Friday, 30 May 2014

Durian for breakfast, 2014

Imagine waking up in the morning to look out at one of the most stunning vistas on Penang island. It's quite a view, isn't it? In the far distance is the estuary of the Pinang River after which this particular part of the island is called: Sungai Pinang.

As I drove up from the new Balik Pulau market towards Telok Bahang, I reached Titi Kerawang after about 20 minutes through a winding road. Titi Kerawang is where a waterfall is located but it can't be seen from the road. It would be necessary to park the car nearby and walk inwards towards the falls. And about a further 100 metres up the road, this sign would loom on the left side.

Drive straight in, but taking care to negotiate slowly and carefully down the slope before parking the car. The Bao Sheng Durian Farm with its homestay villas is just there.

The Bao Sheng Durian Farm is actually the home of my friend, TS Chang (otherwise known as Durian Seng to his durian customers), whom I've known for close to 20 years. That would have been in the mid-1990s. Got to know him because we were once Internet kakis.

And every year - well, most every year, because his home is so far away from my house in Bukit Mertajam - I'd visit him to enjoy the fruits of his harvest. He now operates his durian business solely from his home because the Bao Sheng name has spread so tremendously. The great demand for his quality fruits means he can no longer cope with bringing his durian fruits nearer to George Town. Previously, he would open a temporary shed in Lebuh Bukit Jambul (near the Equatorial Hotel) and even bring his fruits down to Thean Teik Road. But not any more.

So these are his durian fruits. Various names and varied types of shapes, sizes, flavours and fragrance. But they all boil down to one thing: guaranteed good quality - full flavoured - durian that ripen on the trees and fall down.

When I arrived at Bao Sheng yesterday morning at 7.15a.m., there was nobody in sight, not even Durian Seng and his family. Too early for visitors, I suppose.

But in the distance, I could hear the sound of a motorcycle revving away as it went along the hilly path to collect the fallen fruits. Soon enough, the motorcycle arrived back at his home with a basket fully laden with the fruits. Several trips later, the floor was covered by a layer of durian and his staff appeared to sort them out and label them for delivery to buyers elsewhere.

As for me, I waited patiently until Durian Seng was free enough to join me for a breakfast of tongue-numbing durian that we washed everything down with some freshly brewed pu'er tea. And that's a little-known fact about freshly dropped durian fruits.

If you are lucky enough to come across a freshly dropped durian, meaning that it had dropped less than two hours, the taste of the durian pulp is not only exquisitely delicious but it delivers a slightly numbing or tingling effect on our tongue. And that's a rare durian experience.

Durian aficionados look forward to this sensation but you would have to be very lucky to come across such a fruit. Obviously, the fruits that we come across selling at fruit stalls in the towns and the city would have lost this feature as hours would have passed since these fruits were picked and delivered.

While having my durian breakfast, I threw a glance over his plantation. There, below where we sat, was one of his villas completely surrounded by lush greenery. It's quite possible for people to book one of his villas for an overnight stay. You'd wake up in the morning to the sounds of nature and the wide open vista of Sungai Pinang below you. And what's more, during the durian season, there's always this lovely sight at eye level when you look out the window:

In any case, if you want to enjoy a spot of fresh durian and get a tour of his farm at Sungai Pinang, just give a call to Durian Seng (012.4110600). He has various packages to suit visitors ranging from the basic RM25 package to an extravagant RM120 package! In any case, click here for the Bao Sheng Durian Farm website.

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