1.5 million, Bogor hardly seems distinct from Jakarta, located only 60 km to the north. Dominated by tangled masses of minibuses, Bogor may have the worst traffic we’ve experienced. The traffic came to a noxious
standstill the one time Rob and I used public transportation,
prompting us to simply get off and walk. Despite being painfully urban, Bogor is a prominent horticultural
research center in Indonesia, and one of the main sources of durian in Jakarta.
I had an appointment with Dr. Sobir Ridwani of the Center for Tropical Fruit
Research on Monday, so we spent the weekend in Bogor.
hectare Botanical Garden, one of the main tourist hotspots. Bordering the garden is the impressively
sumptuous summer palace of the old Dutch governor, a sparkling white and gold
event of pillars that I got to see every morning as I ran laps around the
garden. The garden is an eclectic mixture of prim English lawns and untended jungle, with some of the biggest trees I’ve ever seen. I tried to learn the names as I ran by, but the they were all in Latin and my brain couldn’t retain any of them for more than 30 seconds. Rob and I visited the garden nearly every morning to jog, and to escape the
caterwauling of the mosque just next door to our hotel, which woke me every
morning at 4:30 AM dreaming that someone was drowning kittens.
|Rows of durian ice cream vendors line the streets
durian desert of Jakarta, we were hungry for some creamy goodness. We found
several vendors near the train station, guys with small piles of kind of measly
looking fruit. Sigit Pramono, an employee of the Forestry Division, was there buying
several durians as a treat for his office workers. I mentioned that in the
States we buy donuts for our co-workers. Sigit laughed. I asked him where these durian came from, and he explained
that these were uncultivated durians; the vendors either owned a tree that was
dropping or had collected the fruits from along the roadsides. He kindly
bartered for us with the vendor, dropping the price of durian from 90,000 for
one medium fruit to 3 large for 100,000!
downtown durian experience, we headed to Warso Durian Farm. With more
than 800 durian trees, Warso is one of the few agricultural holdings that have
dedicated its land to durian trees, with a few dragonfruits for color. It
specializes in the Monthong durian, a variety from Thailand that is popular
among the well-to-do. So on Sunday afternoon we left for Warso prepared to part
with some cash.
Unless you own a car,
or hire one, it’s not easy to get to Warso. Between the traffic and the time
spent finding a minibus with room for passengers, it took us nearly 2 hours,
with Rob hanging out the door, a little girl upchucking her lunch all over the
floor, and me practically sitting on some old man’s lap. We were dropped off in
the middle of a rainstorm, the kind of tropical downpour that lasts only
minutes but manages to completely soak anyone unfortunate enough to forget
their umbrella (me). Thankfully the rain
chose to stop soon after, and we were able to walk around the farm. The farm is open to self-guided meandering –
visitors are kept safe from falling durians by tying the fruits to the trees.
Warso is the poshest
place I’ve seen yet to enjoy durian, although I’m sure when we get to Singapore this place will seem a bit ramshackle by comparison. The
“restaurant” was packed with wealthy young professionals out for a Sunday
durian snack with their families. Empty durian husks nearly obscured the dark
polished wood of the low tables, and the durian bartenders were kept busy with
requests. After waiting our turn in line, we were informed that a relatively
small durian cost 73,000. Talk about sticker shock. We conferred briefly,
albeit hungrily, and decided that our taste buds, and our wallet, could wait to