Of Shopping, Food and Cottage Industries...

by Audrey Lim, Aug 14, 2001 | Destinations: Malaysia / Kelantan
Songket Weaving, a cottage industry in Kelantan

Songket Weaving, a cottage industry in Kelantan

Songket Weaving, a cottage industry in Kelantan

This is the fifth and final article on Kelantan. I must have covered majority of the happenings in this state but of course, nothing really beats experiencing the fun firsthand. So, what's left of this place for us travel bugs to savor? Lots, actually! First, we have shopping to reckon with. Then the famous food, of course. Last but not least, cottage industries - the lining to all cultural aspects for the Kelantanese.

Shopping in Kelantan is rather different from the big city of Kuala Lumpur. Instead of looking for branded goods or fashion items, you will be greeted with a burst of cultural splendor and awash with handmade knick-knacks! This "shoppers' haven with a difference" has huge variety of traditional handicraft and merchandise. Some of these enviable items include gorgeous silk kaftans, batik scarves, silver trinkets, and rich songket. Other lovely handmade produce includes baskets in all sorts of colors, handbags made from mengkuang, and place mats.

There are a few places you can go to for a shopping treat. Some of the famous ones include the Bazaar Buluh Kubu, New Central Market, and even one that is laid out along the street of Temenggong (Jalan Temenggong). The Bazaar Buluh Kubu is a great place for bargain hunters. A three-storey shopping complex, the bazaar stocks many cute and interesting souvenirs, knick-knacks and clothing. For a colorful experience, you must head on over to the New Central Market. It is also a very popular spot for photographers. Amongst stalls selling chilies, carrot, seafood and other farm produce, you will also see stalls selling trinkets and souvenirs. The street of Temenggong is also a good shopping spot. Shops are lined up along the entire street selling gold, jewelry, textiles and brassware.

When you are done shopping, hunger will set in. This is when you go all out and indulge in some of Kelantan's best offerings. Famous dishes such as Nasi Ayam Percik, Nasi Kerabu, and Nasi Dagang (as found in metropolitan areas like Kuala Lumpur) actually originated from Kelantan. Nasi Ayam Percik is rice with barbecued chicken that is marinated with spicy coconut gravy. Nasi Kerabu is also a rice-based dish. It is served with coconut milk, flaked fish, desiccated coconut and a sprinkle of other herbs and sauces. Nasi Dagang is a kind of brownish rice steamed with coconut milk and served with fish gravy. Sounds delicious? Well, they sure are!

If spicy Malay food ain't your type, then head on over to the Junction at Jalan Padang Garong and Jalan Pengkalan Chepa. Here, you will come to Kota Bharu's Chinatown. Feast on the traditional Chinese meals at this place! For an al fresco experience, check out the food stalls located at Padang Bas (town center) any time from 6 pm to midnight. This is a Malaysian lifestyle and culture not to be missed!

Lastly, the Kelantan cottage industries! It is an area of economic activity that started and took place right at home! The Kelantan cottage industries are famous for its silverware, songket weaving, batik printing and kite making. You may have heard of the Kelantan Silver before. It is famous for its fine workmanship and intricacy in design. The silversmiths here use two types of techniques known as the filigree ad repousse. Some of the items made from silver and readily available for sale includes fruit bowls, tea sets, ashtrays, brooches and bracelets. Do pay the factories a visit at Kampong Sireh that's located along Jalan Sultanah Zainab. There is also another at Kampong Marak and another at Kampong Badang that is situated on the road to Pantai Cahaya Bulan.

Next, songket weaving. Songket weaving is as old as history itself and is a legacy for the Kelantanese. In the olden days, songket was only allowed for the royal family but now it is used for ceremonial occasions and weddings. The material first came about ages ago when the Chinese traders came to the land with their silk. Then from India came the gold and silver threads. If you want to experience songket weaving firsthand, then check out the songket-weaving factory at Kampong Penambang.

The next interesting cottage industry craft is batik printing. Batik is a type of textile with lovely printed designs, mostly floral. Batik is synonymous with the Kelantanese. Old fashion method of printing sarongs uses the stamp block but now, it has upgraded to easier and better methods. You can visit some batik printing factories at Kampong Puteh, Kubur Kuda and Kampung Badang.

Of course, Kelantanese famous past time - kite flying, which spawn the cottage industry of kite making. I have written an article on kite flying previously and have noted that Kelantan is indeed home to giant kites. Usually, kite flying takes place after the harvesting season. During this time, you will see kites of all shapes and sizes playing in the wind high up in the sky. Some are known as wau kucing (cat kite), wau merak (peacock kite) and even a wau bulan (moon kite). You won't miss it once you step foot on Kelantan. You may even purchase one for souvenir. Alternatively, there are many miniature ones for sale too.