Sunday, 16 June 2013

Kelantan Food & Heritage Trail 2013 - Part 1

The ATR 500 turboprop aircraft touched down at Sultan Ismail Petra Airport exactly at 12.45pm, on the dot, as per the ETA in our boarding passes.  This was the third time I was travelling by Firefly and I must admit that this airline’s services are the most punctual and efficient I had experienced so far. Keep up the good work guys!

So, here we were, in Kota Bharu for our ‘Tourism Malaysia’s Kelantan Food & Heritage Trail 2013’. I missed last year’s programme so I was not about to miss this one. After all, it’s about food, and food is kind of rhyme with my name. He, he. Anyway, we were met by Mr Mansour of Firefly Kota Bharu. Apparently our flight fares were sponsored by this generous airline company. We were ushered into a waiting bus and soon after, we were put to our first test at the Four Seasons Restaurant. This Halal chinese food eatery is a favourite among locals and tourists. And the food, needless to say was superb. My favourite was the Lemon Chicken, mmm…I still can imagine savouring it.

Four Seasons Restaurant is very popular among muslims in Kota Bharu.
The yummylicious chinese style food.
We later checked into the Grand Riverview Hotel, a four-star hotel with a view of the Kelantan river. A quick briefing and a get-to-know each other session were conducted before we had our tea while relishing the local cakes and delicacies served. A cooking demonstration was also performed by two resident chefs and we were introduced to two newly improvised local delicacies. Both were very tasty but I found them a bit too sweet.

Later in the evening, we were brought to one of the most unique and distinctive restaurant in Kota Bharu for dinner. Located at Lembah Sireh (Betel Leaf Valley), this floating restaurant was meant to be a river cruising boat, but the novel idea had to be shelved due to the ongoing bridge construction that was taking place along the Kelantan river mouth. Our arrival was greeted with an impressive drumworks performance by a group of young chinese troupe. This was followed by another performance by a three piece combo of a Kelantan traditional music that comprises a ‘nafiri’ (flute), a malay drum and a gong that accompanied a very entertaining Silat demonstration. Dinner was served shortly after and we wasted no time to savour the miscellaneous foods on the table….and oohhh, the lobster looked so temptingly delicious…..

The river cruise restaurant was being docked almost permanently at the jetty.
These young boys captivated us with their brilliant Chinese drums performance.
A Silat Pulut sparring performance.
A senior silat exponent displaying his prowess.
More food? Oh no!

The next morning, after a quick breakfast at The Grand Riverview hotel, we gathered at the main entrance of the hotel for the Beca Ride. We could see about 28 becas (trishaws) already lining up on the driveway, waiting for us to board their rickety three wheeled vehicle. Most of the trishaw men were quite old and it made me wonder whether this traditional mode of transport would still be around in Kota Bharu in ten years time. A group photo session was held before we were flagged off by Mr Kamal Azam of Tourism Malaysia Kelantan.

A newspaper clipping on our Beca Ride Programme
Colourful becas await us at the hotel driveway.
Aaron seems to enjoy the beca ride.
Led by a police outrider, our colourful convoy of becas made our first stop at the Islamic Museum where we had the opportunity to view the ancient Islamic artifacts from the Middle East and China. The museum, a large two-storey traditional wooden bungalow, also housed a complete history of Islamic influence and civilization in the Malay Archipelago, clearly documented and displayed in the form of artifacts and replicas. We were also served with light refreshments of cold syrup and the famous Murtabak Raja.

The Islamic Museum
One of the artifacts on display.
We then proceeded to the Muhammadi Mosque located just next door. Muhammadi Mosque is a state mosque with a great architecture that features graceful arches and golden coloured domens. Originally built from wood in 1867 during the reign of Sultan Muhammad II, the mosque was reconstructed using concrete in 1922 and was officially opened on Friday the 31st of July 1931 by His Royal Highness Sultan Ismail. 

Pintu Gerbang Kota Sultan Ismail Petra is a landmark by itself.
A short distance away was the iconic Pintu Gerbang Kota Sultan Ismail Petra, or the Main Gate of Sultan Ismail Petra Fortress. Also located in the same vicinity was the Muzium Adat Istiadat DiRaja (Museum of Royal Traditions and Customs), also known as Istana Jahar. The palace was also built by Sultan Muhammad II in 1855 for his grandson Long Kundur. It has a pentagon-shaped porte-cochere with first floor balcony from which members of the royal family could watch ceremonies in the palace compound. As the name suggests, it exhibits the royal family’s collection of artifacts and other significant objects of cultural, artistic, traditions and customary importance. Unfortunately, due to the strict restrictions policy, the media was not allowed to take photos of the interior and the artifacts on display.

Nasi Ulam Cikgu Restaurant is conveniently located at the main building of
the Handicraft Village.

Cikgu Hamid - The successful restauranteur in Kota Bharu.
To cap off our heritage trip of Kota Bharu, we walked to the famous Nasi Ulam Cikgu nearby for our traditional Kelantan lunch. The place was almost full when we reached there. I don’t think we could get enough seats had we not make the prior reservations. Anyway, we did our job (which was to finish the food) very well, thanks to the simple but somehow so tasty fried catfish, fried chicken and the ulams. Ulams are an assortment of herbs served during meal usually eaten with rice and ‘budu’ which is a local condiment. We also had the privilege to be hosted by the owner himself, Cikgu Hamid. We took some photographs with the friendly cikgu before we board our bus and snooze our way to our next destination, Bachok. See you in my next entry on Kelantan!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Most Popular Article