Monday, January 8, 2007

All Roads Lead To Tesco In Kota Bharu, Kelantan

A few days before the end of 2007, many lamposts along most of the roads in Kota Bharu were adorned with vertical banners with the distinctly blue colours and the words Tesco Kota Bharu, Akan Di Buka and Pandu Cermat Kota Bharu Tesco, Opening Soon, Drive Safley). Some becas (trishaws which we Kelantanese call taxi) were adorned with similar advertisement. The trishaw men was too happy to get a free new top cover as well as a new coat of paint for their trishaw while the Tesco management was happy to get free advertisement. A win win situation for the both of them.

The banner before the opening on 3rd Jan 2008

Work was going on at a frenzied pace around the Tesco building which was located on a piece of reclaimed land very close to The Sultan Yahya Petra bridge connecting Pasir Pekan in the District of Tumpat to Kota Bharu. The land was not truly reclaimed as it had been in existence for as long as I could remember and it was then known as Tanah Raja as it still belongs to the government. All these while this fertile alluvial sand bank was used by the farmers to plant maize, ground nut and whatever crops that can be harvested before the rainy season comes when the whole area will be submerged by the swelling Kelantan River. In other word the farmers had temporary use for the land on Teporary Occupied Land licence (TOL). A company (purported to be from Penang) obtained permission from the State Government to raise the level of the land above the flood level and develop it into a residential and commercial area. The writer is not clear on the condition of tenureship of the reclaimed land and whatever the condition, both the developer and the State Government must have benefited from the development since no financial cost was involved. The only cost was the loss of income to the farmers who had been farming the land before the project was started. The other cost is a social one as the youth who had been using the football pitch on the other side of the bridge was deprived of their playing field without an alternative site being made available to them. So the footballers must now either play footsal in one of the many footsal centers mushrooming around the town or play virtual football on the internet.
Tesco is one of the earlier tenants on this quite a large piece of reclaimed land. Another building is being constructed near it.

Now it is open, says this signboard.

We thought the opening was to be on 1st January 2008 to usher in the New Yaer but I guess things were not ready by then and so 3rd Januari was later announced as the opening day of Tesco Kota Bharu.
It was while servicing my car at Toyota Service in Jalan Kuala Krai that I came to know of the opening of Tesco Kota Bharu from the cleaners at the center. Having the whole day free while they work on my car airconditioner, I decided to walk to the new supermarket which in the words of the cleaners was within walking distance from the service center. Yes to them a 3 kilometer walk is indeed was within a walking distance. Kota Bharu doesn't have city taxis like those in other towns. What we have here is the 'kereta sewa' which plies between two destinations and can be shared among 4 other passengers. The only taxi that we have are the becas whose number are fast dwindling in numbers. When all the present crop of old 'beca' peddlars are gone, there wont be anymore becas in Kota Bharu. On the day that I walked the 3 kilometers to Tesco, not a single beca cross my path. The one that I finally saw was the one coming out from the Tesco area with the Tesco advert prominently dispalyed on its canopy top. The pedaller couldn't bear it anymore and had to take his pee break among the unused plastic road dividers by the road side. He was oblivious to the passing traffic and only faced away from my prying camera lens. Out of respect for the elderly trishaw pedaller, I steered him clear from my camera lens. I know he had suffered enough from trying to contain his urgent need to empty his bladder. Couldn't bear the thought him shown all over the internet world attending to natures call. Either he couldn't find the washroom while at Tesco or he couldn't pee into the super clean bowl at the washroom. Many people are so used to a dirty toilet that the sight of a clean one can put them off from using what they were supposed to use.

The owner of this trishaw had to empty his bladder barely hidden between these unused plastic road dividers.

This is probably the winner of the trishaw decorating competition organized by the Tesco Management

Kelantan Koridor Depu. Do you know the meaning of depu? I am still vague myself.

The turning into the road leading to Tesco from Jalan Kampung Sireh was well manned by uniformed perssonnel with the word RELA clearly displayed on their vests. These job seems to be the perfect job for them as against the much controversial enforcement duty over 'Pendatang Asing Tanpa Izin' (PATI) that was becoming a part of their duty lately and carried carried with so much zest that sometimes accused of an abuse of power.

RELA members manning the road junction leading to Tesco KB.

This expatriate rides the buggy to his car which must have been parked away from the supermarket.

Astro was there too. Was there a direct telecast?

The covered car park must be full by now.

No place for the motorbikes under the covered parking area.

While walking to the new supermarket, I saw a golf buggy coming out with an expatriate as passenger. He must be representing the British Company that owns Tesco at the opening ceremony.
Further nearer to the Tesco building I met a group of four Bangladeshi walking away and they were in a uniformed T Shirt and I guessed right when they smiled at me and gave me the peace sign when I mentioned the word "Bangla?" at them. There must be a shortage of workers from among the locals as to deem it necessary to import workers from the land of too many people. The local youth must have preferred doing the same work in fashionable 'Kay El' compared to rural 'Kay Bee'.

These Bangladeshis gave me the peace sign after being photographed.

These are the jobs for the Bangladeshis.

Just like any other hypermarkets, Tesco KB requires anchor tenants like KFC to provide the fast food, Nagoya Textiles to sell textiles and various others. Other tenants are Nasi Ayam, Watson, Ogawa etc.

The Colonel will provide finger lickin good fried chickens.

Other facilities provided are a spacious and still clean food court. Unfortunately on my second visit today, we were bothered by flies which seemed to be everywhere despite the place being airconditioned. During my first visit on the opening day the place was free of flies. Today I had delicious laksa Penang.

The washroom is still immaculately clean and provided free of charge.

Tesco KB has two levels of covered parking and an open parking area. All are free. Only those with personal conveyance can reach this outlet as walking the way I did isn't feasible even on a cool cloudy day. There is also the free loyalty card membership being doled out. Frequent customers holding the card will collect points to be exchanged later with gifts when sufficient points are collected.

The covered car park

The main entrance on opening day.

Signing for free loyalty cards.

RTM Kelantan was there too to provide a direct broadcast via a mini studio.

Cakes from Secret Recipe are delicious.

The entrance to Tesco supermarket on opening day.

The payment counters.

Look at them coming.

Nagoya Textiles is another major tenant.

Ample playing area for the kids and located just beside the food court.

My former boss En. Alimin Omar and his wife Kak Dah. He is now The Director of Muzeum Kelantan. Hopefully he will bring the muzeum to greater height.

Unfortunately there was no book store in this outlet. All I could find was a news stand which sells magazines and newspapers. I bought the latest bumper issue of magazine which came in a box with calendars as freebies.

I bought the only available copy of's bumper issue. This guy is a Nepalese.

Tesco is known to offer lower prices compared to others. My daughter bought two packs of baby diapers at RM32.00 compared to RM37.00 which she bought an hour earlier in Pasir Mas as she ran out of stock before leaving the baby to me to take care off while she and her husband paid the supermarket a visit. Who can resist a 13.5 percent discount? My daughter inlaw Yani would have bought 10 packs to benefit an immediate saving of RM50.00
The price list is displayed at the entrance.

The low prices is a great boon in these times of rising prices. It may also the death knell to those mini markets across the river one of which has already reduced its size to one floor from the previuos two floors. To these mini markets, hard times are definitely ahead of them. Will the local governement allow more of such hypermarkets in Kota Bharu in addition to the present ones already in existence? Beside Tesco, we have Billion Supermarket, KB Mall, Pantai Timor, The Stores (2 outlets), the smaller Maidins and Salams. Parkson used to exsist but closed its door sometimes ago due to lack of patronage. Will the Giants chain of stores come here too?
KB Mall which is located within sight of this Tesco outlet provided you don't suffer from impaired vision and view it from a high enough elevation to look over the end of the Sultan Yahya Bridge.

Don't worry of being out of cash, they will accept credit cards or bank card for Point Of Sale charges or you can withdraw cash from the ATMs.
Stalls at the carpark on the basement carpark

These guys found a perfect spot to advertise for personal loans to those who have expended all their financial resources.
Without much other places or entertainment, shopping places will become the places for people to while away their free time. KB Mall has a bowling alley for them to play a game a two. The choice available now is getting more for the people around Kota Bharu.


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