My back is gradually recovering which meant I was more than happy (and able) join Charlotte and Adi on their last Penang outing before they head down to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow. The three of us had a quick breakfast of chicken curry and rice in ‘Line Clear’ before catching the 101 bus out to the Spice Garden which is on the coast road West of Batu Ferrenghi. There was only one slight problem. The bus was already packed when we embarked, so we ended up standing – and the guy behind the wheel drove it like he’d stolen it! You’d think he was a frustrated fighter pilot by the way he threw that thing around! The coast road is very winding in parts which is hardly ideal when someone’s driving in that manner. The result of which was that Charlotte became a little green around the gills and we had to disembark 3/4 of the way to allow her to reset her horizon, It wasn’t a problem, we just waited for the next bus as they’re every 10 minutes and arrived at the Spice Gardens a little later. After all, it’s not as if we were on a schedule or tour.
The gardens were really interesting and the staff lovely. The first thing they do once you’ve paid is offer to smother you in mosquito spray as these places are a haven for the little buggers. One of the women behind the counter very diplomatically asked Charlotte (who paid) if I qualified for a discounted ticket as I suspect she assumed I was Charlottes’ Farther! (a polite way of saying – is he an old bugger and get pensioners rates?). This provided us with some amusement later when Charlotte told me. Truth be told, I’m in the same age bracket as her mother so the honest answer would be yes, even though her Dad’s my elder brother.
Family amusements aside we really enjoyed the Spice Gardens which was created out of a former rubber plantation back in 2003. It’s a restful place stocked with a fantastic variety of native trees and plants complete with a pond and meandering stream. Now’s probably not the best time of year to visit as many plants aren’t flowering. Also, some sections (like the café and cookery school) remain closed due to Covid. Even so, there’s lots of interest including the poisonous plants section which is a bit of an eye-opener as so many of the plants that can kill can also heal – in the right doses – and that’s the skill…
On leaving the garden we took a short break on the attractive little beach opposite before catching the bus back, this time with a well-behaved driver.
For our final evening together we’d thought about trying Nonya food but it’s the weekend and many restaurants are booked up as the place is teeming with local tourists who’re outnumbering Europeans by huge margins. Instead, Charlotte and Adi suggested going back to the Pork noodle soup stall we ate at the other night as they’d enjoyed it that much – and so we did. Only this time we ordered the large bowls which cost just over 7 Ringgit (£1.40) each. They were gorgeous! Street food is hard to beat and it’s no wonder this place often has people queuing for a table.
Tomorrow I’m back to travelling solo. It’s been lovely having the company but now that my back’s slowly getting better I want to get out with the camera more. Plus, I may have a Singaporean friend paying me a flying visit on the 20th…
I’ve a small favour to ask…
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