Monday April 23, 2012
Kelantan: A magical state
By MUHD BASYAR MUSTAPHA
HAVING visited Kelantan recently for the first time as an adult, I certainly agree with the dictum that says the state is a living cradle of Malay culture.
My trip to Kelantan, more affectionately nicknamed Negeri Che Siti Wan Kembang, was a special media familiarisation tour to Kota Baru hosted by Firefly, Doremi Travels and Tourism Kelantan.
From the three-day/two-night visit, it is apparent to me that Kelantan is a budding state that still preserved its rich traditions — something that is difficult to achieve in this modern era.
The people in this state managed to keep alive its traditions through their beliefs, cuisine and simple way of living.
When passing through the streets in Kota Baru and Tumpat, my eyes captured the rustic Malay houses and old buildings, which gave these destinations a touch of old and new..
But the highlight of the tour was the wayang kulit (shadow puppet play) show at Gelanggang Seni. Luckily for me, on that night, the wayang kulit troupe performed one of my favourite epic stories — Ramayana.
The other tourists and I could not understand what the tok dalang (storyteller) was reciting, but we were somehow captivated by the amusing spirit of the tale’s narration, melodious language and the comical puppet movements.
That night also reminded to me that this ancient form of entertainment has retained its appeal and magic.
It is also no secret that Kelantan which translates as the “Land of Lightning” is a food paradise.
From traditional Kelantanese Malay food or dishes that have strong Thai influence, visitors will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the state’s wide range of delights.
Having a sweet tooth myself, my favourite Kelantanese sugar rushes were, obviously, the range of Malay kuih and desserts like buah tanjung, lompat tikam, jala mas and ... well, the list goes on. Just for colour, taste and calories, this is the state with an endless supply of sweet treats.
One must also be wondering about the nightlife in Kota Baru. Well, there are no nightclubs or cinemas to begin with. But that doesn’t mean tourists cannot paint the town red at night.
Cafes and concept restaurants that offer cosy ambience are mushrooming in the centre of town, giving tourists plenty of choices.
The food prices at these places are also a lot cheaper than restaurants carrying the similar concept in the Klang Valley and any other main city in this country.
But that’s not all about this distinctive state. Kelantan is also a right place to visit when looking for business opportunities.
There are many small- and medium- scale enterprise products, especially the halal ones, that have potential to be marketed locally or internationally.
From traditional food to woodcraft and from clothing to health supplement products, there are plenty of local manufacturers who offer a good bargain for those who are interested to sell (or distribute) these products.
Just ask the friendly local people or the travel agencies, they will point you to the right sources.
In my short time there, I experienced the many sides of Kelantan — the best I could. Yes, I will be back! With regular and affordable flights by FireFly to Kota Baru, I will surely pay a few more visits to this north-eastern state.
Currently, Firefly has increased the number of daily flights from Subang Jaya to Kota Baru from six to seven flights every day.
Firefly also recently introduced a new route from Kota Baru to Johor Baru, making it the only airline to link the east coast with the southern state of Johor.
This service will commence on April 26 with two flights every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.