“Let’s all go to Tok Bali,” a friend suggested at a dinner one night sometime in early February. “Just get yourself there. Everything else is on me.” No, he wasn’t referring to Bali in Indonesia but Tok Bali in Kelantan.
Two out of the five of us were going to Kota Bharu for a wedding that particular weekend mid-February. At the end of the dinner, the three of us decided to join them, not at the wedding, but for a retreat at this quaint resort called Villa Danialla in Tok Bali, located some 50 km from Kota Bahru (nearer to Besut in Terengganu).
Two of our friends brought their spouses, so there were seven of us on the trip.
We had a blast. It was really a good break from the city.
I found it rather blissful, not interrupted by the ringing of the mobile phones.
Mobile telecommunication was minimal and only at certain spots at the resort. The WiFi signal wasn’t that strong either. I brought my iPad and MacBook Air, wanting to do some work, but it remained in the bag the entire trip.
Some of us took long walks in the morning after the Subuh prayers and before breakfast (while others prefer to sleep in), sweated it out in the sauna, swam in the infinity pool and had traditional massages.
|Sunrise, sunrise ... looks like morning in your eyes...|
We had sumptuous breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
One night, we watched “Into The Storm” a movie on British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, over Magnum ice creams, tea and coffee and tidbits.
We took loads of photographs (but for our private collection).
On the night that our friends went for the wedding in Kota Bharu, the four of us borrowed the villa owner’s car and explored the area.
We crossed the Tok Bali Bridge and headed towards Tok Bali Bay, where one friend bought the dry produce. The three of us took pictures instead.
I had been to Tok Bali before. That was in 2004 when I was attached to Nuance, the now-defunct magazine of the New Sunday Times.
The NST photographer, May, and I were on a road trip to Kelantan. We were driving around in the state looking for stories and photo opportunities when we reached the Tok Bali Bridge.
We didn’t cross the bridge then, but was enjoying the breath-taking scenery when we saw this fishing boat coming in to our side of the bridge.
We spoke to the fishermen on board the boat but the Kelantan accent was so thick that I couldn’t make out what they were saying.
Back then, there was only the LKIM fish terminal across the bridge.
Returning there eight years later, there is now the Tok Bali Bay Pusat Rekreasi dan Riadah, where there are traders selling fresh fish and dry and salted fish and local snacks.
|Tok Bali Bay signage that reminded us of a certain private airline!|
|Fishing boats at the LKIM Terminal|
Before we headed out to Tok Bali, we were informed of a new resort in the area. Curiosity made us look for it.
The Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort hadn’t had its official opening yet but opened its doors for business just a few months ago. We were told it was developed by the private sector for the Kelantan government.
After checking out the resort, we drove back the way we came in and had dinner at Raja Ikan Bakar, which came highly recommended by the staff at Villa Danialla and the locals we asked when we were at the Tok Bali Bay.
The four of us feasted on eight charcoal-grilled prawns (king-sized ones) four squids and four crabs, each the size of a dinner plate. We even had takeaways of equal number of prawns and crabs and a medium-sized garoupa for our three friends as well.
We paid RM205 for all food, plus drinks. Cheap? It was a steal!!!
|Our charcoal-grilled seafood dinner!|
We continued bingeing until the wee hours of the morning when we got back to Villa Danialla. On top of the food that we brought back from Raja Ikan Bakar, the villa staff also prepared colek buah (rojak buah) and Magnum ice cream for us.
We had our food and talked all night long by the poolside and under the moonlight.
I don’t know about the others but I wished to return to Tok Bali again one day (if not to Villa Danialla but to Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort), to enjoy the tranquility that it offers to a city girl like me.
* more pictures will be uploaded soon.
* more pictures will be uploaded soon.