Discover Alor Setar on (running) foot

After 23 years not setting foot in Alor Setar, Kedah, a place where I spent 4+ years attending Keat Hwa Secondary School and where most of my relatives (my mom's side) live, I finally visited this wonderful city that has always been special in my heart last week.

Alor Setar is the state capital of Kedah with a population of around 600,000. It used to be the largest city, but now Sungai Petani has overtaken Alor Setar to be the largest city in Kedah since 2010. 

Alor Setar has really progressed  and developed over the years. The whole city landscape has changed drastically. Having said that, there is still no traffic jam here (unlike Kuala Lumpur or even Penang) and it's a breeze driving from one destination to another. The pace of living in Alor Setar is very much slower than Kuala Lumpur, It's rather relaxing with the kampung feel (compared to KL) yet with great facilities and infrastructure. 

Perhaps my memory is fading or the changes are really a lot over the last 23 years, it took me a while to recall back my memories of all the familiar buildings, roads and places in this beautiful, serene city. 

Despite the progression of the city with wider roads, better infrastructure, more buildings, one thing for sure remains unchanged. The people of Alor Setar still preserve their simplicity, humility, friendliness, warmth, great hospitality and genuineness towards others and all live in great harmony with such closeness with each other. 

I felt so welcome with the warmth and great hospitality of my relatives and long-time school friends. They truly made me feel so much at home. One of my friends even said to me, "Once you come back, you surely will come back again and again." 😋

And it's true. It's rather irresistible not to go back there again with all my relatives and old friends there. Alor Setar has this special charm that keeps me thinking about it after back in KL. 

Running / walking down memory lane of Alor Setar

I am doing my best to run at a place where I visit. There is no exception for this first visit to Alor Setar after 23 years.

Since I stayed at Fuller Hotel next to Putra Medical Center and Aman Central Shopping Mall, naturally I would start my discovery run / walk from the hotel. I decided to run along Lebuhraya Darul Aman towards the Chinatown (Pekan Cina) area before finishing off at Alor Setar Tower (Menara Alor Setar) across from Aman Central Shopping Mall.

I ran and walked the 3 km slowly with the main purpose of re-living my old times, passing through some familiar places like the Masjid Zahir towards Pekan Cina and Kedah River. I also took every opportunity I had to capture the beautiful views of Alor Setar in the early Saturday morning through my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

Here is the "walking down the memory lane" route that I took captured via my Garmin Vivoactive:

3 km discovery route of Alor Setar

As I share the photos I took along this short 3 km run / walk route, I hope you could feel the sense of peace, serenity, and calmness of this very clean city - Alor Setar. Somehow this discovery has given me so much peace in my heart as it brought back so much memories for me.

Historic clock tower

This clock tower was erected in the early 1900s so that the muezzin at the neighboring mosque would know when to call the faithful to prayer. 

Clock tower, Alor Setar

Clock tower, Alor Setar

Balai Nobat 

Across from the clock tower, you could also notice a striking octagonal tower topped by an onion-shaped dome built in 1906. It's the repository of the nobat (royal orchestra), principally composed of percussion instruments.

Masjid Zahir (Zahir State Mosque)

The Zahir Mosque occupies a site of approximately 124,412 square feet. Its center hall (Prayer Hall) measures 62 x 62 square feet and is surrounded by verandahs of 8 feet wide with 4 mezzanine areas, each of which has a dome. The main dome is locted at the north-east of the mosque building. It's one of the grandest and oldest mosques in Malaysia

Masjid Zahir

Masjid Zahir

Running along nice wide pavement of Lebuhraya Darul Aman

Do pay attention to the buildings across from Masjid Zahir as well. 

You would see Dataran Masjid Zahir, Balai BesarMuzium Diraja  and State Art Gallery

Charming old buildings along Lebuhraya Darul Aman 

After passing through the historic buildings with strong Islam architecture and influence, you would then enter into long stretches of charming 2-storey shop houses occupied by mainly Chinese owners. I'm very glad to know that all these old shop houses look the same 23 years ago. Very well maintained and preserved! Kudos to the effort!

I love old buildings. I am glad they are kept and well maintained.

Another angle of the old charming shop houses along the main road.

Tunku Abdul Rahman's Mural Art

For the history buff, I'm sure you can remember Tunku Abdul Rahman, our beloved first Prime Minister after independence in 1957 who remained as Prime Minister following the formation of Malaysia in 1963 when Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined the federation, until his retirement in 1970.

But do you also know that he was born in Alor Setar? :)

Well, I was sure glad to have discovered his mural art of the wall of this old shop house. Amazing!

Tunku Abdul Rahman's mural art on an old building wall

Beautiful Kedah River

Kedah River passes through Alor Setar and empties into the Straits of Malacca at Kuala Kedah. I used to pass this river often during school time at Keat Hwa, 

This river is rather clean with calm water with awesome scenery.
Kedah River

Kedah River

China Town (Pekan Cina)

Running passed this stretch brought me so much good memories. I used to go there during weekend to eat dim sum at restaurant floating on the Kedah River. I remember I would throw some leftover food into the river to feed the fish. 

Across from the river, there are people staying as well. And I used to have a teacher staying there. And I took small boat across the river to visit her several times. I could still vividly remember how she looks like today. What a wonderful memory!

This new arch spelled out Pekan Melayu and Pekan Cina, symbolically stands at the bridge over Kedah River.

Entrance to the inner shop houses - China Town

Along Kedah River

Dataran Tanjung Chali, China Town

The charming old buildings at the inner part of China Town

Mural art at China town

Mural art at China town

Mural art at China town

Morning market at China Town

Morning market at China Town - have you seen the cage with Chicken before? :) Reminds me of old times!

Menara Alor Setar (Alor Setar Tower)

From China Town, I decided to run back along Lebuhraya Darul Aman passing through Masjid Zahir and other historic buildings. I finished off at Menara Alor Setar (Alor Setar Tower), across from Aman Central Shopping Mall.

Alor Setar Tower is a 543 ft (165.5 m) telecommunication tower in Alor Setar. It looks like a little brother of the tall KL Tower. Apart from serving the role of a telecommunication tower, it also caters as a tourist attraction. There are some restaurants and a souvenir shop.  

The tower itself is also an observatory tower to look for the crescent moon to mark the beginning og the muslim months such as Ramadhan. 

Alor Setar Tower

Face off with Alor Setar Tower! haha!

Alor Setar O Alor Setar

Alor Setar - thank you for the sweet memories! Thank you for allowing me to walk down the memory lane again after 23 years. It has been such a long time. Despite me being away for so long. my relatives and old friends from Keat Hwa Secondary School made me feel so welcome and I felt very much at home.

I felt so much at peace with sense of belonging to this clean city in Kedah that holds so much memory for me. 

I believe my old friend is correct when she said to me, " "Once you come back, you surely will come back again and again." 😋

Yes, I will be back. And it will not be another 23 years for sure. 😋

I'm starting to miss you already. Hmmm.... shall I consider retiring in Alor Setar one day? ha!ha! Not a crazy thought in fact!

Written by Vincent Khor on 4 April, 2017.


No comments:

Post a Comment