I am married to a Kelantanese boy and admittedly being a city gal, I am jealous of him growing up on a beach-front town. For the most part of his childhood, he used to ride his bicycle regularly to a beach we still frequent these days called Pantai Cahaya Bulan to watch the strong waves lap against the heady outcrop of rocks by the beach side. Now this appeals to the romantic side of me because I can only recall growing up with buildings and automobiles and inhaling the polluted air of the city as part of my childhood!
Of course, being his wifey, here’s where the perks and privilege come in as to being able to leave our footprints (started with us two, then when the kids slowly came along, all 5 big and small pairs of footprints) on just about every beach in Kelantan over the years. One of our favourites is Pantai Irama near Bachok which is a lesser known beach there.
Kota Bharu (KB), which is the state capital of Kelantan and the hometown of Daddy Joe is a captivating gem with the serenity of a laid-back town quite unlike the others. It is a bit of an old meets new here with the old part being the many century-old wooden houses and the slow-driving drivers in their twenty years old Protons that clog the streets and come to a sudden halt to swing by the many small Keropok Lekor (think sliced, fried fish cake one eats by first dipping into sweet chillis sauce) and fresh coconut juice stalls along the roads. This is also an old town that is remarkably dotted with as many green padi fields as small obscure road signs hidden wearily behind the bushes.
The new being its own Tesco hypermarket, KB Mall, famous Thai and local Malay food restaurants at the commercial hub of the city to meet all the gastronomical and daily necessities needs of the locals and tourists alike. Somewhere in between are the royal palaces, several museums, batik stores and local night markets which add vibrant colours to the landscape of KB.
Being Malaysian, there’s always the food part – a must try is Nasi Dagang and Nasi Kerabu, which are the favourite rice-based food of the happiest little family on earth. Even Baby B loves them with his drooling stamp of approval.
While its landscape and town-planning are not exactly primed for major touristy attraction, the friendly smiles of the locals may just make it up for the unhurried and even a little sluggish pace of the town.
This school holiday I am definitely heading for the beaches again with a fresh coconut juice in hand and watch my kids fly their kites over the clear blue sky of KB. I can finally stop being jealous as I partake in Daddy Joe’s love of nature with my own account of seaside indulgence albeit for just that few hours of admiration.