Although most people love warmer weather, it does have one serious downside – mosquitoes. Not only are they an irritant, leading to itchiness and other allergic reactions, they can carry serious diseases, including malaria, dengue, and the newly discovered zika virus. So it’s important to avoid being bitten but that’s not as easy as it sounds. Mosquitoes have been around a lot longer than human beings and they have an exceptional sense of smell for such a small creature. They can detect a potential target from 30 metres away and so one of the best defences is to become “invisible” to them by changing your chemical signature.
They are attracted by the carbon dioxide that human beings breathe out and the larger you are, the more carbon dioxide you will exhale. This goes for pregnant women, too, who often report that they are bitten more frequently than usual. Mosquitoes can also detect blood type, and people with Type O blood are twice as liable to be bitten as people with Type A. If you’re sweating a lot, or drinking beer, you’re also more likely to be attacked. You can spray yourself with artificial chemicals in the hope of deterring them but a better idea is to use a natural plant-based insect repellent – citronella oil. It’s an essential oil obtained from the leaves and stems of lemongrass. It’s effective but it’s also non-toxic and so safe for humans and pets to put directly on the skin.
As well as being an anti-fungal, and effective at calming barking, anxious dogs, citronella masks the smell of carbon dioxide and perspiration that attracts mosquitoes. It comes in a variety of forms: candles, incense sticks, coils, oils (for use in oil burners), and sprays. Canadian researchers found that lighting a citronella candle reduced the number of mosquito landings by nearly half. Most people find that a combination of citronella products works best. Use the personal sprays if you fall into one of the higher risk categories above in conjunction with the coils, the oils, or the candles.
Think about your environment as well and make sure that your garden is well maintained, with no standing water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. If you put saucers under your flower-pots, make sure that there’s no stagnant water lurking in them. If you enjoy fresh flowers in your home, change the water every couple of days.
You can purchase a variety of high quality citronella products from the Tropical Spice Garden’s two shops in Penang as well as online.
Visit the latest extension of Tropical Spice Garden – a little pocket garden shop in the heart of George Town! Situated near to Little India and the busy Beach Street, our little shop carries all our favourite TSG essentials – high grade spices, aromatherapy and household scents, beautiful fabrics and loads of interesting souvenirs!
Visitors can also make bookings for cooking classes, day tours and night walks in the city. Spice Friends discounts apply here too!
Telephone: +604 261 3275
Open Hours: 08:30AM – 04:30PM (Mondays-Fridays)
10:00AM – 06:00PM (Saturdays)
Closed on Sundays
Working in a natural environment is a totally different experience than a typical office job. Besides having the privilege of savoring tasty herbal drinks and listening to the beautiful wildlife orchestra every day, we also stand a higher chance of observing and witnessing some of the greatest nature findings in the garden (think Nat Geo)!
Spread across 8 acres of the secondary forest, Tropical Spice Garden is a natural tropical habitat to more than 500 varieties of flora and fauna, ranging from native trees to sub-tropical plants, and creepy crawlies to mammals. Therefore when luck strikes, it is no surprise that you may encounter a Malayan water monitor lizard (Varanus salvator) swimming in the water garden, a yellow-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) feeding on a praying mantis, or a colony of giant forest ants (Camponotus Gigas) making their way back to their nest.
One sunny afternoon when everyone is off for lunch, something happened in front of the garden’s pantry that grabbed everyone’s attention.
A live “Urban Jungle” show was happening in front of our eyes – an Oriental whip snake (Ahaetulla prasina) was attempting to consume a green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella)! Being the naturalists that we are, we started to observe and document the behavioral and physical changes of the two species. The initial thought was: “The slim, slender snake will have a hard time swallowing the bigger and stronger lizard. Surely it’ll eventually give up…” To our astonishment, instead of giving up, the snake took almost an hour to finish a large and surely satisfying meal.
During the first 20 minutes, the snake maintained a firm grip on the lizard’s neck, which was very much still alive and struggling to escape.
Within half an hour, the lizard’s head was already halfway in the snake’s mouth with its legs still twitching! Soon, some small black ants started to gather around both reptiles. Despite the distraction of the ants crawling over both reptiles, the snake continued its mammoth task of a meal. As time goes by we realized that the lizard wasn’t moving anymore, which we concluded that it might already be dead at that point.
At the 45 minute mark, there was a dramatic change in the situation. The snake started to utilise its powerful muscles – expanding its jaws to accommodate the size of the lizard, we noticed a pale banding on the throat becoming more apparent. This banding pattern is only noticeable when a whip snake is feeding or feeling threatened.
Lastly, when 95% of the lizard was swallowed, the whip snake looking quite proud of itself gradually moved away from the limelight of our keen observations.
The Oriental whip snake is one of the common tree snakes that can be found in secondary forests, residential and agricultural areas throughout Southeast Asia. It is mildly venomous towards its prey – insects and small vertebrates – which it actively seeks out as it glides from tree to tree.
A common sight in Tropical Spice Garden, the green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) also has a widespread distribution in primary and secondary tropical forests.
People are drawn to vegetarian by all sorts of motives including to live healthier and to save the environment. Lze Huei shares her vegetarianism by cooking and believes that people are still open for modern living vegetarian lifestyle base on her experiences.
Lze Huei started her career since 2007 by sharing her personal menu and cooking method. In year 2011, she established vegetarian kiosk “I Love Vege” at Queensbay Mall, Bayan Lepas to share her passions with both locals and oversea customers. She can be said as the pioneer in the industry and hope to make it a trend to eat healthy.
Some of her expertise dishes includes Japanese Sushi, Basil Spaghetti & Vegen Mushroom Soup, Hot and Sour Soup of Mushroom and Mustard (Chinese Chai-Boi), and Chinese Herbal Soup serve with mixture of mushroom (Bakut Teh),
It was a very exciting and memorable day for Tropical Spice Garden (TSG) as we launched our 10th Anniversary month, together with our newly published book Tropical Spice Garden: Asia’s Hidden Eden and the opening of our new trail Beverages of the World.
The event was officiated by the Chief Minister of Penang, YAB Lim Guan Eng (CM) and attended by officials and representatives of the tourism industry in Penang.
The day began with the unveiling of the TSG Rapid Penang bus. Ten representatives and officials – YAB Lim Guan Eng, YB Danny Law (EXCO Tourism, Development & Culture), David & Rebecca Wilkinson (Founders of TSG), Kenneth & Katharine Khoo (Directors of TSG), Lim In Chong (landscape designer for TSG), Ms Ooi Geok Ling (Penang Global Tourism), Ch’ng Huck Teng (Chairman of ATAP), Mary Ann Harris (Chairman of MAH) and Chin Poh Chin (President of PTGA) − boarded the bus in front of Bayview Beach Resort to TSG for the milestone event.
They arrived to the welcoming cheers of staff and guests as well as the chorus of the Spice Girl’s Spice Up Your Life. The entrance was a medley of colours with members of staff decked out in Spice Out! t-shirts and colourful trousers, waving painted signs.
Without further ado, guests were escorted to the Water Garden which for the welcome speeches starting with Katharine Khoo, Managing Director of TSG. “ If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be standing here today addressing all of you here today, I may not have believed you!” she began.
“In the last ten years, visitors and friends of the gardens have described Tropical Spice Garden as a labour of love. If you could see into my minds eye and the memories that are captured within, I can say that this surely is an indisputable fact. Our little pocket of paradise has warmed the heart of each of our team members over the years and each visitor that have walked through our doors.”
The CM who has always shown support for eco-tourism in Penang commended TSG for setting the bar as an internationally renowned eco-attraction on the island. “When TSG opened in 2003 it was a premier attraction in the green lung of Teluk Bahang paying homage to Penang’s natural history and the significance of the spice trade centuries ago. There were not many internationally rated attractions at the time”
Admitting that he took time out of his busy schedule just to attend the event he said, “When the invitation arrived, I said we had to try to fit it in. Because we don’t only want to show support but also to celebrate excellence.” He continued, “TSG is one of those few (attractions) that we can be proud of and have also encouraged others to up their game.”
As part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations, TSG also introduced the newly published Tropical Spice Garden: Asia’s Hidden Eden which charts the inspiration and passion behind TSG. The book, which is available in hardback and paperback is packed with full colour photography, gardening tips, recipes and fascinating tales of spices. “We believe a good thing is meant to be shared,” says Katharine. “We have endeavoured to share a story of the spice heritage of Penang and the great pride we take in being a living testimony to that.”
Following a quick photo session with the VIPs holding copies of the new book, guests were led to the Beverages of the World for the opening ceremony of the new trail. The new section of the garden showcases the three major beverage crops of the world – tea, coffee and cocoa. The CM was invited to symbolically plant a tea sapling as a gesture of the continuous growth and development within the Tropical Spice Garden and Penang.
Tropical Spice Garden holds claim to be the only spice garden of its size and nature in the country. And yet there is still more to be accomplished. Speaking about the future, Katharine says “During Visit Malaysia Year 2014 we intend to announce more children’s related and guided tour related value add-ons. So stay tuned for more to come!”