During the school holiday in March 2016, together with my wife and youngest son, we visited Kota Bahru, Kelantan, one of the States of Malaysia for a short gate away.
Kota Bharu is a city in Malaysia that serves as the state capital and royal seat of Kelantan where Kota Bharu City is also situated. “Kota” means “City” and “Bharu” means “New”. It was also known as “new castle or fort”. Kota Bharu is situated in the northeastern part of Peninsular Malaysia, and lies near the mouth of the Kelantan River, which is close to the Thailand border. It is home to many mosques, museums, the unique architecture of the old royal palaces and former royal buildings in the centre of town.
One of the places we visited was Siti Khadijah Market (Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah). It was one of my wife “must go places”. Siti Khadijah Market as its name implies, is a local wet market, named after Prophet Muhammad’s wife, whom was known for her entrepreneurial skill, as this market is mostly run by women. Apart from the usual fresh goodies like seafood, vegetables and wide variety of fruits, you can also find ready-to eat food like ‘ayam percik’, nasi ulam and a variety of noodle soups, all unique in flavors and taste of Kelantan, serves freshly for you. Not to forget to taste the local desserts like ‘kuih muih’ (cake sort of), tempeh and a glass of hot milk tea, which is the staple drink for Kelantanese.
The Handicraft Village and Craft Museum, also known as ‘Balai Getam Guri’ in local language, is a place to showcase local handicraft industry in Kelantan, and it’s supported by the state government. It’s a fine craft museum, houses many Kelantanese craftsmanship, including traditional embroidery, batik, silverware and matting.
Istana Batu, Kota Bharu (The Royal Museum). It was built in 1939 as a wedding present to Sultan Yahya Petra and his bride Raja Perempuan Zainab II. It was used as their official residence until 1960 and later used as a guest palace for a while. It was converted to a museum in 1991 but still retains the feel of a home with displays of personal possessions among other exhibits.
Istana Balai Besar Kota Bharu – The Grand Palace is a single story palace built by Sultan Muhammad II over 170 years ago, as the official residence of past sultans. The palace is now used for official state functions and is not open to public.
Muzium Islam – The Islamic Museum – is a place where you can trace the root of Islam in Kelantan. The building itself resemble the mosque-like building that contains various artifacts and inscriptions documents of how Islam got introduced in Kelantan and how it became such an important element in the everyday life in the state of Kelantan. It was once known to be the Verandah to Mecca also known as ‘Serambi Mekah’.
The Clock Tower of Kota Bharu
If you want to experience a lifestyle of Islamic Malaysia, then you should start with Kelantan. We actually enjoyed our 3D/2N stay in Kota Bharu as the City is more relaxed and not as busy compared to Kuala Lumpur, Penang or even Johor Bharu.