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An Adventure with Durian Hunters

Dear friends,

Happy new year to you. I hope you had a good new year celebration with your friends or your family. New year is not just about the change of year, but it is a start of something better for you and your family as well as your friends.

For me, family is very important. Fair-weather folks will flee when something bad fell upon you, but not your families, as they will be there for you. Family, for some people transcend beyond blood since blood fails them. Regardless, treasure your family.

Anyway, today’s blog is not about family, but about durian – The King of Fruits. Actually, I had a lot of journey throughout my short holiday, but the one that caught my attention the most was my durian-hunting journey with my uncles and brother-in-law.

I believe most of you are familiar with durian fruits. It is called the fruit of Gods by those who loves it texture, smell and taste. I personally loves it. In fact, my hometown, Serian has a huge durian statues, where the new one was relocated to Tarat. The other one was still at the near Serian fish market. During this time of the year, there was a lot of durian sellers. The truth is, there is so much durian that it can be bought for a cheap price, as cheap as RM25 for around 20 durians, if you manage to find the right dealers. Normally, if you are willing to go the village, they can sell it cheaper compared to those by the roadside.

There is a huge demand of durian all year long, except it can’t be provided as and when we wanted it to be, specifically for kampung durians. Locally here, durian season only come every two years. Last year was the traditional fruit season, therefore you can see a lot of others fruits ripening as well, such as rambutan trees. I love rambutan as well and ate it so much during my holiday to the point I no longer have any interest in eating it again. It’s like you have an all-you-can-eat fruit buffet, with lots more left hanging at the tree, left rotten as not enough Pichin population to consume and finish it.

For Bidayuh peoples, these fruits are normally planted at our dedicated orchard, which we call it “kabon”. Other than fruits, Bidayuh people of Serian district are well-known with black pepper. My family still operates black pepper plantation, but the demand for it is not as high as before. One common dilemma that is facing many older generations are the successor to their farmer lifestyle. Many younger generations, myself included are more interested in high-paying, urban-based employments. I deviate even further, where I took photography into the equation.

Not forgetting my past, I decided to document it this time. It is not a norm for anyone to go to orchard and brings any professional camera in my area. This is where a small sized M camera makes a difference because it is light and can operate easily despite being manual. I decided to use an APO-50 lens for this trip as it is the smallest in my kit.

We started off our journey in the morning, around 10am. The journey from Kpg Pichin to Tubih took us around 5 minutes. It is not a long journey if your driver is a “figher-jet” driver from Kpg Bugu Mawang, my uncle. Upon arrival, we are served with a beautiful scenery of the mountains, one of the limestone formations that is of the same Lenge Kiburan hill range.

Landing time.
Adventure begins.
Target locked.
Target acquired.

From the roadside, we took less than half an hour to reach our “kabon” site. The area is a bit shady, so for my camera setting, I use ISO 1600 whilst maintaining aperture of f/2.0 for a bit of bokeh. Shutter speed varies, as I need to balance out between the highlights and shadows. There were a lot of durians spotted at the little valley, but we decided to shook the branch so that we can pick it up later.

Tiring way up.
Further up.
Spotting position.
Leave no man behind.
It’s getting near.
Thank you for the shoes. Adidas Tarun. “Jungle Adidas” – the best one for this terrain.
Durian family hanging out.
More durian.
Rokop.
Creating the tool to make our life easier.
Searching for the fallen durians.
A 1.5kg durian found.
Finally, toil of the day.
Climbing rokop tree.
Choosing the best ones.

Safety note, durian fruits has a high hazard. At my work place, it falls under gravity hazard, as it is a stationary object at rest, but at any moment the stem fails, it will become a dangerous projectile accelerating at 9.81 m/s2. Therefore caution has to be exercised when walking beneath durian trees. The good news is usually the durian fruits will fall at night time, producing a satisfying sound – “res-dub”. It is the sound that a durian fruit will make as it thrashes through the branches or leaves and hit the ground at high speed.

Feeling model.
When one bamboo shoot is not enough for the big family, get another one.

Durians are then collected and gathers. To carry a lot of durian back is a waste of energy as you cannot sell all of it. Buyers are only interested in ripe durians. Therefore, using a sense of smell, sight and touch, ripe durians are carefully chosen and put at our backpack. The rest are opened. Flesh are separated from the husk as the husk carries no value to us.

This is the right way to open a durian. You don’t need a hacksaw, chainsaw or an axe. Just a machete or boko, cutting through God-made cracks of a fallen durian fruit.

On our way back, we pick up a few of fern spikes for our dinner. It is one of our staple food. In fact, majority of Bidayuh foods are vegetables, with meat came from jungle beasts, poultries and once in a while, pigs. We do eat river foods too, like catfish, prawns. I guess I need to revisit my competencies in jungle survival with my uncles. That night, I had a good night sleep, thanks to the unexpected fatigue.

Time to go back. Did we forget something?

I hope this story would be an informational one for you and shed a bit of light to the unpublished life of a kampung folks. Even though times are changing, let us not forget our past. I am looking forward to more adventures in 2019. As I move on in my journey, I truly appreciated the words of support and words of comments/feedbacks from all of you. Thank you very much.

May 2019 brings more prosperity, joy and wealth to you and your family. God bless!

Regards,
Claudius
Tukang Rantek Bidayuh