Nature Heritage in Penang
Nature heritage in Penang is not that much, compared to the size of the island. If you view the map provided by satellites, you can see that 33% of the island on the east side is heavily populated and the south east side is occupied by many manufacturing plants.
However, what we have left is quite sufficient for the community, provided that these places will not fall victim to more development in the future. Now the government has set the rule that any land 200 feet above sea level or hill slopes with more than 26% gradient is not allowed to be developed. So, we hope that this rule is observed by all parties involved in developing and decision making.
Some places occur naturally, like Penang National Park and Penang Hill, while some are man-made like Teluk Bahang Dam and Bukit Dumbar reservoir.
Day trippers can easily visit any of the places, because Penang is still a small island. You can drive leisurely around the whole island in two hours, or even cycle around on bicycles too.
Jerejak Island on the east side of Penang island used to be a sanitarium for the lepers and also a prison. Now, there is a resort and spa there to replace the sanitarium. Jerejak island has a kind of wilderness which is still intact. It also has some historical relics that could be interesting. However, we have a concern about the current development there that looks to mar the island.
I love going up the Penang Hill, the funicular train is in itself a big treat. The journey is part of the fun as you can view jungle habitat from the train while it is climbing up or down. If you are fit enough, you can hike up the hill using an entrance called the Moongate near the Botanical Garden.
When I was a child, we loved it when we were brought to the Youth Park, either to play the roller blades or to rough it out on the playground. Not to forget having great fun dipping in the natural large cascading pools which now have a landscaped garden around them.
On the north west side, there is a forest museum. If you come from Batu Ferringhi, the entrance is before Teluk Bahang Dam. This forestry museum and arboretum is different from Pantai Acheh Reserve Forest which is part of Penang National Park.
There is an impressive man-made park called the Tropical Spice Garden which is worth visiting.
It is located on the way to Teluk Bahang. In the surrounding area of a bungalow called Lone Craig Villa, the garden is full of tropical herbs and spices. This establishment also comes with a Spice Museum, a Souvenier Shop and a tea house.
The entrance ticket of RM15.00 per person is well worth it. You should not miss the chance to visit this tropical haven. I am sure you would walk out with a lot of new knowledge about the wonder of herbs and spices in the Orient.
Who do not love flowers? The famous Botanical Garden, which is part of a compulsory itinerary for any tourist in Penang is located near Tanjung Bungah. This nature heritage is popularly known also as "Waterfall".
The locals come here to work out a sweat and also to bring their family for a great outing in the outdoor. Botanists come from all around the world to study the extensive tropical plant species available here. It is always nice and cool at this place. In order to escape the blistering heat of the beaches and city center, people come here to relax and exercise. Here also you can find many monkeys, which roam wild.
There are a few other places which are not mentioned here yet. Some trails are hiked by the locals only, like the Bukit Jambul trail and also the public park at Relau. Some beaches are also frequented by the locals only like the one at Sungai Batu and Pantai Mas. There is also a mountain bike trail at Pondok Upeh.
As the population of the island grows, we need more and more space to break out of the concrete walls. I am very sure these places will be discovered by more people in the near future.
Penang National Park
The Penang National Park is the only park in Malaysia that covers both land and sea area. Therefore alone it is worth a visit. Go into the jungle, get a boat, have a picnic at Monkey Beach or visit the meromictic lake at Pantai Kerachut.
The Meromictic Lake at Pantai Kerachut is quite an interesting place.