Friday, January 25, 2008

Kota Bharu in Pictures - Part 2

This is a continuation of my previous rideabout around Kota Bharu on my 70 cc Honda Cub, a very reliable machine that never failed me except for those occassions when I forgot to fill her up with petrol because the fuel gauge always indicate half full even when it is empty. Not a problem really as petrol is avaialable by the bottles at most grocery or even coffee shops in Kelantan. A short push or sometimes a call to a friend can settle this small problem.

This second part is dedicated to jt or Jaqueline Tegjeu of Jaqui's Curve and zaitgha who once lived in the Police Barracks of Kota Bharu not realizing that both could have been neighbours and even had some friendly fights among them in their younger days. This Part 2 has many mentions about places relevant to both jt and zaitgha.

Before we begin our rideabout in Kota Bharu please do the followings:

1. In another browser window please open the map of Kota Bharu from this URL

2. Having done that please enlarge the map, focussing on Kota Bharu until you can locate the junction to route D106 from route 131. We are heading towards Kampong Cherang on the way to Kota Bharu town center. I have just had lunch at one of the stalls at the junction of Jalan Yaakobiah and with a full stomach we ready to roll now.

There is not really much to say about this ride back to the town center except that if you have left the town as long as jt or zaitgha did, you will be surprised at the many changes to the landscape. The town of Kota Bharu seemed to have expanded all the way to Cherang which we have just passed by. Many new shops and housing areas has developed all the way to the town. When we reached Jalan Long Yunus, we could see the many used car dealers dealing in all sort of brands including the high end Mercedez or Toyotas. Hey some Kelantanese have high taste too. We took the left turn into Jalan Long Yunus when the traffic light turned green and at the next traffic light at the Jalan Bayam Intersection, we turned right into Jalan Bayam. Are you still with me? We are on route D106 now. Didn't I tell you to open the map in the other browser window? When we reach the junction at Jalan Dusun Muda and you could see the 13 storey Bangunan Jabatan Persekutuan (Federal Department Building), then you are on the right track.
Hotel Sutera Inn on your right is another property of Mofaz. Bangunan Persekutuan on the left of the picture and Sutera Inn on the right.

Bangunan Persekutuan or Federal Building is a 13 storey building and thus it is also known as Bangunan 13 Tingkat. It houses the many Federal Governments offices such as Immigration, Auditor General, Registration Department, Youth and Sports among others.
Next to it is The Police Contingent Kelantan Head Office. Quite an imposing sight with the letter 200 Tahun on it. Are they celebrating a 200th annivessary or something?

The Kelantan Police Contingent Head Office

To our left is the old Jalan Bayam Flat. Lets not bother about this old building which is getting to be an eyesore. High time this block of flat be demolished and rebuilt with a better flat befitting its location.

Perdana Specialist Hospital

Neighboring the dilapidated Jalan bayam Flat is the Perdana Specialist Hospital owned by KPJ Healthcare.

This private hospital is convenient as while the patient stays in it's well furnished wards, the relatives can saty in Perdana Hotel close by. Anyway the food served at the wards are from the kitchen of Perdana Hotel. My daughter Azini gave birth to Nur Aqila Balqiss at this hospital some six months ago. Lots of thanks to her father's employer which picked up the RM6,000 tabs as charges for her delivery. It is that expensive to deliver a child nowadays.
Next to Perdana Specialist Hospital is another construction project going on. It goes by the name of Kelantan Trade Center.

Kelantan Trade Center

This Trade Center has a two main tower blocks. One block is almost completed. The condominiums in these blocks will be leased back to the developer to be turned to a Condotel to make up the extra rooms for Perdana Hotel which will then be able to cater to the more rooms rquired by Perdana Hotel to make it viable for bigger conventions. If you have purchased a condo unit there, you are in for a good return to your investment. You will finally own the condo for free!
Before we turn left into Jalan Mahmood to see how Perdana Hotel looks like, lets glance to our right to see the new Medan Usahawan near the Stadium Sultan Muhamad IV. It replaces the old untidy extended stalls that was the feature of the food stalls in the earlier days when U Lee used to visit Kota Bharu and stayed at Perdana Hotel or Zaitgha's and jt's frequent visit from her police quarters not far from here.

The view from one end of Medan Usahawan

Medan Usahawan from the stadium side.
Beside food stalls, there shops selling various items such as camping and outdoor gears.
Beside it stands Stadium Sultan Muhamad IV, a stadium that has seen better days but due to its proximity to the town center, the stadium Corporation is able to collect monthly rentals from the shops around the stadium built under the seat stands of the stadium. This is definitely a better contribution than the gate receipt from football games when Kelantan isn't faring very well in football on the national arena. The crowd prefers to watch English Premier Leauges rather than their own weak state team.

Stadium Sultan Muhamad IV

The front of the stadium with some form of stage constructed infornt of it. The stage is seperated from the stadium building by a road.

Now lets ride on to the junction where Jalan Bayam meets Jalan Mahmood. There is no more right turn here as it used to be so only a left turn is possible. A short ride will take us to the front of Perdana Hotel. I guess the name of the Hotel is familar by know and 23 years ago, a high flying corporate figure by the pseudoname of U Lee used to stay when dealing with VVIPs for million ringgit projects.
Perdana Hotel Kota Bharu
Perdana Hotel was the premier Hotel then before Renaisannce open up at the Kota Seri Mutiara Komplex in Jalan Yahya Petra. Perdana Hotel was the only hotel with a bowling alley and tennis courts on the roof of one of its building. Lots of champagne flowed at its bar and lounge before the current state government took over the state and with it, the ownership of Perdana Hotel via the Kelantan SEDC, the owner of the hotel.
Backtracking along Jalan Mahmood will take us to the same junction again. As u can see from the interactive map accessible from the above URL, Jalan Bayam seemed to be connected directly to Jalan Sultan Ibrahim. The truth is, it is not. At the junction the left turn takes us turn into the area where Gelanggang Seni, The State Libray, Dewan Jibilee Perak and Padang Perdana is located. The road ends immediately after The State Library as the fence that borders the Police Quarters prevent the road from joining Jalan Sultan Ibrahim. The Dewan Jubilee Perak was built on the site of where 2 tennis courts used to exist. The Dewan Jubilee which was once gutted by a fire sometime ago has now been repaired.
What is interesting here is the Gelanggan Seni which is very popular among tourists but little is known about it among locals. Cultural shows are performed to tourists on every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Dance and Wayang Kulit performances are performed indoor in the dewan on Wednesday evenings. The centre is now closed for renovations till February. Please check with TIC Kelantan for exact date of opening.
Gelanggang Seni Hall

This is where the State Government has given exceptions to female performers to perform in public and to tourists only. If you are out of state you can consider yourself as tourists too. Currently the stage in the Dewan is undergoing massive refurbishment and you can expect to see a far better stage than it was before.
Outside the hall, other cultural performances such as top spinning, rebana ubi, kertok, silat and gasing pangkah are performed in wall less shelters. A small cafe is also available. Though the public toilet has undergone renovations with tiled floors and walls, its maintainence is still below par. The caretakers were quite uncomfortable after seeing me taking pictures of the pretty unappetizing toilets which is considered OK by their standard.
A small cafe near to Gelanggang Seni
Outdoor performance area under renovation.

The State Public Library

Dewan Jubilee Perak.

The Dewan Jubilee was built on a former tennis court and a newer and better courts were built on the other side of the field which is named Padang Perdana. This field is located infront of Dewan Jubilee Perak. This is a favourite site for expositions.
View from the top of Padang Perdana with the astro turf hockey pitch. The roof of the medan selera is in the foreground. The Telecom Tower protrudes into the skyline. (Picture courtesy of Raykinzoku)

Going back towards Jalan Mahmood, we'll take a left turn towards Jalan Hospital. The Hockey pitch is on our left and the Sultan Muhamad lV is now on the right. At the traffic light we turn right into Jalan Hospital. They have built a brand new Pusat Kesihatan Besar Kota Bharu beside the nurses training center. Carrying on further we entered the Hospital Besar Kota Bharu compound proper. The old wards with it myriads of covered walkways are still there on our left, taking so much expensive
ground being built of single storey buildings. Fortunately the new blocks of wards and emergency wards on the right are built upward. If the former health minister was not caught in compromising position on tape, he would have built new blocks of wards to replace the old ones. I believe he and the previous health minister had done alot for KB Hospital.

Kota Bharu Main Health Clinic

The entrance to the old wards at Kota Bharu GH.

The new emergency ward. The new block of wards are just behind it.

The presence of KB Hospital and The Teaching Hospital of University Sains Malaysia has a provided a pool of specialist doctors for the many private hospitals such as Hospital Pakar Perdana and Kota Bharu Medical Center to fall on beside their own pool of doctors. So if you want to go for medical tourism, Kota Bharu is the place to go with the comparatively lower cost hotels for the accompanying relatives to stay in while the patients recuperate in the wards. Kota Bharu Medical Center
Kota Bharu Medical Center, another private hospital along Jalan Yahya Petra which I missed mentioning in my earlier rideabout. I must have gone too fast on my 70 cc Honda Cub.
Let us backtrack towards the Jalan Mahmood Junction. Crossing Jalan Mahmood we come into the end of Jalan hospital on route D106. On the left is the hockey pitch, while Jabatan Ukur dan Pemetaan Kelantan is next to it. If you need the latest map you can always buy a copy here. I need a copy of the latest map of Kelantan as well as of Malaysia myself. Some 12 years ago a large map of Kelantan costs RM5.00, a small sum for such an informative map. The topo maps are restricted though.

Jabatan Ukur Dan Pemetaan
On the other side of the road is Sekolah Kebangsaan Padang Garong. Anyway that was what the name was when jt studied there. Now they have renamed all schools in the vicinity of Kota Bharu as either Sekolah Kebangsaan Sultan Ismail or Sekolah Kebangsaan Zainab followed by a number 1,2 or 3 making it easier for everybody in Kota Bharu to send their children to a premier school as the above two names of royalties signify. There are too many appilcants to such a few places available in the original school. Very brilliant solution to a problem. Before I return to the landmarks on the left side of the road along Jalan Hospital, let me briefly tell you what other interesting landmarks that lies across the road next to Sekolah Kebangsaan Padang Garong. Next is the Jabatan Pelajaran Negeri Kelantan. Nothing interesting to us but the next one is. Why? Its Bangunan Majlis Perbandaran Kota Bharu thats why. Thats where you pay your compounds for parking violations like when you dont top up your parking meters. Like not putting any coins in the meter thinking its a holiday and the parking attendants don't work on Sundays. Hey Kelantan works on Sundays but holidays on a Friday. Its called the corridor of Mecca you know. If the compound is RM30 which is the standard fare, just walkup a flight of steps and ask for the Secretary to allow you some discount and you pay only RM10.00. What if your car is clamped? I have yet to experience that so I can't tell you at the moment.

The road next to Majlis Perbandaran Kota Bharu known as Jalan Doktor. This road is important not because of there are many clinics there. Infact I cant remember seeing any at all by it's side. It is important as it leads you to the town bus stands. A few budget hotels are around there too.
The old bus stand in town is really a cramped up spot. Relocating it to a bigger site should be a priority.

Beside the town bus stand which used to be the pasar malam, construction is going on at a frenzied pace to build Kota Bharu Trade Center. Wow another trade center after Kelantan Trade Center? Yes. The Giant Supermarket is slated to be the anchor tenant. Another supermarket after the Store which is already there.
Construction of Kota Bharu trade Centre in progress

How about buying a shoplot here?
Giant is the anchor tenant.
The Store is the closest neighbour. Will it survive after Giant is opened?

The next road after Jalan Doktor is Jalan Dewan Pas. Every Friday morning this road will be closed to all normal traffic.

Jalan Dewan PAS on a Friday morning.
The reason is there is a PAS ceramah at The Dewan PAS on every Friday morning. All the roads around it are closed. It is supposed to be a religious sermon but more often than not some speakers deviate into a political ceramah. On the day of my visit Tok Guru Nik Aziz was the main speaker. Something of note he mentioned was the State Governments policy of encouraging Kelantan youths to learn new languages beside English. The current emphasis is on learning Mandarin. Wow! What a foresight from his leadership. To backup his point he mentioned that the State has already sponsored students to do so.
Tok Guru giving his sermons on the slightly raised platform.
The view from the muslimat side.
Let us go back to the other side of the road where we left off at The Jabatan Ukur dan Pemetaan.

A short road ends at KGCC. What on earth does that stands for? Some years ago it was known as RKC. The former is Kelantan Golf and Country Club while the latter stands for Royal Kelantan Club. Something must have happened to necessitate the name change. I don't know why yet.

Kelantan Golf and Country Club

Beside it is a lane leading to a famous club, The Royal Kelantan Club. Join the club if you want to rub shoulders with who is who in Kelantan. My ex boss once treated me to lunch at this club as he was a member. The Club has a golf course near Maktab Perguruan Pengkalan Chepa not very far from where Shah of cakapaje used to live when he was young.

We have nothing to do at the Club house as I am not a member. At the road exit into Jalan Hospital is the Court House. A classmate of mine was a Judge here once. Lucky thing I never had the opportunity to appear befor his Lordship there. He is rumoured to be next in line to be the Chief Justice. Another classmate confided in me that he has reliable informations that my friend is too straight forward and does not play ball with the Executives so he won't be considered. With the current imbroglio over the appointment of CJs who knows he might get there earlier? My honest opinion is that this bruhaha over the Lingump tape is just a show to humiliate an ex PM.

The New Court Complex

Next to the court house is the Pejabat Jajahan Kota Bharu

Kelantan Muzeum. Since Tuan Haji Alimin Omar is the Director of Muzeums now, I will get to photograph the artifacts available inside for my posting on Kelantam Muzeums which I am going to do as soon as I get this current postings on Kota Bharu In Pictures is done.
Kelantan Museum.

Looking across the Bulatan Jam Besar (The Clocktower Roundabout) I could see the once popular Prince Hotel, where the only night club was located. Rumours had it that this night club was patronised by royalties when Kelantan was a fun and easy going place. The Islamic Party that governed the state after that tightened all bylaws that allow such places to operate and curtailing public consumption of liqour. There used to be a dance teacher who held classes for budding ball room dancers.
Prince Hotel was located in the building in the center. It is no more a hotel. Prior to its closure it was a budget hotel and the dance floor was converted to a guest house.
To the left of the above buildings across the road from it at the entrance to Jalan Gajah Mati, is Wisma Yakin. On the ground floor some travel agencies were operating from it. The reason? MAS town office was located in one of the shop lots on the ground floor. Due to stiff competition from Low Cost Carrier AirAsia, MAS had to cut cost to be competitive and close it's town office the same way AirAsia did to its Town Office in Jalan Dusun Muda. Selling tickets online and by phone is definitely cheaper. Tickets are also available at the ticketing office at the airport in Pengkalan Chepa.

Only the signboard remains at the former Town Office of MAS at Wisma Yakin, Jalan Gajah Mati.
Moving onward along Jalan Sultan Ibrahim towards Wakaf Siku, you cant miss the glaring colours of Kelantan Tourist Information Center. Though there were many people inside the office, nobody bothered to greet me as I came in. I proceeded to collect as many pamphlets and brochures that I found relevant and called out the name of one of the guides that was I used to deal with when I was managing a travel company somewhere in Kota Bharu. He reciprocated with a reply acknowledging my thanks for letting me have the pamphlets and brochures. A different treatment would have been accorded to a foreign guests I guess, otherwise people will have a bad impression of the frontliners of our so called Tourist Information Office.

Nobody will miss this Tourist information Office if they were to pass by it as it is located quite near to the roundabout and Muzium Kelantan.

On the door of the TIC buildings I saw this greetings in various languages.
The word welcome in several languages. Very thoughtful, hopefully they will really make their guest feel really welcomed.

On the opposite side of the road is Palm Manor. This was the former residence of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
Palm Manor

On the opposite side of the road I saw this Bank with an escalator at the front. It is the only bank in town with such a facilities. The escalator is only upward bound so you still have to walk down the stairs. I wonder if they have a lift for the disabled customes to do their banking here. The bank was so forward looking that they must have anticipated a very big flood to happen one day due to global warming. At this height they think they could remain unaffected for many years to come.

The only bank with an escalator in town.

The old police barracks are still intact. This was where zaitgha and jt grew up when they were small. If I have the authority I would have relocated the policestation elsewhere and use these barracks as chalets to cater for tourist to stay. With some renovations, this would definitely be great for the former occupants of the barracks or their children to come back and relive their lives with their children. How about you zaitgha and jt?

Fearing that I maybe charged for spying I took this picture through the fences.

View from across the fence

The Kota Bharu Police District office is still here too.

The Kota Bharu District Police Station is still operating from the old site.

The post office is still standing

Further down the road nearer to wakaf siku I saw this building.

This was formerly known as Hotel Irama.

One is a hotel and the other is a guesthouse. Pick your choice. The topmost floor is a swiftlet hotel. Birds seem to pay higher rental than human just by producing salivas to build up their nest.

Everyone is familiar with Court Mammoth. Here you can buy things on hire purchase and pay them by the weeks.
Across the road infront of Court mammoth is a convenience store that has taken Kelantan by storm. The popular Seven Eleven is here in several places in Kota Bharu.

Upon reaching the traffic light at Wakaf Siku, I turned right into Jalan Hamzah. On my left there is a cemetery with crosses on the grave yards. Its a Christian Cemetery. There must be quite a number of Christians in Kota Bharu too.
The Christian Cemetery in Jalan Hamzah.
jt, this picture answers your question on whether it still exist. The house that you used to stay in could be somewhere across the road. Since KB Mall occupies a big plot across the road, it cant be there anymore.
There must be alot of demand for nurses. As such Masterskill has opened up a spankingly new branch which is yet to open in Kota Bharu.

A private Nursing training center.
Further on from the cemetry, I saw this hindu temple sitting together next to a church. Sorry I can't identify to which faith the church belongs too as there is another church along Jalan Kuala Krai barely 2 kilometers away.
The Hindu temple and a church sitting next to each other in Jalan Hamzah directly opposite to KB Mall.

Finally I reach the traffic light at the junction to Jalan Kampong Sireh and Jalan Sultanah Zainab. Straight ahead is Jambatan Sultan Yahya Petra. I have completed a loop of my rideabout and I still have alot of ground to cover for Kota Bharu. We will continue the rideabout on another day. I am going home to my wife and grand children now. See you on another day.

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