Tumpat is the name given to both a town and district in Kelantan, Malaysia. Tumpat can be found at the very end of the East Coast railway line which is run by Malayan Railways. This rail line connects Kelantan to the western regions of Peninsular Malaysia. Due to its strategic location, Tumpat has become the transportation hub of Kelantan. The town is located approximately 15 km from the state capital of Kota Bharu (Tumpat, 2014).
In Malay, the name ‘Tumpat’ may have several meanings. One definition could be that ‘Tumpat’ is the “end or conclusion of a particular thing”. Another popular understanding of the name ‘Tumpat’ is that it can also mean “an empty space that has been filled to the brim”.
According to the old legends, Tumpat has been around for more than 190 years. During older times, basic necessities had to be brought in from Kota Bharu without adequate roads or channels of transportation and thus many things were transported in and out using small boats called sampans. The port town attracted more activity during its early days under British rule when new developments made it possible for bigger transportations to go through the town. Earlier on, only transportations that weighed between 300 and 400 tonnes were able to come to shore. However, with new regulations in place, many more transportations stopped by Tumpat before continuing on their journey to Singapore.
The first head of the docks was William Kerr, an English officer under the Siam Public Services department from Bangkok who was stationed in Kelantan before 1909. A portrait of the officer hangs on the walls of the Tumpat Club. The town has five small islands on the western region of the confluence of the Kelantan River. The five islands are situated quite closely to each other and are named Tanjong Dato, Tanjong Pak Jah, Tanjong Che Mas, Tanjung Che Tahir and Tanjung Rulah (Azam, 2013).
‘Songkran’, or the New Year according to the Siamese, is a festival that is widely and joyously celebrated in Thailand around mid-April of each year. This rich cultural heritage has now become one of the main tourist attractions for the land of the white elephant. The Songkran celebration has also seeped into the traditions of the main wat in Tumpat, Kelantan and also draws a large local following. Even though the celebration was initially a religious one, it has become a more commercial event with water-splashing and flour-throwing festivities along with other entertaining performances (Cipan, 2009).
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