5 Reasons To Visit A Durian Farm For Your Next Feasting
There are some things in life that becomes a much more noteworthy experience when done in certain places.
Sipping on a cappuccino sure feels more relaxing in a cafe, pulling on the jackpot machine is infinitely more satisfying at the casino than on the internet, and even floating in the sky hanging by a glider is incomparably more intense than wearing VR goggles.
And then there is the small matter of feasting on durians in an actual durian farm being a boundless comparison to having durians in the city or at home.
I get it.
Many people see durians as just a dessert-like pleasure to indulge in. And they’d like to feel guilty about this indulgence in the comfort of their own home. Nothing wrong here.
But many people also see durians as an experience that encompasses the love of nature, socialising, journeys, and feasting in places that are seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
To be honest, I believe that most, if not all, durian lovers would instinctively like to have their durian sessions in proper durian farms. But it’s just not really convenient, especially when you are in a country that’s not known for it’s durian plantations like Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Japan or Korea, etc.
There’s the small matter of taking time off from work, planning for flights and hotels, logistics and transport challenges, and the physical exertion that some places might require to get to.
But I still encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t done so. Having sushi in Hokkaido for example, is a much more different and eye-opening experience than in a city shopping center in South East Asia.
But if you still don’t know why you should visit a durian farm for your next feeding, here are some reasons that I hope would convince you.
1) The place where it all starts
Most consumers only see durians lined up nicely at roadside stalls under fanciful spotlights that create the alluring aesthetics.
What they don’t think about is the journey that ultimately brought the durians into the stalls and onto the table for them to dig their teeth into.
You’d have a new appreciation for the amount of work required to get the durians to the mass consumers. How the fruits grow from tiny buds into beastly 3kg fruits right on the tree, which eventually ripen and naturally fall to the ground. Beginning the long journey to the dessert table.
The laborious work and organisation involved from screening, selecting, transporting, etc.
If you think the amount of durian you see in a fruit stall is amazing, you’d be in awe as you see heaps of durians coming in by wheel-barrows and trucks returning from routine pickings.
You’d have a new perspective on how you view the king of fruits when you see your favorite musang king hanging on the trees.
The surrounding rustic rural setting can also be rather nostalgic as you start digging in. It’s just like how people consumed their durians in the past.
Some destination farms have breathtaking scenic views as well like Bao Sheng, Karuna Hill and Bilut Hills.
Go ahead and take it all in.
One particular visit that left a deep impression on me was visiting Khun Poh farm. Khun poh ang bak has always been one of my all time favourites. And visiting the farm where it all started was really an experience where I let the moment sink in. Uncle Liew, who is related to the farm’s founder, has such a warm heart and makes every visitor feel right at home.
2) Farms owners are great hosts
Forget about aggressive salesmen hunkering down at durian stalls who go all out to sell you as much as possible, and for as high a price as possible.
Let your guard down at the farm and don’t worry about durians being intentionally mislabeled as premium cultivars. A farmer’s credibility will really take a hit when he or she is not able to properly identify the durians harvested in the farm.
Farm owners are usually much more gracious with their approach with a mentality of abundance.
They seldom force their durians on you since they have a waiting list of wholesale buyers ready to take in the inventory. In any case, if you make the effort to visit a durian farm, the assumption is that you are more than ready to spend money there.
This is different with durian sellers. They can often be aggressive in selling partly because they have spent money to bring in the inventory and are under immediate pressure to pass on the fruits to consumers as quickly as possible, sometimes by questionable means, before the fruits go bad.
Farmers are mostly very hospitable. Most are delighted to welcome visitors who are interested enough in durians to go on a durian farm tour. And you can often see the twinkle in their eyes when they talk about what they do at the plantation.
This was how I felt chatting with some inspiring orchard owners like Kim from Green Acres, Mr Chew from Cap Tupai, and Ching from a reclusive farm in Perak.
You get to pick their brains as well about things like how to identify different breeds, how to pick durians, and maybe even how to bargain with durian stalls!
If you have ever dealt with one of those sellers with a stereotypical gangster behaviour, feel the extreme contrast in how orchard owners communicate with visitors.
Have you ever tried selecting durians at a stall and the seller starts goading you about whether you are going to buy or not?
You are not going to find that with farm owners. In fact, they are more probably going to give you some tips on selecting the best among the pile.
Farmers usually want visitors to learn as much about durians as possible. While many sellers at the stalls would prefer that you know as little as possible.
3) Don’t worry about bad durians
At a durian store in the city, buyers always have a fear that the durians they bought are not fresh, have worms inside, or simply unripe. This is because while sellers can be accommodating when selling their stuff, it’s a whole different matter when you ask for replacements or refunds.
Even a friendly seller can turn into an angry Hulk when customers return with bad durian complaints.
This is seldom the case in a durian farm.
It’s not that farms don’t have bad durians. But that farm owners would pro-actively offer replacements without feeling any burden since they have a whole ton of durians in the backyard to replace yours with.
In fact, many would actually be happy that you have found durians that don’t meet standards for them to replace. Their business is all about supplying quality fruits after all.
The abundance mindset can be so strong that they might even double up and give you a two-for-one replacement. This is assuming they haven’t given you any free durians yet in the first place.
Keep in mind that farm durians are freshly dropped from the trees. So you don’t even have to worry about bad quality of replacement durians.
Remember that the bulk of their revenue comes from wholesale and income from visiting customers just make up a tiny fraction of contribution towards their bottom line. So you can hardly say that they have a hidden agenda when they go above and beyond to make visitors feel right at home.
Anyway, for all the laborous work that farms undertake, many can often be squeezed by wholesalers in terms of pricing. Patronising their farms instead of buying retail enables farm owners to make a slightly better margin for a small segment of their inventory. This can go a long way in helping them to maintain and improve their operations.
4) Do think about good durians
Since freshness is a key determinant of how good a durian is, there is simply no other place that can beat a farm on this aspect.
There are no substitutes in this regard.
When we add the previous point about not having to worry about durians into the picture, you can really look forward to a feast of high quality durians when visiting a farm.
You can start licking your lips at the sheer number of diverse cultivars available at a farm. There is simply no way you’d be stuck with a limited selection of 2 or 3 types of durians.
Forget about having the illusion of choice consisting of black gold, tai shang wang, wang zhong wang, old tree MSW, grade A or grade B mao shan wang. Even though they are all just MSW with different marketing labels.
You will get a real diverse selection of durian cultivars at a durian fruit farm. Especially when they offer durian buffets. Many of the top cultivars you might have never heard of before like lobster and tian song. And there’s every chance that you might like them better than MSW or black thorn.
Some would even have unnamed kampung cultivars that turn out to be the best durians you’ve ever tasted.
5) Short getaway from city life
The hustle and bustle of the city can take a huge toll on our mental and emotional health.
Nature has an innate ability to recharge our minds. It’s no coincidence that spiritual destinations are mostly found in remote areas surrounded by greenery.
Every once in a while, a short getaway where we don’t have to attend video calls or read emails can make a whole lot of difference.
If anything, you can also use the excuse of having no data reception due to the remote area when your boss goes livid at being unable to contact you.
If you are game for more than just a 2-hour visit, then there are many lovely farmstays like Nature Fruit Farm in Penang and Tras farmstay in Pahang that let you experience what it is like sleeping over.
The hosts of durian farmstays are usually very understanding that guests from the city might not be able to adapt to their premises quickly. So they often make an extra effort to help them have a comfortable worry-free stayover.
Finally, if I have convinced you to visit a durian farm for your next feasting, then some essential items you might want to bring along include insect repellent, poncho, umbrella, hat, sunblock, sunglasses, handheld fan, and flashlight if you are staying the night.