(written by Dave)
Pretty low key day here in Penang. We had a leisurely brekkie then eventually made our way to a bus stand. We decided to try taking the local bus to the spice garden (some 15ks from here). Of course, none of us have any experience with Georgetown buses so finding the stand, figuring out which bus to take and then deciphering payment was a bit of mental gymnastics. Gretchen took the lead doing all the research on her new iPad (Nancy thinks we should have an iPad, I think we have too many electronic devices already).
The bus itself was new, clean and pretty comfortable. The road to the spice garden was twisty and and had some ups and downs. Like bus drivers all over the world, our driver was a bit of a rally driver in waiting. Somehow he managed to keep the bus on the tail of a speedy motor scooter throughout the trip. All of us exited the bus feeling a little worse for wear. Nancy is not much of a roller coaster/bus rider when she is feeling well, she is still not yet 100%. Gretchen is of the same gene pool. They both put on brave faces on arrival at the gardens before the sea breeze eventually revived them.
The spice garden was very interesting. I honestly expected a typical tourist trap with too many painted concrete sculptures. What we found instead was lovely hillside garden intertwined with paths, rock walls and many well labelled specimen plants. They had just about any tropical spice you can imagine, all with a sign boards telling a bit of history. Even fresh (not dried) most of the spices had the expected smell on leaves or flowers. It reminded me of fresh Thai cooking (and again got me excited for the trip ahead in a few days time).
We wondered for close to three hours, eventually finding our way to the Monkey Tree restaurant at the edge of the garden. They have a fantastic elevated position overlooking the ocean, and a great Thai inspired menu. Steve, Gretchen and I had a wonderful lunch. Nancy, knowing we had a rally driver bus ride back to Georgetown, decided to give her tummy a rest. I think she may have been jealous when she saw our food. We also tried out the famous nutmeg juice – it was refreshing.
To get the bus back was easy. I’m not sure that it is an official stop but you just flag the driver and they stop right at the garden gate. The driver may have had less rally in his blood, or perhaps there were just more people getting on and off. Either way everyone arrived back in Georgetown feeling better than the way out.
I think Nancy and Gretchen both need a break from being tourists. They both ended up taking afternoon naps and passing on dinner. Steve and I went out to the Red Lantern food court (again) but also picked up some take away for the girls.
We don’t have much planned for tomorrow. Gretchen and Steve depart early Wednesday on a flight back to the US, via HK. We are on a ferry to Langkawi about an hour later. Aside from running everywhere and now needing a holiday, we’ve sure enjoy our time here in Penang.
(again today – all spelling errors are entirely mine – normal editing services should resume tomorrow, I hope)