Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Kampung Cina:
Chinatown of Kuala Terengganu

As it has always been a place of unique historical and cultural character, it is no wonder that Kuala Terengganu's Kampung Cina (Chinatown) is now regarded as a heritage attraction for both local and foreign tourists. Sprouting from joint restoration and preservation efforts between the Terengganu State Government, the Kuala Terengganu Municipal Council and three Chinese associations (Terengganu Chinese Assembly Hall, Terengganu Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and Terengganu Hainan Association), Chinatown has been given a boost for tourism in the region.

As history goes in the Chinese records, Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang were vassal states of Sri Vijaya, a powerful kingdom from the 7th to 14th centuries. Sri Vijaya maintained a close relationship with China and tribute missions were sent by Sri Vijaya to China between 906 and 1178 A.D. The descendants of Chinese sojourners and settlers - whose origins are traceable to that period - are still found at the trading ports and coastal settlements of Terengganu, including that of Kuala Terengganu.

Various Chinese records and annals - dated as far back as the 10th century (Song Dynasty) have referred to the ports of Terengganu. Javanese records of the Kingdom of Majapahit in the 14th century also placed Kuala Terengganu,Paka and Dungun on their list of trading centres.

While the Indians and the Arabs traded and settled on the west coast, the sea-faring Khmers and Chinese were probably regular visitors to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia for many centuries. From the 16th century onwards, the Chinese population increased gradually, and some established permanent communities.

It is believed that Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He) of China - the Goodwill Ambassador of the Ming Dynasty - led a huge fleet of about 200 vessels with approximately 28,000 marine officers and crew to the shores of Kuala Terengganu in the year of 1414 A.D. This is based on evidence from a map of places visited by Cheng Ho, during his 4th trip to the west.
Right after the visit of Cheng Ho/ Zheng He, Chinese farmers from the coast of China, especially the people from Zhangzhou District of Hokkien Province settled at Bukit Datu (Big City), and along the river bank of Sungai Nerus. The Chinese forefathers named Sungai Nerus as Sampokang (Cheng Ho's River) and built a temple at Kampung Jeram - Sampokong Keramat Cheng Ho.

When Alexander Hamilton and Captain Joseph Jackson visited Kuala Terengganu in 1719-1720 and 1764 respectively, the presence of Chinese settlers was noted down in their records. Alexander wrote: " Trangano ........ about one thousand houses in it, not built in regular streets, ....... The Town is above half-peopled with Chinese, who have a good trade for three to four Jonks yearly, .......

The product of the country are Pepper and Gold, which are mostly exported by the Chinese. About 300 tons are the common Export of Pepper, ........".

Kuala Terengganu was also described by T.J. Newbold in 1893: "...... the Malay town of Terengganu in 1828 was large and populous .... The Chinese are numerous, and live principally in strong brick-built houses, which now exhibit every appearance of an old and long established colony. The Chinese population of the town is estimated at 600, that of the Malays from 15,000 to 20,000".

Possible sea routes which ancestors of Chinese took to reach Kuala Terengganu and establish settlements are shown on top while internal migration between Kampung Chepoh, Losong, Bukit Datu, Kampung Tirok and Kampung Cina is illustrated. Of course, intra-migration between Kampung Tirok and other early Chinese settlements such as Wakaf Tapai, Pulau Bahagia and so forth, are also possible.

The Chinese settlers in Kuala Terengganu before 1900 were not homogeneous for they comprise of Hokkiens, Hainanese and Cantonese. According to Munshi Abdullah who visited Kuala Terengganu in 1836, there was a large Chinese quarter with a Kapitan Cina (Chinese leader) named Kapitan Lim Eng Huat (1798-1847), who was the third Kapitan of Chinatown. He probably saw the concrete bridge being built during Sultan Mohammad's period (1837-1839).

According to historical records, there were 7 Kapitans in Chinatown: Teo Tioh Eng (1736-1820), Kow Geok Seng (1782- ), Lim Eng Huat (1798-1847), Kow Teck Lee (1810- ), Low Kian Tee, Wee Teck Siew and Kow Swee Leng. There were also 4 Low Tiews (Jurubahasa) who assisted the local government to manage the Chinese Community's affairs.

The Low Tiews were Lim Keng Sing (1820-1849), Lim Keng Hoon (1825-1882), Lim Kian Mou and Lim Kian Siew ( -1911). The Kapitans and Low Tieys were all Hokkien who were the earliest and largest group of Chinese settles in Chinatown and hence, the Hokkien dialect is commonly used by the Chinese community.

By the mid-1800s, the Chinese population of Kuala Terengganu increased tremendously as new Chinese immigrants arrived. Kuala Terengganu, which is strategically located on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, was a natural stopping point for those who plied the trade route from China to South East Asia in the early days. Kampung Cina became the most densely populated area for the Chinese community in Kuala Terengganu.

Today, a stroll along Chinatown from the Kampung Cina Arch as the commencing point one has a nostalgic feeling as if he is stepping back into time. Two rows of shophouses of 236 which dated back to the late 1800s flank the road. One row of shophouses is built along the riverside on the right side of the mouth of Terengganu river. Many of these shophouses have extensions to as far back facing the river. In the early days, the river was the essential mode of transport.

Some of these extensions date back to times when the riverside shophouses had back entrances and jetties for loading and unloading goods from boats. Today, at the back of some of these riverside shophouses are jetties where speedboats dock.

At the back of the other row of shophouses you will find a hawkers selling various types of economic local food both Malay and Chinese. An old well which dates back to more than a hundred years is also located nearby. It is known as the Low Tiey Well. During the early settlement days, the term Low Tiey meant both that of Chinese translator and Chinese community leader. The water in the well was used for drinking and washing. The well was also believed to have been excavated and constructed in 1875 by Low Tiey Lim Keng Hoon (1820-1882).

Chinatown has been acclaimed as a part of Malaysia's living history of shophouse architecture, revealing a spectrum of architecture from the earliest wooden and Baroque, to 1920s Art Deco and post-Modernism all on one street. Many of the Chinese in Chinatown are the descendants of the early settlers. Till today, signboards on shopfronts prove that many of these families still live here - namely the Wees, Lims, Tans, Teos and Phuahs. You can see a lot of Chinese characters carved on the antique Doors and Panels.

Shophouse No. 177 of Jalan Bandar is the "generation" home of Madame Teo. The shophouse - Chop Teo Lian Hin - is today better known for its durian kuih (durian cake), pulut panggang (roasted glutinous rice) and keropok (fish crackers) which Madam Teo makes for sale. There are many more local delicacies such as paong (small bread), cimkuah (crab cake), and satay (sweetened roast meat) available for sale along this old Chinatown street. Restoran Sin Pin Siang (Ah Hong Coffee Shop) serves breakfast which includes a choice of the delicacies mentioned above. There are also several other reasonably-priced restaurants such as Restoran Chen Chen, Restoran Chan Wah Loi, Restoran Guan, Restoran Golden Dragon, Restoran Sik Wai Sin, Restoran Ho 183, Kedai Makan Soon Kee, Restoran Teck Lai, Kopitiam Cappuccino and Chef Pa Pa.

Further down the road and past the old brick bridge is shophouse No. 53. It is one of the earliest brick homes in Chinatown, constructed by builders from China who were commissioned by Wee Beng Siang, a revenue farmer and the great-grandfather of the present landlord Dr. Wee Tiong Wah.

There is now a new budget hotel in Chinatown called Hotel Seri Malaysia built on the land of the former Malay farm Market - Kedai Binjai. Several tourist agencies such as, No.200 & 202 Square Point Resort (Lang Tengah), No.139 Redang Bay Resort, No.181 Redang Holidays, No.167 Redang Reef Resor etc are located in Chinatown. There are also many shops - Batik Flaz, Teratai Arts and Crafts - selling souvenirs ranging from batik cloths to antiques. Similar shops can also be found at the Central Market.

Two very old Chinese temples - Ho Ann Kiong (1801 A.D.) [left] and Tien Hou Kong (1896 A.D.) [bottom] - are located in Chinatown. Other than being places of worship, the temples were also community centres for the Hokkiens and Hainanese respectively, and temporary shelters for the early immigrants.

Further down to the end of Jalan Kampung Cina is the Central Market - or Pasar Besar Kedai Payang - where various fruits, vegetables, textiles, household goods and sundry items are displayed for sale. The atmosphere in Chinatown is one of familiarity and informality. Walking along it feels like being back to the simple days of yesteryear. You may see old ladies in their sarong sitting in front of their shophouses, fanning themselves and watching young children at play. Throughout Chinatown, the Chinese have integrated with the local Malays. They like wearing sarongs, eating Malay food in Malay style and often speak in the typical Terengganu Malay dialect.

With Kampung Cina's potential as a tourist attraction, any infill development in the town should be in harmony with its existing structures in order to preserve the historical ambiance of Chinatown.

# Semua teks diatas mengenai Kampung China dipetik dari laman web


zul said...


ABDUL AZIZ said...

Saudara Zul...

terima kasih kerana sudi melawat.

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