I love durian. It is probably my favorite food in the world. And so when I heard that there would be a Year of the Durian tour around New Years in Malaysia and I didn’t have any other travel plans, I jumped at the opportunity.
If you’re a durian fan, you may have encountered Lindsay’s blog Year of the Durian. It is, as far as I know, the number one English-language resource for durian out there. It started as a project where Lindsay went on a year-long trip following the durian season around Southeast Asia. More recently, Lindsay has started organizing and leading durian tours of Thailand and Malaysia, in addition to organizing a durian festival at the Bao Sheng durian farm.
Now, durian season in Malaysia is typically during the summer, but because of the strange weather this season, there was a pretty sizable second durian season around New Years. And so Lindsay organized a New Years durian tour of Malaysia.
The tour lasted 9 days, started in Penang, and ended in Kuala Lumpur. Here’s the outline of a typical day:
- Light breakfast (usually lots of fruit like mango, rambutan, soursop, melon, etc. and something savory)
- Drive to a durian farm and learn about durian (e.g., about a particular variety such as Blackthorn or Musang King; about strategies for selecting fresh durian)
- Feast on durian for lunch (there were always non-durian foods available for lunch, but I mostly ate durian for lunch)
- Drive to some sort of fun activity (e.g., hiking, rafting, visiting elephants)
- Eat a delicious dinner (if you have any room for more food)
- Feast on more durian after dinner
In other words, the tour was absolute heaven for a durian lover like me.
In terms of the durian, we tasted over 30 varieties of durian over the course of 9 days. If you’re not familiar with durian, you can think of the different varieties like you might think of different varieties of apples (e.g., Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Fuji) or wine. And it really was all-you-can-eat durian at every meal. The non-durian food was awesome as well–easily the best food I’ve ever had on any sort of organized trip. As Lindsay said during the tour, the tour is largely about managing your appetite, since there’s so much good food and durian available.
Besides the durian, the best part of the trip was the other people. Because we were essentially driving around Malaysia in a van, we spent a lot of time together. And the sorts of people who love durian enough to come on a durian tour are pretty awesome. Lindsay was also an incredible source of information–she knows so much about durian, and she knew exactly where to take us for the best durian (e.g., durian can be very finnicky, so two farms right next to each other can have vastly different yields or quality of durian).
All in all, this was an incredible trip. Lindsay said that she’s planning on expanding and doing tours of Borneo and Indonesia in the coming years, and I definitely want to go on more of these tours. If you love durian, you should definitely consider going on one of these tours! Make sure to sign up for the Year of the Durian mailing list so you can get the inside scoop on when tours are upcoming, as they can fill up fast!