Friday, 21 June 2013

Tumpat: The last train stop up north

Started from home: 9:50 am
Reached Tumpat: 10:24 am
Pushed off for home: 11:00 am
Reached home: 11:35 am

Tumpat is a small town and has many attractions. It is unlike Kuala Lumpur or Kota Bharu. Tumpat is an ancient town. Its history goes back to the Ming Dynasty of China. The Ming Chinese traders stopped here either to trade or to take shelter from the forceful monsoon rains and strong winds before they could sail safely back to China. Tumpat is a strategic sheltered port for the onward leg or the return leg for ancient Chinese vessels.

Tumpat still has the remains of the early Chinese traders who were here before Siamese rule in Kelantan. A drive around the little town in the quiet Friday morning gives some hint of Tumpat's ancient past. There's is a big ancient Chinese bungalow or godown, like the houses we see in ancient Malacca. The roof styles here  in Tumpat, in Malacca and in China have the same characteristic ancient Chinese architecture. I have mentioned about the early Chinese in Tumpat in my previous post in Facebook about Kg Laut in Tumpat.

Apart from hunting for ancient Chinese remains, Tumpat has many Siamese temples or wat Siam where Buddhist architecture and animal sculptures dominate the landscape and decorate the main entrance - elephants and tigers with colourful floral garlands. Bangla gardeners go about their daily chores, undisturbed by what goes on beyond the low perimeter wall of wat Siam. Ugly slim hound dogs can be seen walking the grounds of wat Siam

The main wet market is Pasar Besar Tumpat, a modern building that resembles the lower levels of our Parliament or RTM building in KL. It is packed with lady shoppers on Friday morning.

We came across a clearing at the end of a row of shops. There were slim bamboo poles with bird cages hanging at the top, in the warmth of the rising sun. Poor birds, they must be hot trapped in the bird cages. They are to compete later today, and win if they sing their best songs. Their masters trained them to sing. Poor birds. They sell for approximately RM2,000.00 each, depending on their voice quality.

We went to see the trains at the train station in Tumpat. The train station is perched high since Tumpat is on a lowland, a flood plain, and floods easily in the monsoon season late in the year and over the New Year holiday. The old train station has been renovated but feeling the old atmosphere is instant. The old wooden poles and beams are still intact but painted over cream and blue. The train service and repair yard is in front, across from the present railway station. There was one blue coach being serviced in the train shed. I could see glimpses of it. The brickwork of the old parts of the railway yard buildings and lighthouse are from the times of British Malaya, before independence. The Portuguese and Dutch never came this far up north. The sea is beyond the railway yard and train station, in the direction where the rail lines end at 527.75 km. Looking around at the old parts of the railway yard, it reminds me of the tram yard in Adelaide, where trams are serviced before they are rolled out onto the tracks again. Back at the main train station building, traders have just arrived with their wares for the day's trading - fresh groundnuts, bottles of freshly collected golden honey, and other forest produce. This is a typical 'weekend' scene on Friday morning.

We visited the modernised old fishing village where the signboard says Kg. Baru Nelayan, near the irrigation gates or sluice. It is an old fishing village but with a modern built-up bay and a small wooden jetty -- quite dangerous without railing. I was clicking away, totally forgotten there was no railing. A good thing I didn't fall into the river at the jetty. The view from the jetty is superb with tiny coconut trees in the distant background and colourful fishing boats by the water's edge. There were plenty of baby ikan todak in the murky waters beneath the jetty. They are probably hungry and darting about looking for food. The story "Singapura dilanggar ikan todak" is fictitious as ikan todak is only a small narrow pencil-like fish and can't attack humans. Affandi said when they grow big, the snout grows shorter, just like the other fish. Anyway, there were no banana trees in sight to support the story, "Singapura dilanggar ikan todak". Ikan todak is swordfish but it doesn't look like a sword at all. 

Tumpat train station on raised platform

Renovated old British train station at Tumpat. The square poles are wooden.
Toilet for handicapped persons
Modern train platform at Tumpat
View of the old British rail service yard
The train line ends here in Tumpat. The sea is beyond the houses and the horizon.
The longest train line in Malaysia is 527.75 km and ends in Tumpat
Old British Malayan buildings with exposed brickwork in the service yard

Malaysia's train lines
Bags of fresh groundnuts, bottles of honey ...
The trains go down to Gua Musang, Kuala Lipis, KL Sentral and Woodlands in Singapore.

Chinese bungalow or godown.
Wooden shophouse with ornate carvings
Fresh market
Bird competition and Chinese building.
Fishing village
Irrigation gate
Wooden jetty
River scene at the jetty in the fishing village in Tumpat.