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Kayuhan Go Slow (Part 2)
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.
A chorus of birds broke the drone of the city traffic. Delighting in 1. Kopitiam Kita’s top-selling breakfast choice instantly revived our cycling fevers. It is not your average coffee shop. Whether you prefer a heavier meal or traditional pastry, Kopitiam Kita has it all. It offers a wide menu stretching from Nasi Dagang, Nasi Kerabu, Nasi Lauk, Nasi Tumpang, fried noodles to other bite-sized desserts. We were spoilt by the choices, however decided on the iconic 2. Roti Titab. Customers who are familiar with the shop necessarily ask for “Toast Titab” alongside a cup of fresh brewed black coffee. Half boiled eggs and kaya (a local jam made from eggs, sugar and coconut milk) spreading on a toast makes Roti Titab additionally appetizing.
Kampung Laut Jetty
After filling our tummies with scrumptious breakfast, we were all set to begin our second day of cycling tour. First in the itinerary was the 3. Murals painted by talented artistes, situated next to Lee Rubber Building. It is the oldest building in Kota Bharu built during the colonial era. On the opposite side of Lee Rubber Building, 4. Kampung Laut Jetty is a few steps away from Tampatan Diraja. It is known for Kampung Laut Mosque, the oldest mosque originally constructed without using a single nail in Kampung Laut, Tumpat on the banks of Kelantan River. However, it was devastated into the river after a flood back in 1967, then moved to its present location in Nilam Puri.
World War II Memorial
Less than 1km, we cycled to 5. World War II Memorial, also known as Bank Kerapu, located at Jalan Sultan. Bank Kerapu was built as a commercial bank in 1912, and used by the Japanese police as a lockup and interrogation center. Upon the fall of Japan and return of British, it continued to function as a bank. In 1992, this history-rich building was turned into a war memorial by the Kelantan Museum Corporation. It houses more than 1,000 exhibits relating to the war and tools used by the Japanese, including a Japanese era bicycle. We attempted to picture ourselves fighting the war by looking at photographs, articles and artifacts.
Kelantan is a home to ancient archaeological discoveries, including several prehistoric aboriginal settlements. Anticipating a historical ride ahead, we pedaled forward to the 6. Islamic Museum. Built in 1902 as the resident of the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of Kelantan, this 20th century grand Kelantan Malay architecture houses mainly Islamic religious artifacts, the history of the introduction and development of Islam, pictures of ulamas contributing to the religion, the state religious bodies and a varied collection from other Islamic countries. Even a replica of Kampung Laut Mosque has its place in the museum!
Next to the Islamic Museum sits the state mosque of Kelantan, 7. Masjid Muhammadi. Built in 1867 during the reign of Sultan Muhammad II, the mosque is a center for the dissemination of religious knowledge which is great in the archipelago where Kelantan is known as the “verandah of Mecca”. Numerous renovations and extensions were made in 1959, 1968, 1976 and 1987 enabling the mosque to accommodate 2,400 devotees now at any single prayer session.
Pasar Kubang Pasu
We began to get slightly puckish and pedaled 1km to 8. Pasar Kubang Pasu, a market that sells all sorts of local breakfast as well as fresh produce and meats. Not popular among tourists, this tiny market in the heart of Kota Bharu city centre is the must visit if you are adventurous in tasting fantastic range of traditional Kelantan snacks.
Moving on for another 0.5km was the 9. Istana Jahar, known locally as Muzium Adat Istiadat Raja (Royal Ceremonies Museum). Built in 1887, the traditional Malay architecture exhibits the royal marriage ceremonies and different textiles used traditionally in royal ceremonies on the ground floor. The top floor depicts the traditional treatment to pre and post natal of a baby.
Coming back to the 21st Century from our imaginations, the 10. Bank Pitis (Bank Ingots) is within our sight just outside the entrance of Istana Balai Besar. It was built during the reign of Sultan Muhammad III. The name Bank Pitis means money bank, in reference to the currency used in the old days. The bank was once an important site for storing money, safe keeping of important documents of the Kelantan government, and played an integral part of the palace and government administration during the late 18th and 19th century.
Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah
Next spot was 11. Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah. The signature colorful painting on the interior wall located inside the market and the business monopolizing by women make this market a unique tourist attraction. Apart from fresh seafood, vegetables and wide variety of fruits, ready-to-eat food, such as Ayam Percik, Nasi ulam and noodles all unique in flavor and taste of Kelantan are conveniently available. Sample the 12. Serunding - meat floss. The scent of the spices and the tenderness of the meat made us crave for more. Check out the kitchen utensils, scarves and clothes sold in the market. There is always something for you exclusively from Kelantan.
For the lunch, the distinctive Kelantan 13. Kerabu and 14. Solok Lada are not to be missed. Kerabu is a kind of salad with vegetables, fruits and sometimes meat or seafood. The version we had was skinned and shredded unripe mangoes. Not only it was great on its own, it was also an ideal side dish to grilled chicken or fish. Our palates instantly got refreshed! Solok Lada, on the other hand was uncommon to us. It is made from sliced green peppers and stuffed with a filling made of shredded coconut, fish meat, coconut milk and seasoning. And, the taste – yummy!
Palestine Art Corner
Feeding tummies delightful with Kelantan cuisine, we carried on with our tour. 15. Palestine Art Corner was less than 1km away from Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah. If you are passionate about street arts, this is the place for you. The graffiti in Palestine Art Corner was an eye-opener! They were painted by Mohd Nawi Mat Ali together with four other artists. These backstreet murals can be seen along Medan Ilmu or Jalan Dato Pati right at the back of PAS Office, Kota Bharu. It was a concept of life and culture of Palestinians in form of their economic activities, education and political realism.
Balai Seni Lukis
Similarly relating to arts, a stone throw away is the 16. Balai Seni Lukis. A visit to the art gallery blew our mind away. It showcases the attractive and finest drawings by gifted artists from all over the places. Each painting is different depending on the materials used such as oil paint, pencil, charcoal, acrylic and soft pastel. We could see portraits being thought-provokingly portrayed.
Our last stop was merely a 5-minute ride to the 17. State Museum which once the Kota Bharu Town Council office. The museum showcase the history of the state and cultural items such as the Wayang kulit (shadow puppets), Mak Yong and traditional musical instruments.
Cycling Route - Laluan Sosio & Budaya
This short 7km cycling tour is suitable to tourists of all ages particularly for those who have special interest in the history, social and culture of Kelantan. Although there could be heavy traffic on certain sections of the city centre, the slow 7km ride was fun. We headed back to the hotel for a short break before our evening ride to catch the sunset!
On the last leg of the 3 day 2 night cycling tour, we got onto our bikes from Perdana Hotel Kota Bharu at 5:30pm taking a 7km ride to Kampung Kijang. Passing through residential areas and entering kampungs to villages shaded with trees and greens to the 18. melon farm in Kampung Kijang. The huge melon farm is open to public with fruit stalls selling fresh and sweet watermelons and melons.
Pasir Belanda Resort
Deeper into the village was 19. Pasir Belanda Resort. A humble resort located at the riverside was surprisingly hosted by a Dutch couple. Harry, the host first came to Kota Bharu in 1989 and fell in love with the beautiful city. He brought his wife and children along with him and the family has lived in Malaysia for more than 10 years now. While lodging at the breathtaking courtyard, we got to easily connect with the locals and enjoy a wonderful evening walking and relaxing by the river.
Pantai Cahaya Bulan
The sun was about to set. We quickly picked our bikes again, pedaling the remaining 10km to 20. Pantai Cahaya Bulan. The beautiful long and wide sandy Moonlight Beach is a popular spot for family outings and picnics. Food stalls and restaurants are lined along the beach. Order a fresh coconut drink and figure food, seat back and suck in the captivating sunset of Moonlight Beach!
Cycling Route - Laluan Kampung Kijang
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