It was a slow start. We found a roadside stall on our way back from Nibong Tebal which sold "kampong" durian and a small selection of other durian varieties, which we brought back to my uncle's place for a light snack. The "kampong" durian is really from one of those wild roadside durian trees which people then pick up to sell. They were not the creamiest nor richest in flavour. But nonetheless we dug in enthusiastically and within minutes the durians were all gone amongst our large group.
We also had the chance to savour other yummy goodies as well, including the fermented rice snack called tapeh. It's not easy to get in Singapore (unless you go to the Katong Antique House on East Coast Road which sometimes sells this on a Sunday morning) and is also not that common in Malaysia these days. But of course my relatives know where to find it in Penang. I have to say it is an acquired taste, but since my Father has been buying it off and on for years, we have somehow acquired it. (My sister remembers him feeding it to her as a little girl!).
I also did not mention earlier that the other motivation behind our trip to Balik Pulau was of course to eat durians! The hills behind the town apparently provide a conducive environment and geography for durians - the right amount of sunshine, drainage, etc. Here, we could forget all about the late and small harvest. The durian trees grow in the wild on either side of the road, as it wound through the hills. My aunts kept telling me that there were durians all around but obviously you need to develop an eye since I only saw the very obvious ones where they were clearly visible against the sky behind.
The durian plantations on the hill typically have their own little stalls on the roadside where customers can sit and eat. This is what we did last year. This year, we ended up in the Bao Shang Wang durian plantation stall because my uncle's cousin's Friend owns it. We drove down this really steep road to get to the sheltered terrace where we would eat our durians. Wow! It was the first time I've ever eaten durians with such a gorgeous view in front of me!
|View from Bao Sheng|
|Khun Po durian|
Besides human beings, there were a number of dogs wandering around the place. One or two were the "house dogs"; collared, sleek, plump. Others were strays; skinny, dirty. Somehow they seemed fairly tame too.
So what did we eat? We ate (in order of ascending sweetness) : D604; Xiao Hong (a rather orangey colour rather than red); and Khun Po (named after the gentleman who first cultivated it). The folks who didn't eat durian (yes there were some in our party) were given watermelon and bananas. We washed down everything with tea.
|More durian sampling|
So small harvest aside, we still managed to have a most satisfying durian holiday.