|Beautiful Kedah province|
Kedah state is the real Malaysia!
Not congested and torn between tradition and modernity, like K.L.
Not artificially created on a drawing board like Putrajaya. And not a living museum and protected by UNESCO, like Georgetown, Penang.
Kedah was one of the best experiences we ever had. Meeting an awesome Malaysian family who spent the day with us, showing us a wide variety of what they call home.
Small villages, tiny mosques and endless green rice fields led us to the archaeological site of Lembah Bujang, a Hindu/Buddhist site dating back to the 4th century A.D.
The candis (temples) are spread out over a picturesque hill site. Several of the temples are covered to protect the findings. I never expected a site like this here in rural NW Malaysia but it proves how highly developed the early Kingdoms of the Malay Peninsula and Indonesian Archipelago were.
|Lembah Bujang Museum|
The Museum of Lembah Bujang is a must to visit, as it shows several of the items which were found here, though most of the signs are in Malay language.
Zahir Mosque was breathtaking and is one of the most beautiful mosques I have seen. And it is one of the most beautiful mosques in Malaysia. Even nicer was the fact that we were able to accompany our friends inside the mosque, which was built in 1912. The mosque is in Alor Setar and was naturally our first stop in the capital of Kedah State.
The padang, the old town square is the central point around which a number of these buildings are located. The Menara, the huge Telekom tower, looks a bit out of place amongst all these historic buildings though.
The Balai Besar, the big hall, is opposite of the Zahir Mosque and is said to be one of the finest examples of malay architecture. It is the building where the sultan officially met visitors and is located right in front of the sultan palace. The palace was an impressive museum where royal paraphernalia and modern Malaysia art are on display. No photography inside though.
Surprisingly there is also a Thai temple here in Alor Setar, so we also paid a brief visit to the temple's prayer hall. No monks in sight, but instead we met an interesting guy from Germany who was traveling around Malaysia and other countries on his bicycle.
Spending the day with our friends from Kedah was a special treat and something we would never have experienced without them. Specially since some of the guide books mention Alor Setar only as a transit point to Thailand. Naturally we are looking forward to go back there and discover more of this beautiful area.