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2D1N Kota Bharu Cycling Tour
In the north-eastern corner of Peninsular Malaysia lies Kelantan, an agrarian state that is claimed to house the country’s most age-old archaeological discoveries. Celebrated for its unmatched character, Kelantanese culture takes pride of its distinctive vernacular, cuisine and arts.
One’s cultural adventure on wheels should not stop at the tip of the tongue, at least not in Kelantan, for Kelantanese culture goes beyond its delicacies. The exquisiteness of the city extends through its nature and architecture.
It was 9am when we left HnH Tours and cycled 10km to our first stop, 1) Istana Negeri, Kelantan’s oldest palace. The entrance to the palace was majestic and we were struck in awe as the arches stood tall in striking yellow. Perhaps, it was too much too soon of a fascination, but we were not complaining. It was nothing short of a grand start!
The hexagon roof was topped with a bulb cupola in golden that very well-represented the Islamic architecture. This palace, which is the official residence of the current ruler, Sultan Muhammad V, who is the 29th ruler of Kelantan, is located at Kubang Kerian, a district of Kota Bharu. This palace has also hosted a number of official ceremonies. There are other palaces in Kota Bharu, namely, Istana Mahkota which is the official residence of the former ruler of Kelantan, Sultan Ismail Petra and his wife; Istana Balai Besar, which was constructed in 1840 under the orders of Sultan Muhammad II; Istana Telipot; Istana Kota Lama, which is located at the banks of the Kelantan River, serving as the official residence of the sultanates in the 19th century; and Istana Jahar, which was built in 1887 by Sultan Ahmad for his son and heir-apparent Sultan Muhammad III. The name Jahar was derived from the tree that stood at the entrance of the palace, also known as the ‘Flame of the Forest’, and this palace now houses the Museum of Royal Traditions and Ceremonies. Lastly, the Istana Batu, which is located at downtown Kota Bharu, was completed in 1939 under the ruling of Sultan Ismail I as a wedding gift for his nephew and eventual successor Yahya Petra.
Min House Camp
We continued cycling another 3km and stopped at 2) Min House Camp. This camp has rooms that can house up to 40 people and is handicap-friendly. It also has an open kitchen and tourists can rent bikes at only RM5 per day. We first headed to the Galeri Kelulut which is a gallery for the 3) Trigona bee species. These are stingless bees and in Malaysia we have about 60 species. The gallery houses all things related to the Trigona bees, from their pollens and honey combs, which were protected in a glass box. We had a good tour around, immersing in its history through words and images before getting a first-hand look at the process of the extraction of honey.
We then walked to the bee farm and found ourselves amidst a beautiful garden with plenty of bee houses with colored roofs. These Trigona bees produce honey, propolis, which has anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties and bee bread that is high in protein. We were given a chance to try the bee bread which has a sourly taste. At the camp, you can choose from a variety of other activities such as firefly watching, bee watching, kayaking, catching your own Lokan fishes and barbecuing them. With plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables around, you can cook up a storm!
The journey continued for roughly another 2km where we cycled on the open road surrounded by the scenic greenery to our next destination, A. Rahman Kayu Kraf, a 4) woodcarving house established by a 26-year-old wood carver by the name of Abdul Rahman bin Yusoff. The entire space was filled with intricate wood details and it seemed almost surreal to witness the dexterity of this man in woodcarving, seeing him carve his passion into gorgeous crafts. Woods such as merawan, meranti, jelutong and chengalare are highly used for woodcarving. We found out that chengal is the most expensive wood.
Wat Photikyan Putthaktham
Wat Dua Naga
On our way to 5) Wat Photikyan Putthaktham, we cruised 16km along beautiful paddy fields, kampung houses with thatched roofs and shops which gave us the authentic Kelantan experience altogether. We then cycled through Tawang which has a jetty for the fishermen. When we reached our destination, we were greeted by 6) Wat Dua Naga or ‘twin dragons’ at Kampung Balai, Bachok. It is a famous Siamese temple in the city. The locals call it the dragon temple as the entrance has twin dragons welcoming guests in its 598-meter dignity, and is said to be the longest in Southeast Asia. The temple was only a traditional house of wood until a Thai Buddhist came to settle in.
In 20 years, the temple has evolved into a beautiful spectacle. We walked further in and found ourselves facing another great wonder, the 7) Standing Buddha. The statue stood tall in white vigor on a big open lotus with a small lotus on one hand and eyes calmly greeting the visitors. We immediately felt at peace while admiring its architecture. Feeling a little enlightened, we walked to the 8) wishing tree. The majestic tree looked like a big umbrella with its leaves effortlessly shading the area. From the branches hung colorful papers filled with dreams and hopes of strangers. The giant tree immediately resembled the tree of life and we, too, wrote our dreams and entrust them on its sturdy branches.
Our last stop, which we wouldn’t let pass, was the local restaurant called 9) Pulau Lima. No skipping lunch! The entire place was enclosed by the beautiful Peng Datu River and visitors could enjoy not only the fresh food but also the view. If you would like to go for a different kind of ride, pedal boats shaped like dragons are at your disposable for more fun. The delicious meal definitely fueled us up as we cycled our last 14km back to HnH Tours.
Cycling Route - 2D1N Kota Bharu Cycling Tour
We cycled back with memories of Kelantan’s man-made wonders. Truly, architecture blends well with nature, and Kelantan is one proof your eyes should not miss. The 57km journey is definitely suitable for riders who simply love to cruise long distances and enjoy scenic views.
This cycling tour package is provided by: HnH Tours Sdn Bhd
No. 16, Taman Uda Murni, Jalan Pengkalan Chepa, 15400, Kota Bharu, Kelantan. Tel: +609-771 5200