The Malaysian-Thai border town of Tumpat attracts visitors who are drawn to its dual-culture uniqueness.
IT is a bonus to visit Tumpat in Kelantan. It is like getting two countries for the price of one as you’ll be visiting Malaysia and Thailand at the same time. Tumpat is the smallest district in the north-eastern-most part of the East Coast.
There are lots of Thai influences in Tumpat – from the ethnic Thai communities to the numerous wat (Buddhist temple), roadside restaurants selling authentic Thai fare and shops offering Thai handicraft. You can do lots of things here in a day — shop, eat, laze by the beach or go on the World War II trail.
Shops And Trains
You can shop for cheap garments and fruit from Thailand at Pengkalan Kubor (opposite Tat Bai on the Golok River in Thailand), which is a mere 30 minutes drive from Kota Baru, the capital of Kelantan. Grabbing bargains in rows after rows of shops will leave you breathless after a few hours.
Tumpat is the last stop for the Keretapi Tanah Melayu train to the East Coast. The Tumpat station was once an international station for Thai passengers and the route served passengers from as far south as Singapore.
The Tumpat station grew popular after the Guillemard bridge was completed across Sungai Kelantan in 1924. The line from Singapore to Tumpat was completed in 1930s. From the railway yard, you can see old colonial buildings of British designs. There is also a turntable, one of the two found in Malaysia, for turning locomotives from north to face south again.
World War II Trail
Those interested in the historical legacies of the World War II period will be thrilled to see the remnant of an old Japanese iron mine that belonged to one Koichiro Ishihara. Called Ishihara Mine, it supplied vital raw materials to the Japanese war machinery up to the end of WW II in 1945. What remains now is a row of concrete pillars on the beach and the mining shaft. Several pillboxes (concrete bunkers) from the same period still stand today.
Go to Pantai Seri Tujoh (Beach of Seven Lagoons) to enjoy the scenery and the breeze from the South China Sea. Walking or playing on the beach can quite easily work your appetite up. Nearby restaurants serve Thai cuisine, including fresh seafood at very reasonable prices. Once a year, the beach comes alive with kite enthusiasts from all over Asean who come for the International Wau Festival held in May after the padi harvest. During the festival, you could also see how the famous wau bulan (moon kite) is made.
Visitors can watch a side show with monkeys competing to pluck coconuts. Other attractions include elephant rides and more shopping at numerous stalls offering souvenirs like Kelantanese handicraft. At night, enjoy dinner while watching a wayang kulit (shadow play) performance. Watch the tok dalang (puppeteer) brings his puppets to life with an interesting dialogue in a mixture of Kelantanese Malay and English spoken with heavy Kelantanese accent. The show often leaves the audience in stitches.
As Tumpat borders Thailand, a large Thai community lives here. Two large Buddha statues attract busloads of tourists from all over the country as well as those from Singapore. A 40m-long statue of a Reclining Buddha at Wat Pothvihan is said to be one of the biggest in the world. There is also a 30m Sitting Buddha at Wat Machimmaram by the main road.
Getting To Tumpat
Drive or take public transport (taxi or bus) to get to Tumpat from Kota Baru.
Trips can also be arranged by Tourism Malaysia Kelantan office (Tel: 09-6221 893/6221 433, email: email@example.com) or tour operator Sampugita Holidays Sdn Bhd (Tel: 09-7432 178/7485 000 ext 8004, email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Article is sourced from http://travel.nst.com.my/
Location, Driving Direction and Map to Tumpat<