You hear a lot about the architecture, the food, the cultural delights and the street art of Penang but not so much of the wonderful trees and other plentiful plants that are also so much a part of this wonderful island.
While we were in Penang with our Australian friends before leaving to board Bali Hai at Rebak Marina, Langkawi, we visited the Botanic Gardens and the Tropical Spice Garden, both oases of calm from the busyness of every day life in Penang.
The Tropical Spice Garden is a 32 hectare forested area that boasts over 500 species of tropical plants.
You enter through a cool and peaceful water garden where the lily pads are as big as tables.
There are paths that wind through different sections (e.g.bamboos, ferns etc).
Informative signs educate the visitors and included in the ticket price is an individual recorded commentary for each person that you can switch on and off at will.
There is even a place to get a free cuppa in the middle!
We were fascinated by the poisonous plants section – I hadn’t realised that there are so many plants that are very dangerous and that can kill you!
As we stood there and read the signs I imagined Agatha Christie would be taking copious notes as she walked through.
There is a very pleasant Thai restaurant in the grounds of the Spice Garden that can be entered from the road for those not wishing to go round the gardens.
The Botanic Gardens are also glorious. We arrived quite early in the morning and were rather alarmed to hear gun shots as we got out of the car.
We saw that various garden staff were going out their business unperturbed and soon realised that the blank shots were fired at regular intervals to scare the monkeys. They also seemed totally unperturbed!
As these gardens were first opened in 1884 there are some glorious old trees within its 29 hectares.
We went round a fern house, palm collection and an Orchid house and there were other collections that we didn’t manage to fit in.
There are also some delightful paths that wind up the hills that surround the gardens. The path we took wound up the hill through glorious rain forest until we reached the site of the long-gone former superintendent’s house.
With a ferry to catch we had to leave the gardens before we had seen everything we wanted to see. Next time we’ll make a day of it!