Moored at Kedai Payang Market

<—-Previous Story

“I’m not from India, I’m from Iran”, the bunk bed neighbor’s traveler answered my question.

“Do you know where is a middle eastern salon near here?. I think I need a salon for relaxation”, he suddenly asked the receptionist and hotel owner.

I inwardly laughed at that “funny” scene that morning, a light conversation before I set out to explore Kuala Terengganu for the first time since arriving.

I rushed down the stairs to get out of The Space Inn, along Engku Pengiran Anom 2 Street, heading north, repeating the original way when heading to the inn. Of course, I went back to Air Jernih Street, met again at the intersection where Politectic Kuala Terengganu became a landmark besides PMINT Tower and retraced Masjid Abidin Street until I arrived back in east side of Hentian Bas Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu.

The east side of Hentian Bas Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu.
Rows of Interstate Bus ticket counters.
So here it was…. The tree just got “dressed up”……

It was just that, two hundred meters before arriving at bus terminal, I was fascinated by the art of yarn bombing which pinned colorful knitted threads to a row of trees in a side of Masjid Abidin Street’ sidewalk, right on the west side of PB Square. Make the city atmosphere more lively.

Arriving at bus terminal, I immediately struggled to find an Interstate Bus ticket to go to Kuala Lumpur the day after tomorrow.

“There are even cheaper ones, Sir?”, I joked at an Arowana Bus ticket counter staff.

“Nothing…. It’s only 43 Ringgit, Sir…. this is the cheapest”.

“Okay, I’ll take one, Sir …. For the date of 31st”.

A few minutes ago, I had secured a ticket to Kuala Lumpur, now I was a little calmer to start exploring my first destination.

Yupsz, I was going to Kuala Terengganu’s market.

That market is only a kilometer from Hentian Bas Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu, so I decided to just walk. I slowly enjoyed the crowds around Kampung Daik Street, under the shade of roofed corridor along sidewalk, what a comfortable way to walk. My steps also had to turn right in front of Balai Bomba dan Penyelamat Jalan Kota’s Office, which were identical in color to the fire brigade offices in Jakarta (my hometown), bright red.

Now I felt reluctant to continue swinging steps due to the scorching heat of sun in the path in front of me that wasn’t longer covered. Finally, I decided to take a break at the end of covered corridor, sitting in a concrete bench, waiting for the cloud to cover the sun.

Kuala Terengganu fire department.

A few moments of waiting while enjoying the passing of local residents, the cloud was present, now the street didn’t sting anymore, I immediately took a quick step down Sultan Zainal Abidin Street. Finally, two hundred meters ahead, I arrived at Kedai Payang Market which was starting to get busy.

The Kedai Payang Market dis seem to show off its beauty, it was said that the two-year-old building functions to replace the old building that had retired.

Rows of tents with white cloth roofs stretched across market’s face, separating the parking area from commercial area. The large tents showed that  market’s interior area wasn’t enough to facilitate the bustling commerce in downtown Kuala Terengganu.

Now I’ve entered market inside which was very crowded, the stalls with red brick motifs still looked new, the alleys seemed full of visitors passing by. Several clowns and pet equipment sellers were seen cramming into several corners of stalls selling songket, batik, handicrafts and traditional snacks from Terengganu. While in the back area, it appeared that a special area was provided for a row of culinary stalls with a mainstay menu of Nasi Dagang, Laksa, Nasi Lemak and several other specialties.

Kedai Payang Market back view.
The market front.
Market atmosphere.
Rows of clothing stalls.
Culinary stalls behind the market.
Come on, first enjoy the beauty of Terengganu River!

I just kept going until I reached its backyard. Apparently that market is right on the outskirts of very clean Terengganu River. Bot Penambang (Passenger Boats) could be seen moving back and forth to mobilize Terengganu residents from a bank to another. The Bot Penambang (Passenger Boat), which is relied upon as the city’s water taxi, seems to have originalized the atmosphere of Terengganu that morning.

The beauty of the expanse of Terengganu River finally started to make me fall in love with that city and managed to tame me to just linger for a while enjoying the gentle breeze in a concrete gazebo which is part of public facilities belonging to Pasar Kedai Payang.

“Don’t be in a hurry, Donny….Sit down and enjoy”.

Next Story—->

Impressed in The Space Inn

<—-Previous Story

Adventure to neighboring country is easy and fun. In addition to culinary which is familiar with Indonesian tongue, their tourism also provides a lot of super cheap lodging which gives possibility for anyone to explore the country.

That morning, I had just jumped off myBAS which had brought me from Sultan Mahmud Airport, now I had just turned around when I had just moved north leaving Hentian Bas Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu. For a moment, I stared at it from a distance, enjoying the simplicity of that mainstay bus terminal of “Keropok Lekor” Country.

A moment later I headed to WIN DOTCOM Telecommunications Equipment Store, the busiest shop in Syed Hussein Street to hunt for local SIM cards and internet services which I would use for my four-day adventure in Malaysia.

Inside the shop, I was offered various types of SIM cards by shop owner who was of Chinese descent. Meanwhile, a young girl wearing a black headscarf with an authentic Malay face patiently explained my ignorance from shop owner’s quick explanation. At the end of that transaction, I got a SIM Card with a 2 GB quota for 25 Ringgit. The price was very affordable, at least I had been guaranteed by Hotlink for 10 days to have access to internet surfing.

Now I was starting to head south, entering a road inside the block, crossing Twin Towers of PB (Paya Bunga) Square, owned by Perbadanan Memajukan Iktisad Negeri Terengganu (PMINT) which became Pusat Transformasi Bandar Terengganu or public better known as UTC (The Urban Transformation Centre) . The atmosphere began to get excited that morning, the routine activities of Terengganu residents had just begun.

Paya Bunga Square in the morning.
The intersection at Abidin Mosque Street.
PMINT tower in a side of intersection.

Seeing the architecture of Twin Towers of PB Square, I began to understand that Kuala Terengganu carvings were always embodied in every city building. Nice and elegant.

Leaving Twin Towers of PB Square, I now head south through Masjid Abidin Street until I arrived at a large intersection decorated with a slogan Sign Board “Visit Beautiful Terengganu”. The PMINT tower which functions as Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu looked solid, occupying a corner of intersection and exhibiting city’s main slogan “Bandaraya Warisan Pesisir Air”.

Finished waiting for the turn of green traffic light, I crossed intersection, continued heading south. Entering Air Jernih Street, a hundred meters ahead, I turned right at a fork. Location of The Space Inn wasn’t far from T-junction. The inn I chose was a dormitory which utilized a shophouse complex along Engku Pengiran Anom 2 Street.

My steps finally arrived at the door of inn, but I was enveloped in confusion because the door was tightly locked. For a while I just silently stood in front of inn’s door without any idea. Even the sidewalks around seemed deserted, it was impossible for me to ask anyone. Luckily, ten minutes later, an inn guest came down the stairs and was about to leave the inn. It was this moment that I then used to sneak in.

I climbed the stairs and finally arrived at 2nd floor reception desk which was guarded by inn’s owner, a middle-aged man of Chinese descent. He friendly greeted me and of course asked how I could get in because I didn’t have an access card. I told him my “cheating technique” and he burst out laughing.

As a result he gave me an access card to go in and out of inn after handing over my passport to be scanned and the staying cost was 41 Ringgit per night. Finishing all administration, I went up to 3rd floor to look for a bunk bed according to a number listed in back of access card.

The Space Inn.
Reception room.
My bed.

Taking off my shoes in front outside, I started to enter a quiet room with cool air conditioning. Not all bunk beds were filled so that it was possible for me to move to other mattress I liked, next to  bulkhead with travelers from Iran and Japan.

Mr Okamoto

The traveler from “the Land of Rising Sun” worked as an English teacher in the capital city, his name was Okamoto. I met him when he was busy fiddling with the small padlock which was attached to a locker handle of inn.

“There’s no key in my locker, did you get that padlock from the reception desk?”, I ventured to ask.

“Oh, of course not. I bought it by myself”, he answered with a smile.

“Oh, okay. I’ll better put my backpack in bunk bed”, I replied with a frown.

From that conversation, the two of us became acquainted and became best friends at inn.

Eventually it became a habit, when morning and evening, before and after adventures, Mr. Okamoto was always the first to greet me at shared-khitchen table. It made me powerless to refuse his invitation to just talk about anything while sipping coffee together. Mr. Okamoto’s brewed coffee mix always had a special taste. I didn’t know what kind of coffee he brought from Tokyo.

Shared kitchen.
Mr. Okamoto whose English was good….But he still had a Japanese accent.

His friendship made me know more about Japanese culture and some interesting locations in Japan which he suggested to I visited, Okinawa being one of them. He was also honored because I had visited his country three years before our meeting. Likewise, I felt honored because he had traveled to Aceh just to enjoy original coffee from that area at the western tip of Indonesia.

Washing

The advantage of this tiny inn iss the availability of a space which connects share-bathroom and bedroom. In that small room, the inn manager provides a hanger and a fan. During my stay, I noticed that none of visitors used the connecting room.

Except for me, who casually used that room to dry t-shirts which I washed every afternoon in shared-bathroom. Washing wasn’t a complicated thing for me when I get acquainted, just rub t-shirt, trousers and socks using bath soap, then rinse it under faucet, wring it hard and then hang it in hanger in connecting room, just wait until tomorrow morning until it dried.. OK? That was why five t-shirts were enough for my long journey which could even last three weeks.

My T-shirt was still drying.
Shared bathroom.

Faucet Water

It was output of a light conversation with The Space Inn staff on duty that afternoon, I finally got information that the tap water in Kuala Terengganu is very safe for direct consumption. He even demonstrated in front of me how he put the glass under kitchen faucet, streamed the tap water and then drank it casually. “Of course it’s safe…. You’ll see, every day I drink this water,” he lightly joked with a faint smile.

Three days in Kuala Terengganu, I didn’t even spend a single bite money to buy drinking water. The price of 1.5 litre drinking water in Kuala Terengganu is around 3 Ringgit, if you are only three days in the city, it means you have to budget 18 Ringgit just to buy for drinking water.

How?….Is Kuala Terengganu tap water useful?

So, if you go to Kuala Terengganu, where do you want to stay???….

Next Story—->

myBAS from Sultan Mahmud Airport to Downtown Kuala Terengganu

<—-Previous Story

Similar to my experience when visiting Ipoh a year earlier. In several cities in Malaysia, finding a bus to downtown from the city’s entrance gate was something that sometimes was rare to find in internet. The consequence was, I had to try my best to find it on the spot when I arrived in my destination. Calmness and mental strength were really tested to find that public bus.

Exploring the entire Sultan Mahmud Airport, I took time to ask a cleaning service who was pushing his trolley. Through simple conversation, he informed that there was a bus service to downtown every hour. myBAS, the name of that bus and that public transportation would drop passengers in the top floor of airport.

Armed with that important information, I decided to immediately go up to Departure Hall to hunt it down. But I wasn’t lucky, just as I exited Departure Hall’s front gate, the bus was already puffing a thin layer of smoke, started its engine and leaving the airport.

“Well, in next a hour, I must wait”,  I lightly thought.

The waiting moment which was actually boring, I used to enjoy an atmosphere around the airport from top floor. After that, I sat in the edge of Departure Hall terrace waiting for myBAS to arrive.

Filling the waiting time, I decided to record all expenses I had spent since leaving my home on yesterday afternoon. I really paid attention to the passing of private cars which dropped off prospective flight passengers, until I realized that many people had been paying attention to my presence when passing by. It might seem a little strange, there was someone sitting in the edge of terrace waiting for a bus. I myself was a little surprised, why not provided a seat in that wide terrace. Of course not, I had to stand for an hour waiting for bus to come. That was similar to my experience in Manila when I was reprimanded by an MRT officer when I sat on the floor waiting for MRT to arrive.

Exactly a hour, the sound of a slight engine growl came from the far right of Departure Hall, the airport bus slowly crawled up to top floor. I immediately stood up and waved as a sign I would use its services. The bus slowly slowed down and stopped right in front of me.

Drove with myBAS to downtown.

I jumped up from front door of medium-sized bus with a capacity of 34 seats. Give the driver a fare of 1.8 Ringgit and sat in back seat. The passengers were dominated by women and I was really amazed that all of them were wearing headscarves. “The Islamic nuances in Terengganu are thick,” I quietly thought.

None of passengers got off the bus. “Oh, maybe Terengganu people prefer to use a private car to go to airport, but what do I care, the important thing is that I can go to downtown at a low cost,” I concluded in my heart.

Sitting there, I enjoyed the local dialect which was passed between passengers, the Malay dialect which I always missed when I got home. I was still in the aisle seat when myBAS first out from airport, I had to wait for some passengers to get off to be able to enjoy Kuala Terengganu’s view from seat in window side.

The time I was waiting for arrived when after a few minutes, the bus dropped passengers and left a few empty seats in the side of window, I took the leftmost seat in the middle and started following  bus’ pace in showing the original view of Kuala Terengganu.

On a time, the view of Terengganu River and the view of downtown at the far end caught my attention. Meanwhile, rows of passenger ships and mining boats were seen going back and forth on the vast expanse of river, showing that Kuala Terengganu’s economic strength was supported by its waters.

Seen in the distance: Felda Residence Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu Drawbridge, UTC Terengganu and Wisma Darul Iman.
The atmosphere in Masjid Abidin Street.
Air Jernih Street. 1.5 kilometers from Hentian Bas Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu
I arrived.
myBAS at Hentian Bas Majlis Bandaraya Kuala Terengganu.

The next view which appeared were several one-story government buildings which occupied several sides of road leading to downtown. The bus continued to follow road signs which lead to downtown, while other signs pointed to Terengganu State Museum. Also a direction to big road to Kuantan, that was my way out to Kuala Lumpur the day after tomorrow.

Unconsciously, fifteen minutes have passed, myBAS whcih I was riding began to reach to downtown. For ten kilometers, I was exposed to Kuala Terengganu travel spoilers which made me even more curious.

Descending from the tiny myBAS, I immediately walked to The Space Inn where I was staying.

My adventure in Kuala Terengganu began…

Next Story—->