What is the Year of the Durian? 

In January 2012,  husband and wife team Rob and Lindsay (that's us!) embarked for a year-long expedition in Southeast Asia hunting the durian fruit. The journey took us through twelve months of nonstop adventure in nine fascinating countries as we found seven species of the fruit and consumed hundreds if not thousands of durian. It was a good year.

We dedicated the entire year to exploring all angles of the cultural significance of the durian fruit, in horticultural, symbolism, and gustator (we ate a lot of durian!). We visited many durian orchards and durian festivals, collected snapshots of durian statues, and traveled as far afield as days upriver in Indonesian Borneo looking for the heart of durian country.

This blog is a Southeast Asian travelogue, a fruit-lover's guide to getting around in Asia, and an obsessive cultural and horticultural exploration of Asia's King of Fruit, the durian.

You can start from the beginning here.

What the heck is a durian?

This is a durian.

It's one of the largest tropical fruits, weighing 4-6 pounds (2-3 kg) on average. Yes, those thorns are very sharp. And yes, people do die occasionally from having one fall on them (If you don't believe me, read the Durian Obituaries. This is no laughing matter).

The word durian is derived from the Malaysian word for thorns, durio. It's most outstanding characteristic, however, the pungent aroma that issues from the fruit once it is ripe. No edible product in the Western World rivals this odor in strength unless it be Blue Cheese, and that is only considered edible by extremely questionably sources.

Yet durian is proclaimed by many to be the food of kings, the sweet ambrosia of the jungle, and the taste of heaven. Within that hard, spiny husk is a custard as smooth as a whipped pudding, sweet as vanilla ice cream, and savory as any garlic bread. It is, in our opinion, one of the best tasting foods on this planet.

Oh sweet heaven
Beyond satisfying our sensory needs, the durian embodies the often absurd and unexplained dualities of the world. Superficially disagreeable but lovely on the inside, the fruit is an easy fit into didactic metaphors.  There are many overused sayings about durian that I just love, like "Smells like hell but tastes like heaven," and "Never judge a book by it's cover or a durian by it's smell."  Durian is more than just a fruit. It's a life lesson rolled into a gustatory experience.

Sometimes good things come in spiky packages.

Where all did you guys go?

Here's a somewhat chaotic look at our route:

A list of the countries explored:

Did you guys really eat durian every day?

No. But it wasn't for lack of trying. There were a few days, like days we spent in the airport, that we just couldn't get our hands on any durian. So we had to make up for it on the other days.

I only know of one place where you can buy fresh durian in the airport. If you know any others, please do let us know!

Just who are you fruit-obsessed weirdos?

Here we are, the Durian Hunters:

Lindsay is a non-conformist who studied journalism in Eugene, Oregon. Finding the program dull, she switched to a degree in Spanish and graduated in less than 3 years. This project is an attempt to live out her dream of exploring the world and being a freelance travel writer. So far she has written for Migrationology, the Rogue Valley Messenger, Living Vegan, and Tiger Mandala Airlines. She accepts freelance work so contact her at durianyear@gmail.com

Rob has used his degree in Environmental Science to explore his interests in agriculture, particularly growing tropical fruit trees.  The Year of the Durian is his hare-brained idea.

We are proud to have been featured in:

Interviews of us on Youtube:

What are you doing now?

Now that the 12 months are officially over, we still have durian on the brain! After a brief rest at home in Oregon, we plan to continue researching and exploring the world of durian, filling in some gaps and hitting up a few hotspots we missed the first time around.

In May, 2013, Lindsay return to Thailand and Cambodia for more durian adventures while Rob started an agricultural job in Sri Lanka.

In October we head to Australia, where Rob will work on a tropical fruit farm and Lindsay will complete the adventure-journalism book about the year.


  1. Hi guys, love your blog, I thought I was obsessed with durians, but you guys are die hard !! Keep posting. Cheers, C

  2. loving you guys, just read all of november, I bet it wouldn't hurt if you guys had a donate button, this is a giant step for humanity.

  3. Hi Sebastian! Really great to hear from you :)

    We don't feel comfortable asking people for money to eat durian when there are so many other causes that are probably more important than durian. Like one of my favorites, http://www.savethechildren.net

    At the end of the year we are hoping to start selling exotic durian varieties (and possibly species!) on this site, so maybe people who want to support all our hard work would also like to enjoy some durian while they read :)

    1. Hey there, great site. I am from the US and currently in the process of moving to Ecuador. I'm in Ecuador now and will be for the next 3 months. I am interested in locating sources that can ship grafted plants of quality durian cultivars to Ecuador. I think the plants would have to be bare-rooted. Are you all working on being able to accomplish such a task? Do you plan to be able to ship internationally?

      I know someone here who has a grafted D168 but he brought that back from Singapore on the plane bare-root. The plant is still young and in the nursery, not out in the field yet so I'm not sure how long it will take until I can get budwood from it. He also has the Kutejensis species growing but it doesn't fruit consistently for some reason in his area. Any ways, he says it is easy to bring plants into Ecuador as long as the soil is washed off the roots thoroughly.

      I'm very interested in hearing more about your plans to sell durian varieties. I have yet to find someone doing such a thing and shipping internationally. If you did in fact start such a service that sold grafted durians of varieties such as Hor Lor, Red Prawn, Monthong, etc world-wide, I would definitely become a customer! I think it would be a big hit!

      Either way, if you want a guinea pig to test ship durians to see if they make it through customs and everything alright, I'd be willing to pay for shipping and the tree/s. I know a few other durian fanatics down here that I'm sure would want a few grafted durians as well.

      Keep on spreading the durian knowledge

    2. Hey Jake,

      I bet we can help you out. We'll be back in Asia next month. If you are interested in talking more just shoot us an email at durianyear@gmail.com

  4. Hi guys, fascinating that non-Asians such as yourselves would love our King Of Fruits! I'm just curious how you guys stay afloat, financially, because it sounds like you are just travelling and not working?

    Funny I should find your blog when I was surfing for a recipe to make tempoyak! Most unlikely...

    1. We are very fortunate and are able to finance this trip independently. It has been a lot of work just in itself - you may be surprised at the number of hours we spend researching, contacting experts, writing, and keeping up with emails, not to mention the actual traveling part! We enjoy every minute (almost), but I have to say that when I had a real job I worked fewer hours!

  5. Hi Lindsay and Robert. How are you?

    Your obsession about durian makes me feel touched. As you know in West Kalimantan in particular Kapuas Hulu, durian is an integral part of our lives. Every year we have the fruit with various types of fruit from 'Tembawang' and from the forest. I was happy because you wrote about the pride of our fruit such as Red Jungle Durian.

    Personally I'm also glad to be a part in the way you search for all things related to durian when you're in Kapuas Hulu. Thank you guys for your trust to me. It's really mean to me. I will never forget the experience we went through. You have made me care about the durian that I had never care about.

    I would be very glad if you will come again one day to Kapuas Hulu to enjoy the fruit season that we have every year especially to enjoy durian. I'm so glad to have met you guys. I will never forget you Linday and Robert.


    1. Hi Linda!
      We were so lucky to meet you! We really couldn't have accomplished anything in Kalimantan without you, you were the key! You're a really great translator/guide. Thanks for putting up with our obsession and asking the same question a million times! Sometimes that's just what it takes to find the answers. Or not :D

  6. you write well and have rekindled my interest to find out the different species of durians. I will love to get your book on Durians in 2013.. Where can I buy your book when published? Have you found a publisher? Are you guys still in Brunei?


  7. Great stuff! The blog I meant :-)

    I dont eat durian and I am a Sarawakian! :-)

    All the best both of you.

  8. Wonderful! I think I found mecca of my durian obsession. :-D I am with you guys, with all my heart and I would like to experience your adventures so much, you can't even imagine.. I can only collect durian seeds from great distances and hope I will someday travel to Asia and get myself some delicious durian as well. :-)
    Or I will establish my own durian nursery, on which I work at the moment. :-)

  9. Excellent blog and wonderful obsession. Look forward to more work detailing your durians found in the jungles of Asia.


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