I’ve thought long and hard of a quirky, interesting title but what’s left of my creativity seems to be deserting me.
Anyway, after months of setting up a travel blog, I finally have something to blog about yeayyyy. During the long Christmas weekend, a friend and I made a trip to Kelantan (another friend who joined us lives in Kota Bharu), also where I spent most of my Rayas as my parents are from there ahahaha but that trip made me realise that there are still lots of places/things I didn’t know about Kelantan.
At first, we planned to take the train from KL Sentral to Wakaf Bharu because Ijan (the said friend) had never experienced a midnight journey by train. Unfortunately, we had to scrap that plan because apparently, the service from KL Sentral to the East Coast have stopped operating since April 2016. We could still do so, but we needed to take the detour to Gemas and and from there, board the train to Wakaf Bharu. The problem was, the last train from KL Sentral to Gemas was at 12PM and the first train from Gemas to Wakaf Bharu was at 11PM. I’d rather admit to obsessing over Dato Vida’s make-up tutorial video than spending half of my day waiting for the train in Gemas a.k.a a ghost town (sorry, Gemas people!)
By the way, does anyone else think that KTMB is trying its damnedest to kill whatever’s left of its own dignity? KTMB doesn’t only cancel lots of services and focuses on ETS only (I have a feeling because most services don’t generate as much profit as the ETS), the Komuter is also getting worse and worse over the years. I take the Komuter to work everyday, and I consider it a fucking great day if the train comes on time, which it rarely does. Just yesterday I waited for more than an hour at the KL Sentral for the train to come. Fuck la do these people think I (and the others) have nothing better to do but wait for the trains. Oh and who was the brain behind the new ticketing system? Babi la so out of touch with reality ke apa.
Okaaaay, now back to my trip.
So, we bought the earliest flight tickets to Kota Bharu (6:30AM) and stayed the night before at KLIA2. We took the last ERL (which leaves Putrajaya Sentral at 12:30AM) to KLIA2. Just a note, Putrajaya Sentral at midnight is scary, but then I guess anywhere quiet after midnight is scary too.
And I was alone, as my friend boarded the train at KL Sentral.
Reached KLIA2 at almost 1AM and since I can be kampung at times, here’s a blurry photo from the observation deck.
It was raining heavily when we reached Kota Bharu at 7:30AM. We got picked up by Mid (the friend who lives in Kota Bharu) and she took us to this stall near the Balai Bomba in Jalan Long Yunos for breakfast of nasi kerabu and ayam bakar. No photo because I forgot to take one and also because I attacked the nasi kerabu with gusto the moment the plate reached my table so it was finished in 5 minutes flat.
We then made our way to Rantau Panjang. Unfortunately, since it was still raining heavily when we reached there, most shops were still closed (it was almost 10AM). Even so, Ijan still managed to buy 5 baju kelawars and Mid and I bought some delicacies. I also bought these kain sarungs and paid RM40 for both.
Both are still in their own respective plastics.
We shopped and walked around until about noon, and before leaving, we had aiskrim Baba, of which I also had no photo. I really need to start taking photos of food just so I can blog about it. We also stopped at the Masjid Beijing just before the border, and I have photos of that Masjid!
Lol yes my photography skills are practically non-existent.
Went straight to Kota Bharu where we checked into our booked room in KBCP. And yes, no photo too. But the room looks exactly like the one advertised/listed on booking.com, except dirtier. I even left a comment on booking.com saying that the whole needs a massive cleaning spree. So here’s the pros and cons of the place.
Pros – dirt-cheap (we paid RM270 for a 3-day, 2-night’s stay), this place is in the middle of Kota Bharu and you can just walk to the city centre if you don’t mind the heat, and it has its own basement parking.
Cons – our room was truly dirty – there were ants everywhere on the counter top and the sink, the floor hadn’t been mopped in months I think, and bathroom, ugh, I think they only cleaned the toilet bowl and not the whole toilet. I think they only replaced the basic items like the bed sheets, towels, blankets, iyeerp that’s all. Items left by previous owners were not thrown out. We had to take our own trash, but that was okay. The water in the bathroom came out very slooooowly on the third day. Yeah what the hell was up with that? Are they trying to make us check out sooner?
After checking in and freshening up, we went out to eat again at the food court near Stadium Kota Bharu. Ijan wanted to eat pulut ayam, which had unfortunately sold out by the time we got there and bought meatballs instead. I (of course) had nasi air sup perut, and Mid bought sate perut for us to taste (I’ve never tasted one before) and sup perut without the nasi air. I should buy two bowls though because it was so gooood.
After melantak, we made our way to see the highlight of our trip, Wayang Kulit (this is for Wayang Indonesia but the basic information is the same as Wayang Kelantan) or Shadow Puppets and yesss I have lots of photos of this. None of us had seen or watched Wayang Kulit before (I once watched Main Puteri when I was kid, which sadly has been banned for years now) so we really made an effort to search for any place for us to see this. I’ve heard of Pak Dain before because of the Fusion Wayang Kulit, so thankfully his contact information wasn’t that hard to find. His workshop was though, so you need to pay extra attention. If you’re coming from Kota Bharu, his workshop will be on your right. Look for the “Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Kelantan” signboard in front of it.
Pak Dain, who has to be one of the politest and kindest men I’ve ever met in my life, scheduled a performance at 9PM but it rained heavily the whole time we were there, so he apologised profusely if the performance had to be cancelled. He invited us inside anyway and showed us the puppets used for the Peperangan Bintang and other Fusion Wayang Kulit.
He also showed us his workshop and the items and tools he uses to make the wayang kulit.
Those are cow leather which he bought directly from Kedah, because he said he could only find one place that can extract cow leather the way he wanted them to be. These RM500/piece cow leathers can only be shaped into 2 large wayang kulits. Yes folks, the production of wayang kulit is not only dying, it’s also costly.
Not long after that, a university professor came with her family to watch the wayang kulit too, so while he entertained them, we made our way to the wayang gallery.
That’s me, checking my Insta video of the gallery.
I think that the gallery has rooms for improvement. I can think of two right now, the glass cabinets are falling down and the lights are not showcasing the puppets at their best. I’m sure there are more. While we were browsing through in the gallery, another group of students from UiTM Machang came, and at this, Pak Dain said that the performance would go as planned.
Truth be told, I understood not a word. My pathetic understanding of the Kelantanese dialect aside, I could only grasp that there were 4 or 5 warriors in war with each other (?)and the heavy rain didn’t help matters too. Nevertheless, I was mesmerised by the colours of the wayang kulit and the music. The performance lasted for almost an hour, and since Pak Dain’s voice was competing with the rain, we didn’t know that it had come to an end, which was truly bad manners of us since we would have clapped loudly if we knew.
And I bought 2 wayang kulits and Pak Dain gave me another one for free.
This is the free one.
This is Sita Dewi.
And this is Ramayana.
These were bought at RM50 each, which I think is too damn cheap.
Before we left, Pak Dain asked us where we planned to go next and conveyed his frustration to us that when people want to see what Kelantan has to offer, most would be taken to the usual tourist-y, Islamically-inclined places. As there is no centre which combine all of the Kelantan cultural arts like wayang kulit, wau-making, mak yong, menora, main puteri, etc, etc, people have to go to each place individually. And as some of them like main puteri and menora have been banned by the Kelantan government for being un-Islamic (seriously wtf is up with that), it’s getting harder and harder to find when and where these will be performed. Pak Dain even said that he has to follow strict guidelines of what can be said and performed and now, his performances are the watered-down, censored versions of what they used to be in the 80s or 90s. Even my cousin, who’s a self-proclaimed know-it-all of everything Kelantan, knows shit about main puteri and menora when asked. It’s sad and insulting really, to see that we are pushing all these away in the name of them being un-Islamic as if we, the people with working brains, knows shit about distinguishing which is right and wrong for us. And sorry lah if your belief and faith are not strong enough that even a whiff of anything kaffir can sway you, but why do you have to shove your belief down everyone’s throat.
Anywaaaaaay, after leaving Pak Dain and his wayang kulits, we went to Wakaf Bharu just to have a look around. Ijan found her pulut ayam here and bought some lokching (sate ikan) and Mid and I bought other tidbits to eat. After that, we walked around for a bit before we went back to KBCP.
We had our breakfast at the famous Kopitiam Kita, where Ijan and I had the famous roti titab while Mid had….I can’t remember now haha. I ordered roti titab twice it was that goooooddd! I raved about it to a friend here in Klang Valley and she said you can find that anywhere else dah okay laaaaahhhh I’m always late to the party. After breakfast, we made our way to Pak Sapie’s wau workshop.
Pak Sapie is a very famous wau-maker. He once appeared in a Maxis ad, was brought all over the world by MAS, and appeared in conventions, local and overseas, to talk about his waus. He is also the last accredited wau-maker. If you come from KB, his workshop will be on your left. You won’t miss it, as there is a large wau signboard outside of his very, very modest workshop.
Pak Sapie said it took him months to complete this wau.
Unlike Pak Dain, Pak Sapie didn’t talk a lot, even though he answered every question we shot at him patiently. He was making a wau at that time, so I suppose he needed to concentrate. And my cousins were mad about making waus when we were kids, so I know how much effort and concentration needed in making a wau. I also bought a tiny female wau from Pak Sapie, this one costs me RM60.
Wanted to buy a big one but I don’t know how to fit it in my already burgeoning backpack.
We then made our way to Nordin Batik where we tried our hands at batik-colouring and this is the result.
I knowwwww, I can finally achieve my dream of working with Elie Saab.
Sadly, I didn’t have any photo of us colouring the shit out of that batik piece though I remembered to snap some photos of the ladies in the process of making a batik.
We went to the boutique to browse through all the batiks but since all of us are non-fans of the glittery designs (we have very simple tastes), we left without buying anything. If I’m not mistaken, the pieces there are affordable-ish, i.e hand-drawn batiks can be bought at below RM250.
We then made our way to Tumpat because I wanted to see the Buddhas. Places of worship have always been a favourite of mine, and I never missed any opportunity to visit one if I knew one was nearby. These are some of the photos.
Wat Prachumthat Chanaram, also known as the Serpent Temple. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
The gigantic Sleeping Buddha. This was as close as we could get. And when I say it was gigantic, it was reallllly gigantic.
Can’t remember the name of this temple, but it has a few statues of elephants around.
The giant standing golden Buddha in Wat Pikulthong. This was as close as I could get because there were a few dogs surrounding us and I was being a pussy.
The famous Sitting Buddha in Wat Machimmaran. There was a dog following us around here and being the pussy that I was, I hid in the car until it went away ahahahahaha. Conquered my fear and went inside the temple though even though there were 2 dogs sleeping near the front entrance.
The inside of the temple was a mess. I think they were trying to turn it into some kind of a museum/library here. The temple is supported by these beautifully-crafted pillars.
This greeted us when we stepped into the temple. Some of the items can be bought. And on the walls, hung very interesting paintings like these (photos are of potato-quality, because I’m vertically-challenged).
I hope they include some kind of descriptions later, because I really want to know what these paintings are about.
Then, we went to Pantai Sri Tujuh, where we each had some fried seafood, mihun sup and coconut shake for lunch. And then we stopped to pay at a surau near the beach. That surau had to be one of the dirtiest places I’ve ever went to, and I’ve been to Guangzhou. I think the last time that place was swept and mopped was when the Japanese still occupied Tanah Melayu, it was that dirty. Come on Kelantanese, get your act together and start cleaning up your beaches and suraus and masjids.
Oh we also had aiskrim baba in the coconut (Mid had hers in a watermelon)! And it was only RM5! No photos too sadly. I really need to start remembering to take photos of the food I eat when I’m travelling.
We planned to go to Tok Bali to see fishermen catching fish and all that jazz but we were too tired by the time we went back to our room. So we planned to eat somewhere else and I suggested Bold Lab because I went there once during the previous Raya and I remembered raving about the place.
Ijan ordered aglio e olio pasta and Mid and I shared a salmon steak. The salmon was really good, even though the portion is a bit too small for my thinking. Ijan’s pasta was a bit dry. I also had latte, which I believe was a bit over-extracted, because I could taste the burnt taste. We also had carrot cake, and that one was soo goood. The price was a bit pricey for Kelantan, I think.
We then went to Restoran Cik Siti because Mid had a craving for sate lokching but we left without the lokching because the girl who was grilling the lokching was so rude. We then made our way to the uptown near the Pasar Baru Siti K and Mid bought her lokching there haha. We walked around a bit before it started to rain, and then we went back to our room.
Everyone woke up late today. Yati, another friend who lives in Pasir Mas, and who we had a breakfast date with, woke us up or we would be waking up later than that. We then had our breakfast at a restaurant which serves nasi padang and we ate like there was no tomorrow.
After that, we made our final shopping trip to Pasar Baru Siti K. I bought some tidbits for the office and a vanilla chocolate ice-blended mix, and Ijan bought serundings, gulai mix, and a few others for her mom.
And that was the end of our trip. Now I really need to brush up my writing skills haha because I’ve been drafting this post for a week now! Will do better next time!