PETALING JAYA: Well before the durian season, tours to orchards –popular with foreign tourists – are almost all snapped up. Durians, especially the Musang King, come into season in July.
Chang Teik Seng, 56, who runs the Bao Sheng Durian Farm in Balik Pulau, Penang, says 80% of his packages for the durian season this July and August have been booked.
“Judging from the earlier season in March, durian harvest this year is expected to be much lower than usual. Only a quarter of our tree branches have been flowering.
“Fearing that they would not get a chance to taste the freshest durians we have to offer, many have made reservations earlier in the year,” he said in a phone interview.
Tour packages at the 58-year-old orchard include a two-night stay in its chalets, guided tours as well as durian-tasting sessions.
“The durian taste changes depending on how long it had fallen from the tree. Staying at the orchard allows visitors more opportunity to try out durians at different times of the day. We will guide them on how to discern the differences in taste,” said Chang.
It was reported that Musang King, the most popular of all durian varieties, is going for as much as RM100 per kilo in the Klang Valley and even in Bentong.
Though bookings have yet to open, Datuk Michael Ng, the owner of 1Malaysia Musang King Durian orchard in Karak and Bentong, receives dozens of calls inquiring about his tours every day.
“One of the callers told me they’ve booked flights to Malaysia in July just to join my tour.
“However, the durian season is expected to be late this year. My trees have yet to flower and I do not expect the season to start before September. That is why I dare not open my tours for reservation as I am unsure how much durians we can produce this year,” said Ng.
Another sold-out tour for 2017 was one organised by a Lindsay Gasik, who is from the United States.
Gasik, who runs the website www.yearofthedurian.com, started organising annual durian tours in Malaysia between May and July a few years ago. This year, three of her tours are fully booked, with two slots remaining for her fourth.
“Participants are usually Westerners. They come from all over the world. This year, we have people coming from Norway, Germany, Vietnam, Australia, the United States, Ecuador and more.
“I love how durian brings everyone together,” she said.
For those who could not make her tours, Gasik urged them to visit her website so that they can plan their own trip.