Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kota Bharu In Pictures - Part 1

This blog will be dedicated to my four friends who missed Kota Bharu so much. They are U Lee, Zaitgha, Cakapaje and Hantu Laut. Kota Bharu was U Lee's palyground when he was living in Malaysia and was often mentioned in his blogs. He was last here in 1985. That was almost 23 (corrected from previous 13. Thanks U Lee) years ago. Zaitgha used to grow up in the police quarters right smack in the middle of town. Fortunately most of the places she remembered are still there but no more in the state that she used to see. Hantu Laut had the experience of a flood while visiting Kelantan some 23 years ago. Cakapaje grew up here when he was small and was last here 3 years ago.
Tan Sri Muhamad Yaacob the then Chief Minister of Kelantan wanted to make the floods of Kelantan as a tourist attraction and put it on the calendar of events for tourists to enjoy like the Kelantanese do. The idea remained an idea as only God knows how to bring the flood without fail so that tourists will not sue anybody for not being able to experience the promised flood when they are here.

Flood 0f 2004, picture courtesy of Raykinzoku
To enable you to navigate with me on my motorcycle ride around Kota Bharu, please open this interactive map of Kota Bharu in another browser window so that you can refer to the map when you need to locate my position. I find this map quite accurate and pretty recent. Start with me from The Sultan Yahya Petra bridge coming from Pasir Pekan along Jalan Wakaf Baru on route 134.
Please note that the above map is an interactive one so you must enlarge it to show details of all the roads in Kota Bharu.
Since I live in Pasir Mas on the west bank of The Kelantan River, I will portray the sights of the town which the current state government has renamed as Kota Bharu Bandaraya Islam. The Federal Government has yet to confer this town the city status though the smaller Kuala Terengganu was conferred theirs recently. I guess the political differences does count.
The round about at the intersection to Wakaf Baru and Kota Bharu in Pasir Pekan is still there. Coming from Pasir Mas, taking the 3 oclock led me into the newly widened 2 km stretch leading to the Sultan Yahya Petra Bridge. The vision of an additional 2 x 2 lanes new bridge which the PM officiated the ground breaking ceremony in November 2007 bridge played in my mind. When I reach the present 2 lanes bridge one lane going each way then only I realized that the dream of the new bridge is still to be realized. This is where the daily bottle neck occurs everyday, morning and evening. In the morning when workers ride into Kota Bharu to work and in the evening when they return home. Work on the new bridge seems to have come to a standstill. The contract was awarded to a company called Redland, and as the name suggest, it is owned by somebody from Tanah Merah. Rumour has it that it is a Dato' from UMNO .
Riding a bike means I have to ride along the bike lane at the side of the bridge. If I am lucky there wont be a 'becha' which the Kelantanese call 'teksi' infront there leading the pack at a miserly 5 km an hour speed capable by those old leg power. There is no way to overtake them.
From across the river, Kota Bharu can be seen as a town with a dynamic skyline from the distance.

Close your eyes to the colour of the water as it is no more of the same colour as you have seen it in the seventies. Look at the yellow coloured building that is a new addition to the Kota Bharu skyline as seen from across the river, its the spanking new and yet to be opened Pelangi Mall.

As I neared the end of the bridge on the Kota Bharu side I can't miss the sight of the recently opened KB Tesco in that striking blue color with the word tesco spelt in Jawi as well as English.

Immediately after the bridge, the road widened and there is a traffic light where a roundabout used to be. The roundabout was known as Bulatan Kijang (Barking Deer Roundabout). It was a pretty big roundabout with water fountain spurting from the mouth of four deer figures sculpted from bronze. There were benches too for people to sit and relax. The current state government when it came to power for the first time (Remember in 1990 it was for the second time) removed the figures purportedly due to their abhorence to figures be it of animals or human. I remember taking pictures at this roundabout. Now even the roundabout has to be removed to ease traffic flow.

(Will put picture of bulatan Kijang when found)

The right turn at this traffic light would have led me to Jalan Kampong Sireh where the unoccupied official residence of the Chief Minister was located. Nothing was said when the then Chief Minister Tan Sri Mohamad Yaacob didn't stay there preferring his new wooden mansion in Taman Uda Murni. Lots of noise were made when the current Chief Minister Tuan Guru Nik Aziz choose to stay in his humble wooden abode close to his mosque where more often than not he will lead the morning Suboh prayers before giving the morning sermon which I once had the opportunity to attend.

Ain't four lanes on each side is wide enough for Kota Bharu?

The left turn would lead me to Jalan Sultanah Zainab where there are many interesting landmarks await those who care to venture.
Jalan Sultanah Zainab as seen from the junction.
Since I am taking the straight wide road ahead via Jalan Hamzah, we are bound to meet the Express Bus Stand which is dwarfed by KB Mall. When night comes people leaving for various destinations in Malaysia will leave by the bus loads. Transnational busses have their own bus terminal in Jalan Langgar.

The Kota Bharu Express Bus Terminal beside KB Mall in Jalan Hamzah.
Those familiar with the Bulatan Wakaf Siku will be in for a surprise as the roundabout is no more there as it was replaced by the traffic light.

KB Mall as seen from the other side of Jalan Kula Krai junction.

KB Mall occupies the site once known as Biaritz Park. In the olden days Biaritz Park was the equivalent of BB Park in Bukit Bintang KL. Kota Bharu was then known for a town of real fun where joget and other forms of entertainment were always available. Everything is gone after PAS took over the ruling of the state from UMNO for the first tim. (Date to be verified)
I could have taken a right turn here and the right turn would have taken me to see the old JPJ Kelantan office where many old drivers obtained their driving licence. It is now an academy.

The old JPJ office on Jalan Kuala Krai. It is now The JPJ Academy

By the way I obtained my driving licence from JPJ Johor Baru in 1974, which was then in Larkin. Do you think I know anybody there who could help me secure my license without doing the test?
Did you notice the new block of condominiums beside the old JPJ office? Its too prominent to miss.
Condominium living is the in thing in Kota Bharu now.

If I were to go further up on the opposite side of the road is Kota Darul Naim, where the state assembly and the state governments admisitrative offices is located. Kota Darulnaim was built by the previous state government during the tenureship of Tan Sri Mohamed Yaacob as Menteri Besar. This is how Kota Darulnaim look.

Kota Darul Naim (Picture courtesy of Raykinzoku)
Going straight from Jalan Hamzah I rode into Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra. Some wooden shops are still standing being the remnants of the old wooden shops prevalent in The Kota Bharu of old. There are even older looking wooden shops which will be potrayed later.
The old wooden shops will soon give way to modern brick buildings along Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra.
I spotted a new bank in town by the name of Al Rajhi. Its an Arabian Bank. They deemed it fit to open a branch in Kota Bharu.

The Al Rajhi Bank

Next on the right side of the road is the imposing Kota Seri Mutiara building where Billion Supermarket and Hotel Renaisance is located. There is also a condominium block in this complex. More condominiums are being built around KB as more Kelantanese takes to condominium living which is most convenient as you live within a complex with almost everything necessary within it.

It is an imposing building. Some people was surprised when I told them Renaisance is opening up a hotel in Kota Bharu some years ago.

A closer view of the entrance.

This was once a Petronas building. They must have built the building for their used as the base when oil or gas was to be landed in Pantai Senak, Kelantan. I guess the proposal never see the light of day and this bulding was used as a petrol station and the upper floor was let to PTPL an Open University. Today the building is undergoing massive renovation. Maybe the ownership of the building has changed hands. Its just a hunch.

The building that was once a Petronas Petrol kiosk undergoing renovations. The Open University signboard is on top of the building.

We are still riding my motorbike along Jalan Yahya Petra

Mofaz is owned by some Kelantanese and the CEO and President is Tuan Haji Mohamad Fauzi Abdul Hamid. If one were to drive around Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, you wouldn't have missed the once popular More Exoticar, it was one of his babies. Mofaz is coming home real strong by opening up this new outlet beside its hotel and a few other businesses already in operation. Afterall they started their business in Kota Bharu before moving base to strike it big in KL. This is their latest addition to what they already have here.
Next to Mofaz Exotic Car is their Mercedez Show room with the Mercedez flags flying high.
The next prominent landmark along this route is Mesjid Kubang Kerian. This beautiful structure was initiated by Tan Sri Ibrahim Mohamad, a Kelantanese who once owned Promet. He must have went into a bad patch as the mosque was for sometimes neglected. I wonder who complete the construction later.

The Kubang Kerian Mosque

Jalan Yahya Petra ends at the Kubang Kerian Junction. Taking a right turn will take me to the Istana Kubang Kerian where Sultanah Zainab (the mother of the present Sultan) resides. We are taking left into Jalan Raja Perempuan Zainab. The Teaching Hospital of University Sains Malaysia is on the otherside of the road.
University Sains Malaysia Teaching Hospital
Let us not turn left at the next junction as it will take us into Jalan Bayam. We will turn left only at the next junction to Pulau Melaka. Yes thats the famous island in Kelantan where YB Tok Guru Nik Aziz resides. The map doesn't show the road to Pulau Melaka as the bridge to there was not ready when the map was drawn then. Anyway we wont be going there as we are turning left into Jalan Hospital. The new JPJ complex is on our left. They needed a bigger area so they have to relocate here.

The new JPJ Complex.

Hey it is already noon and it is too hot to continue riding a bike. I am hungry too. Let us stop for lunch and continue the journey another time OK?

No comments:

Post a Comment