The Botanical Gardens a.k.a Waterfall Gardens is a park in the middle of Georgetown, Penang. On weekends, I drive about 20 minutes to get there - to be one with fellow fitness junkies or in my case, fitness wanna-bes for some outdoor workout. This routine is part of my overarching plan to get fit for marathon running - and the operative word here is "plan"...!
Situated in what used to be a valley, the Botanical Gardens is surrounded by hills covered with lush vegetation. Everyday, and especially on weekends, you can see people jogging or brisk-walking around the park. There are a few small fields there - where taichi takes places, and occasionally you can see children playing badminton.
But working out in the Botanical Gardens is not the point of this story. The point of this story is what you can treat yourself to after the workout....*wink*
Ice Cream Roti
Ice cream on a hot day or after a "torturous" workout would be heaven sent! And then, comes the question - what was the point of one-hour jog to shed off 300-400 calories, only to replace it with 300 calories or more found in a cup of ice cream?? Well, to be honest - there is no point at all. But if you're game, you can try out this "pointless" activity at the Botanical Gardens, with the Ice Cream Roti!
The ice cream stall is located just opposite the waterlily ponds, outside of the Botanical Gardens. Known as the Flower Top Ice Cream because of the flower-shaped ice cream cone, I think the stall has been there like, forever! There is a photo of an older ice cream seller - the person serving the ice cream to me that day was much younger, possibly the son.
With RM3, you can get a hefty chunk of ice cream (chocolate, vanilla or strawberry flavor) sandwiched between two rectangular-shaped soft buns. Hence, the name, Ice Cream Roti.
Roti is the Malay word for bread. Junior asked me if I'd like some peanut toppings on my chocolate ice cream - and obviously, I said "yes". He prepared my order swiftly and handed me my yummy ice cream roti wrapped in a piece of white serviette.
My take on this - On a hot day, it will be pretty challenging to eat the ice cream roti, but definitely worth all the fun! Or you can have it the easier way, and get the ice cream in the flower top cone, to go.
Fresh Fruit Juice
A couple of years ago, I had to undergo physiotherapy for some injury. My physiotherapist and I would often talk about random stuff, but interestingly, the conversations would always lead to the subject of losing weight (and I wonder why...).
Anyway, she recommended working out at the Botanical Gardens and ending the session with a glass of fruit juice - as a treat. This was how I heard about the fruit juice stall.
Located outside of the Botanical Gardens, you will see the stall on the left side of the road (right next to the Bee Gallery) as you walk or drive away from the park. It is a rustic looking place with its white walls and wooden benches. But don't let this humble appearance fool you. Offering an impressive list of tropical fruit juices and smoothies options, the place is aptly named the Tropical Fruit Juice Bar.
Whenever we're in Melaka, a visit to Jonker Street will always be an important, must-do agenda. Jonker Street, or its official name, Jalan Hang Jebat, is a street located in the Chinatown area of Malacca's World Heritage site.
During the day, Jonker Street is quiet and somewhat deserted - if not for vehicles passing through its narrow, one-way street and tourists exploring the area on foot. Along the street are rows of heritage houses designed to the style of the Straits Chinese. Today, most of the houses have been converted from living quarters to boutique hotels, cafes, galleries and mostly into shops selling antiques, clothes and souvenirs.
On Friday and Saturday nights, the street is closed off to traffic and is transformed into a busy and crowded night market. Other than shopping for keepsakes, vintage clothes, or handmade wooden clogs - you can stop for a henna tattoo, or try some cendol, buah melaka, assam laksa, etc.
This time around, I decided to just walk around Jonker Street and take photographs of anything I fancy. Looking back at the photographs, i guess there appears to be a theme to "what I fancy"...
This is the outcome of a 2-hour walk around Jonker Street, Melaka.
My mom loves nature walks. So, when she came to visit me in Penang, we decided to go to the Botanical Gardens. It was almost noon when we got there. As the day was getting pretty hot, we decided to take the tram ride* around the park.
As we wait for the tram to move - out of nowhere, a group monkeys appeared. And just then, 2 teenagers walked towards them. One of the girls had a plastic bag in her hand. Both were excited. They were going to feed the monkeys.
The girl with the bag took out some bananas and held them out to the monkeys. That obviously was a huge mistake! Seeing the bananas - the monkeys went crazy! They tried to grab the bananas and the plastic bag - all the while making scary monkey noises, with their mouths wide open, showing red tongues, sharp-looking teeth and all!
Seeing that, both girls started to shriek like banshees! For some reason, the girl with the bag, didn't let go of her plastic bag. And so, she stood there - playing tarik tali* with the monkeys over the bag!
My initial survival instinct was to jump out of the tram (which was less than a meter away from the girls and monkeys) and run away, Then I remembered that I have my mom with me - so jumping off the tram and running away was not an option! On hindsight: I think my mom would have managed jumping off a stationary tram...
Anyway, in the midst of the chaos someone shouted, "Oi! Balinglah beg tu!" - literally translated as, "Throw the bag!" Guess that made the shrieking girls came to their senses, and they threw the bananas and bag to the monkeys and ran away.
The monkeys are probably the park's primary inhabitant since 1903 when the Botanical Gardens was opened to the public. And maybe they were there even before that. Over the years, they are used to having us humans around and generally, pose no threats and neither are they aggressive. That said, it is best not to bring food with you as you walk around the Botanical Gardens.
But, if you do want to feed the monkeys, don't hold the food in your hand and offer it to them. Leave it somewhere for them to take themselves. That's a piece of common sense, that is probably not common to everyone...hahaha!
The tram ride takes about 10 minutes and costs RM2 (adult), and RM1 (child)
Tarik tali is the Malay word for Tug-of-War
Thank God for GPS! If it were left to me, we would've probably ended up circling Taiping town dozens of times before eventually finding Sentosa Villa.
Honestly, who would have guessed that there was an amazingly cosy resort tucked at the end of Taman Sentosa housing estate in Taiping.
Hidden, and yet strategically located - Sentosa Villa is about 10 minutes away from Taiping old town. This means that the resort is also only a few kilometers away from most of Taiping's main attractions:
Bukit Larut (formerly known as Maxwell Hill)
WWII War Cemetery
Sentosa Villa, to me, was a wonderful introduction to the lush and scenic natural landscape of Taiping. Its concept is a reminiscent of the orchard lifestyle - fruit trees all around, fowls roaming the compound, wooden living quarters and a stream that possibly originates from the surrounding hills.
And if you're game, you can also play Teng-teng kapal terbang* at the resort ground.
* Teng-teng is the Malay word for hopscotch
* Kapal terbang is the Malay word for airplane
Taiping, one of Perak's more historical towns, is a good road trip destination for the weekend, and especially so if you're coming from Penang (just over an hour's drive). It has all the integral elements of a wonderful road trip - good food, old colonial buildings and beautiful landscapes.