photo slideshow

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Introducing The New Samsung Galaxy S5, Gear 2 & Gear Fit

While the latest gadgets in the smartphone world have yet to hit Malaysian stores, members of the media were invited for the special pre-launch of one of the most anticipated smartphones of 2014, accompanied by what looks to be the start of a new smart-fitness era with the Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Fit.


Let's rewind: Samsung is yet ahead of its game with spanking new user-demanded features in the latest addition to the Galaxy family, redefining how technology and innovation can enhance our day-to-day lives.
Samasung Galaxy S5 Ambassadors Dato' Lee Chong Wei & Pandelela Rinong
As a Manoah blogger, we got to try out the goodies before anyone else when we witnessed the unveiling at Pullman Hotels, Bangsar. Seriously, the Gears arent even on display in official Samsung stores yet, and the S5 is only available for pre-order!
In love with the Gear Fit!
Focusing on the key 5 elements Fun, Speed, Life, Fit & Style, the Korean innovators have pulled out all the stops in terms of giving the consumers what they asked for:


Putting the FUN back into easy photo-taking, the Galaxy S5 is equipped with RealTime HDR, Selective Focus (which allows you to blur out the background ala bokeh style) and fast auto focus - a winning 0.3 seconds.

SPEED is everything in the world today, and Samsung understands your need to watch that kitty video ASAP. By bonding LTE & Wifi, the S5 comes with a Download Booster, downloading those videos in speedy time!

We all know that LIFE can sometimes be cruel, and that our most beloved possessions can often be compromised by the most common factors of the environment. Not to worry with the S5, which is iP67 certified to be dust- & water-resistant, and comes with a finger scanner for extra biometric security. The feature I was most happy to hear of though, is the Ultra Power Saving Mode: turning the display black and white, and shutting down all unnecessary features when activated, there will be no more helpless moments watching the battery percentage drop til you're rendered helpless with a lifeless phone! =D

Fitness is quickly becoming a prominent part of everyone's life. Whether a trend or not, there's no denying staying FIT should be a priority, and it should be easier for non-fitness freaks (like me!). S Health 3.0, you have a comprehensive fitness monitor including a pedometer, diet & exercise records, and a new in-built heart rate sensor, which can be paired with the new Gear series.

Blending the iconic Samsung design with a perforated pattern on the back cover, creating a sleek & modern glam look to complement the STYLE of each individual.

Photo taken from Samsung Malaysia's fb page.
Personally, I'm really interested in the Gear Fit, with a 1.84" curved AMOLED screen and equipped with an accelerometer, gyro and heart rate sensor, I think it'll help me stay on track while keeping fit, and looking stylish. Plus it's only 27g and has a changeable strap, with designer straps from from Nicholas Kirkwood and Moschino available! The Gear 2 is the next generation Gear, and you can even download your favourite tunes right into the watch itself!
The Samsung Gear 2
*The Samsung Galaxy S5 will be retailed at RM2399, while the Gear 2 and Gear Fit are priced at RM899 & RM599 respectively.

Til next time,
Calista xx

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Why I Need To Be At Twin Towers Alive 2014

Last year, I made the decision to come back to Kota Kinabalu on the 21st of March, knowing full well that the Twin Towers Alive concert would happening the very next day.

Biggest. Regret. EVER.

How could I have been so stupid as to have missed out on childhood loves the Backstreet Boys in concert?! My one and only chance, and.. I blew it. Not to mention getting to catch Demi Lovato (arguably one of the best voices to come out of Disney) and 2NE1 at the same time! I still kick myself whenever any of these artistes appear on tv/radio.

Which is why I cannot, and will not miss this year's lineup! I will be rocking out to 2 of my favourite artistes this coming 28th March no matter what the cost! KUALA LUMPUR ARE YOU READY FOR ME? Because I'M READY FOR CHRISTINA AGUILERA & LIFEHOUSE!! =D

Christina Aguilera

Words cant bring us down, only up,
There's a heart that must be free to fly;
I'm comin' through, paid my dues,
I've been waiting for this all my life.

Hold on! She keeps getting better,
There's nothing I wouldn't do;
She's got soul, she's got class,
And that's why I turn to you.

Something's got a hold on me right now,
I feel like my world's been infected;
The music's on and I'm dancing,
Got me with her supersonic rocket.

Hey here comes Christina,
'bout to give a little show;
It'll move you, going through you,
As she wows you with her Voice.

No way I'll forget, I'll remember,
Take a deep breath and say it loud;
I'll find the strength to guide my way,
To Twin Towers Alive!

Please be my genie in a bottle,
You know what this girl wants;
Don't you wanna let me be the one,
To replay those memories for months!


Lifehouse

I may be a No Name Face,
But there is no one else who can take your place;
Cz I'm falling even more in love with you,
The world that I see inside you.

I'm making my way to you,
Don't know what else I can do,
I want to feel you, I need to hear you.
Don't take too long 'cause I'm on my way.

I'll be falling apart, barely breathing,
If I'm not in the front row watching you singing;
I'll Wade right out to where the Lifehouse stops,
If you'll come walking between the raindrops.


*Poem written mainly with sentences from artistes' lyrics.

I really want those fan zone passes, cz what is a concert if you're not front row and center? *wink*

See you at #TTAlive,
Calista xx

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Where The Fairies Gather & Play: Xian Hu Leisure Farm, Taiwan 仙湖休闲农场

仙湖休闲农场, literally translated, means Fairy Lake Leisure Farm.
Walk down the garden path, dance with the fairies~
From the name alone, you'd maybe picture a beautiful lake in the middle of a valley, surrounded by lush green hills and homey cabins.
Not the best panorama shot, but this is the valley of Xian Hu.
That's all true, except that the lake is the valley, and rather than water, it's usually filled to the brim with fluffy white clouds and mist - a lake which only fairies and other celestial beings could frolic in.
The quaint little cabins of Xian Hu
Staying true to the promise of nature, we had to climb a short but steep slope before reaching our cabins. A row of little wooden houses was waiting for us, with soft, comfy beds and the smell of the trees outside.
Clockwise: Our guide, Xiao Ping explaining the map of Xian Hu; Observation Tower;
Some of the plants Xian Hu grows; Outdoor pool with a view of the valley.
After a little background info from our guide, we got to meet the resident pets - some pigs and the superstar dog, Porsche!
Porsche joining our group shot; Fluffy rabbits; One of resident pigs basking while he gets a tummy rub!
I love dogs - I have 5 of them at home - but piglets are the cutest things! Unfortunately, there were only bigger pigs this time around, who were cute in their own right! They love being petted and just lay on the grass, basking in the attention. Not as enjoyable to stroke as a fluffy dog though, seeing as pigs' hair is quite coarse. Imagine stroking a cat's tongue, if you will!
The longans are roasted in a pit of charcoal. Dried longans can be eaten as a snack, or put into soups or desserts for flavouring.
Seeing as we just missed longan season, we may not have gotten to pick ripe longans straight off the tree, but we did get to see where they dry them to sell as preserved fruit! Xian Hu is well-known for their dried longans, and I'd say the smoky, sweet taste of the blacked fruit is a hit-or-miss kinda thing: Either you love it or hate it.

Tainan, as we've realised by now, is a region full of picturesque landscapes, and Xian Hu was no exception. On a viewing platform facing the opposite mountains and the town of Tainan, we were served delicious lime juice while we chatted about our adventures so far. Dinner was to be served after sundown, so we relaxed and waited for this beautiful sight:

The view of the sunset against the mountains, though a bit misty that day, was as soothing as it was awe-inducing. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for sunsets. Being a regular at watching the sun lower itself into the sea back home in Kota Kinabalu, watching it fall behind the mountains was a very different experience.
The Outdoor Bar - Day & Night
Nature has a way of making you hungry, so we all trooped into the restaurant area as soon as it got dark, our stomachs ready for what we knew was going to be fresh and tasty.
The middle basket is placed into a boiling pot of clear soup like steamboat.
After dinner, DIY activities were prepared for whoever wanted to take part. We learnt how to make Ang Ku Kueh, which is glutinous rice kneaded into a red sticky dough, filled with grounded peanuts and sugar, pressed into a tortoise-shaped mold, then steamed on a banana leaf. This happens to be my favourite Chinese kuih (茶果), so I was super stoked to get to make my own!
Not a being regular in the kitchen, it was a little tricky to get everything to stay intact and look delicious at the same time, but I somehow did it!
The ang ku kueh was ready by the time our 2nd DIY project was over: Coffee brewing. Since I dont drink coffee, I gave this one a miss and just watched from the sidelines. This was also when my camera's memory card decided to go MIA - wasnt too worried at the time, but little did I know it had died a sudden death.
The finished product! The pigs thought they smelt good! =)
The coffee beans were harvested on Xian Hu's own farm, so freshness was guaranteed, and you can't miss the aroma of rich coffee as soon as the first beans were being grounded. We were given manual grinders, so after working those wrists for a few minutes, beans became fine powder, and the filtering process began: Just add hot water!
Ground, ground, ground those beans...
Ana and I decided to stay at the restaurant for a while to get our wifi fix - internet withdrawal symptoms were starting to show! We didnt get as much sleep as we should've, and regret started to creep in as we climbed under the comfy sheets......

Before we knew it, it was morning and breakfast was served! Not in bed, unfortunately hahaha. The fluffy homemade mantou definitely filled the gap, and we were ready to be on our way again...

Xian Hu Leisure Farm

Tel: +886 6 686 3635
Web: www.senwho.com.tw
Address: No.62, Helaoliao, Dongshan District, Tainan City, Taiwan

Til next time, 
Calista xx

*Once again, many thanks to Air AsiaTaiwan Leisure Farms Development Association for sponsoring this trip.
**For real time updates, don't forget to follow me on Instagram & Facebook (links on the sidebar)!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Every Road Trip Should Be Big On Fun!

Debuting their third Malaysian-assembled model, Volkswagen held a Chinese New Year open house for its loyal Sabahan customers and media to have a fun and relaxed chance to check out the new Polo 1.6. Yours truly was on the guest list!

With the tagline "Big on Fun", this sporty hatchback is designed for young, environmentally-aware drivers who are not only looking for a dynamic vehicle that doesn't compromise on comfort, safety or quality, but also performs with superb low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
L-R: Headlights - Halogen, Height-adjustable, Front Fog Lights;
Checking out the comfort level of the 'Livon' fabric height-adjustable seats;
Rear Fog Lights, 4 Corner Rear Parking Sensors, Heat-insulating Glass for Side & Rear Windows;
Under the hood - 1.6L 105PS Petrol Injection 16-valve MPI Engine, 6-speed Automatic Transmission with Tiptronic
This German engineered car brings a host of cutting edge safety features to the table, such as ABS with brake assist and an Intelligent Crash Response System, making it perfect for those of us trying to survive treacherous commutes on those Kota Kinabalu roads. I take solace in knowing that I'll probably make it out alive, if that auntie texting and driving happens to have me in her sights.
Clockwise: Cool trunk lever; Multi-function leather steering wheel;
Door handle + 4 auto power window buttons; Glove compartment;
Radio 'RCD 320' with USB & iPod interface, SD card slot, AUX-In, Bluetooth + 4 speakers
Available in Flash Red (pictured), Candy White, Pepper Grey, Reflex Silver and Deep Black, the Volkswagen Polo 1.6 comes with an interior chrome package and leather accents.

Got a lot of things you need to transport? Me too: gym bags, an assortment of shoes, the occasional human body. Worry not! It all fits comfortably in the boot. The picture has me stretching out in the back; at 150cm that wouldn't be that impressive, but you mafiosos out there will be happy to know an average-sized male would be no problem.
The Volkswagen team in Kota Kinabalu wishes you a prosperous CNY, and is always ready to help!
The Volkswagen Polo 1.6 is competitively priced in Sabah, Malaysia at RM90,888, or RM103,520 OTR excluding insurance.

Til next time,
Calista (with a little help from John, guess you can tell which parts =P) xx

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Visit Malaysia 2014 - A Guide To Kota Bharu, Kelantan

Flag of Sabah, Visit Malaysia 2014 Logo, Flag of Kelantan
2014 is Visit Malaysia Year, and Air Asia started us off early when we were invited to board their inaugural direct flight from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to Kota Bharu, Kelantan late last year.
Clockwise from top: Air Asia Check-in Counter in BKI, Departure Gate, The very first flight from KK to KB!, Three quarters of the Wolfgang super excited!, Then we remembered it was still way too early in the morning., Aerial view of Kelantan.
Photo Source: Rungitom & Ah Bing
Having been to Kota Bharu once before, I wasnt too worried about the cultural differences, but packed appropriately anyway. For those not in the know, Kelantan is one of the most Islamic states in Malaysia, and as a result one of the more conservative. Short skirts and tank tops are not encouraged when visiting, but that doesnt mean you have to wrap yourself up completely!

Upon arrival at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, Terminal 2, we were given a warm welcome from the minute we stepped off the plane. We had the honour of flying with Yang Mulia Dato' Seri Tengku Dr Zainal Adlin Bin Tengku Mahamood, who is the friendly Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board, and was seen joking with some of the (cute) stewards.

Here's a breakdown of our trip to Kota Bharu:

Where To Stay:
  • Hotel Perdana ¶¶¶¶¶
Clockwise from left: Our room, The exterior of Hotel Perdana, Bathtub in room, View from our room,
Toiletries provided, Personalised welcome letters
The newly-renovated Hotel Perdana Kota Bharu stands in the heart of the city centre, is within walking distance of Stadium Sultan Muhammad ke-IV and strategically located within a commercial district, where you can easily access government offices, shopping areas, hospitals and local attractions. The hotel is only a 15 minute drive from the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport.

Tel: +609-7459999          Fax: +609-7488855
Address: Hotel Perdana Kota Bharu
                   Jalan Mahmood,
                   15200 Kota Bharu,
                   Kelantan, Malaysia
Available on Agoda: YES
Personal Review: Beautiful hotel, well taken care of (hopefully they maintain this, as it's actually newly renovated), comfortable beds, helpful staff and love the water pressure (important when you need to wash long, thick hair like mine haha)!

  • Renaissance Hotel ¶¶¶¶¶
Situated in a prime location in Kota Bharu, the Renaissance Kota Bharu is within easy reach of the Central Business District, the airport, shopping areas, restaurants and entertainment.

Tel: +609-7462233          Fax: +609-7461122
Address:  Renaissance Hotel
Kota Sri Mutiara, Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra,
15150 Kota Bharu,
Kelantan, Malaysia
Available on Agoda: YES
Personal ReviewAn older hotel, but has a real cosy feel about it. 
  • Min House Camp
The bee / honey gallery. We arrived pretty late, so photo-taking wasnt exactly optimal outside!
If experiencing true Malay hospitality, culture and customs is what you’re looking for during your trip to Kelantan, this is the place to be.
Dormitories by the riverside, built around native flora and fauna, Min House Camp offers 2 day 1 night packages (additional nights optional) during which you will experience river cruises in a traditional boat to collect clams, firefly-watching after dark, local music and traditional costumes, make traditional handicrafts, traditional meals, a unique bee gallery, homemade honey and more.

Tel: +6013-9225440                  Fax: +609-7652440
Website: www.minkem.com
Address:  Min House Camp Lot 440, Kampung Pulau, 16150 Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia
Available on Agoda: No.  
Personal Review: Only went for a visit, not to stay so can't honestly comment on the rooms, but food was good, and the whole experience was definitely unique. I enjoyed going down the river, even though there werent many fireflies due to the full moon. They light up the river banks like Christmas trees!


What To Do/See:
  1. Historical
·         Kota Bharu Tourism Zone by Trishaw

Before we set out: Ashman from Air Asia was in the trishaw just behind me!
      All these sites are within walking distance of each other, so we just took the trishaw to our first location.
Riding past Sultan Ismail Petra Arch.
Cool fact: trishaws are known as "teksi" here, whereas the normal taxis are "kereta sewa".
First stop: Tambatan D'Raja Kota Bharu Observation Tower. Directly overlooks the sea. 
War Museum (Memorial Perang) aka Bank Kerapu. 
Islamic Museum
Merdeka Square aka Dataran Merdeka
Masjid Muhammadi - State Mosque of Kelantan
Istana Jahar - Muzium Adat Istiadat Diraja Kelantan
Group photo with all the participants and the lovely trishaw drivers! 

2       2.      Cultural

·         Wayang Kulit Pak Daim, Tumpat
Some of the traditional shadow play characters
Traditional Shadow Play has long been a part of Kelantanese culture. As with most traditions though, it’s also a dying art, with cinemas, TVs and the internet taking over the popularity vote when it comes to drama.
Clockwise from Top: Pak Daim showing us his gallery; Character designs; Old to New - Star Wars Shadow Play!; Works of Pak Daim
Pak Daim is one of the few lovers of the art who has dedicated his life to preserving it. After watching one of the performances, I’d say it’s definitely worth the time spent, although my one complaint is that non-Kelantanese speakers won’t particularly understand the dialogue.
Clockwise from top: The drawings, colouring station, a crafter at work, and behind the scenes.

With a dozen musicians and several puppeteers behind the screen, shadow play is truly an underappreciated art form. The puppets, which are made from animal hides, are intricate pieces which take time and skill to bring to life!

·         Dragon Boat Temple, Tumpat

Also known as Wat Maisuwankhiri in Thai, it is when looking at the temples that you really start to notice the influence of the Siamese, being from just across the border.
Constructed around 400 years ago, it spreads over 4 hectres and is located in Kampung Bukit Tanah. It also houses lifelike sculptures of a monk who passed away and the gold-leaved body of another well-respected monk. 

·         Reclining Buddha Temple
Wat Photivihan houses the largest reclining Buddha statue in Southeast Asia. Coconuts are also available for the thirsty traveller.

·         Masjid Jubli Perak (Masjid Beijing)
A mosque that looks like a temple – what? Combining Chinese & Uzbekistan architecture, this unique house of worship symbolises that Islam is for all. A universal religion, regardless of language, culture and ethnicity.
Yep, that's me in a hijab and jubah - how do I look? =)
Located along the Kota Bharu – Rantau Panjang highway, visitors wishing to experience the interior of the Beijing Mosque can don the robes (jubah) and head scarfs available at the entrance.

·         Cultural Centre – Dikir Barat Show
Clockwise from Top: This kid has a bright rap future!, The Tok Juara leading the performance, Flexible Dancer was part of the show, Us taking a bow after joining in the performance.
The Kelantan Cultural Centre puts on different shows every other day such as silat performances (martial arts), gasing (spinning top), and what we got to experience, dikir barat.

Dikir Barat is a type of musical performance, performed with a few traditional background instruments, and a large group sitting cross-legged on the floor forming a chorus. They are led by a tok juara, who is the master trainer of the group, and who will chant self-written pantuns (poems), usually about current issues and sometimes satirical, while the chorus will chant the words back to him, all the while clapping in unison and performing rhythmic body movements to bring energy to the performance.

We got to take part in this performance, and let me tell you – it’s not easy! We were all squirming under our cramping legs, hands feeling numb from all the clapping, and keeping in time with everyone else was just not happening. A really fun experience though!

·         Che Minah Songket
Clockwise: The Cik Minah Songket sign; Popular songket design; One of the 80+ year old makciks; Pretty sonkets; Me trying out the loom; The songket in progress; The thread needs to be thrown through this bamboo stick over and over; RM6000 Songket; Songket pencil case souvenir
Songket is a handwoven piece of fabric made on an old-fashioned loom, and usually uses gold or silver thread throughout the pattern. This intricately woven fabric has always been a symbol of prestige and wealth, and is mostly worn on special occasions such as weddings or high society dinners.

It takes 2 weeks – 6 months to finish a piece, and cost anywhere from RM200 – RM7000 and above! Unfortunately, songket is yet another dying art as not many young people are interested to learn how to weave; the makcik we met is already 86-years old, but don’t get me wrong – she’s still going strong!

Address: Cik Minah Songket
                 S/I-350, Kg. Penambang,
                 15350, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Operating hours: 8:00am to 7:00pm daily
Phone : 09-7481616 / 09-7441616

·         Wau Maker in Kg. Badang
Clockwise: A half-finished wau outside Pak Shafie's workshop; Wau-making tools; Bamboo wau frames; How the bamboo is tied together; Some can be huge!; Pak Shafie demonstrating how to make the patterns; Pak Shafie's very quick example, pasted on a contrasting coloured paper; One of the finished designs; Pak Shafie in a traditional Kelantanese wau-flyer pose.
A Wau, or Wau Bulan, is a national symbol of Malaysia, and can be seen on the flipside of the old 50 sen coins. It’s another intricate art: the crafting of these uniquely-shaped kites, some a lot bigger in size than a grown man!

We had the chance to visit Pak Shafie, a wau-maker who has been designing waus in his workshop for decades. From the shaping of the bamboo frame, to the beautiful designs of the wau face, many hours and skilled handiwork have been put into each one.

3        3.      Scenic

·         Kampong Laut (Serunding Cottage Industry) by Boat

The boat ride along the Kelantan River was fun! The jetty is just next to Warung Pok Mat (see Where To Eat), and is maybe a 10 minute ride til you reach the village.
Serunding is basically meat floss, and can be made with either beef, chicken or fish, then mixed with spices before being put into a big “cauldron” (not really, but I’m not sure what the mixer is called haha) to be processed to little powdery bits. Can be eaten alone or as a condiment for other dishes!

4         4.      Shopping

·         Nordin Batik
Batik is a hand-painted fabric, usually colourful and inspired by flora and fauna found around Malaysia.

·         KB Permai Silverware
Intricate handmade designs are what make silver so popular in Kelantan, and after watching a little bit of the process in the workshop behind the store, I’m definitely more appreciative of this precious metal, which unfortunately my body seems to reject. =(

·         Wakaf Che Yeh Midnight Bazaar
Definitely something fun to do at night, Wakaf Che Yeh opens til gone midnight with an array of stalls selling clothes, food, and other stuff.

·         Rantau Panjang Free Duty Zone
About an hour’s drive from Kota Bharu, Rantau Panjang is where the Thai immigration is – cross a small river and you’re officially in Thailand!

The free duty zone is a bargain-happy market, where you can buy clothes, bags and other items. We didn’t explore much since it was raining, but we did get to try Aiskrim Baba: all sorts of jelly, nuts, corn, bread (?!) stuffed into a little cup, then topped with ice cream and sprinkles. Wasn’t too keen on the ice cream covered bread!
·         Pasar Siti Khadijah
The biggest market in Kota Bharu, Pasar Siti Khadijah sells everything from fresh fish and poultry to beautiful fabric! The centre dome provides sunlight to the whole market, and goods are sold in categories over three floors.

·         Keropok Cap Kapal
Witness how keropok lekor and fish crackers are made, and even sample some before you decide to buy!
Address: Keropok Kapal Laut
                Lot 343, Kampung Kedai Buloh,
                Jalan Kuala Besar,
                15350 Kota Bharu, Kelantan

Where To Eat:
  1. Breakfast
·         Warung Pok Mat, Kuala Besar

Famed for their Sup Kepala Ikan (fish head soup) and Teh Tarik Madu (honey pulled tea), the owner, Pak Mat has worked hard perfecting the recipe that has been passed down for generations.

·         Kopitiam Kita
Clockwise: Exterior of Kopitiam Kita; Various bihun; Various nasi; Roti Titab; Char & I with the owner, Mr Wong, Photots of some VIP patrons - including Dato' Siti Nurhaliza!
If you’re looking for variety, Kopitiam Kita is by far the best place to go. From rice, to bread, to noodles, there are so many options to choose from! What the majority of people go for though, is their unique Roti Titab: a thick slice of French-toasted bread, with kaya and a runny soft-boiled egg on top. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe it!
Address: Kopitiam Kita
                 No. 4357-A, Jalan Pengkalan Chepa, Taman Desa Jaya,
                 15000, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Phone: 019-981 0888
Opens 7:30am to 1:00pm
  1. Lunch
·         Yati Ayam Percik Restaurant

Situated on Jalan Long Yunus, the ayam percik is definitely one of the best in Kelantan! Served with Nasi Kerabu, this charcoal-grilled, marinated chicken will definitely get your taste buds tingling. Nasi Kerabu is basically steamed white rice with a special sauce and vegetables on it.
They also sell a variety of different kuih here. I’d suggest buying some as, at the time, I was so full I couldn’t be bothered to look, but upon trying some of the ones that Ah Bing bought on the bus, regrets abound! They were SO good.

·         Nasi Ulam Cikgu Restaurant
Nasi Ulam is actually steamed white rice with a variety of mainly salad dishes, aka mostly veggie. The main attraction of this dish is the budu, a sauce traditionally made with anchovies, salt and tempoyak (fermented durian).
  1. Hi-Tea
·         Grand Riverview Hotel

High tea with a view: Our first taste of traditional Malay kuih was set with a backdrop of the sun setting over the Kelantan River. The kuih served are usually very sweet, and not too long ago were only available to the royal family or people of status.

·         Perdana Hotel
Live teh tarik demo behind the array of kuih prepared for us.
I have to say my favourite high tea was in Perdana Hotel. The kuih was delicious, variety wide, and the staff was all so friendly! Definitely recommended.

·         Renaissance Hotel
Served in the ballroom, JKKN put on a traditional dance performance while we treated our sweet-toothes with kuih and cakes. Tom and I even got to dance a little with the dancers! My favourite was definitely the peacock dance though – the dance was so elegant, while the costume was just mesmerising!
  1. Dinner
·         New Horizon Restaurant

A popular two-storey restaurant for holding functions in Kota Bharu, New Horizon Restaurant is located along Jalan Pasir Mas-Salor. Serving fusion cuisine, I have to say the tom yam is a must try – they definitely learnt how to make this famous Thai dish well!

·         Captain-T Restaurant
Shaped like a ship, Captain-T serves fresh seafood steamboat in an air-conditioned room with a captain’s wheel!

Address: Captain-T Restaurant,
              PT 247, Jalan Jambatan Sultan Yahya Petra, Seksyen 17, 
             15050, Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
Opening Hours: 4:00pm to 12:00pm

Phone: +6016 203 5763/+6016 412 5763

Kota Bharu Must-Knows:
Capital of Kelantan, East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia, Bordering Thailand, South-East Asia
Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (RM)
Weather: Like throughout Malaysia, Kota Bharu has a tropical climate, so can be quite humid and sunny, but it also rains throughout the year.
Time Zone: GMT +8 hours
Language: Mostly Bahasa Melayu, but it can also be quite different from the way it's spoken in Kuala Lumpur or Sabah, so don't be surprised if you hear words you can't understand, even if you are usually fluent in the language!
Electricity: 240V, 3 pin plugs.

How To Get There:
Air Asia flies directly from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to Kota Bharu, Kelantan (and back) 3 times a week. You can check flight details at www.airasia.com.

More info: Kelantan Tourism Information Centre or their facebook.

Overall, Kelantan is worth a visit, and a 4 day 3 night trip can pretty much cover all you need to see to get a feel of what Kelantan is really like. If you have to choose 3 places to really experience, I'd have to say the songket-making demo, wau making demo and wayang kulit are the 3 most unique. Clean, friendly, and cultural, when doing your rounds of Visit Malaysia 2014, don't miss out on this border-state!

*Big thanks to Air Asia, Kelantan Tourism Board, and MATTA Kelantan for inviting us on such a memorable trip! Also thumbs up and a wave to Mr Saiful, our tour guide who made the trip that much more interesting and hilarious! 

Til next time,
Calista xx