Here’s how you can experience the best of the state, without actually leaving home
Looking for some inspiration for your #traveltomorrow plans? With its stunning seascapes, unspoiled rainforest and distinctive culture and cuisine, the northeastern Malaysian state of Terengganu should be on your radar. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until travel resumes to get a taste of it. To whet your appetite, we’ve curated a list of activities to help you experience the treasures of Terengganu remotely.
1. Take a virtual tour of the Terengganu State Museum
You’ll now get to roam through a good part of this 27-hectare museum – amongst the largest in the country – and view the many historical and cultural treasures that it houses. A highlight is the Terengganu Inscription Stone; 3D rendering by experts has made the centuries old Jawi script engraved onto its surface viewable in incredible detail. From natural history and textiles to royal regalia and the history of maritime trade, eight out of nine of their galleries can be viewed online. After a self-guided tour, you’ll have a better understanding of Terengganu’s rich history.
2. Taste the signature flavours of Terengganu cuisine
Malaysian cuisine is far from homogenous. Terengganu, having a lengthy coastline, has plenty of seafood to delight your palate. One of its most popular dishes is Terengganu laksa, and you can learn to make the rich, spicy noodle dish from scratch from food and recipe portal Kuali. For something a little lighter, there’s sata, a dish of fish that’s mashed with ginger, pepper, chillies, turmeric leaves, bay leaves and coconut, before being wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. Food blog Masak-masak has a detailed recipe for you to make it from home – even on your stovetop. If you are looking for a sweet treat, try making the aesthetically pleasing, multi-layered kuih lompat tikam, a rice pudding with brown sugar and coconut milk.
3. Get a behind-the-scenes look at local mosques
This entertaining and insightful documentary from the History Channel takes us to two of Terengganu’s most famous mosques, Masjid Ulul Albab and Masjid Kristal. The former is awe-inspiring not only due to its size; it’s also perhaps one of the most ambitious mosques in Malaysia, being made primarily out of timber in a vernacular architectural style, which prioritises local materials and knowledge in construction. Having only been completed in 2011, it is a relatively modern structure but has nevertheless become a glimmering landmark in Kampung Seberang Jerteh. The latter, on the other hand, is very much the opposite, and is instead made of shimmering steel, glass and crystal. In this documentary, the host, Singaporean television personality Suzairhe Sumari, converses with local experts who not only share the history behind these structures, but also the artisans who helped bring out their beauty.
4. Immerse yourself in local literature
For the bibliophiles: Growing Up in Trengganu by Awang Goneng is a great way to understand the state’s past. This memoir is both joyful and heartwarming in its personal take on the history of Terengganu, with the author having been born and raised there. The anecdotes he tells aren’t the kind you’d find in any museum, and are particularly endearing, diving into encounters he had with people who lived in his village.
5. Dress up in locally crafted batik
In November 2019, the Terengganu government began to encourage its civil servants to wear batik to work daily to help promote and preserve local batik crafts. Being one of its main cultural exports, to get to know this complex textile practice and its motifs is to better understand Terengganu. There are many resources for learning about its history and modern development and, better yet, you can also support local businesses and order yourself some fantastic batik pieces from Terengganu’s Noor Arfa Craft Complex.
6. Witness the ulek mayang dance
Another aspect central to Terengganu culture is the performing arts. Ulek mayang is a special ritualistic dance formally used to pay respects to the spirits of the sea. A live orchestra usually accompanies a band of skilled traditional dancers as they re-enact the tale of a sea princess who fell for a fisherman. While it is mostly performed at formal events these days, its significance remains. You can watch this recorded performance by the Suktra Terengganu dance troupe online.