llegal Durians: How Much Trouble Will You Really Get In?

I think the first thing I learned about durian is that it's banned in public spaces because of it's supposedly foul odor.

That's usually the first thing Westerners learn about durian. A fruit that is not allowed on buses, trains or in hotels has a certain shock factor, a fact that most journalists disclose in their "hook" or lead-in.

But how much trouble will you really get in for sneaking a little creamy fruit on the subway, a bus, or a hotel? I took the trouble to find out.

Mount Kinabalu and It's Durian, Durio Kinabaluensis | Sabah, Malaysia

The jagged peaks of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah shelters one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. More species of plants and animals can be found on these steep slopes than in Europe and North America combined, many of them uniquely evolved to survive the harsh conditions and metal-heavy soils of the mountain.

Including a durian species that grows on the mountain slopes as high as 4,500 feet (1300 meters) and tastes like cherry chocolate rum cake.

Durian Orchard In A Flood Zone | Koh Kret, Thailand

I didn't expect to find durian on Koh Kret, a small island carved into the river in Nonthaburi, the province famous for the most expensive durians in the world.

A deluge at the end of 2011 completely submerged the island and all low-lying areas around, drowning the majority of the famous durian orchards in the most dramatic flood Bangkok had seen in over 50 years. By the photos, it looked like Noah's Ark would have been handy.

But after a friend told me it was the last place in Bangkok without any roads and was a really lovely place, I went. Not for durian, just for fun.

And you know what I found? Yup.

Vegan Durian Sayur Rebus - What To Do With Unripe Durian | Recipe

How disappointing is it to buy an unripe durian?

Very. I can't count the number of times I've hopefully clawed open a durian only to find a pale pod with the texture and appeal of daikon radish. But unlike the insanely spicy vegetable, unripe durian is edible and can be cooked into a number of creative dishes.

When a friend accidentally gave me an unripe durian, I looked up a traditional Malaysian recipe called Durian Sayur Rebus and decided to make it vegan.

A Durian Hunt in Bangkok's Green Lung | Phra Padaeng, Thailand


If you're like me, you think Bangkok is really exciting. Then after two days you start missing the color green.

An easy way to escape the city hustle and bustle for the day is to go to Phra Padaeng, a government protected expanse of small family fruit orchards and wetlands that somehow escaped urban development. Quiet and shady, this loop in the river has come to be known as Bangkok's Green Lung and is a popular retreat for cyclists and nature lovers. And I hoped, fruit lovers.

Could there be durians growing this close to downtown Bangkok? I had to check this out.

What To Do When It's Not Durian Season In Terrenganu, Malaysia

I've just started to realize that travel involves a lot of planning ahead. Silly that I'm just figuring this out three years down the road, right? 

And sometimes, even the most carefully researched trips still don't work out the way you plan. Which is how we found ourselves in Terrenganu when the durian season was clearly over. 

*Please remember, all photos published on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Year of the Durian and Lindsay Gasik . If you want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!