By: RaY KinZoKu

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Friday, 1-Jan-2010 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
ENTER 2010 : Kota Bharu & The Charming 80s

On the other hand, this is Kuala Terengganu from the same period

ENTER 2010 :

Kota Bharu & The Charming 80s


Please, don't wish me " Happy New Year ",

since I only wake up to a new day and never to a new year,

But if you must and would die if don't,

wish me a " Happy New Day " instead ...

.... and don't forget to do so .... every .. single .. day ~


Exit 2009 .... Enter 2010 ~ !

A decade into the 21st century ....

Amazing !

Feels like it was just last year that I first drew in my first breath, last month since I first learned to arrange letters into words, last week since I got my first pay-check and yesterday since I am what I am today ....

I was actually born and grew up in 80s Kota Bharu and lived in the small town of the East Coast, through the period as a small kid, who observed a lot but experienced very little. Unfortunately, what now left of that observations are only scattered pieces of blurry images, coloured by vague bitter sweet memories, hoping to be pieced back in some sort of an ultimate revival. A revival that finally came, well somewhat, after I chanced upon these dusty old, postcards of Kota Bharu.

These postcards however, are undated. I am not sure when these images were exactly taken but by examining some distinct " markers " synonymous with the period such as vehicles, structures, landscapes, people's activities and alike, I strongly believe that these must had been snapped between late 70s and mid 80s i.e. around 30 years ago.

Now, through these shots, I am returning myself to that Kota Bharu I once knew.
My mom and my late father used to drive me through the bustling streets of the town, through and passing the places shown in these images. While they really mean something to me for that, I believe that they might mean a lot more to other Kelantanese who went through the 80s Kota Bharu as grown-ups. Well, whatever that might be ..

Now, I am only hoping for the best and a much brighter future for Kota Bharu ...

Viva Koto Barghu !

( May you grow up smartly .. )

~ " Korera wo miru to nanka natsukashii kanji ga suru ne ... " ~

* Postcards Credit :

Colour slides by Great Wall Photographers Sdn. Bhd. , Kuala Lumpur

Published by Great Star Enterprises, Kuala Lumpur

* Jalan Temenggong

The main artery of Kota Bharu .....

( Interestingly, what I thought as a recent introduction, was actually already implemented
in the past, I mean, the one way flow of Jalan Temenggong .. Note the traffic flow ! )

At the end of this road, is Hotel Temenggong - the red walled high rise, seen in this shot
" next " to the Fujicolor signboard. The hotel, albeit a very small one by today's standard,
is much in business now as it was before.

There's also a pedestrian bridge over Jalan Temenggong ( entirely of steel, painted
dark, not clear through this shot though ) accessible through the second floor of Pasar
MPKB . I have no idea since when it was there but I do recall it well, used to cross the
road on it and clearly remember the day when it was brought down, a decade or so ago,
emm ... I wonder why ?

I remember Restoran Budaya too, but I don't remember the one with a 7-Up sign on
the right. I only remember it as a bank, if I am not mistaken, a Standard Chartered
branch which ceased from operation, when I was still in my primary or early secondary
school years.

As for the Restoran Budaya, the building where it used to operate from is still there,
quite undisturbed, an old wooden house of early 1900s construction. Its front lawn
however have been turned into a showroom for Kia cars ...

Present day Jalan Temenggong :

* Tips : Right click on mouse, open in a new tab

* Jalan Padang Garong

One of the main arteries of Kota Bharu.

There were less motorised vehicles and the road seemed to be not as crowded as it
is now.

Teksi ( Kelantanese for " beca " ) however was aplenty back then and they
were the " kings of the streets " of Kota Bharu. Now, very few are seen.

Also in this shot is the then, newly completed Kelantan State Economic Development
Corporation ( SEDC ) or Perbadanan Kemajuan Iktisad Negeri Kelantan ( PKINK )
building, towering behind, well above the older shop houses.

Trivia :

Somewhere at the end of this row of shop lots ( left hand side ) was a private maternity
clinic, where I was born. The clinic has since gone, many many years ago ...

Present day Jalan Padang Garong :

* Tips : Right click on mouse, open in a new tab

* Masjid Besar Koto Barghu aka Masjid Muhammadi

The townspeople's center of faith ....

As far as I remember, the mosque iconic domes had always been coated in black,
with the rest, in cream. If I am not mistaken, the colour scheme was maintained so,
since it was first built in 1920s until someone came up with an idea, rather recently,
to change the domes' black to gold coloured pigment while still leaving the rest in its
traditional coat of cream.

Thankfully, either way, it is still look good although deep inside, I wish it could be
coated with glimmering gold leaf instead of normal paint ... eheh ~

( Kelantan kan ada emas ? )

" Alang alang menyeluk pekasam, biar sampai ke pangkal lengan ! "

Present day Masjid Besar Kota Bharu ( Masjid Muhammadi ) :

* Tips : Right click on mouse, open in a new tab

* Pasar Besar Kota Bharu

.. or simply known as Pasar MPKB ( Majlis Perbandaran Kota Bharu ).

Located in the heart of old Kota Bharu, surrounded by pre-War shop houses.
It was the focal point of market-going in Kota Bharu before Pasar Besar Buluh Kubu
( later renamed to Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah ) came to the scene.

The above shot shows the vegetable section of the market.

The entire market itself was dominated by women traders, an interesting feature or
characteristic, still prevail and unique to Kelantan, a rarity in other corners of Malaysia.
Here, some of them are seen engaging in business, each with a piece of clothing
called " kain batik lepas " carefully wrapped around their heads, serving as both
decent Muslim head covering and also as a cushion for balancing goods on their
heads during transportation - an art, now very rarely seen today.

While women continue to dominate the Kelantanese market scene, their traditional
appearance, particularly their unique headgear is now disappearing, dying out slowly,
replaced by the contemporary " tudung bawal " and the likes. Only a handful of old timers
are still seen donning the " semutar " * in the town's marketplaces, with relatively
slightly larger presence in the rural areas.

* when worn by men, it is known as a " semutar ". Not sure what they call it when
worn by the opposite sex, though they both are practically the same thing ...

* Interesting Read : " From the Governor's Desk : An Old Lady in “Smuta” "

On the other hand, notice how the use of bicycles was very common in those days.
Almost everyone was using it, both young and old, mainly by those in the middle and low
income group. Now, almost all turned to motorbikes ( if not cars ) and bicycles are
getting rarer except probably among school children, but not without a price - the fuel
hike threat ! Affecting everyone like never before !

Would it be great if we could have bicycles back on our streets ?

( For the note, cities in Japan are extremely hospitable to cyclists .... )

Present day vegetable section of Pasar Besar MPKB ( or now, Pasar Lama Arked MPKB ) :

* Tips : Right click on mouse, open in a new tab

* Pasar Besar Kota Bharu : The Fish Section

Same market as the above, but different section.

( though located just side by side in the small market place ! )

In those days, sea produce were sold at open air markets like this one.
Unlike today, plastic shopping bags were scarce and limited only to established,
high end shops and the only way the humble, down-to-earth fishmongers to send away
their goods was to carefully wrap them in paper ( of used or old newspapers, a small
pile could be seen on the table in the above photo ) and placed them into the awaiting
customer's basket. It was the time when shopping baskets were very common and
sanitary problems related to plastic wrappers were almost unheard of.

The above fishmonger's main trade seemed to be Ikan Tenggiri ( King Mackerel ),
which he proudly displayed on his work table. The fish is considered good eating and
now priced at an average of RM 20 ~ 24 per kilo. Quite expensive for daily consumption
by most Kelantanese. I wonder how much it was then ? RM 5 per kilo maybe ? Huh ?
Should certainly be a lot cheaper back then, as low as the average salaries of those
days .... Talk about inflation and ever shrinking buying power ~ !

Closer to the floor, placed together on the red fringed tray along with two Tinfoil Barbs,
is Ikae Belukour ( Marble Goby ). The fish, highly prized by the Chinese for its tender
white flesh, was sold at prices higher than any other fish, and still is now. I remember it to
be quite common back then but is hardly found now. Either the wild stock has already
somewhat depleted or the price is now too much for normal consumption ?

I wonder .....

( I am told that it is priced at RM 90 per kilo nowadays ! )

Present day Pasar MPKB ( or now, Pasar Lama Arked MPKB ) :

* Tips : Right click on mouse, open in a new tab

* Padae Bbeng ..

aka Padang Bank, when it was less concrete ( and fencing ) and more greenery.

( I believe in public spaces with little or no fencing at all )

The field is actually known formally as Padang Merdeka, after a declaration of
independence from the British ( Kelantan was a British protectorate, and a part of
British Malaya ) was made here in 1957.

The field itself is historical.

The white cenotaph was there since 1918 and was put up to remember the British
dead in the European conflict of 1915 ~ 1918, who were sent from Kelantan ( were in
the service of the then Kelantan Government ). On its four sides, are bronze plaques,
bearing the deceased names and some other descriptions in English, Malay, Chinese
and Indian, which I found to be rather ironic, for the site was also where the British had
the dead body of Tok Janggut hung upside down in 1915, for rising up against the
British in what claimed by growing number of historians, as stemmed from the British
war with the Muslims i.e. the Ottoman Turks during the time ( World War I ) ..

At present, the Padang is occasionally used for The Sultan's Birthday Parade and some
other related events.

Present day, Padae Bbaeng :

* Tips : Right click on mouse, open in a new tab

* Ghertock Sultae Yahyo Petra

.. aka Jambatan Sultan Yahya Petra.

The most famous bridge in Kelantan, as seen here from Kota Bharu side, overlooking
the wide, lush and fertile flood plain of Kampung Sireh Bawah Lembah.

It spans across the Kelantan River over a mile or so, connecting Jajahan Tumpat
( Pasir Pekan ) with Jajahan Kota Bharu ( Kampung Sireh ). Built and officially
opened in the 60s, it was the first and only bridge built across the Kelantan River
which really fit road travelling vehicles. Although the Guillemard Bridge of Tanah
Merah - Machang preceded this bridge by almost 50 years earlier, the Guillemard
was built with rail travelling in mind and not for cars and such.

Now, much of the flood plain has been reclaimed, made higher with tonnes of sand
pumped from the river and is currently being developed into a free hold, new
commercial district of Kota Bharu and as for the bridge itself, a second link
( two of them actually ) is currently being built, next to it, to reduce traffic
congestion and smooth up flows.

Present day Ghertock Sultae Yahyo Petra :

* Tips : Right click on mouse, open in a new tab


* Jalan Temenggong in 1927 ...

... under the surging ( receding ? ) flood water of the first Bah Merah i.e. The First
Great Red Flood ....

The same scale of flooding repeated itself 40 years later in 1967, and interestingly the
same force struck again some 40 years later in 2004, making researchers to think it as
a 40 years cycle flood that might hit Kelantan again, particularly Kota Bharu between
2044 ~ 2047 .. ( Hidup lagi ker aku time tuh !? )

For the note, motorised vehicles startedto appear in Kelantan around the beginning of
the 20th century, particularly after the Bangkok Agreement of 1909 ..

Image taken from Warisan Kelantan VIII ( Muzium Negeri Kelantan, 1989) ; p.137

* Jalan Temenggong through time, ( from left ) in 1927, in the early 80s, and in late 2009.



Another key town of the East Coast, Kuala Terengganu, the state capital of
Terengganu Darul Iman, located some 200 km to the south east of Kota Bharu.

This early 1980s street scene of the coastal town is taken from the same set of
postcards as the above featuring Kota Bharu. Believed to be taken and printed in the
same time period thus making it a fair comparison on the rate and magnitude of
progress achieved by the two East Coast Malay-majority townships during the time.

Do compare the street scene and the town appearance with those of Kota Bharu.

I wonder how Kuala Terengganu compares to Kota Bharu now ?

( can anyone tell me what is the name of this road ? There's a cinema on the left. )

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