floating market and the idea is to pool in the same tuk tuk. Just for one reason, to reduce the cost. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any. As mentioned in the web and travel blog, the normal charges of a return tuk tuk trip is approximately from 500 baht to 700 baht which it can accommodate up to 7 pax. Anyone can advise further on this?

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We were told that 90% of the food here are HALAL. As we reached the canal, we can actually see the vendors busy preparing the food from fried rice, som tam and others local Thai traditional foods. Construction of new bridge across the canal are still in progress. It will take some times since it’s only in the foundation stage. We regret since we couldn’t manage to photograph the whole view of the ‘sampan’ lining up along the canal. That is definitely the best spot to get an overall view of the floating market.

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This is how the transaction were made. The vendors will put the food in a basket and handed it over to the customer.
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We observed that most of the vendors will used banana leaves, coconut shells and bamboo as a serving plates and cups. Unique! These are some of the food offered at the floating market. We even tried them out.

Fish cake with Thai sauce.
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Klong Hae Floating is not all about foods, but there’s a few stalls selling shirts, ¬†bags, crystal and many others at a very reasonable price.

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In overall, it’s a must go place once you’re in Hat Yai. It’s very much different from the famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Bangkok that we have visited recently.

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma

Bangkok – Part 3 (Ratchaburi – Damnoen Saduak Floating Market)

Floating Market! Yes, it is! Thailand was very synonym with floating market. Since we’re in Bangkok this time around, we definitely not gonna miss a visit to the floating market. We opt for Damnoen Saduak Floating Market which it is situated in the Ratchaburi Province, and one of the major tourist destination. It’s only a few kilometers away from the Mae Klong Railway Market.

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From all the review, the floating market is normally crowded with hundreds of vendors using rowing boat selling vegetables, fruits, foods and others averagely from 8am to 11am. But these days, long-tailed boats were used to bring visitors throughout the canal. We totally forgot the price that we paid for the long-tailed boats services (*but if we not mistaken, they charged us somewhere around 450 baht). We started our journey way back in Shang Pier since the traffic are super congested on that day if we wanted to go directly to the floating market area and we’re running out of time. From there, you can actually opt for rowing boats. Again, we can’t confirmed on the price.

While on the boats, we keep looking around especially on the residential / houses build along the canal and their style of living. Personally, we found that the water is a lil bit smelly. Ermmmm, wondering!DSCN9586-2

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Us, without FF!
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Here we go! We’re almost there!
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A floating market is a market where goods are sold from boats. Originating in times and places where water transport played an important role in daily life, most floating markets operating today mainly serve as tourist attractions, and are chiefly found in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Source: Wikipedia

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The boat stopped over at one of the handicraft shop. We guess, the biggest one there! We didn’t buy anything from the market and even from this shop since the price is a lil bit expensive. We managed to experience the making of local biscuit as well.

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We spent about 1 and 1/2 hours for the whole journey. As for us, the floating market is a lil bit overrated. Opss, I mean its been too commercialized. You can actually see a few rows of new shops build along the canal and fewer vendors using the rowing boats. We don’t see the authenticity. And again, it was such an experience.
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And this is what we had for lunch at the Halal stall by the roadside on our way to Kanchanaburi Р Noodles soup and Cha Yen. Simple but yet delicious! Alhamdulillah.
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We will continue our journey on Part 4 ‚Äď Kanchanaburi (War Cemetery and Bridge Over River Kwai).

Simply us,
Zara AB & FF
The Province of Chroma