“It’s been too long,” Eddie said when I pulled up the short, gear-grinding hill to Raub Durian Orchard. I’m not sure where the time went. Raub Durian Orchard was one of the very first durian farms I visited in Malaysia back in 2012, a 10-acre lump of durian oasis in the sea of palm oil that is Raub. I went back every season for a few years, but then found myself too busy in Penang finishing my new durian guide book to take the time for Raub and to see Eddie.
This year I went back, and it was like entering a time capsule. My chubby-cheeked photo from 7 years ago hung on the wall. The same fading reminders that Christ Is Love papered the beams.
The durian, especially the Tekkah, was just how I remembered it.
Maybe only the puppies had really changed since my last visit, now lounging around the farm as grown-up dogs.
Where does time go?
My First Trip to Raub Durian Orchard
One of my first trips to Raub Durian Orchard nearly ended in disaster. I didn’t write about it in that first blog post I wrote about the farm, back in this blog’s infancy. Maybe I was embarrassed.
Eddie is one of the kindest people I know, or else I imagine we wouldn’t still be friends after the episode. In 2012, I didn’t have my own car in Malaysia. Instead, I would take the bus from Kuala Lumpur’s Pekeliling Station out to Raub’s main bus depot, where Eddie picked us up to drive out to his farm.
For an embarrassing story, here’s an embarrassing old photo ↓ ↓ .
One day, we stayed too late and were rushing to get to the last bus of the night, which departed Raub at 7pm. The traffic had nearly come to a standstill in the squeeze of the one-way road through Raub Town, as it often does (traffic in Raub is the worst), so as the bus began pulling out we jumped out of Eddie’s big black truck and ran to get it.
There was a horrible noise. I looked back, and another car had completely ripped the door off of Eddie’s truck. Eddie waved us on, so we caught our bus, but as I looked back I saw Eddie in the rising tide of traffic gathering around the wreckage and two stopped cars like an angry dam.
Now when I see Eddie’s truck, that’s all I think about. Eddie chuckled when I reminded him about it.
About Raub Durian Orchard
But what Eddie thought about that stressful evening he didn’t say. Eddie is an unusually quiet durian farmer.
It’s one of the the things I initially found so interesting about Eddie. While the Raub area is hyper-focused on exporting Musang King durians, Raub Durian Orchard is all about inviting durian-munchers to sit down, relax, and try a few different varieties at the farm.
Eddie always creates a showcase of the varieties of the day that are available, and it changes from day-to-day through the season.
Raub Durian Orchard welcomes up to 100 durian munchers per day. It can get really crowded, especially when the weekend-warriors from KL drive up. I’ve noticed that the farm is particularly popular with niche car and motorcycle clubs; often when we arrive the entire parking and drive will be lined with PT Cruisers or Harley Davidsons.
And in the midst there’s the super quiet Eddie, busy opening durians and watching each table like a hawk. It’s interesting that Eddie is so intensely shy, and yet he’s obviously a people person.
I guess that’s like me. Sometimes I’m surprised someone as introverted and nerdy as me could make a life leading and organizing durian tours and interacting with so many people. I guess you durian lovers are a special crowd 💗.
About the Durian at Raub Durian Orchard
Eddie inherited the 10-acre farm from his uncle in 1982, the same year he opened his photography shop in Raub Town. Except for a couple of kampungs and the D7 at the foot of the hill, the entire property was rubber.
Remember, in the 1980’s most farmers thought of durian as worthless. You had to have a passion for durian, which Eddie did.
As a gift, a friend brought Eddie some Red Prawn and Horlor budwood from Penang, which had recently won some contests. Eddie cut down the rubber and began planting durian. He added D2, D24, D88, and Tekkah, D160, as well as 5 Monthong trees from Thailand. Musang King came later.
The trees are now more than 35 years old, and you can taste it in the rich flavor and the wrinkly texture. There’s even one Monthong tree left, if you care to taste what old-tree, tree-ripened Monthong is all about.
In 2008, he started a blog about the farm on the old free platform, Blogspot, which is how I found his farm. This blog (Year of the Durian) was actually founded on Blogspot, too.
Back then it was so unusual to find a durian farm advertising farm visits that I immediately contacted him to organize a special trip out to Raub.
Seven years later, and I had to organize a special trip again to taste his D7 variety.
According to the DOA, D7 originated in Kajang, Selangor, in 1934. It’s a small town just to the east of Kuala Lumpur. There are photos on the website of the “official” D7, so you can see what it looks like.
Eddie’s matches the ID perfectly.
Eddie’s uncle got the D7 from MARDI in the 1970’s when they were passing out “improved” durian varieties. This was back before Musang King was a thing, before D24 broke the durian bubble, before even Hor Lor and Red Prawn were famous.
For an old variety, D7 is surprisingly fleshly. It’s got a beautiful toffee, strawberry-blond color, with folds and wrinkles that just shine like bronze.
When really fresh, it’s sticky and a little fibrous, with a lovely carameled-strawberry flavor. The flavor turns to plain sweet pretty quickly, so make sure to eat it just a few hours after dropping. Since there’s only one tree, you’ll also have to make a reservation for it, like I did. I’d had the D7 as a fluke years before, but wanted to test it again. It was my favorite of the day.
If you’re a Red Prawn snob (ahem *Glen* cough cough) you should pay attention here.
Red Prawn looks weird in Raub. Maybe because it’s a bit low elevation (Raub Durian Orchard is 142 meters above sea level, or 465 feet) or maybe because of the red soil, or because Raub feels just so much hotter and drier than anywhere else, but the Red Prawn thorns stay green instead of turning dusky brown-gray, and the color of the flesh is a lot brighter yellow color.
In general, I try to avoid Red Prawn anywhere but Penang. And the Kok’s Farm. And also Eddie’s.
With 35-year-old trees, the Red Prawn at Raub Durian Orchard is super smooth, alcoholic, and with the right level of creamy sweetness. Can you see how the color has paled to white on the tips, and the wrinkly flesh is mottled with gray? That’s my favorite kind of Red Prawn.
Something about that hot, dry, red terroir of Raub appeals to Musang King. I’ve had some of the stickiest, richest, most buttery-bitter Musang Kings in Raub, and Eddie’s is no exception.
The trees are currently around 25-years-old, which is among the oldest for Musang King now that everyone is planting it. Musang King is not my favorite, but I’ll eat Eddie’s.
Unless he has Tekkah falling, in which case that’s all I want. It’s all he wants to.
Tekkah (D160 or Thrakka)
If you ever see Eddie’s cheek bulging as he sucks on a durian seed while still opening and serving other durians, he’s probably stolen a pod of Tekkah from someone.
It’s his favorite, and if you ask him what the best durian is on his farm, he’ll tell you this is his specialty.
So let’s stop a moment and give an ode to Eddie’s Tekkah:
To me, the off-ivory coloring is more beautiful and sophisticated than Musang King’s bright shock of color. It’s lacy and delicate, but with a texture that’s much heavier, fattier and oomphier than other varieties. It must be quite high in saturated fat, because good Tekkah is really filling.
When it’s good, Tekkah’s bitterness is like soupy sugar, caramelized enough that the flavor turns to coffee.
Sometimes it can be a little too soft, the inside cream falling apart inside the delicate wax of the skin, but I can forgive good Tekkah all textural sins.
Raub Durian Orchard is where I first discovered Tekkah, way back in 2012. I’d had a “meh” Tekkah in Kuala Lumpur – Tekkah also doesn’t last through the heat for more than a few hours — and was convinced that mainland Malaysian durian wasn’t up-to-snuff with the durians of Penang.
Eddie’s Tekkah changed my mind, and changed my interest in exploring the mainland.
But because my two favs at his farm — D7 and Tekkah — turn flat and lose their flavor quickly, there’s no point in looking for them in KL. You have to come out to the farm. Which is why Eddie created the durian chalet – so you could actually taste what durian is supposed to taste like.
The New Durian Chalet
When I met Eddie in 2012, he was already considering building a small chalet on his property where couples and families could rest in the after-hours when the crowds have parted and the farm is quiet.
He built it in 2013, but I didn’t stay overnight until this year.
Here’s a video I made for my Instagram Stories showing the interior of the chalet.
Staying nearby Raub Durian Orchard
In the off-chance you feel Raub Durian Orchard is too remote or it’s fully booked out, you have a few options.
Raub Town is just a 15-minute drive away and has a few decent if not exceptional hotels. The issue is the location — the narrow shop houses have few windows, and their front doors are just steps away from the traffic snarls.
When I have to stay in Raub Town, I typically stay at Hotel Raub.
A cheaper option just across from a whole bunch of durian stalls is the Nice Stay Hotel.
If you have a car, a little further south of Raub is the Bilut Hills Durian Farmstay. It’s a 35-minute drive from Eddie’s Raub Durian Orchard, but close enough to do a little durian hopping in the Raub area.
Getting to Raub Durian Farm
Raub Durian Orchard is located north of Raub Town about 10km.
From Raub, turn right at the small mosque with green trim and follow the small road straight until you see Eddie’s signs. During the season it’s quite well marked, and you are unlikely to be the only guest.
Make your reservation with Eddie via Facebook or WhatsApp: +60 19-965 9612