Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Welcome To Kelantan
Kelantan Darul Naim
The Cradle of Malay Culture
Kelantan Darul Naim, or simply known as Kelantan, is one of the most interesting states in Malaysia. The Arabic honorific, "Darul Naim" meaning "The Beautiful Abode" in English, perfectly describes Kelantan, as this state is indeed beautiful and rich in cultural heritage.
I remember when I was young, during the festive seasons, my dad would bring the whole family back to his hometown in Kota Bharu, Kelantan (Kota Bharu is the capital of Kelantan) to visit my grandma and my relatives.
Being brought up as a city kid, and being used to the fast-paced, interesting, exciting city life, I really disliked going back. The slow pace, the old wooden houses that my grandma used to live in, the culture, the language (Kelantanese have their own slang when they speak the Malay Language, it's hardly discernible for people who only speak the normal Malay Language)... in short, I disliked almost everything (except the food of course) in Kelantan. What choice did I have...but to follow my parents back every year?
It was not until many many years later, when my business required me to travel back to Kelantan almost twice every month that I started to grow fond of this place. I began to appreciate the beauty, culture and uniqueness of this intriguing state.
Now, I'm not saying that I absolutely LOVE this place. All I'm saying is that if someone were to ask me for my recommendation of the places to visit in Malaysia, Kelantan would definitely be among the top 3 places that I would recommend.
With a mixture of influence from various places (due to the fact that Kelantan shares borders with Thailand in the north, Perak in the West, Terengganu in the South-east and Pahang in the South), it is not surprising to find strong Thai influence here in the local cuisine and architecture. And with all these influences, I would say that Kelantan Darul Naim is the richest state in Malaysia where culture and tradition is concerned.
There are so many interesting places to visit and so many interesting things to see in Kelantan Darul Naim. With its kite (Wau) flying competitions, top (Gasing) spinning activities and puppet shadow plays (Wayang Kulit), a visit to Kelantan Darul Naim will definitely leave you intrigued.
Now, allow me to share with you some interesting places to visit in Kelantan. I will not go into the minute details of these places that I'm about to share with you. I'll leave that for another section on this page. This new section that I'll be adding in will be constantly updated with the latest and most interesting places to Visit in Kelantan.
Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing about it!
One of the most interesting places to travel to in Kelantan is the Siti Khadijah Market. This market is named after Prophet Muhammad's entrepreneurial wife.
I personally think that a good way to get to know a Malaysian town is to visit its markets. That's where you'll see all the bustling activities of bargaining, the sounds of laughter and the occasional sounds of shouting by the vendors to promote their goods.
When you're here, it's interesting to note that the majority of traders here are women and they are very entrepreneurial.
This market has something for everyone. Vegetables, local delicacies, traditional pastries (kuih-muih), fresh tropical fruits, dried food items such as fish crackers, salted fish, meat floss and a selection of local crafts can be found at this bustling market.
Another interesting place to visit when you're in Kelantan is the Cultural Centre. Known locally as the "Gelanggang Seni", The Cultural Centre is a veritable showcase of the state's rich cultural heritage.
Visitors who visit the centre will be treated to activities such as kite (Wau) flying, top (Gasing) spinning competitions, puppet shadow plays (Wayang Kulit), and traditional Malay dance and band performances.
A visit to the Cultural Centre is definitely the best and easiest way to see many of the arts that are dying out elsewhere in Malaysia.
Although Kelantan Darul Naim is predominantly made up of Malays and is considered the most Islamic state in Malaysia, it is surprising to know that Kelantan is home to quite a number of Buddhist temples (I don't know about you, but being a Malaysian, I was very very surprised to find out there were so many temples here). In fact some of the most beautiful temples in Malaysia are located here.
One of the most amazing temples in Kelantan is situated in Cabang Empat. Known as the "Wat Photivihan" Buddhist Temple, it houses a 40m long statue of a Reclining Buddha (also known as the Sleeping Buddha among the locals). It is believed to be the second longest reclining Buddha in the world and the longest in Southeast Asia.
Other ornate Buddhist temples are "Wat Machimmaram", boasting one of Southeast Asia's largest statue of the Sitting Buddha and "Wat Mai Suvankhiri", featuring a huge Dragon Boat.
Kelantan is also home to the many beautiful beaches of Malaysia. One of the most famous beaches in Kelantan is the "Pantai Cahaya Bulan" (Moonlight beach). This beach used to be known as "Pantai Cinta Berahi", when translated would mean the Beach of Passionate Love. They changed the name of the beach a few years back. (I don't know why...perhaps it's not appropriate to be too passionately in love when you're on the beach?)
he route to this beach is dotted with vibrant and colourful cottage industries that produce Batik, Songket, Giant Kites known as Wau and other local crafts.
One of the things you can't miss when you're in Kelantan is the food here. The local delicacies here are unique and special to this State.
Foods such as Nasi Dagang, Nasi Kerabu, Nasi Tumpang, Nasi Berlauk, Kau-Jam and Laksa Kelantan (pronounced "lakso") are "MUST-TRYs!" And if you like Thai food, you could always go to the border town of Tumpat for some unbelievably sour and spicy Tom Yam (thinking about it makes me salivate).
Looking back, I'd have to admit that I really did not know how to appreciate the beauty, culture and serenity of this slow-paced but relaxing place.
I have barely touched the surface of the places to visit in this amazing, intriguing state. But as I have mentioned earlier, I will start (and constantly update) a section on this page specially dedicated to the best places to visit and the unique foods to savor in Kelantan Darul Naim.
If you have already decided to travel to Kelantan Darul Naim, I would suggest that you download the Kelantan Darul Naim Map and the Kelantan - Kota Bharu Map (requires pdf reader) to make your traveling easier.