Monday, 1 June 2015

cerana resort at the backwater of pengkalan datu...kota bharu kelantan


23rd-26th may

I was on a project assignment in Kota Bharu with Ar Mus, Fendi is also an Architect as well as an IBS building consultant and Zul the developer. We were invited by my friend Hj As to have lunch at his resort somewhere in Pengkalan Datu. I remember I used to visit this place years ago. It was located by the riverside...a small kampung resort with wooden structure on stilts.

Well...what I love most about the place is the setting..the ambience...still unspoilt and a real laid back kampung setting. Suitable for mind relaxing and escapade from the hustle bustle of hectic metropolitan life. If you happen to go to Kota Bharu just look for CERANA Resort.

It's nothing unique on the overall design. No architectural details of some sort. It's simple, reflecting the kampung environment. The main buildings are on the mainland while the restaurant is on the floating platform something like on a pontoon. Sitting comfortably in the nipah palms surrounded by greenery with its own water body and breathtaking views. What else do we need? I was so mesmerised with the whole ambience.

Hj As was my junior and he's also a Town Planner having his own practice at Shah Alam's office. He's staying in the same locality with me at sek 8 Shah Alam. We are neighbours actually..His resort is particularly at his place of birth...his he knows everything and well versed with the whole surrounding. Being a local, it's an advantage to do business at his own compound.

This resort used to be the prop for few TV dramas...A small resort with 10 rooms. Room rates ranges from RM60-150 per night. What people love about this place is the food...fresh, mouth watering and considered cheap.

Since it is located in the vicinity of the estuary...that is facing the South China Sea, we can notice the clear blue water comparatively to the milky water of Kelantan river on the upper stream. Nothing match the quality of water to the nearby rivers. Well if I may say the glory of natural landscape in the tropical rain forest. How interesting is the water when the sunlight streams in and bounces back on water surface creating an abstract canvas by itself.

After having lunch, I asked Hj As for a boat cruise. I appreciated his kindness in return to my request. we go..a boat cruise to the estuary at the expense of the resort owner.

SM: How much you spend on this boat?

HA: About's a second hand...I can't afford a brand new boat.

SM: It looks ok...still in good running condition..this boat runs on how many horse power?

HA:'s good enough for a slow ride.

SM: Agreed...we're not going for a race right?

This is the kind of life that I love most...away from the hectic life. Spending time at a tranquil and peaceful place like this is a bonus of a catching up age that does not suit to the kind of rat race life anymore. If one wants to feel the scenic natural landscape, the real hideaway with sustainable, green living and back to nature...then this is the place. To me everything is phenomenal...the panorama, people, food... everything blends well and suits my taste.

It took us about 10 minutes of boat ride at a comfortable speed to reach the estuary of Pantai Senok. For those who is unaware of the history of World War II. Here is some insight on the incident that took place in 1940s. The first place that the Japanese Army landed the foot on 8th december 1941 was at Pantai Sabak. An evidence on the historic war still prevails.

The Allied Forces Fort/kubu still exist till today...hmmm...but sadly it was buried in the sea bed after lots of reclamation and construction of breakwater and dykes took place on the designated coastal area.

One of the most famous 25th Japanese Army Commander...Lieut. General Yamashita.

Lieut. General Arthur Percival..Malaya Command General.

Pantai Sabak does not exist anymore though at a point of time it was one of the best camping and seaside recreational heaven besides PCB/Pantai Cahaya Bulan. This was all due to the adverse effect on coastal area activities. Who's to blame? God mercifully grants beautiful nature for us to enjoy and benefit from it but we human thought we are good at mending Malay proverb says...bagai tikus membaiki labu...

We human spoil almost everything in the name of development. Chopping of trees and cutting of hills are considered development which by right it's a clear violation of human right and nature...blind folded destruction. As a famous quote says....we don't inherit this earth from our fore fathers but we just borrowed it from our grand children.

Just across the river on the opposite side of the resort Hj As bought pieces of land and have been converted into housing and commercial lots. Part of it is under construction. It is an extension of the existing resort.'s more structured and well planned. Since he's a consulting Town Planner he has planned it accordingly with careful place making.

It's a quaint and quiet serene little place surrounded with lots of nipah palms scattered around the plot. A setting suitable for retirement home. A resort where people can board anytime. A nest where they can pursue their own dream resort homes. He's selling the lots of 5k-8k sq feet at RM12per sq foot. Few lots have been sold.

It's a 10 acre of verdant heaven with waterways all around. Boat can be parked direct to the house entrance. Well at the back actually but that can be turned into a nice living area. Just rotate the normal house layout of houses fronting the service road...more fairy tale than real as in the norm of house layout.

The building could be in various component and materials. Best expressed in partly concrete, wood and glass. The mood is resort like, post card perfect scene, and of course inviting in its tranquility beyond expression of words. With inviting breeze and engaging natural lights...the sound of insects, birds enchantingly create some kind of tropical dreamland. What else are we looking for? Well it's not a home for life but some kind of retreat hideaway.

What a heavenly place...As a norm, the wetland and back waters always act as an important part of eco friendly, bio diversified and habitats to various forms of life on land and underwater. We humans are unexceptional and inclusive as part of the symbiosis in the cobweb of life cycle.

While I was there standing, observing and admiring the site...something cropped up in my mind...Hmmm..being a designer I just can't detach my mind from roaming wild with imagination...I try to capture a resort with the third minds' eye.

All along the waterfront, it was full with nipah palms. I can imagine how beautiful it can be if it is to be developed into a water chalet or floating house or any structures on stilts. The water is calm only with little ripples accompanied by the beautiful afternoon breeze. How wonderful it is to watch the reflecting lights on the water  under the full moon...the glittering lights that creates all sorts of drama to the whole panorama. What a panoramic view to behold...waaah...I'm already in trance.

Betul ke aku ni berada di alam nyata?...Hihihi....memang aku suka berfantasi...I'm an imagineer and an artivist...after all madness is relative.

This can be a gem in the making...a resort development with a icon that has never been in place yet in the whole of Kelantan state. We are blessed with God's gift. The nature that has not been spoilt by any form of over do development. Everything should be in the manner of natural state...compliment instead of cutting trees and bulldozing hills for the sake of architecture. It should be the reverse. The architecture should be sacrificed in the name of nature. Adopt sustainable and green living to the highest degree in glorified manner. Once nature has been spoilt it cannot be replaced as the original anymore.

This development in a way caters to  all walks of life. For those looking for a simple and affordable retreat, just go to the existing resort. You can enjoy the same water...the same nature. Only differs in the types you choose to stay.

If you feel like to enjoy a high end kind of resort just board the newly built units. Further in the distance the afternoon sun smears the down light on the villages by the riverside...offering elusive uninterrupted view with constant breeze on the whole body standing by the balcony...chatting and laughing late into the evening...huhuhu...romantically unimaginable.

Since both developments are under the same owner. Arrangements of spending time at the resort would not be cumbersome. Just made your choice...and everything will be entertained accordingly.

I can imagine how food from the restaurant is ferried through boats and served in dulang and send direct to the chalets. Just choose the menu and it will be cooked per request. You can stay all day long in the unit without going out to trouble yourself for food. 

To be more exquisite and unique, we can experiment or give a try to the one house one dish concept. Tasting local delicacies as original as it is...nothing match home cooked meal...a form of interactive tourism at its best.  Of course the food is to satisfy standards on hygiene, presentation, sources of raw products and halal certification for Muslim patrons. These local values can be exploited as part of tourism a way exhibiting our food varieties and uniqueness to the window of the world...Why not? 

If you want to have water activities...there will be jet ski, water scooter on standby or you can cruise on a boathouse...greeted by surprises of panorama that awaits....dining while cruising on a thriving waterway with thick foliages on both sides. If you expect something it is.

You can cruise on a modern and contemporary boat with the state of the art facilities or you can opt for a much more local vernacular kind of boat with lots of traditional art and craft fittings serving local delicacies, music as well as enjoying traditional cultural hospitality.

Another aspect which I think possible is having periodical events of water sport activities... rowboat competition...jet ski regatta ...canoeing and all sorts of water related sports events...

This place is not far from Kota Bharu International Airport. There's a jetty at Pantai Sabak that links to the resort. It takes less than half an hour ride through the river cruise. The tourist can be ferried to the resort after dropping by at the airport. How nice to travel by boat for check in. Welcoming drinks and food will be served and upon arrival you will be greeted by the beautiful dwarf staff as in the epic drama of Fantasy nostalgic..

Just next to the existing resort....I think it is possible to create some activities that are synonym with the local culture and tradition...hmm..An Art and Craft colony. A living museum for local craftsman. Kelantan is known as the melting pot of art and craft especially batik making, silverware, gold and jewellery, food as well as rich in cultural and traditional values which no other states in Malaysia that can match on the diversity of cultural heritage.

SM: One request you agree if part of this place is to be turned into some kind of tourist attraction..

HA: It depends on what you want to do.

SM: need activities in order to flourish..meaning to attract visitors.

HA: Yes I what's your plan?

SM: If you don't mind...we can set up an artist colony on that stretch..

HA: Meaning on my land..?

SM: Of course not..but possibly on the water's edge...some kind of floating gallery and showcase area...this will help boosting your business.

HA: Hmmm, I understand..

SM: It's your business anyway...I'm just throwing an idea..

HA: Good idea..agree on the spot..hahaha.

Another potential attraction is of course the concept of floating market. With the presence of the resort chalets and private resort homes, it would be nice to have activities that compliment with the norm and values of the locals. After all in a way it is some kind of interactive economic activities while showcasing the local livelihood...everyday kind of activities. I'm pretty sure it will blend well with the proposal of a unique retreat resort living. The downstream effect will benefit both parties.

All the subject matters put forth above are some kind of practical considerations in uplifting, enhancing and as an overall value add factor on the whole development spectrum. Weird and unassuming ideas do not mean unpractical. Sometimes brilliant ideas come in small and unexpected virtues. Look how the idea of Ninja Turtle that started on a napkin/tissue paper stamp the comical world  images to a certain pedigree. 

What a nice trip to this place...CERANA Resort..very nostalgically glued to the memory.

It's getting late. After exchange greetings, we make a move for our next destination...Kuantan....sending our friend, Fendi he's staying in Sungai Ular, Kuantan, few meters away from the beach. We hope to reach his house by 11pm. Hopefully driving  through the newly opened LPT hiway, the journey will be faster.

Yesss...we reached Fendi's house just on the dot...11pm...very good timing.

After a nice supper of grilled lamb at Fendi's house...we decided to put up a nite in Kuantan...Zenith Hotel. Too tired to continue the journey to KL, after all we're in no hurry to reach home.

Wow...the squid ink spaghetti was really awesome. Thank you Fendi and the family for the nice supper.....bon appetit.

I reckoned this living concept very much suits  the SOL/Sophisticated Office Ladies, HNI/High Networth Individual, YAWAN/Young And Wealthy And Normal category of people.

Enjoy life with the pleasure of doing nothing.

Impossible is nothing...very illusory indeed.

till the next episode...cheers.