Follow the smell: Tourists lured by durian season in Malaysia

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FONDLY known as the “king of fruits” in Malaysia, durian smells as oddly as it looks.

Because of its pungent stench, the majestically thorny fruit is often banned in public spaces. Travel host and writer Anthony Bourdain once famously laid out the consequences of eating the fruit: “Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”

In Malaysia, its smell and taste are celebrated during the annual mid-year season when the bounty of fresh durian is laid out on street stalls and five-foot paths.

But the temptation of the durian’s sweet, creamy flesh is not limited to locals. Tourists – particularly from China – often visit Malaysia in search of the fruit.

SEE ALSO: Malaysia expects influx of Chinese tourists

In an effort to boost awareness and drive up sales of durian, Malaysia Tourism Centre (Matic) F&B Sdn Bhd managing director Roger Ly set up a food truck along Jalan Ampang to sell the fruit all year round.

“Usually, when tourists wish to discover a taste of our tropical fruits, especially durian, it would be difficult for them as many of these fruit stalls would be located in isolated areas and not mainly known to tourists,” Ly told Malay Mail Online.

“We aim to promote local fruits by being located in an area where tourists frequent.”

The truck offers many durian variants including the premium Musang King, D24, and Red Prawn. Tourists can also sample mangosteens, the “queen of fruits”.

In a separate report, Chinese tourists are so enamored by durians that many have expressed interest to acquire durian orchards in Malaysia.

The Chinese currently own about 121ha of durian orchards in Malaysia. Some local farmers are apprehensive about the Chinese dominating durian farms as it might drive up competition and affect prices.

According to Channel News Asia, rising demand of durian from Chinese buyers in Malaysia has resulted in the shrinking of Singapore’s durian market while prices there have surged.