On 6th October 2010 as early as 8.00am, we started our one-day visiting journey in Penang. As we had limited time to explore the routes to all the tourists attraction spots, we booked a taxi earlier which the driver acted as our tour guide as well. He is so pro that once we boarded his taxi, he immediately took out few laminated leaflets to show us the tourism venues that we might have interest to go.
If you have no idea where to go, don't worry, ask the "tour guide" to arrange for you! They are so used to this business so this thing is just "sap sap soi" for them. We actually planned to go for the famous Penang Asam Laksa near Air Itam for breakfast, but the driver told us Penangites don't eat Asam Laksa in the morning. Thus, the well-know Air Itam laksa stall will only open in the afternoon.
So, we changed our plan. The first destination of our visiting was Penang Botanic Gardens. From the information I got, this garden was established by British way back in 1884 from an old quarry site. For the local, it is more known as "Waterfall Gardens" because of the cascading waterfall nearby.
Visit the gardens early in the morning is a nice thing to do when the weather is still cool and the sunlight still not burning hot. The surroundings are filled with hundreds species of plant, therefore the air there was so refreshing. It is a nice place to escape from polluted air in town center.
Because of this refreshing condition, therefore the garden is not just a tourism spot. It is also a place where the locals love to walk, jog or do exercise. Hence when I walked around the garden, I saw plenty of Penangites doing their morning exercises there. Why I know they are locals? Well, at least they talked in Hokkien with heavy Penang accent.
The quiet and peaceful ambiance in the gardens made it a good place for activities which need such environment such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong.
For tourists, this is not the main attraction. What attracted them most is the natural environment, various species of tropical flora and fauna which hardly found in the cities surrounded by concrete buildings.
Not far from the main entrance, a row of very unique trees caught my eyes. They're called the cannon-ball trees (Couropita guanensis). Not sure how to describe this species of tree, perhaps the photos give the best description.
Not only the trunk is so unique, even the flowers' appearance are very special too! Heard it is called "Cannon-ball tree" because the fruits produced from the tree look like canon-balls. The fruits will fall from the tree and crack open when hit the ground and causing a small explosion sound. Quite an interesting fact. Perhaps at the time of our visit it was not the fruiting season as I didn't notice any fruit on the tree.
You could also meet the Pinang Palm tree which is where Penang (Pulau Pinang) got its name! It looks a bit like coconut tree, but the trunk is much slimmer and taller than coconut tree.
There are also several green houses such as the fern house and cactus house, but I guess we were there too early so all these green houses were still locked and not yet open for visiting. I heard suppose we can easily see plenty of monkeys hanging around in the gardens, but somehow we met none!! Perhaps they were still sleeping or maybe we should bring some bananas with us??! ;)
Landscaping in this garden is gorgeous as well which really worth a visiting.
As the natural habitat is not the main purpose of our visiting and we're chasing of time, so we didn't explore much of this garden. After spending about half an hour or so in this place, we then left to the next destination. Anyway, I believe that Penang Botanic Gardens is a beautiful place to visit if you happen to cuti-cuti Malaysia in Penang Island.