Kota Bharu 4 Days 3 Nights Experience Part 1
Kota Bharu is the state capital of Kelantan, a small town that lies near the mouth of the Kelantan River and close to the Malaysian-Thailand border. From what I read online, this place act as a stop point for tourists before going to either Perhentian Island or Thailand.
The bustling town itself still preserve some historical buildings and architectures, chock full of delicious food, and importantly, the culture and crafts of Kelantan that is still intact for many years.
This is Part 1 of my of my Kota Bharu 4 Days 3 Night Fam Trip experience, organized exculsively by Kelantan Tourism Board, with the cooperation of MATTA Kelantan and AirAsia Berhad.
The Trishaw ride and the art of Wayang Kulit
After the press conference, we all gather at the airport entrance to wait for our bus ride to the designated accommodation. On our way there, Mr. Saiful, our tour guide for this trip gave a little introduction about himself and also about Kota Bharu.
Mr. Saiful is one of many licensed tour guide here in Kelantan, its best for you to have one tour guide accompanying you on your trip. You will better understand about the culture and lifestyle better as you can throw in questions regarding this to the tour guide.
We arrived to our hotel, which is Hotel Perdana (www.hotelperdanakotabharu.com), a premier hotel in Kota Bharu which has just finished a major renovation months before. The hotel is strategically located within a commercial district, government offices, shopping areas, hospitals and local attractions.
After a bit of a rest time, we are off to our first destination in Kota Bharu… on a trishaw!
Interesting fact, the trishaw is called ‘teksi’ (taxi) here, and the usual taxi we used to see is called ‘kereta sewa’ instead. The trishaw was the main transportation during the early days, before the advent of cars.
The weather was just fine and I really enjoyed the ride, I can see much activities along the journey, the people, the vintage shoplots and the calmness of the town. We finally stopped at this location, Menara Tinjau Tambatan DiRaja.
From here, Mr. Saiful brings is to a guided walk tour in the Tourism Zone.
From left clockwise, Bank Kerapu/War Memorial Museum, Islamic Museum, Sultan Ismail Petra archway and Masjid Muhammadi. All of these buildings has its own fascinating story, since I love old history, the War Memorial Museum was my favourite place from the entire walking tour.
After the guided walking tour, we then headed to Grand Riverview Hotel for hi-tea. Kelantan is popular with its sweet and exotic traditional delicacies that was once enjoyed by only the nobilities. Today, the delicacies can be enjoyed by anyone, everywhere. Be sure to check out all of them when you visit Kelantan.
We got back to the hotel to freshen up and rest, we hard our first dinner in Kota Bharu at New Horizon Garden Restaurant.
The restaurant is a two storey building and located at Jalan Pasir Mas-Salor. They offer a fusion styled cuisines from local to Thailand dishes that cater to all patrons coming in. If you are a Tomyam lover, you got to try it here. You can choose to dine either at the cosy air-conditioned ground floor, or, the open air ones upstairs.
The last destination for the day was Wayang Kulit Pak Dain (wayangpakdain.com)
Wayang Kulit or Shadow Play was the source of entertainment (and some for ritual purposes, now no longer in practice) back in the old days, and it has gone through a lot of changes over the years.
The Wayang Kulit is headed by Tok Dalang to play the shadow puppest and he is accompanied with Gamelan ensemble for music. Pak Dain, is one of the locals who has worked hard to preserve and teach the art of Wayang Kulit as well as crafting skills for the younger generations. He has his own Wayang Kulit mini museum where he displayed the histories of Wayang Kulit as well as Wayang Kulit puppet collections.
Pak Dain was very enthusiastic and explain as clear as possible about the world of Wayang Kulit, his passion on preserving this art amazed me. We also got to see how a Wayang Kulit character is made from scratch, all you need is patience and creativity.
He also provide a special packages for tourists to stay and learn the basics of Wayang Kulit, from making a character designs, learning the history until being Tok Dalang themselves.
After the visit to his mini museum and the workshop, we got to see an ‘episode’ of the Wayang Kulit story. I was truly grateful to join up this trip, I would never learn how beautiful and intricate Wayang Kulit is.
Shows end, we’re back to the hotel and take a good rest for a new journey tomorrow.
Boatrides, temples and much delicious food
Its a fine day in Kota Bharu, we start off with having breakfast at Warung Pak Mat, Kampung Pulau Pisang. a place situated just near the banks of Kelantan river.
So whats the best thing to try here? The Sup Kepala Ikan and also the special Teh Terik Madu. Talk about some sugar rush and heavenly delicious food in the morning. Introducing Pak Mat, the owner of this warung,
Delicious cuisines was also enjoyed by only the nobilities once, the secret recipe of Sup Kepala Ikan was handed down for generations and now is in the hand of Pak Mat. He had gone through a lot of hardships before he gained popularity and success of his own.
Honestly speaking, the taste of this fish soup is entirely different from the any fish soup I ever tasted. I’m drooling by only looking at this photo! The fish is freshly picked, and the combination of herbs and spices for the soup is excellent.
No other teh tarik ever come close with this one, a very smooth tasting teh tarik and you can really taste the hint of honey in the tea. Please take your time to finish the froth before drinking the tea itself. 🙂
After the great breakfast, we head on for a boat ride along the big Kelantan river.
Our next stop is the Serunding processing factory in Kampung Laut.
Serunding is a ready to eat side dish that is made of with either beef, chicken or fish meat, mixed with selected spices and seasoning before being processed until perfection. It can be served with just anything, or you can just eat it on its own.
The traditional way was too cook it on a charcoal burned fire in a big wok. Today, there are special machine that can help people to process faster and efficiently.
Some of us bought a few pack of serunding to be brought back home, and without much hesitation, we head on to our next destination, visiting the Buddhist temple.
We were brought to Wat Maisuwankhiri first, marvelling with its beautiful architecture.
And later, we go to Wat Photivihan, here is where I made a epic pose..
These structures are preserved by the Siamese community here
We became hungry on all that sightseeing, so we stop by at Yati Ayam Percik Restaurant, situated at Jalan Long Yunus, Kota Bharu, for our lunch.
This is a must go place if you are visiting Kota Bharu for the first time. The restaurant is very popular among locals here, and some of the patrons are from outside Kelantan. What makes it so special, their ayam percik of course!
The chicken are prepared firstly by marination, and then charcoal grilled before finally added with its unique creamy dressing to complete it. our lunch consist of Nasi Kerabu, Ayam Percik and a few more dishes,
The combination of Nasi Kerabu and Ayam Percik was a match made in heaven…
After a bit of a rest, we head on to our next destination, into the world of silvercraft in KB Permai Kelantan Silverware.
Apart from the unique sweet delicacies, Kelantan is also well known for its silverware intricate of designs and top notch workmanship. KB Permai is where the FA Trophy Cup 2012 was crafted, their silverware was also sold in London’s famous shopping centre, Harrods.
You can find many silverware from rings to souvenirs sold on this establishment. We also got the chance to look at the workshop where they design new silverware pieces.
If you’re looking for batik themed clothing then you should visit Nordin Batik.
Nordin Batik is one of the major manufacturer of handcrafted batik fabrics and materials in Kelantan. You can find batik motif clothes to accessories, and the collection of traditional products at this shop are wide and unique.
We go back to our to refresh and hi-tea. As the sun sets over the horizon, we are off to another place of bees and fireflies, Min House Camp.
Address: Min House Camp Lot 440, Kampung Pulau, 16150 Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia
Phone: +60 13-922 5440
There’s a lot of activities can be done here, from homestay, bee farming, firefly sightseeing and fishing. Since this place is close to the kampung area, you can stay here to experience kampung life.
We had our dinner, Kelantan style there too and one particular food got me hooked.
Now this my friend… is uber delicious. This is called Nasi Tumpang, a meal traditionally meant for travellers. You have rice, omelette, some grounded peanuts, meat, shrimp curry and this tasty gravy, all packed in a cone-shaped banana leaf.
After that we took on a boat tour for firefly sightseeing, you know, fireflies are very particular on which environment they thrived in. Min House Camp area is one of those perfect place to watch fireflies.
If you have nothing to do at night in Kota Bharu, you can come down to the midnight bazaar at Wakaf Che Yeh. A bazaar with a variety of stuff being sold such as clothings, snacks, fruits and much more.
With that our Day 2 tour has ended, I came back to the hotel with a happy tummy.
Part 2 of my 4 Days 3 Night trip to Kota Bharu will be up in my next blog entry.