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Alor Setar

MALAYSIA | Wednesday, 2 May 2012 | Views [1267]

A scene from behind Zahir Mosque

A scene from behind Zahir Mosque

Alor Setar in the northern state of Kedah. The place sounded marginally more interesting than Ipoh and I figure I might as well have a look while in the country. At least I can claim to have done a full tour of the peninsular. The place is easy enough to get to from Ipoh with a direct bus. In fact, it's a feature of Malaysia that all the major cities are well connected by roads.

It's raining hard this morning and the day is quite cool. The bus is freezing with the air con on and all the passengers have to endure this for the next three hours. The raining had stopped an hour into the journey and I hoped it'd be dry enough when we arrive, which it was. It's very humid when we finally arrive at the bus station, probably due to all the rain and 32c. The first thing I tried to do was to arrange my bus ticket to my next destination of Penang. The ticket counter tell me to get it tomorrow. His English is so poor, I can't understand his explanation for why it's not possible to buy an advance ticket and now I'm worried I won't get a ticket at all.

I don't see many tourists in Alor Setar. In fact, I see a lot of women covered up, Islamic style. I imagine this is going to be a pretty conservative place. When I arrive at my hotel, I'm most surprised to see a big Tesco. 

I've got a pretty small list of things to see. The hotel staff do their best to help and offer one leaflet showing a heritage walk of the city. Which only add a few more items. So here's the walking tour. 

The Menara Alor Setar, also used as a telecommunications tower. The place is practically empty and the staff are so eager, I think I'm the first customer of the day. The lady at the counter even asked if I was Malaysian. When I find out that the price is double for a foreigner to go up the observation desk, I asked if it was too late to say I was a local. The Menara Alor Setar a lot like Menara Kuala Lumper:

Istana Kuning, the birthplace of Malaysia's first Prime Minister. Closed for the day. Seen from above and below:

Royal Museum:

Balai Besar, used for royal ceremonies and state functions. Closed for the day:

Balai Nobat, housing the royal ceremonies. Closed for the day (WTF!!!):

Zahir Mosque, looks like a cut and paste job of Mughal architecture with a dash of colour:

There were a few more things I could have checked out like Rumah Merdeka, a tribute to Malaysia's Prime Minister, Sultan's Palace and Muzium Pad (the Rice Museum) etc. The temperature is supposed to be 32c, but felt more like 40. It's too hot, humid and I'mm tooo tired to continue with any more sight-seeing.

All in all, there's precious little to do or see here. There's more sights and landmarks than in Ipoh, but at least Ipoh had plenty of shops and restaurants to indulge oneself. As the city is mainly a manufacturing and business hub, I'd go as far as to say that Alor Setar knows it's boring. Copying many of the attractions and ideas from elsewhere just for something to do. The Tesco next to my hotel tells it's own story. Imagine in the UK an out of town business complex with offices and a very big Tesco, that would be Alor Setar. Functional enough, but I don't think I'll ever come back.

Tags: alor setar, kedah, malaysia, mosque


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