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Kayuhan Go Slow (Part 1)
Kelantan is a state in the north-east of Peninsular Malaysia. It is managed by 10 administrative jurisdictions. One of them is the state capital, Kota Bharu, a focal point for Kelantan’s administration and business activities. Malays make up 95% of the population in Kelantan, it is also home to the Orang Siam (Thai People) due to its close proximity to the Thai border.
Perdana Hotel Kota Bharu
Upon our arrival in Kota Bharu, we were arranged a cordial and generous hospitality by 1. Perdana Hotel Kota Bharu. It is the first premier hotel in the heart of Kota Bharu having undergone a major transformation into a luxury 5-star hotel. Its architecture displays unique carvings of rich Malay heritage that blends with a touch of modern luxury in a classic deco, spreading over 2 wings and offering 272 guest rooms suites. How lucky were we!
We set off our cycling tour the next day morning from SR Outdoor Gear Centre to the first destination at a pathway along 2. Sungai Kelantan (Kelantan River). It is one of the longest rivers in Malaysia. Facing to Kota Bharu, shop-lots are built next to the pathway. Of all shops, Ali Baba Tempayan is the most famous restaurant. Occasionally, adventurous tourists can be spot jet skiing and splashing rafting at the river.
Located at the river bank, 3. Menara Tinjau (Observation Tower) stands 150 metres tall offering a panoramic view of the city, including a stretch of the river. It is opened for the public to climb up and admire the beauty of sunrise and sunset. Next to the tower, 4. Tambatan Diraja defines as Royal Pier, also the main pier in Kota Bharu. It is on the eastern bank of the river at the end of Jalan Sultan.
Pasar Gok Kapor
Moving forwards, we continued cycling to 5. Pasar Gok Kapor. This oldest market in the town was named after the chalk manufacturing industry in that area, which has survived since the past until now. Located 2km from Kota Bharu, the uniqueness of Gok Kapor Market lies in its fresh seafood selling at affordable prices and evening operating hours. The market is situated in the neighborhood of Kampung Cina (Chinese village), the earliest Chinese settlement in Kota Bharu. As its name suggests, the inhabitants in the village are descendants of Chinese immigrants in the early days.
RNZ Batik Tradikraf
Less than 2km away was the 6. RNZ Batik Tradikraf, a small scale batik fabric producer. It is derived from the word “ambatik” meaning “a cloth with little dots”. The suffix “tik” means little dot, drop or point. Hot batik wax is painted or stamped onto fabric, then dyed with various colors. The traditional Malaysian fabric may be found on everything from traditional apparels, bags, bed linens to tablecloths.
Unlike modern fabric, considerable amount of labor is used in the making of batik. Next, we cycled to a Buddhist Temple in the vicinity, 7. Tokong Mek. Built in 1787, this 230 year-old holy place is one of the oldest temples in Malaysia. Buddhists from other states and as far as Singapore are said to frequent this temple for honoring wishes to devotees. We respectfully toured the temple and appreciate the history of the site.
Cikgu Garden Chalet
From the city, the cycling tour led us to small kampong roads to the breathtaking 8. Cikgu Garden Chalet. Built by a friendly Malay family in a spectacularly landscaped garden, the architectures are extracted from traditional Malay houses. This is one interesting place to stay if you want to experience the Malaysian village lifestyle surrounded by endless greeneries. The chalet is enveloped by variety of local fruit trees where guests are welcomed to sample the fruits right from the trees. The sun-drenched weather made us gobble down as many pieces as we could.
The friendliness of the host family made us yearn for longer stay. However, we had to keep on moving. Pedaling the narrow roads from one village to another brought us back to our childhood when we ran and played freely with our neighbors. The winding roads took us to Kampung Kijang where 9. IDZ Batik is located. Another batik factory in the village that is famous for producing exclusive designs and patterns according to consumers’ requests. Comprehensive and richly illustrated paintings, glorious textile arts, evocative colors and illustrators’ hand-drawn designs are every symbolic aspects of a piece of batik.
Another 2km away was the Galeri Wau Pak Sapie. Pak Sapie is a mastermind in crafting gigantic waus. The waus are a treasure of Malaysia. Wau bulan or moon kite is an intricately designed Malaysian kite with floral motifs that is traditionally flown in Kelantan. Other than the kris and hibiscus, wau bulan is Malaysia’s national symbol. You can fi¬nd these symbols on the reverse side of the old fi¬fty cent coin of Malaysia which features a wau bulan with a hummer on top.
Next, we stopped at 10. Kampung Mekmas. Fishing is the main occupation in the village, so we could catch a sight of fishing boats parking by the pier. On the other side, native boys were care-freely having a dive or two into the river. Happiness, indeed, lies in simplicity. We kept on riding to another fishing village in 11. Kuala Besar. Glancing at a flood wall/divider afar, it was built to prevent flooding.
On our way to Malaysia’s “Nami Island”, we knocked on a kampong house that was planted different kinds of fruits. The host was so welcoming that we excitedly plucked and tasted some 12. Cherry, a small and round stone fruit in typically bright or dark red color and 13. Sugar apple, a small, knobby fruit with soft, creamy white flesh that has a minty or custardy flavor. It is generally popular throughout the tropics. We were grateful to live in Malaysia, a country with an assortment of delicious tropical fruits. Lastly, we caught a glimpse of the unripe 14. Cashew nut. The kidney-shaped nut does not look appealing physically, but it is rich in oil and protein.
The scenic route to Malaysia’s Nami Island was striking. We witnessed an old 15. Bunker left by the Japanese during the World War II. This old ruin was the landing place of the Japanese during the war-torn era. The bunker was situated at 16. Pantai Senok. We attempted to go into the bunker and create an imaginary picture of the war. Within a walking distance, we were allured by the vista at Senok Beach. The panorama resembled to Korea’s Nami Island. We had to agree that the surrounding was worth every shot of pictures. Additionally, it is a well-known location for wedding photography.
Cycling Route - Laluan Warisan & Budaya
It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon when we completed the first section of the 20km ride. Weather was mercilessly sunny, but that did not stop us from carrying on. We returned to our hotel, took a short break before recommencing the second segment of cycling trail.
At 5.30pm, we continued a 6km off-road ride along 17. Sungai Budur (Budur River). This trail allowed us to experience mountain bikers’ recreation. A completely 18. Off-road trail was in the midst of abundant and greenery bushes. It was bumpy but exhilarating. Do you still remember the Chinese temple we visited in the morning? You are right, the entire off-road trail was just behind Tokong Mek.
Along the way, we bump into a cow or two relishing their meals. Riders must be watchful of these adorable animals. We stopped at Kampung Banggol and joined the locals basking in their evening activities. One of their pastimes was 19. Bowling, however bowling balls and pins were replaced with metal balls. The game concept was alike! A friendly 20. Volleyball match with the Thais residing in the kampung brought cheers and laughter to everyone.
Cycling Route - Laluan Lembangan Sungai Kelantan
This off-road trail to Kampung Banggol is challenging and tough for amateur cyclists and children, albeit the short distance. Nonetheless, it was precious having a chance to come across a wholly different lifestyle with people of different ethnicity, and that was absolutely one of the ultimate purposes of a cycling tour.
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