Nature’s Playzone: Teluk Bahang, Penang
Nature’s Playzone: Teluk Bahang, Penang
WRITER: Natalie Joy Lee PHOTOS BY: Ryan Loh
Nature’s Playzone: Teluk Bahang, Penang 07. June 2020, by Natalie Joy Lee, Photos by Ryan Loh
Just a five minutes’ drive from Hard Rock Hotel Penang, is this serene stretch along the Straits of Malacca—a still relatively underexplored haven that’s, in fact, abounding with activities for families with kids, nature-seekers and even tour buses dropping off passengers from cruise ships.

The area definitely warrants more than half a day, once you see what’s in store. Escape Theme Park is split into the Adventure Play and Waterpark zones, offering zip lining, bungee jumping, various obstacle courses, and of course fancy slides for water play. The Tropical Food Farm will teach all you need to know about Asia’s local and exotic fruits alike. Later, do drop by the Teluk Bahang Dam which offers especially gorgeous sunset views.

But if all you have is a day or less, here’s our itinerary packing in nature and fun at its best.

Craft Batik

669, Mk. 2, Teluk Bahang, 11050, Pulau Pinang
Tel: +604 8851 302

A beautiful art form and pride worn in the form of apparels especially by Malaysians and Indonesians, the batik technique basically uses wax-resist dyeing to create intricate designs on fabric. Walking towards the back of the retail store, it’s interestingly therapeutic to watch dyes spreading out in full technicolour, wax lines making sure colours never mingle.

Cruises often drop passengers by the busloads to Craft Batik’s Factory, and on our visit, many tourists were loading cheerful colours onto their neatly pegged cloth boards—premade and drawn by the factory. Those participating in morning sessions typically receive the items (in this case handkerchiefs) only in the evening that day, since the batik needs to be dried, soaked in sodium silicate so colours stay, boiled in hot water twice to remove all wax, washed in clean water, dried again, then sent to the sewing department, before delivering them to guests.

“People are not using genuine batik, and they’re none the wiser,” shares owner Quah Chin Choon. “Machines use rotary, screen or digital print but colours run quickly. This is why we have DIY classes, to increase awareness of this unique art.”

Using a spouted tool called tjanting to draw intricate patterns on fabric.

A quicker method to get designs onto the fabric is by printing the wax resist (made from melted gum resin and paraffin wax) with a copper stamp.

One of Craft Batik’s staff adding chemical dyes onto fabric that has already been imprinted with wax resist.

Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm

No. 830, Jalan Telik Bahang, 11050 Pulau Pinang
Tel +604 8888 111

There’s no way you’ll miss the first exhibit which greets guests right at the entrance: a stick insect, which paying visitors are allowed to hold for a photo opportunity. Passing through the hanging plastic chains entrance, we then stepped into The Natureland: a sun-drenched transparent dome packed with flora and greenery as far as our eyes could see, butterflies dancing everywhere—we are told there’re about 15,000 of them representing 60 species fluttering at any one time! The best vantage view could be from David’s Garden, looking down towards the anchoring statement in this living garden, the Home Tree.

Kids and adults alike are equally enthralled walking into the Mystery Cave, home to scorpions, spiders, snakes, frogs and centipedes, onto Dragon Path which houses the central bearded dragon, tree lizards and geckos among other animals, then reaching David’s Garden—where you’ll find the National Butterfly of Malaysia: the Rajah Brooke’s birdwing. Don’t forget to head to The Cocoon, two floors educating on the world of invertebrates via interactive stations and easy to understand displays.

Behold Entopia’s centerpiece— Natureland: a sundrenched transparent dome home to about 15,000 butterflies fluttering at any one time!

Moving on to level two at Entopia, guests learn about the world of invertebrates via interactive stations and easy to understand displays.

The central bearded dragon, so named for its puffed up throat that resembles a beard when in the face of danger.

The unique three-horned rhinoceros beetle.

Tropical Spice Garden

Lot 595 Mukim 2, Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11050 Pulau Pinang
Tel +604 8811 797/796/795

You’re instantly pulled into a world of tranquillity, stepping into something shorter than a full jungle walk but that still gives that exposure to nature, while picking up useful knowledge during guided tours too. The once abandoned rubber plantation has since been transformed into a showcase garden, cocooned by a secondary jungle with natural spring waters flowing from the hilltop.

In our leisurely one-hour spice trail walk, we are greeted by flora and fauna in full force—a sign that the area, while tourist-centric is still organic, and not tainted with pesticides or insecticides. Here, over 500 species of plants thrive, with a special focus on spices, medicinal plants and herbs. Our guide Beatrice leads with much gusto, educating the difference between the often mixed up citronella and lemongrass, various spices commonly used in Peranakan (Straits Chinese) cooking, and the fascinating poison trail: highlighting over 20 common household plants that are even deadly, such as the dumb cane.

Towards the end, you may catch the scent of participants at weekly cooking classes, home cooks sharing their Straits Chinese, Thai, Indian-Malay, Malay, Asian vegetarian and Penang street food recipes.

A gigantic fig tree starts us off on our spice trail at the Tropical Spice Garden, with a special focus on spices, medicinal plants and herbs.

One of the main pit stops along the spice trail, where our guide gave us a run through of some of Asia’s most common and famous spices.

One of the main pit stops along the spice trail, where our guide gave us a run through of some of Asia’s most common and famous spices.

The ylang ylang flower is pegged to one of the most famous scents of them all— Chanel No. 5.

Don’t miss the poison trail, a small but important section that educates on over 20 common household plants that could even be deadly, such as the money plant.