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?

Friday, January 12, 2007

BBjeff, We Wish You Success

BBJeff who is unknown to me wrote the followings on my blog's comment page under the topic Another Reason To Quit Smoking :
I just turned 36. After 16 years of smoking about 25-30 sticks a day, I've just quit for the first time on 1st Jan 2008.Nicotine patches do help cut the craving by about 70%. For the rest of the 30% I sniff a vicks inhaler and eat sweets to kill the craving.Its been 8 days now ... The side effects of not smoking ... Extreme tiredness esp after lunch, but the nice part is, my stamina to play football has increased visibly while playing football after only one week of quitting.Wish me luck guys.
Monday, January 07, 2008.

When I read those admission by bbjeff, I felt elated that I immediately wrote to my comrades in arm over the stop smoking campaign namely Akmal and Hantu Laut requesting their cooperation to help bbjeff by encouraging him to be strong willed to fight the desire to give up.

Akmal responded by writing this:

Pak Zawi,
Allow me to respond to bbjeff.
You made the first and second step already; resolution and action. I bet, now you are facing the withdrawal symptoms, which is the frenzy part of quitting smoking. But you see, what you do right now is noble.I'm with you.
Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hantu Laut have yet to respond but I guess he will do so in due course. It may not be due to our effort that bbjeff wanted to stop but nevertheless we are elated that there is somebody out there who has decided to stop and has taken the step to quit as Akmal aptly described it, bbjeff made the first two steps already, resolution and action. Thus far we consider him as on the way to success.

Closer to home, my sister in law's husband, Tuan Haji Hussin Musa has decided to stop too. At the age of 66, Tuan Haji Husin had been smoking for the past 50 years since the age of 16. Though he had reduced his addiction to a pack of 12 sticks of Gudang Garam per day, he couldn't stop it entirely despite the urgings of close family members including his daughter in law who is a doctor and does autopsy at one of the district hospital in Selangor. She had seen too many damaged lungs due to ciggarette related diseases.

After 50 years of smoking ciggarettes Tuan Haji Husin finally decided to quit.

What made him stop abruptly on 1st December 2007?

Dato' Dr. Ashaari Yaakob of IJN had told him matter of factly that he won't do an operation on him unless the patient stop smoking 6 weeks before a bypass is done. Xrays done on his lung on previous preliminary visits to IJN showed his lung to have enlarged lumens, the minute tubes leading to the bronchioles where oxygen is absorbed into the blood. Tuan Haji Husin is due to be warded on 28th Januari 2008 before the by pass will be done on him. He needs to do bypass on two of his blocked veins which is already 100 percent closed leaving only 3 functioning ones.
That did it. He has to stop and stop immediately he did. To tide his craving for ciggarette he is taking some sweets as a temporary measure.

My son Azuan quitted smoking soon after being hospitalised for removal of a blood clot in his brain. Here he is with his uncle Tuan Haji Hussin.

Do you have to wait for the doctors at IJN to tell you to stop smoking before you can make yourself strong enough to quit smoking?

Here are some pictures taken from the following sites to show how lungs infected with smoking diseases look like and you can read more at the same sites where the pictures were copied:



Cerebellar Metastasis: This image shows an operative photograph of a craniotomy (circular opening in the scull) through which can be seen an area where a lung cancer metastasis to the cerebellar area of the brain has been surgically removed. This patient is alive and well ten years later.

A diseased lung seen via an endoscope

This image is that of a lobe of the lung resected at surgery containing a large squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.

It will be interesting to see how Akmal will keep the fire of the campaign to help people quit smoking going through his next post on the same subject. Hit it Akmal.

Thai Pubs To Be Smoke-free

The Star of 12th January 2008 reported that Thailand has introduced a new rule to tighten an earlier restrictions which ban smoking in restaurants. Now the non smoking zone is extended to pubs too. Beginning from Feb 17th, 2008 this ban will be in force. Knowing the Thai authorities, they will strictly enforce it. Non smokers will have an easier life breathing in pubs in Thailand compared to in Malaysia where smoking is still allowed.

The Thai Authorities is of the view that smoking is so pernicious that they have a duty to protect their citizen.

Why can't Malaysia take a lesson from the Thais?

A close friend forwarded this to me, I paste it here as the way it came. Hope you will enjoy reading it.

I am PETER STUYVESANT. Come from the city of MARLBORO, whose main business is in Storing Salt (GUDANG GARAM). Said good-bye to my two close comrades, BENSON & HEDGES. I traveled up to the mountains of METHAHORN(Matherhorn?). Through the valleys of MILD SEVEN. Riding on my WHITE HORSE. There, I fell in love with 2 EVEs. One with the daughter of MASTER DUKE. Two with the grand daughter of ROTHMANS. We checked in at the house of DUNHIL. Land booked into room 555 STATE EXPRESS. Put on the aircon to COOL. I laid them onto the bedsheet made of GOLD LEAF. One cried in delight "you are a ROUGH RIDER". The other "As though you are riding on a CAMEL" Spading the SPADE. Huh… not long after, they asked for MORE. No.. Not now.. I KENT.

~source:unknown. Revised Version1.

Original taken from Blogspot: Hok Kawe.

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 PC.com magazine which came in a box with calendars as freebies.

I bought the only available copy of PC.com'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.