Kelantan is located in the north-eastern corner of the peninsula. Kelantan, which is said to translate as the "Land of Lightning", is an agrarian state with green paddy fields, rustic fishing villages and casuarina-lined beaches. Kelantan is home to some of the most ancient archaeological discoveries in Malaysia, including several prehistoric aboriginal settlements.
he capital and royal seat is Kota Bharu. Due to Kelantan's relative isolation and largely rural lifestyle, Kelantanese culture differs somewhat from Malay culture in the rest of the peninsula; this is reflected in the cuisine, arts and the unique Kelantanese Malay language, which is unintelligible even for some speakers of standard Malay.
The east coast of the peninsula goes from Johor in the South to Kota Bharu in the North, close to the Thai border.
Rising high on the slopes of Gunung Korbu, the second highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia, the Nengiri River flows east to merge first with the Galas, and then with the Lebir ó the latter born in the wilds of Taman Negara National Park ó before turning decisively northwards and emptying into the shallow waters of the South China Sea. From Kuala Krai the conjoined streams become the Kelantan River, a broad, mud-coloured stream which dominates the fertile coastal plains and defines the geography of the region. The Kelantan River valley is a fertile rice-bowl, rich in hardwoods and rubber and lush with tropical fruits.
Although there is no dress code in Kota Bharu, it is a very conservative Muslim area. Dressing in appropriate attire is respectful, will help locals feel more comfortable and keep you from getting unwanted attention. Having a long sleeve shirt or sarong handy can often be a quick solution if your travel fashion statement is suddenly out of place.
Kota Bharuís key businesses, sights and activities are located within relatively easy walking distance from the central bus terminal, which appears to be the hub of town more so than any other particular area. With the exception of Fridays and holidays, most everything is open daily and at convenient times. The daily lunch hour is diligently observed, so avoid any pressing business or sightseeing between 13:00 and 14:00. It is also advisable to not choose a popular eatery during the citywide meal break, unless you donít mind waiting.
For centuries, Kelantan was all but separated from the rest of the country by the Titiwangsa Mountains, a mountain range running from north to south through the peninsula. Weeks of hard travel were required to reach Kelantan. The "easy way" to Kelantan was to sail around te peninsula, braving the sea and pirates. For this reason Kelantan's history often involves the sea, and boats. Even today, many of its people are very much tied to the sea. A discussion with many coastal residents will confirm that their ancestors, as far back as they know, were "of the sea."
In the early 1980s, trunk roads were built to link it with nearby states. Presently, one can travel by road from the capital city Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu through the mountain range within 8 hours.
You wonít find much in the way of alcohol in Kota Bharu, but the few Chinese restaurants in town will have some in stock; it may not be on the menu, so just ask.
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