I love botanical gardens but for some reason always tend to just associate them as flower gardens, the way they tend to be in the USA. Which means whenever I go somewhere and I’m not immersed in plants and flowers I tend to be a little discouraged. The Penang Botanical Garden, is to me, more like a park. It’s free to enter and while it does have flowers and plants and green houses, it seems more of a place to just walk around or exercise. We saw several people going for their afternoon runs through the sunny pathways than tourist-y guests. Most of the guests were taking tram tours of the garden rather than walking. Which my pale-weak-in-heat self was a bit jealous of after about a half hour of walking on the paths.
Botanical really just means that all the plants are labeled by their scientific name. I didn’t really check but we also didn’t go into any of the plant houses. The first one we went to had several large bees buzzing angrily next to the door so we skipped that one and then later had difficulty understanding the sparse maps we could find where the others were.
While the garden didn’t have a lot of shade or flowers like I had expected, it did have a lot of something I didn’t expect, Monkeys.
There were monkeys everywhere. Which was a big surprise. I haven’t seen monkeys just wandering around anywhere before. It was like when I was at the zoo in Bangkok and saw a ton of water monitors just wandering around. They are wild animals, and like the Asian water monitors in Thailand it’s best to not touch them or feed them because they may get aggressive. My friend tried to get close to one to take a picture of it and ended up having to bolt away because of the monkey’s reaction.
The garden boasts a waterfall and while there was a tiny stream the waterfall was our main goal. I decided that while I may have been exhausted and not doing well baking in the sun, but I wasn’t going to go all the way to the botanical garden and leave without seeing where the signs said the waterfall was. Which was disappointing. There wasn’t really a good view of it and it was a small.
Most of it seemed to be blocked off by the dam that was nearby. Maybe we didn’t find the right spot or maybe we went at the wrong time because a lot of gardens or parts of the garden seemed to be closed off and it wasn’t particularly busy. There was a tour group hiking since near some stairs that led to a trail, but beyond that there weren’t a lot of people.
It wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t feel as touristy as I’m use to botanical gardens being. What we didn’t get to see in waterfalls we did get to see in wildlife. We saw birds, tons of monkeys and a lot of different types of lizards which was really cool. And it was free, just not the easiest to get to. We ended up taking a uber.