My bet is everyone has their own Personal Durian Stories.
My first encounter with the king of fruits was a dramatic one: I was walking in a park in Nakhon Nayok when I sensed something eerie. Something just wasn’t right. Something with the sun? The air? The sounds? I looked around. And then I looked up. And I jumped away screaming. There it was, a metre above me, a jumbo of a horse-chestnut looking beast casting a shadow over my head. I swear it was laughing at me!
So much for the innocent joys of travelling to Thailand without ever opening a guidebook or searching for any information on the net 🙂 Then everything takes you by surprise, out of the blue. I would love to have the eyes of a newcomer again for a day or two!
Then a year on, I had the chance to travel the Chiang Mai – Pai serpentine road in a regular bus that functioned as a durian truck as well. No, I hadn’t known anything about the smell then, somehow it had escaped me. The scenario was the following: bus jam packed, postbags on my right, a breastfeeding hilltribe woman on my left, later replaced by an old man chewing betel and dozing off on my shoulder at times. And a dozen giant durians rolling up and down in the rear section of the bus with each curve, making people jump so as to avoid a collision. Somehow they always escaped, wherever people tried to tuck them, it was a desperate ongoing battle with minor casualties on both sides – one of the durians rolled out the open door used for ventillation, and a child’s feet got badly smashed. Then when having the lunch break at a small roadside restaurant, a group of young Thais ate up one of the enemy, and I was relieved, great, one fewer of these rolling hedgehogs then. But I learnt about the smell – it kept lingering around and mixed with the smell of a sweating crowd. No wonder you see this sign everywhere:
That bus trip has some romantic charm now – well, in retrospect, at least. But I wouldn’t take any of those aircon minibuses next time, no way, that would be like watching a movie compared to living the real thing 🙂
No, but I haven’t had the courage to taste the beast. Still waiting for the perfect moment. I know it’s meant to be a hate it or love it, there is no middle way affair.