But we were about to go directly to a farm to eat durian and fruits, so I tried to hold back and preserve my appetite for what was coming next.
Good thing I did too, because Joseph had a huge fruit buffet waiting for us.
About Sebatang Durian Farm
Joseph Yusuf Tai and his 5 cousins all inherited a 30-acre plot of land on a piece of land right along the river that runs into Lawas Town. You could take a boat all the way to town if you wanted, and he says his ancestors often did. It used to be the only way to get there.
Now there is a road, and it’s only about a 15 minute drive from town. We followed him from the Weekend Tamu and soon found ourselves in a smorgasbord of fruits. He opened far more durians than we could eat!
And there was A LOT of the Dalit Oren from massive, 80-year-old trees growing just over our heads.
The family has 6 Dalit Oren trees, all planted on purpose by their grandfather. It was interesting to me that they planted the trees on purpose that long ago, since the wild durians are still not that popular in most parts of the durian-growing world.
We picked up a bunch of Dalit Oren from this tree. The size of these Durio graveolens were pretty massive.
I would estimate a single fruit was at least 1 kilogram.
Joseph said that when they first fall, they taste waxy and sweet, and that you need to wait at least a day for the color to darken and the flesh to become creamy and rich.
I was so excited to have fresh dropped Durio graveolens that I wanted to see for myself, so we opened it anyway.
He was right. While the fresh-dropped was still nutty and thick, and the fleshiness was likewise impressive for a wild durian, they definitely tasted better a day off the tree.
That was interesting, because with Durio zibethinus you want to eat them almost immediately to get the full range of flavor, because they sour quickly.
Maybe because Durio graveolens are just so much denser and thicker and lower in water content, they ripen and go overripe less slowly? Just a thought.
Penawan Waterfall Trekking
After we had finished stuffing ourselves on his fresh durians, Joseph took us to the nearby Penawan Waterfall Eco Park (Facebook). The entrance to the park is very close to his farm, but it takes a 4wD to get all the way there.
The park is new, founded in just 2015, in order to save the area from logging. Joseph is currently campaigning with the local government to make it an official protected area.
For now, he’s the main trekking guide.
It was incredibly beautiful. He took us to three waterfalls, each tumbling through a misty and moist jungle.
It felt like Avatar, or maybe Avatar was like this.
That said, it was not an easy trek. To visit all three waterfalls took us more than 2 hours of slipping and sliding through leech-infested muds. We were sweaty and dirty by the time we finally stopped at the last waterfall for a swim in the cold water.
For anyone interested in staying at the park, they do have some very basic accommodations. And in basic, it’s a mattress on the floor in a small room with no electricity. That means no fan.
They have 8 rooms, for a maximum of 16 people. When we visited, the cost was 750 RM per group to stay overnight, but you should contact Joseph for specifics. His number is +60 16-698 3825.
Where We Stayed in Lawas
Feeling too posh for Penawan waterfall housing, we decided to stay at the Seri Malaysia because it was on sale for 133 RM ($34) on Agoda. It’s the only hotel you can book online in Lawas.
Note that the walk-in price was quite a bit higher, so it was definitely worth booking online. It was a really comfortable, western-style room with a nice view over the back parking lot and mountains. The Wi-Fi worked well and I had completely zero complaints while I was there.
There was also a swimming pool, which was nice.
But there are 5 other non-posh hotels to stay at too if budget is more your style, although the prices were actually surprisingly similar.
Find Sebatang Durian Farm Or Others in Lawas
Find out if it’s durian season in Lawas using our new App:
If you want to continue your durian journey to Sabah or Brunei or Sarawak or the rest of Malaysia, just use this map to find your next Durian Destination! Each red pin is connected with a blog post like this one giving you all the sweet stinky details on where to go.