Kuala Terengganu - Terengganu Malaysia
Upon entering Chendering, on the outskirts of Kuala Terengganu , sits the Kuala Ibai mosque also known as the 'Floating mosque of the East' or the Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque. It is built on a lagoon by the mouth of Sungai Ibai or the Ibai River. Construction started in 1993 and was completed 2 years later. The mosque is open to all, you can have a wander around but please observe the regulations and most importantly, if you intend to visit the mosque or any mosques - remember to dress conservatively ie. no shorts or mini skirts or any other revealing attire - not even spaghetti strap tops. And another thing, it's best not to visit during prayer times especially Friday afternoons from noon till 3.00pm
Another impressive mosque built more recently (2006-2008) and structured out of an obscene amount of steel, glass and crystal and cost, is located at the Islamic Heritage Park.
Terengganu State Museum Complex - Losong
The museum is well worth a visit and the grounds have been landscaped to accommodate 100+ year old wooden stilted uniquely designed Terengganu houses. The complex is a collection of buildings housing the Islamic Gallery, a Textile museum, a Maritime Gallery, a Fisheries & Trades Gallery , the Royal Gallery, the History Gallery, Terengganu traditional houses, a botanic and herb garden. Hailed as great seafarers, the maritime gallery houses an assortment of different types of dinghy-like vessels that fishermen used in rivers, estuaries, in the open seas... a good place to learn more about how the terengganu folks' life used to be filled with.. chores, life, fun, traditions, customs, crafts - all disappearing at an alarming rate. However, having said so, groups of individuals passionate about their traditions are bent on passing on their expertise and knowledge and traditional fields like woodcarving and cloth weaving especially the songket
Saturdays till Thursdays
9.00am - 5.00pm
9.00am - 12.00pm
3.00pm - 5.00pm
9.00am - 5.00pm
Hari Raya Aidilfitri dan Aidiladha
closed on first and second day of the hari raya celebrations
Entrance Tickets: Malaysians RM5 / Non Malaysians RM15
Jalan Bandar - Chinatown
Town is just a stone's throw from here(well, actually another 4km). Kuala Terengganu has grown tremendously since the discovery of oil. For most travellers, the favourite part of K.T. is definitely chinatown. A row of pre-war chinese shophouses filled with familiar scents of the past- old fusty rooms with cardboard boxes full of unwanted bric-a-bracs, aged documents piled up high in the corner with a lingering faint smell of dampness.
A few of the shophouses have been taken over by island resort operators such as Redang Reef Resort and Square Point Resort. But many of the premises are still maintained by the original owners. If you get a chance to snoop around, the back of the shop extends out onto the river, which opens an entirely different scenary from the bustling street. Here, you may be able to spot the fishing boats coming back from a day's fishing and the usual daily routine of river life. Looking across the river, you can see a throbbing fishing village with women going about their daily chores. This is Seberang Takir.
There are also several batik boutiques along the way and a couple of shops selling art pieces which includes reprints of prints painted by a well known local artist from Dungun, Chang Fee Ming. Apart from the resort operators, many of the shops are closed by 5.30pm and most do not open on Fridays.
A backpackers' hostel around the corner from chinatown and its batik gallery shop called the Ping Anchorage travellers' inn is a good place to meet other travellers but caters only to foreigners. Reason being, bad past experiences with local people who preferred to use the inn for untoward reasons (or so we were told). They have a small café/restaurant in the premise that sells cold beer in chilled mugs - the sort of luxury that is difficult to come by in these parts.
Central MarketAt the end of Jalan Bandar (Bandar Road) is Central Market. This 2 storey square building is the hub of K.Terengganu. The ground floor is bustling with the haggling of vendors selling everyday needs. Fresh fish such as trevally goes for RM15 a kilo. Women dressed in colourful, vibrant tudungs (head scarf) and baju (malay top and long skirt) selling grain, fruits and sundry items. Shops selling brassware, batik items, books, local medicine. On the top floor, there are more shops selling a great selection of baju, scarves, songket- handwoven cloth, batik clothes. Don't worry if you don't have cash with you, many of them accept credit cards (mastercard, visa)
There are also a number of shops selling colourful malay and indonesian cakes(kuih). Daintily wrapped in banana leaves, the 'dodol' is a strange tasting candy. It may take a bit of getting use to for first-timers - it's goo-ey in texture, is made from coconut and is extremely sweet. The other local must-have is the 'serunding'. This is usually sprinkled on rice or on the vegetable/meat dishes. Beef, chicken or lamb pieces are finely grated, fried in a helping of hot oil and generously seasoned with red hot chilli peppers. Serunding goes great with bread too. Try it only if you can take really spicy food.
Occasionally, travelling medicine men are seen peddling their wares on the side lanes. Talking through their microphones, they entertain interested crowds with fancy concoctions for all sorts of illnesses bottled in fancy containers- sometimes throwing in personal demonstrations for added effect.
There are other places you can get to by hopping onto the riverboats at the jetties around the market area. Just to name you 2 interesting places below:
Pulau Duyung Besar
Right next to Hotel Seri Malaysia is a small jetty where local villagers arrive from a little river islet called Pulau Duyung Besar. Pulau Duyung sits at the mouth of River Terrengganu and is now accessible either by boat or by road. The local riverboat charges a nominal fee of 50sen or so. Villagers unload their produce to sell in the market. Bunches of bananas and baskets of c(h)empedak fruit (a very pungent but delicious fruit but not as wicked as the durian!) are common produce of the villages. Others unload their bicycles for cruising around town or used as transportation to work nearby. Another way to get to Pulau Duyung is via the highway but many travellers prefer the old-fashioned way of travel by riverboat. For more on Pulau Duyung, click here.
Another village you can get to from the K.Terengganu jetty is Seberang Takir. If you wish to walk around a fishing village where you can watch women at work in little shops or at home, this is the place to visit. There are frequent riverboats to the village and can be taken from the Terengganu Ferry Terminal, just round the corner of Jalan Bandar. The 3minute ride on the riverboat costs 50sen each way. Buy your ticket at the ticket booth by the jetty.
cooking keropok lekor
Once you get off at Seberang Takir's jetty, head for Kampung Hujung Tanjung. There are about 50 families living in the village and most of them are involved in some form of cottage industry to supplement their lifestyle.
From batik printing, keropok lekor and prawn cracker making, drying fish in the sun to packing for export: all done here. You can also catch the fishermen coming in with their catch in the early afternoons or late evenings. Sometimes as you look out into the horizon, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the regulars - a large family of dolphins playing not far from the jetty..at Seberang Takir.
Bukit Puteri (Princess Hill)
An astrologer pointed out to Baginda that the mole on his chest was a chart to his destiny that one day he would be the ruler of Terengganu. In 1839, Baginda Omar overthrew his cousin, Sultan Muhammad and successfully captured the fort after 3 attempts.As predicted, Baginda finally ascended the throne.
One night, having heard about the astrologer's prediction, Baginda Omar's older brother stole into the fort and bit off the mole, believing that the loss of the mole would have meant loss of the throne. That surely, didn't work out quite as his brother expected (?!!!) - instead Baginda had the fort rebuilt and fortified - loaded with a number of canons for protection against his enemies, which included even his family! This was where he lived during the first years of his reign.
A short climb to the peak reveals a small fort dating from the early 19th century. Baginda spent much of his early days as the ruler of Terengganu, discussing war strategies with his generals on a raised platform called a 'singgahsana' as seen still at the fort. Here, a large bell sits comfortably on its hold. It was commissioned during the reign of Sultan Zainal Abidin III in the year 1908 and was used to sound alarm in times of emergency - such as enemy attacks, fire and even people running amok (wild) in the streets.
The bell, the 'singgahsana' and a few canons have survived years of fighting and can be seen at Bukit Puteri. However, many of the original canons were taken back to Siam (Thailand) by the Siamese when they ruled Terengganu from 1843 -1845. Apart from the remains mentioned, there is not much to see except that for the nice view of the waterfront. It's a good place to rest under the shady trees during hot afternoons if you have already exhausted your itinerary.
Bed runners such as this contains a mixture of contemporary and traditional designs.
Just outside of Kuala Terengganu lies Chendering, a large light industrial area for small home grown companies dedicated to producing fine Terengganu handicraft. One such company is Bibah's Songket in Kampung Rhu Rengeh. Hajjah Habibah spends most of her time between her home and her factory just a short walk away. Songket weaving is her forte and she produces some of the best songket kains in Malaysia. Her clientele are the who's who in Malaysia from royalties to politicians and high-powered business people. However, she also caters to anyone who takes a keen interest in songket weaving and the Malay culture that has been woven into the traditions of such craft. She is just as passionate about batik painting as she is about songket weaving but now only paints batik in her free time and for pure creative pleasure.
Rattan basketware remains popular with locals
Her dedication to songket has led her to reintroduce the traditions of weaving into the homes of the womenfolk living in villages close by. For her weavers who have left their villages after marriage and now live far away, she encourages them to continue to supplement their living by setting up looms in their homes and continuing to support them by sending them work. Bibah hopes that the Malay Songket will one day return as a symbol of cultural identity as it was generations ago.