March 25, 2009 11:10 AM
Kelantan Lures Visitors With Its Natural Splendour
By Norshazlina Nor'Azman
KOTA BAHARU, March 25 (Bernama) -- When contemplating of a vacation, often for many the first thing that comes to mind is foreign destinations. But why not consider many of the local destinations that are worth visiting?
For example Kelantan, many may not be aware that the state of Cik Wan Kembang has lots to offer - historical heritage, pristine environment and a rich culture and traditions of its people.
According to Kelantan's Tourism Director Muhammad Zaki Talib, not much of Kelantan's tourism assets have been explored by local tourists.
Remember, Kelantan is where the wau or kite and batik originates and places like Kota Baharu, Jeli and Dabong provide a fantastic spectacle for sight-seers.
Recently members of the media were taken for a tour of the state by the Tourism Ministry to see what Kelantan really has to offer. The participants were impressed on what they saw and experienced in the all inclusive tour package that covered a myriad of natural offerings - lakes, islands, caves, rain forest and the interiors.
TASIK PERGAU MESMERIZES THOSE WHO LOVE NATURE
If your are a nature lover, a tour to the Tasik Pergau Sanctuary Park at Batu 18, promises an unforgettable experience with the Pergau Hydroelectric Dam imposing a majestic view.
Tasik Pergau may not be as popular as Tasik Banding, yet it attracts more than 30,000 visitors annually who come here to find a piece of mind.
To reach there, it takes a two hour drive from Kota Baharu town. Located 720 meters (2,400 feet) above sea level, the cool atmosphere of 18 degrees Celsius and the surroundings covered by mist promises and enchanting experience.
The sanctuary covering an area of 460 hectares, located 100 kilometers from Jeli town, promises an unforgettable trip. The lake is also a haven for anglers with fishes like lampam, tilapia, toman and others thriving in its waters.
Visitors can rent a boat to explore the islands within the lake. The boat ride provides a closer look at the natural panorama, and the unique flora and fauna.
Tasik Pergau also serves as an avenue for a good night rest. With only RM70, including the cost of renting a boat, visitors can put up in the floating chalets developed by South Kelantan Development Authority (Kesedar). There are also 30 campsites for the more adventurous ones who want to get a feel of the cold nights in the open.
Visitors can also try kayak rides for a fee of RM20 for two persons or may opt for jungle trekking accompanied by a guide.
DABONG'S NATURAL PANORAMA
The small town of Dabong is more like a mystical hamlet especially for those who love the greens, fresh air and the challenges imposed by nature.
Located about 160km to the west of Kota Baharu, Dabong surrounded by tropical forests is particularly suited for extreme activities like scaling mountains, exploring caves and white water rafting.
As for those keen of scaling mountains, Gunong Stong which is the home to the Southeast Asia's highest waterfall where the water drops 297 meters (990 feet) down is within the Dabong Forest Reserve.
Hiking activities around the limestone hills bring visitors close to many of the unique flora and fauna that are rarely found elsewhere.
Visitors may come across the Asian elephants and the birds that live on the limestone hills including the redrumped swallow.
EXPLORING THE CAVES
A visit to Dabong is incomplete without a tour to Gua Ikan, literally meaning fish cave, and the other caves like Gua Gelap, which is also known as Gua Batu Susun, and other caves like Gua Keris and Gua Pagar.
To reach the Gua Keris and Gua Pagar, visitors have to pass through Gua Gelap. It is no easy task as one has to bend down and crawl over 20 meters as the cave's opening is small and narrow.
Gua Gelap lives up to its name as it is really dark inside. Only once in a while would one come across streaks of light from the openings in the cave walls.
"Many of the rock layers in the cave have been altered by those hunting for emerald and the damage is further compounded by vandalism," remarked a guide at the cave Fauzi Hussin.
Meanwhile at Gua Keris, visitors have to scale slippery rocks before they are greeted by a 'kris' (jagged knife) shaped rock formation at the entrance, resulting from the fusion of a stalactite and stalagmite.
The cave is spacious with much of the floor being level and it is said that people had inhabited the cave in the early days. A void area within the cave at one time served as the court for those learning silat (the art of self-defence).
The cave is the home for a number of flora that includes the 'Vaughan's Balsam', that can only be found in Perlis and South Thailand.
There too one can find a number of small animals and insects like the scorpion and bats that hang from the roof of the cave.
Visitors must take note that it takes at least half a day to explore these caves.
SAVOUR THE KAMPUNG WAY OF LIFE
If you want something different during your stay in Kelantan, then why not try the kampung (village) way of life. Just drop in at the Kampung Seterpa homestay, at Jalan Penggawa Mat Saat located 16km from Kota Baharu.
Visitors not only can savour typical kampung fare served by the host but also have the opportunity to learn the traditional way of life. The gastronomical offerings are often unique like the kerabu jantung pisang, sambal pauh, serunding, traditional cakes and fresh herbs.
Visitors too can participate in a number of activities including taking a peek at cottage industry, collect edible snails, visit aquaculture ponds, tap rubber, paint batik, dehusk coconut, witness how apes are used to pluck coconut and enjoy cultural shows like dikir barat and kertok.
Thus, for those in search a destination that has lots to offer, then why not consider Kelantan. Moreover, one must remember Kelantan is relatively unique with its own charms compared to the other states.
For inquiries on places of interest in Kelantan, please contact Tourism Malaysia Kelantan at 09-7477554.