“Kak Em, there is one place called Terrapuri Heritage Village that you must visit because I know you like architecture,” a friend told me when we discussed about places that we had and have not been. I was quickly filled with excitement, dreaming to visit the place. One day, I was invited by Sham to join Gaya Travel team to stay at Terrapuri. I jumped at the opportunity and said yes.
My family and I travelled by car to Kampung Mangkuk, Pantai Penarik, where Terrapuri is situated. Upon reaching the place, the gate was closed. Silly me, I didn’t know that I had to pull a string to ring the bell. “Kak Em, you have to pull the string to ring the bell to call someone to open the gate,” Sham told me on the other end of the line when I called him to ask how do I enter the place. I did just that, and voila, someone opened the gate for me.
Majestic! My eyes were rolling and feasting on what I thought as a very beautiful heritage village with houses that were built more than 100 to 250 years ago. The place is set in an idyllic environment where there exists nothing between human and nature. One will certainly feel refreshed. Thoughts are sure to get uncluttered and there would definitely be an inspiration overload.
Being the brainchild of Alex Lee, Terrapuri Heritage Village is a conservation and restoration project involving classic Terengganu Malay houses. There are total of 29 antique houses that were collected by Alex for over the period of 18 years. According to Alex, the layout of the heritage village is inspired by the 17th century Terengganu Palace and its surroundings.
The antique houses manifest creative and aesthetic skills of the Malays. They were built using chengal wood with triangular shape, steep gabled roofs and odd-number staircases. The houses were also built on stilts (8 feet high) and employed the tebuk-pasak technique at the joints. The roof was made from rhomboid-shaped Singgora roof tiles while the walls were made from timber panel walls slotted into grooved frame (what the Malay calls Dinding Janda Berhias). The upper part of the walls, windows and doors are decorated with screen with beautiful woodcarving work (Kerawang or Sobek).
Types of houses here include Rumah Kedai Buluh, Rumah Paloh, Rumah Belukar Titian, Rumah Tasek, Rumah Dusun, Rumah Binjai Rendah, Rumah Tembakang, Rumah Gelugor Raja, Rumah Seberang Takir, Rumah Jeram, Rumah Kubang Jela, Rumah Nibong, Rumah Pulau Musang, Rumah Pengkalan Kubu and Rumah Sungai Mas.
I stayed at Rumah Nibong. Although it is old, I had the benefits of the villa’s refurbished splendour and unique traditional batik (with Nibong patterns) as décor. For a hot and humid weather, air-conditioning is heaven-sent, and each house in Terrapuri comes with its own unit. My husband said that he prefers the old kampung way instead and said that the house’s natural ventilation system adequately cools and reduces humidity. I agreed but with the temperature of more than 40°C, I doubt that cooling could take place. I switched off the air-con and opened up all windows and doors. After few minutes, my husband started to sweat. He finally gave into the idea of switching on the air-conditioning unit. He switched on the ceiling fan in addition.
Although the house itself is traditional, the interior is half traditional, half modern. So just because the house is over 100 years old doesn’t mean that every piece has to be antique. I love that Alex combines preserved history and progressive design. By progressive design, I mean rain shower, wooden bathtub, bathroom amenities (WC and what not, I can’t imagine myself doing ‘business’ in the old way), hair dryer, fridge and coffee/ tea making facility. Telecommunication medium like TV and telephone is not available in this heritage village to create a real kampung ambience.
My son and I spent some time visiting the library (Rumah Pulau Rusa) and reading room that is furnished with antique furniture, some books and magazine collection, computers with internet and a congkak set. We loved it there. We also dropped by the Serengas Shop that features a handpicked selection of finest antiques, artefacts, books and crafts from Terengganu and other parts of Malaysia.
After that we went walking along the coconut-tree laden beach, admiring the beautiful view that overlooks Pulau Perhentian, Lang Tengah, Pulau Cepu, Redang and Bidong, which are all visible during a clear day.
In addition to just feasting our eyes on the beauty of the surrounding village, we also went for refreshing coconut drinks and fried keropok lekor at the nearby food stall. We later drove to Kuala Terengganu, which is about an hour’s drive, to have our dinner.
We really had a great time at Terrapuri and wish to come back again for a family holiday. We missed the attractions nearby, namely the Fireflies Sanctuary and Setiu Wetlands, and plan to visit them soon when we return to Terrapuri.
Although the cost of staying at Terrapuri ranges from RM400 and above per night, it is worth it as the owner had spent a lot of money and time restoring the houses to make it the most beautiful place in Terengganu (perhaps in Malaysia). The best time to stay there is when it is off-season – you might just find the peace and tranquillity that you’ve been looking for. Your heart will certainly be full of joy for having a chance to travel back through time and experience the architecture of a forgotten ancient kingdom. ~EY
Kampung – village
Rumah – house
Keropok lekor – cracker which is made primarily from a combination of dough (sago flour) and pounded fish.
tebuk-pasak – mortise and tenon