Malayan Tiger Train (MTT) Familiarization Trip: City Tour around Kota Bharu and Rantau Panjang (20 December 2011)

Malayan Tiger Train (MTT) Kota Bharu and Rantau Panjang City Tour

As part of the First Run of the Malayan Tiger Train (MTT), travel media and agents were brought around Kota Bharu and Rantau Panjang by KTM Berhad following the arrival of the first Malayan Tiger Train (MTT) at Wakaf Bharu Railway Station.

This whole trip was special for me, as on top of being on the very first Malayan Tiger Train (MTT), this was also my very first trip on the East Coast Line and to the state of Kelantan, so thank you KTM Berhad for the whole experience.

A tour bus was chartered to bring participants around Kota Bharu and Rantau Panjang for the day.

Rest and Breakfast at Paloh Inn

The first stop was Paloh Inn where KTM Berhad booked rooms for us to shower and rest for a while with the early arrival of the Malayan Tiger Train 1018up on the first run. Breakfast was also provided here.

Nordin Batik

The next stop was just up above at Nordin Batik. Nordin Batik specializes in traditional batik handicraft in Kota Bharu.

We were allowed to view how the staff at Nordin Batik paints their batik in the area behind the shop.

Cooking the batik ink.

The staff at Nordin Batik paints each print by hand for the expensive products.

Next, it was back to the tour bus with our luggage to head on for the rest of the city tour.

Bank Kerapu War Museum

The next stop was Bank Kerapu War Museum in downtown Kota Bharu. This was originally built in 1912 by The Mercantile Bank of India Ltd, and was used as the Kempeitai headquarters during the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945.

There’s a small exhibit of the Thai-Burma Railway with a map of the line from Nong Pla Duk Junction in Thailand to Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar. Perhaps a return visit is in order the next time I visit Kota Bharu to snap better pictures of the map.

Equipment used by Japanese soldiers were also on display.

A dedicated section of Force 136 was also put up in the museum.

Siti Khadijah Market (Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah)

Next, the group headed over to Pasar Siti Khadijah.

Fresh poultry is available at Pasar Siti Khadijah.

The grand central area of Pasar Siti Khadijah.

Kelantanese Dinar and Dirham is accepted in Pasar Siti Khadijah, with rates clearly displayed in the market.

A&W Kota Bharu

There was an A&W adjacent, and being a Singaporean deprived of it, I went in for a drink.

Having my then-long lost delicious Root Beer Float in Kota Bharu.

This was also my first time seeing the Kota Bharu Bus Terminal.

Heading on for lunch and the next stop at Rantau Panjang.

Lunch

A Malay-Thai lunch was provided by KTM Berhad on the way from Kota Bharu to Rantau Panjang.

Being so close to Thailand, Mango Sticky Rice was also on sale, and I got myself a box for dessert.

Pasar Besar Rantau Panjang

The next stop was at Pasar Besar Rantau Panjang right at the border of Malaysia and Thailand, located in the Rantau Panjang Duty Free Zone (Zon Bebas Cukai Rantau Panjang).

The market is a sprawling single-storey complex with lanes, giving me a bit of Chatuchak feels.

Thailand souvenirs can also be purchased here.

And being in Kelantan, I was also introduced to Lokching here, or fish satay.

Return to Wakaf Bharu Railway Station

After the shopping, the tour bus brought the group back to Wakaf Bharu Railway Station for return departures by the Malayan Tiger Train 1019dn for those heading to the south, or Senandung Wau 29dn for those heading to Kuala Lumpur.

Conclusion

Overall, a pleasant guided first trip as an introduction to Kelantan in Kota Bharu and Rantau Panjang, giving me flavours of both Malaysia and Thailand in a single city tour.

I would say that this was the trip  that sparked my confidence in future travel around Malaysia that was not JB or KL. Evidently, I’m now exploring public transport around Malaysia a lot more, even getting around Kota Bharu locally by Cityliner bus where possible, instead of getting a taxi or Grab.

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