There is a parallel universe that does NOT in any way resemble Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park; Pandora — The World of Avatar.
Dubbed Penang Avatar Secret Garden, the hillock behind Thai Pak Koong temple in Tanjung Tokong has been transformed by MBI into a neon fantasy.
For Malaysian Avatar fans, this is the closest they get the Avatar experience of the bioluminescent flora and fauna of the fictional moon, Pandora.
The main attraction is the colourful LED incandescent rope lights that are draped over tree branches and around tree trunks. The best time to visit is during night time when the lights sparkle best.
The breathtaking walk beneath the “Aqua Trees” is thrilling experience. Just close your eyes to imagine being on Pandora moon in the Alpha Centauri A system.
Penang Avatar Secret Garden is perfect for that Instagram moment. The stunningly-lit garden looks surreal.
NOT A Na’VI VILLAGE
The entrance to the Chinese fishing community is via Flat Uda Tanjung Tokong. The seafront Thai Pak Koong (God of Prosperity) temple was built in 1799.
This famous temple is noted for its annual Chneah Hoay (fire-watching ceremony) which is performed on the 14th day of the first Chinese lunar month.
Embers in a ceremonial urn are fanned until the flames leaped up. The coming year’s fortune is divined in the conflagration.
In 2004, tsunami extensively damaged the Hai Choo Hooi (Sea Pearl Lagoon Cafe). However the impact of the waves only dislodged one of the concrete lion statues at the temple entrance. The temple building is still intact except for some broken glass windows.
FAMILY FRIENDLY VOYAGES
For road trippers, here’s another great reason to visit Penang.
You may not get to taste the exotic flavours of Pandora. The Sea Pearl Lagoon Café has their signature dish of coal-baked crabs and salt-baked prawns to reel in the customers. The seafood is fresh and sweet with the smoky taste of burned marks on the shells.
SEAFOOD | SHELLFISH
I’ve been there several times with my friends and colleagues for dinner. We would order a few kilos of crabs and prawns, satay and some ordinary Hokkien Char Noodles.
All this is washed down with cold beer or coconut water. In case you’re wondering if there’s any Na’vi-inspired refreshment.
The answer is no.
There are no “bioluminescent” frozen cocktail or indigenous beers sold at the Penang Avatar Secret Garden.
THE NEW BEACH
In the late afternoons, it’s quite pleasant to walk on the smooth white sands. There are newly installed stone statues of deities and sea creatures.
Go before sunset to enjoy a beautiful seaside view overlooking the North Channel.
NIGHT TIME MAGIC
PERFECT INSTAGRAM MOMENTS
Sea Pearl Lagoon Café,
336, Jalan Tokong Thai Pak Koong, Tanjung Tokong,
11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang
WHERE TO PARK
The car park is often packed after 6pm. I would suggest parking a little further away and take a leisure walk there. Otherwise using an App Car is an excellent way instead of driving.
Penang Avatar Secret Garden is open 8.00am to 12.00 midnight. Best times to go is around 6.30pm in the evening for a stroll along the beach to view the sun set. Then wait for the lights to turn on around 7.30pm
The lights can be a little overwhelming but if combined with the sunset and a satay, fried noodles or seafood dinner, it becomes an awesome trip. Enjoy yourself!