Although I have heard of Turtle Alley, my few visits back to Chinatown in my hometown, Kuala Terengganu, I never came across this alley. To be frank, it is not so noticeable from the main roads. This time I made it an effort to visit the Turtle Alley. If my parents weren’t there as my tour guide, I probably had to ask around or walk along the main street of Chinatown to locate it!
There is an entrance to the narrow Turtle Alley near the gateway at Chinatown, where one can see two dragons above it. There is a tiny sign that says Turtle Alley.
Along the alley, there are mosaic paintings of turtles, information on turtle species found in Malaysia, and metallic plates that tell a story of “Little Turtle Messenger” spreading turtle conservation awareness through the word of mouth. The walls looked rustic, presuming to leave the 200-years old building as it is. This, however, enhances the colourful patterns of every mosaic painting.
At the end of the alley or even the beginning, depending on which side of the alley one walks in first, there are a few quotes and information on turtle conservation.
Terengganu, the state, has been famous for turtles for decades. The leatherback turtle, which is almost locally extinct, used to be the state icon. Tourist from every part of the word used to visit Rantau Abang to see this magnificent creature but since the past few years, only 3-4 females came ashore to nest. Definitely not as good as seeing a real leatherback turtle, one can still see a replica of a leatherback turtle here. They are the largest of all turtles, measure approximately 2m in length and weigh about 600kg.
Besides, there is another interesting mosaic painting that says ‘I Love Penyu’ where one can stand behind and pop out his/her head to take a picture! Chinatown is like a heritage that represents the minority of Chinese in the state. It has its own history, values and characteristics that is worth to preserve. Turtle Alley, a really unique, interesting and educational place to check out while one visits Kuala Terengganu, adds in a conservation value to it!
I was also surprised but delighted to know that there is a blog for Turtle Alley which provides more information and current activities!