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Tropical Spice Garden
Ben van Wijnen

De ingang van de Spice Garden
They are open......


You'll find the Tropical Spice Garden on Penang between Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang. To be exactly: between Bayview Beach Resort and the Mutiara Hotel. It's a new project on Penang, and it has been open since 27 November 2003.
You can reach the Spice Garden by taxi or by bus from Batu Ferringhi. It's easy to find and not so far. There's a bus stop at the entrance of the Garden.
It's a wonderful escape if you're tired of the busy life in Georgetown. It is a garden of discovery for the tourists, who miss out on simply pleasure like walking barefoot on dewy grass or stopping to smell flowers  or spices.
The tropical Spice Garden shows us over 500 species of local and foreign flora from Malaysia and around the world. The imported plants or trees by the English are for example: tea, rubber tree, and rain tree.
You can have a look at the tropical herbs and spices, set amongst a lush nature conservation. The Garden is also the home to wild animals, birds and insects.
Also on the grounds is the Lone Crag Villa, a unique pre-war Straits Colonial holiday bungalow. The villa is the Visitor Centre of the Tropical Spice Garden and houses attractions such as the Spice Museum, Café,
Gift Shop and Garden Shop.
Different aspects can be explored and discovered by following any of the three undulating Garden Trails leading to 11 distinct "rooms"- water garden, cycad room, banana/heliconia bank, spice terrace, bamboo garden, ginger walk, sugar terrace, ornamental valley, croton wall, fern walk and jungle trail.
The trails begin at the main gate. They are called:
- jungle trail (follow the green marks; duration 40 -45 minutes)
- ornamental trail (follow the red marks; duration 20 - 25 minutes)
- spice trail (follow the orange marks; duration 30 - 35 minutes)

The pond at the beginning of every 'trail'.

We the Tropical Spice
Garden in April. We spend there lovely 2 hours. We enjoyed the lush of tropical greenery, the smell and the beauty. And of course to see how everything grows and blooms.
When you are tired of the busy life of Georgetown, Tanjong Bungah or Batu Ferringhi, this is the place to cool down. You're always walking in the shadow of the trees of the Spice Garden.
The best time to visit the garden is in the morning. It's cool and quiet under the trees.
All trails start at the Main Gate at the ticket office near the Water Garden. You see lilly's at the pond and sometimes the paths go up and sometimes down.
There's only one path, which is suitable for wheelchair or stroller:
- the ornamental trail. There are benches along the paths if you're tired. There's even a giant swing to rest your tired legs and to sit and relax. The swing is hanging 9 meters from the top of a tree on an elevated platform. From this point you have a wonderful view at the pond.
To explore the Spice Garden we had chosen to start with the "spice trail". We followed the orange/ yellow marks on the floor. We wanted to see the tamarind, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, annatto and clove. We wanted to see them grow and really it was a discovering trail. At the herbs and spices is a little sign, which will tell you where it's used for: medicine, kitchen or as a magic potion.....
At the end of the trail you end at the Water Garden. Time to take a little rest and after that we started with the "jungle trail".
Now we had to follow the red marks. We walk along the sugar cane, sugar palms and ferns. Surprising (for us) is to see the cacao, the oil palm, rubber tree. The orchids we see, we do have them at home. That's not so rare.
We pass along a very special old Chinese door. They use in the Spice Garden material from the old heritage houses. It's nice to pass them.
We rest at the waterfall before going to the end.
The people (very friendly) surprised us with a little drink. It was very nice and cool. Still don't know, what it was.

Our last trail is the "ornamental trail". At the pond we discover a fisherman sampan and a padi field. It had rained extremely the night before and the sampan was full of water. A man was emptying the boat.
Most of the plants you see here, can be found in a Malaysian garden.
We are touched by the Silver Joey Palm.  It seems to be listed as a threatened endemic specie. It's a very rare palm because of it's spectacular appearance.  It's leaf can reach a length of more than 3 meters and a wide up to 2 meters.

At the right you see a banana flower.
The wild banana of the Malaysian region is called Musa acuminata. This wild plant, sometimes known as the monkey banana, must have been used for food since the earliest of times. From the stems, that are about 12 inches thick, flower shoots begin to produce bananas. If you have never seen bananas growing, you might be puzzled that they appear to be growing upside-down with their stems connected to the bunch at the bottom and the tips pointing upward. On a banana leaf we found a nice red beetle (see photo)

Below you see the fruit of a nutmeg tree.
The nutmeg tree is evergreen, with oblong egg-shaped leaves and small, bell-like light yellow flowers that give off a distinct aroma when in bloom. The fruit is light yellow with red and green markings, resembling an apricot or a large plum. As the fruit matures, the outer fleshy covering (which is candied or pickled as snacks in Malaysia) bursts to reveal the seed. The seed is covered with red membranes called an aril, the mace portion of the nutmeg. The nut is then dried for up to
two months until the inner nut rattles inside the shell. It is then shelled to reveal the valuable egg-shaped nutmeat which is the edible nutmeg. Second-rate nuts are pressed for the oil, which is used in perfumes and in the food industry.

Zie je foelie om de noot?
           
 The fruit, the mace and the nut

Een mooi rood kevertje.
Our little red beetle.

 

 

 

 

De mooie bananenbloem.
A banana flower

Lemon grass, a native of Malaysia, is one of the most important ingredients in South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. It has long, thin, gray-green leaves, and a small, leek-like base. Lemon grass is most often used in curries, marinades, stews and seafood soups because it needs liquids to bring out the essential oils, necessary for enhancing the full flavour of this herb. The soft citrus taste helps to lighten richer tasting dishes. Lemon grass is used as the basis of a popular drink in the tropics, and as a tea. In the exotic flavour of Southeast Asian cooking, lemon grass balances the zing of hot chillies, garlic and cilantro, and gives depth to cool mint. Citral, its dominant essential oil, is also found in lemon peel and gives lemon grass its distinctive lemony taste and scent without the bite that lemons can add to a dish. The taste of lemon grass is refreshing and light, with a hint of ginger. Healing with essential oils has become very popular over the last few years. Some people purchase essential oil bottles wholesale to make their own oils at home. Essential oil bottles come in various sizes depending on how much oil you want to make.

 

Conclusion: The Tropical Spice Garden gives us a good impression of the herbs, spices and plants pf Malaysia. It's really worth a visit.
My friend (a Malaysian) had invited me to the Spice Garden. He had not been there before also.
His conclusion was: "You aren't going to pay for something you can see in your own garden!". For us, as tourists, it's nice to be there and worth a visit.

Lemon grass, zoals het groeit.
Lemongrass (or serai)

 

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