The Museum Volunteers organised a study trip to Kuala Terengganu between 19 – 22 Apr 2016. Chen Poh Leng has the story for Day 2 (20 Apr).
Day 2 of our visit started with a hearty buffet breakfast at the hotel that included delicious local fare such as nasi dagang (rice) with gulai ikan tongkol (fish in gravy), pulut kelapa (coconut covered glutinous rice balls) with salted fish and cucur ikan bilis (fried dough with anchovies). With much stored energy, we headed off to the Terengganu State Museum, the highlight of our trip.
We were all awed by the main museum building’s beautiful architecture and the very first thing we did was to take a group photo with this beauty. The architect, Raja Dato’ Kamarul Baharin Shah, incorporated Terengganu’s old palace design into this creation. The museum complex spans over a land area of 27 hectares and consists of a main museum, a fisheries museum, a maritime museum, four traditional houses with herbs and botanic gardens. The grounds of the museum is so beautiful we were told that wedding photography is a common occurrence there. There are a total of 9 galleries covering textiles, royal, Islamic, craft, petroleum, natural history, seafaring and trade and finally, fisheries and marine park.
We were privileged to be warmly welcomed and guided by the director of the museum, Tuan Haji Mohd Yusof bin Abdullah. He told us that the concept of the architecture was based on the local dwelling concept where houses could easily be extended and connected with corridors as families grew. The houses could just as easily be dismantled. He shared with us that the main purpose of building the state museum had to do with the inscribed stone Batu Bersurat first discovered in 1887 in Terengganu. This is the most famous artefact of the state. It has the Malay language inscribed using Jawi script on dolomite stone. He highlighted that one of the main reasons of the ease of the spreading of Islam in the Malay Archipelago was the writing of the Malay language in Jawi script. According to him, the Malay language had additional 5 Jawi ‘symbols’ or characters compared with the Arabic language.
- the use of natural dye in the making of batik material
- Malay traditional cloth weaving, although with a weaving machine, was labour intensive
- the use of brass ware in everyday life was common while that of silver ware was less common
In the maritime museum, we climbed into an actual cargo boat on display and were introduced to some sea faring facts within the south east Asian region. We were also introduced to various types and characteristics of different types of perahu (boats), the most famous being perahu payang. We were told that the boat building skill was special in that no plans were drawn. It was all ‘within the head’ passed down from one generation to another.
As we moved along the grounds we could see many different fertile flora around us. We were introduced to various fruits trees and herbal plants by Tuan Haji Mohd Yusof who shared the benefits of consuming them. He had special interest in this subject and thought preserving these plants would complement the museum complex’s grounds while being environment friendly. Fruit trees we saw included the belimbing, the tropical fig as well as tropical olive trees.
The museum excursion took up the whole morning and by the time we finished, it was time to refill our tummies. The authentic Peranakan lunch we had at On The Way Kopitiam, located in Chinatown, was most enjoyable. Everyone was delighted with the delicious local Peranakan fare. Dishes included, laksa, laksam, rojak as well as lekor (fish cake) served in 2 versions; steamed and fried. The satisfying meal was finished off with a bowl of ice kacang desert which helped cool down our bodies.
Following lunch, we were led to Pulau Duyung by the museum staff to witness the building of a wooden perahu (boat) the traditional way. The type of wood used was the cengal which is a type of hardwood. The wood type is also used to build Malay houses. The cengal, just like teak wood, is able to withstand harsh weather and does not attract insects. The visit ended with warm appreciation and goodbye wishes extended to the hospitable museum staff from the MV group.
Our next stop was that of Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah, the floating mosque. It was built by the late Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah, father of the current sultan of Terengganu in 1993 and opened in 1995. Named after the mother of the current Sultan, it was yet another beautiful mosque and a photo snapping spot for us.
Next on our itinerary was the Nor Arfa Craft Complex where we witnessed 2 demonstrations relating to the cloth industry – the printing of batik as well as the weaving of the songket cloth. After this, our retail therapy commenced. Most of us ended the visit with items to bring home. The combined purchases entitled us to some complimentary items which were then given to the lucky ones resulting from a lucky draw following this visit.
The last visit for the day was to a home family business. This is the home of a young family that is in the batik business. We were welcomed into more retail therapy. This time a warmer welcome as we were served local snacks and drinks. I was impressed with the young children helping out their parents in conducting business.
The day ended with yet another but final meal for the day. Our dinner was at the Golden Dragon Restaurant, also in Chinatown, before heading back to the hotel for much a needed shower and a good rest. While it was tiring, the day was indeed enjoyable. We were enriched knowledge wise, experience wise, vitamin D wise (due to the intense sun) but NOT wallet wise, thanks to retail therapy. At day end, we were a happy bunch for sure – a day well spent and money well spent.