To continue on with our series ‘Malaysia Through Our Eyes’, the second state that we are going to cover is Kedah. Located in the north-western part of Peninsular Malaysia, with Penang Island on its southwest and Thailand at the North, Kedah is a state rich with both resources and people.
Many people may not be familiar with Kedah other than the fact that they have paddy fields and Pulau Langkawi, one of the most popular islands in Malaysia – specifically known for diving as well as duty-free chocolates and alcohols. In order to allow the public to get to know Kedah better, we interviewed three UNMC students, from three different parts of Kedah, to share some of the hotspots in their hometown and to clarify some misconceptions people often have about their state.
Andy Tan | 1st Year in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience
Chee Mavis | 1st Year in International Communication Studies
Athirah Badrulnizar | 2nd Year in Computer Science with AI
Compare KL or Semenyih to Kedah. Do you think there are any differences?
Andy: From where I come from, Sungai Petani, there are more things to do compared to Semenyih as it is more developed. However, if you compare it to KL, we still have a long way to go. The malls aren’t equipped with big brands and they are quite far apart from each other. Furthermore, the public transportation system here is not as convenient as KL, so we have to travel by car. Another thing is that our accents are different and we tend to speak faster.
Mavis: Alor Setar is pretty similar to Semenyih. While we do have access to supermarkets and fast food chains, it is located at the outskirts thus we don’t have many megamalls like KL. However, we just opened a megamall, Aman Central, last year and Starbucks was brought in two years ago. Despite (Alor Setar) being the capital, the state focuses more on the development of Sungai Petani.
Athirah: Of course, KL is more crowded than my hometown, Jitra, the northern part of Kedah. Also, the traffic in KL is worse. Kedah only has bad traffic during the holidays. Other than that, people are more talkative and friendlier at Kedah, whereas people here prefer to mind their own businesses.
Andy and Mavis both agreed that food in Kedah tastes stronger, saltier and spicier. As they are located near the borders of Thailand, it is no wonder that their food is a fusion between Malay and Thai flavours. It only takes an hour to reach Thailand by car from Kedah so there is quite a number of Thais living there.
What are some of the misconceptions people often have about Kedah?
Andy: People tend to have this misconception that Sungai Petani is a small village which is even smaller than Alor Setar. Actually, Sungai Petani is the most developed place in Kedah.
Mavis: In Alor Setar, we don’t read Alor Setar the way it is written. Instead, we read it as ‘Alor Staq.’ As Alor Setar is known as ‘the Rice Bowl of Malaysia’, there’s a common misconception that most people from Kedah are rice farmers. To add on to that, people also tend to think that we are very laidback.
Athirah: People often think that we are harsh, but that’s just because we put more stress on certain words and our accents are different. People from Kedah are actually friendly! (I couldn’t agree more on this. Despite meeting the interviewees for the first time, they were approachable which made it feel more like a conversation rather than a formal interview.)
What are some of your favourite places to hang out or chill with your friends?
Andy: I seldom hang out with my friends outside as we prefer to meet up at each other’s places. Also, we are not really fans of Mamak because the food there tends to be more expensive than the food served at a Kopitiam. Still, I would recommend P.a.t.h. café and the Six Sky Lounge & Bar.
I would say P.a.t.h cafe is the most decent cafe here and I love its tranquillity and ambiance. A few top picks from their menu would have to be their Vietnamese drip coffee, tiramisu and gateau chocolat.
32, Lorong 17, Taman Petani Jaya
08000 Sungai Petani, Kedah, Malaysia
Not long ago, they opened a Skybar at The Pure Hotel called Six Sky Lounge & Bar. During my first visit, I was surprised to find out that they only serve beers despite having a menu for beverages. However, I’d still like to recommend this place as you get to enjoy the spectacular night view of Sungai Petani from up top.
No. A-2 Jalan Indah 1, Taman Sejati Indah
08000 Sungai Petani, Kedah, Malaysia
Mavis: I would like to recommend Cup Café for its cozy environment and great food. Moreover, they have live performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Those who are in the mood to sing can join in as customers can participate as well! If you do visit Cup Café, don’t forget to try their signature Nasi Kerabu!
No. 2B, Jalan Mahdali
05100 Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia
Athirah: Honestly, I rarely go out. Instead, I enjoy staying at my grandparents’ house. From the balcony, I have a full view of the paddy fields right behind our house. The view is so breathtaking that it’s as if it was a scene from a movie!
Could you share with us some underrated places to visit in Kedah?
Andy: If you’re a fan of seafood, I would recommend Tanjong Dawai. It is located next to Pantai Merdeka, the only beach we have in mainland Kedah. You can pick fresh seafood from fishmongers then bring them to one of the restaurants along the street to cook for you.
While tourists or Malaysians from other states are more keen in visiting the main attraction of Kedah, Pulau Langkawi, Andy and Mavis both agreed that Pulau Langkawi is overrated and over-commercialized. Products sold there are expensive and lack any representation of Kedah’s culture. The only reason they would go there is to purchase duty-free chocolates and alcohols.
What are some places you must visit or things you must do in Kedah?
Andy: If you enjoy hiking and camping, do visit Gunung Jerai, formerly known as ‘Kedah Peak.’ To reach the top, You could choose to either hike or drive up the mountain. There are a lot of attractions there such as waterfall, recreation parks and museums. Moreover, it is the highest peak in Kedah! When I was still in high school, I could always see Gunung Jerai from my class window.
Another place you must visit is the treetop walk, also known as canopy walkway at Sungai Sedim. The treetop walk has a length of 925 meters with a height of 26 meters above the forest grounds. They also offer other outdoor activities such as jungle trekking, kayaking, river crossing, paintballing and more. Sometimes companies will have their team building activities here too! It is a place where you can enjoy with both friends and family.
On hot and humid days, head on to Pak Gemuk Ice Blended for a refreshing bowl of red bean shaved ice! You could also opt for ice-potongs at Pantai Merdeka, as mentioned by Athirah.
Mavis: Zahir Mosque is one of the places you must visit when you come to Kedah. Being one of the oldest mosques in Malaysia, Zahir Mosque is huge and magnificent, especially when the lights are on during festival seasons.
Other than that, I always tell people that you can see sakura at Kedah. Well, it is not really sakura but the flowers look really beautiful when they blossom. It blossoms twice a year and when you drive along the road, it’s basically everywhere!
Athirah: I would recommend Taman Tasik Bandar Darul Aman as the park is spacious and quiet. It’s popular among the neighbourhood as it’s a good place for outdoor activities such as picnicking, cycling and kite flying. Sometimes, there will be food stalls nearby as well as activities hosted by certain organisations.
With all the different recommendations from these three students, we hope that you are able to gain some insight about Kedah and are inspired to travel around this beautiful state. Until next time!
By Wong Xeang Min