Ramadan is considered as one of the holiest months in the Muslim calendar and Kelantan proves to be the aptest place to enjoy fasting. However, it turned out that Kelantan is also wonderful to be visited outside
Among the many states of Malaysia, one of the most interesting to visit during Ramadan is Kelantan, a state on the east coast that is well-known for its delectable cuisines and wonderful people with the sweetest smiles. With just an hour’s flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Sultan Ismail airport is the getaway for those who are flying to this calm and cheerful state.
The Glory of Ramadan
The first thing that tourists must not miss is the popular Bazaar Ramadan. Since years ago, Bazaar Ramadan is one of the attractions during Ramadan for the variety of food and beverages it offers. In Kelantan, you could find lots of food not found in the Bazaar Ramadan located in other states. Other than the authentic food options, the taste of the food served at the bazaar are absolutely indisputable for its authentic taste sold at very cheap price.
To name a few; kuih akok, nasi kerabu, ayam percik, kuih jala mas, kuih buah tanjung, kuih tahi itik, som tam, puteri mandi are among the local delicacies that one must try. The desserts are mostly very sweet – perfect for those with sweet tooth!
One of the things that Muslims are encouraged to do during Ramadan is to perform the ‘Tarawih’ prayers, performed after the ‘Isha’ prayer at night. During Ramadan, many Imams from the Middle East were invited, thus attracting many local Muslims to participate in the prayers led by these Imams because it makes the experience almost similar to performing prayers in the Islamic holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
Usually, the prayers would be followed by a small feast called moreh, light servings of local cakes or porridge as supper. For moreh in Kelantan, people tend to go for something a little different, called colek. A kind of mixed salad, consisting a choice of deep fried crab, prawns, fish, chicken, clams, squid and vegetables, all topped with special peanut sauce.
Colek is also served all year long, but restaurants serving this delicacy will be extra busy during Ramadan due to the presence of tourists. Among the popular places for colek are the Perdana Resort and Restoran Cik Siti, both located within Kota Bharu, the capital city of Kelantan.
Restoran Cik Siti Restaurant served more than just colek and customers can decide the choice of ingredients. The restaurant also offers alfresco dining, which is one of the most preferred dining style by the people here. At this restaurant too, patrons will be able to quench their thirst with a few special drinks that come in different sizes – even up to XL! Another special menu at Restoran Cik Siti is crab maggi. This meal is made out of instant noodle but added with crabs for that special extra. At least two whole crabs with shells are allocated for each dish and they really change the whole taste of the plain instant noodle.
Among the must-visit attractions when being in Kota Bharu, irrespective if whether visitors come during the fasting month or not, are the Beijing Mosque, Tok Selehor’s grave, Kampung Laut Mosque and Rantau Panjang duty-free zone. Beijing Mosque is one of the newest religious attractions in Kelantan due to its unique architecture and the origin of its construction.
Also known as Sultan Ismail Petra Silver Jubilee Mosque, Beijing Mosque was inspired from Niujie Mosque in Beijing, China, famed for being around for more than 1,000 years.
Beijing Mosque is located just two kilometres outside Rantau Panjang and since its completion in 2009, it has been one of the most visited mosque due to its exquisite design. It also can accommodate up to 1,000 people at any one time and close to residential areas.
Many religious figures were born in Kelantan and one of them was Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Uthman Bin Senik, popularly known as Tok Selehor. He was known for spreading the Islamic knowledge to the villagers of Kampung Lubuk Jong. Near his grave, there is a mosque and a cave, where he used to meditate. Visitors may spend some time in the cave to experience solitude.
Another landmark of Islamic historical significance is the Kampung Laut Mosque, the oldest surviving mosque, built over 400 years ago. It is very closely related to other famous mosques in the Malay Archipelago, such as Agung Demak Mosque in Indonesia, Nat Tanjung and Wadi Hussin Mosque in Thailand and Kono Mosque in Cambodia as these are among the mosques that were built during the rapid growth of the number of Muslims in the region.
The overall structure of the mosque is made out of high quality wood and not a single nail was used for the original structure of this mosque. It was once located by the sea in Kampung Laut, but has now been moved to Nilai Puri for conservation. However, certain parts of the structure have to be reinforced with new technology, for instance by using nails and additional scaffolding.
Kelantan is also famed as haven for shoppers especially the ladies, as ladies’ accessories like scarves, clothes, traditional attire and many more are sold at reasonable prices. One of the most famous places for shopping in Kelantan is the duty-free zone in Rantau Panjang. It may not be as big as the Langkawi duty-free shopping area, but for those who are looking for household items, this is definitely the place. Kitchen utensils, clothes, fresh fruits, automobile accessories and women accessories are among the merchandise sold here and you can definitely get a lot of good deals by bargaining with the retailers.
Should you wish to experience the authentic lifestyle of the villagers in Kelantan, make sure Pantai Suri Homestay is the one that you head to. Located by the beach and only reachable by boat, the rustic village life in Pantai Suri Homestay will bring you way back to a simple life, where everything around seems very relaxed and beautiful.
Populated by about 450 people, this village homestay still practices traditions, for instance toiling together when holding feast, preparing traditional delicacies fo daily consumption, fishing and netting marine life for subsistence. Everyone in this village knows each other and they live in harmony. Visitors will be able to experience climbing coconut trees, watching sunrise by the beach and helping villagers with their cooking. It was such an unforgettable experience to live such a simple life with complete strangers yet feel so much at home.
Kelantan has so much to offer in so many ways imaginable. Visitors get to spend unforgettable moments and cherish the experience during their travels, even outside fasting month. Make your way to Kelantan and experience its delights now!