Arriving at the Terengganu State Museum, you might think you’ve strayed into Alice in Wonderland. Visitors are confronted by a series of buildings modelled on the archetypal Terengganu village house, but absolutely gargantuan in scale. Somehow the dislocation in size is fitting though for, although it lacks the interactive exhibits of more modern establishments, the museum far outstrips most of its provincial counterparts.
The ground floor of the main building holds exquisite fabrics from around Southeast Asia, while the next floor up displays various crafts. The top floor details the history of Terengganu. The Petronas Oil Gallery, in the building to the left, is sporadically interesting but predictably skewed. Behind it, the old-fashioned Islamic Gallery displays fine examples of Koranic calligraphy.
Allow time to see the rest of the site. Beside the river are two examples of the sailing boats for which Kuala Terengganu is famed – unique blends of European ships and Chinese junks. The small Seafaring Gallery and larger Fisheries and Marine Park Gallery are close by, as is a collection of smaller, beautifully decorated fishing boats. Five old timber buildings have been disassembled and reconstructed within the grounds. Among them, the Istana Tengku Long was originally built in 1888 entirely without nails, which to Malays signify death because of their use in coffins.