Travel

A Day at the Handicraft Village in Kota Bharu

The city of Kota Bharu, the capital of the state of Kelantan, is full of interesting places to see. It houses a number of museums situated very close to one another. The handicraft village of Kota Bharu, as the name explains, is the hub of local arts and crafts. Known as Kampung Kraftangan in the local language, it is set in a beautifully carved out wooden courtyard. It is a huge complex that houses the Craft Museum. There is a tourism office within the complex to help query seekers.

The Handicraft Village

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Kampung Kraftangan or the Handicraft Village is a brown colored wooden village comprising of the Craft Museum and more. Upon taking the steps to the museum, you will be lured by the smell of food coming from the restaurant. Such a tantalizing aroma could only mean one thing – a lavish spread of local Kelantanese buffet with amazing seafood dishes, refreshing beverages and dessert. A stroll along the landscaped garden is a must. A wooden swing carved out by hand is right at the entrance, leading to the line up of souvenir shops. These colourful spots sell key chains, carved pencils, moon kite miniatures, handicraft tokens, shirts, caps, hats and every item related to craft you can think of!

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Spend a hot afternoon here and you find yourself at one of the ice cream stalls within the complex. Look out for the stall that reads ‘home-made ice cream’. This unique stall scoops out freshly prepared coconut flavoured ice cream with yummy toppings of sweet corn, sticky rice, berries and more. A handicraft village is incomplete without an art class. Without disappointment, the center runs craft and art classes within the complex itself. The courtyard also holds some craft events and performances once in awhile.

The Craft Museum

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Photo credit: Merlijn Hoek / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The Craft Museum, also known as Balai Getam Guri, welcomes you with open arms and a small fee. Located on the first floor of the Handicraft Village, it is a very neat and well maintained museum. It has clear labelling, instructions and descriptions of craft and fabric throughout the room. You are expected to take your shoes off prior to entering the museum and photography is prohibited as well. Displays of wood carving can be seen right at the counter with a number of old fashion ploughs stacked up next to one another. The huge objects that gather attention here are the manual coconut water extractor and a life size sugar cane juice machine made by hand.

A huge spinning wheel greets you as you enter the museum. The year it was made in, the time taken to weave a fabric by experts and other relevant pieces of information are written and displayed next to it. Each and every piece in the museum is very neatly displayed, framed, stacked and labelled, while the history of every cloth, fabric and detail is elaborated on the walls right next to the pieces displayed. Speaking of fabrics, two noteworthy pieces of art are worth a mention; Batik is the traditional fabric art of Kelantan and a number of patterns of Batik painting can be seen in this museum, in clothes and framed pieces. Songket on the other hand is all about threads and rich textile. It is a traditional fabric of Malaysia also known as the ‘gold cloth’ and is generally worn by the Royal family. These are displayed as small individual intricate pieces of fabric, in the form of bags, handy baskets and the royal couture garments displayed at the Craft museum. Besides these, there are betel leaves and nuts cases, coconut graters made of silver and metal, coconut holders and extractors, cooking ladles, silver products, bags, baskets, cookie moulds of various shapes with the most intricate designs possible, and other artistic handicrafts of all sorts.

Getting There and Important Details

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Transportation in Kota Bharu shouldn’t be a concern. A city where one hardly faces any traffic jams, reaching the destination is merely a matter of minutes. The easiest way to get to the Craft Museum would be to take a bus, drive to it or simply hail a cab to the cultural zone. It’s just a stone’s throw away from Buluh Kubu Bazaar and Istana Balai Besar, and is very close to the Central Market. The address is: Kampung Kraftangan, Jalan Hilir Balai, Kota Bharu, Kelantan-15300.

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It operates from 8:30am to 4:45pm, six days a week. It’s closed on Fridays. Admission to this traditional craft village is free, but visitors have to pay a minimal entry fee to access the museum. The fee is RM1.00 for Malaysians and RM2.00 for non-Malaysians. The latest phone is 09-747755.

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