It is lovely to visit Penang Island again and explore the historic streets of multicultural Georgetown, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Row after row of the historic shophouses are being converted into boutiques, restaurants, museums, coffee shops, and whatever else the dynamic citizens of Penang can think of.
The Tropical Spice Garden at Teluk Bahang has become a major tourist attraction on the island and it is easy to spend most of a day enjoying the spice gardens and learning about the natural history of all the spices and their different uses in flavouring our food, healing our bodies, and providing the scents of aromatherapy.
They have stocked the Spice Islands book since my last visit here four years ago and I am in Penang to give a talk entitled ‘Moluccas: The Spice Islands’ at their new shop in Georgetown itself called ‘Tropical Spice Garden – In the City’.
I have previously been introduced as ‘the world’s leading expert on the Spice Islands’, so where would the spice–man stay if he comes to Penang? Well in Clove Hall of course! Believed to have once been owned by the Sarkie Brothers to house the manager of their famous Eastern & Orient Hotel, this Edwardian Anglo-Malay residence is typical of the ‘tropical bungalows’ built here in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The building has been restored to its heritage style and opened as a boutique bed and breakfast residence. The interior has the beautiful black and white tiled floors of the period and showcases a collection of local antiques, artwork, and heritage furniture.
Breakfast can be had on the terrace overlooking the garden, the coffee is great and the omelets the staff prepare are the best I have ever tasted!