Follow the Durian Trail

Only mad people or fanatical durian lovers would hop out of bed on a windless Sunday afternoon (yesterday, to be precise) to eat durians. We were either mad or mad over durians. It didn’t matter coz we had such goodies that I will brave the sun again, if only to taste these exquisite fruits!
This was the real Balik Pulau experience as we did drive all the way to the other side of Penang island. We almost missed the place as there was no signboard. Yes, that’s the signature style of Penang eateries sometimes. The good stuff don’t have signboards. You just follow your nose or secret trail.
The 9 of us anticipated a good feasting of durians….the place we ended up looked like a regular Chinese house in a messy sort of way. The orchard sloped behind the brick house, dropping far below and all around us we spied durian trees, beside other fruit trees like dokong, rambutan, papaya, bananas and mangosteen.
The giveaway was the netting strung across trees in the orchard; it showed durians were in season (end of the second season, says Cecilia who I believe is a durian-nutter like me) and durians were probably tumbling down every now and then. We heard and saw 2 durians falling with loud thumps while we meandered down the orchard trail. Dangerous stuff, to be strolling in a durian orchard. One must wear a helmet, I think.
The durian owner was of course Cecilia’s contact and his fruits were superbly good. Bitter durian, sweet durian of all shades and hues of yellow, each one got us raving about “This is good, try this, try this!”. Every durian tasted better than the previous one. For a few moments, we were all quiet, each absorbed in tasting the lusciously soft and aromatic fruit.
Heaven was a fleshy, custardy and bittersweet durian.
But we were far from finished.
Even as we washed our sticky, smelly hands, Cecilia whispered that we had to go to another place for durians. She ordered durians at yet another place, thinking that another 10 or so people would turn up (which of course, they didn’t). The ordered durians were waiting for us so go we had to. (It wasn’t like we had to be forced to go…it was really easy to tell that we were eager for another batch.)
Everyone cheered up in a sleepy sort of way. The next durian stop was a nondescript terrace house, the last one on a narrow strip of road called Jalan Chai (Balik Pulau). Following our nose, we met with the durian seller, a friendly Hakka woman called Ah Lan Che, who had saved us some 30 durians from her orchard not far away up the hill. Another one of Cecilia’s prized durian contacts to be sure.
This round of feasting was equally lipsmacking. We feasted on durian and rambutan and later Ah Lan Che brought out utterly brainfoggingly sweet cempedak. She even gave us some of her homemade dodol!
All in all, we paid RM240 for 30 durians – we didn’t eat all (really did you think we were that piggish?). We all carted home nearly 3/4 of the durian. Her durians are good and cheap at around RM8 a fruit but it was a long and winding road to her terrace home which doubled up as a godown for her freshly tumbled down durian.
I couldn’t have done justice to the king of fruit if I didn’t show you the photos. Take a look at the sow’s nipples, ‘hiah’ (now someone please tell me what it is in English?) and the whole Balik Pulau experience with the Mensa Penang gang.
Disclaimer: Nic’s in the committee of Mensa Penang so I get to join whenever there are Mensa Penang activities (which usually centres around food, bowling and mind-bending games and hunts).
If you want something easier (no need to drive so far around to the other end of Penang), try Mr Low’s durians. This post will clue you in on how you can get your hands on his durian.

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