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Saturday, 12 May 2012

The calmness of Alor Setar

Me at Tun Mahathir house
I went to Alor Setar last Thursday for a work visit. While waiting for our return flight scheduled at night, a good friend of mine, En. Zul brought us to see the other side of Alor Setar town which we never knew before.

Luckily for us En. Zul is also a history enthusiast and much we can learn from each other. He brought us to the old town of Alor Setar (the Chinese and the Malay town). We passed through the old MAHA clinics that was once saw Tun Mahathir practice medical and gave free service to the poor peoples of Alor Setar. It is located at the old Malay town and currently used as a pharmacy (not the current MAHA clinic located in front of the Pekan Rabu).

Tanjung Chali
En. Zul also brought us to Tanjung Chali that was once the quay where traders anchored and offload their cargo for Alor Setar. Currently the location sits a small custom office a reminder of the bustling port before the World War 2. I presume it was named after an English officer name Charlie, and maybe locals pronounced it Chali (by listening), but please correct me if I'm wrong on this. Boy sure this place is the most calm place I ever saw in Alor Setar. By dusk you can see the most beautiful sunset simmer down on the city. Truly is beautiful.

Chettiar alley

The old Chinese town was once a bustling place for trade, and En. Zul showed us the Chettiar alley where in those days Tamils chetty offered loans for traders and locals. They still operates there today, but most of the shops owned by them are rented to local Chinese for groceries store. We also visits the site for a river crossing where locals still use sampan/ kolek (small rafts) with a modest fare of 30 cents. We talked to the owner of this service, and he told us that during high seasons he could get up to RM50 per day. It reminds me of an old P. Ramlee movie in Anakku Sazali.

Sampan/ kolek service to cross the narrow straits in old China town
Others than that, En. Zul also brought us to the site - origins of Alor Setar town. Located near the Zahir Mosque where an alor (small drains) leads to the river nearby and sits a Setar trees hence the name Alor Setar (Setar trees usually grows near a small ditch). I was really happy to be there really I am, because I now understand thoroughly the history of the Alor Setar and its origins and place of start. Quite a humble beginning for a beautiful city.

The site where Alor Setar starts, humble beginning for a beautiful city
We also stop by at the birthplace of Tun Mahathir. I begin to understand how he became such a calm person during his tenure as Prime Minister. The Alor Setar city itself is a very calm place. I wish you all could be with me through out the day, Tanjung Chali, chettiar alley and the river near Tun Mahathir house. This place encapsulates you totally with calmness and seeds you to be a person who embrace your surroundings with love and a great life. Other than that, En. Zul also showed us the favorite hotel of the late Tunku Abdul Rahman known as Royal Hotel located beside a river in the heart of Alor Setar city. Tunku frequented the hotel whenever he went back to Alor Setar during his lifetime. As an honor to the great man, it was named Royal Hotel and still operates today.

I believe there is much about Alor Setar and Kedah that I need to explore and understand, and as I told most of my good friends, I am always be in love with Kedah and its peoples. They always treat me with love and compassion when I went there. I'm truly grateful to God for this love which you can't really explain unless you experience it. 

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