Jimmy Loke was born in the small village of Kampung Sungai Dua. Today if you drive along the E8 Expressway on your way from Bentong to Karak, Sungai Dua is a blink of wooden shophouses facing the 4-lane highway.
You may not notice the village at all. But hopefully, since you’re only 1km from Jimmy’s, you’re already slowing down in preparation to turn off the Expressway directly onto a small dirt driveway, which is Jimmy’s Durian Orchard.
About Jimmy’s Durian Farmstay
When 26-year-old Jimmy decided to purchase his durian farm, the location was obvious. He was living in Kuala Lumpur, working in finance, and he missed home and the kampung life.
He purchased his farm in 1987, along what was then a quiet 2-lane highway connecting Bentong with Karak. It was easily accessible, had a nice hill for the durians, and was nearby the Sungai Dua waterfall. It was overall a good location.
He planted his trees and prepared to wait until he could retire to his farm.
In 2016, with the trees nearly 30 years old, Jimmy finally retired and began working on Phase 2 of his retirement plan: a Farm Cafe and Farmstay.
Durian Lovers from KL were already accustomed to taking the 1-hour drive to the Jimmy’s on the weekend. It’s an easy day to combine with the Bentong Saturday Market, a visit to Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, or a swim in a nearby waterfall.
So it was time to get a bigger house.
In 2019, when we visited, the house was newly completed. It had a small outdoor cafe with tables and chairs, a larger outdoor dining area upstairs with fans, and 2 easily accessible toilets.
Almost everything was made out of wood or covered in cool blue tiles. It was a shady, cool place.
Indoors, he built a large air-conditioned kitchen and dining area (durian welcome indoors!). Here, he serves a local-style breakfast to his guests in the morning, or people who prefer air-con are welcome to Durian Dine.
With all that blue tile and wood, it’s cool and dark, lit by hanging lights that make the whole place feel modern and hip.
In 2016, when Jimmy moved on to the farm, he began the process of converting the orchard to organic practices.
In 2021/2022, he tried 100% organic practices, but decided to selectively use some herbicides and pesticides.
Today, in 2022, his trees are over 35 years old, and really good quality.
He has several varieties, including Musang King, D24, Tekkah, D101 Tanjung Sepat, and plenty of Kampung durians.
When we visited, the Musang King was all pre-booked and not available for purchase. So here’s what we got to try!
Jimmy first tasted D24 in the 1980’s while living in Kuala Lumpur. At that time, D24 was selling for Rm30/kg ($7 USD/KG, not accounting for inflation over the last 30 years).
D24 was new and hip and expensive, and Jimmy decided it would be the backbone to his retirement plan. It didn’t quite pan out that way, since the D24 prices ended up crashing and Musang King became the all-star, but Jimmy still has a lot of very nice D24 at his farm.
This is my favorite durian to pair with a morning espresso, as it’s doughy, buttery texture and coffee aroma really smooths and highlights the earthy aromas of the espresso that I love.
Tekkah is an old durian variety that has such a die-hard cult following that durian farmers don’t dare to chop it down, even though it’s rarely exported and nobody planting a commercial farm nowadays would ever plant it.
But it is among my top favorites, and Jimmy’s is really good. I love how Tekka’s deflates as it gets ripe, collapsing in on itself like lava. The texture is soft and smooth to the point of pudding gently encased in a thin easily torn skin, custardy and syrupy sweet like kahlua. I think it must be one of the most sugar-dense durians out there just based on the texture, but is also one of the most classically “bitter” durians you can find.
When Jimmy pulled this one out, I cocked my head. It looks almost but not quite like Red Prawn. He said it’s not common in Karak, but that it was brought from a place called Tanjung Sepat along the coast near KL.
It has the same elongated, pale orangey-salmon flesh that reminds me of James Lee’s Red Prawn in Penang.
I didn’t actually get to try this one, as there are just a few trees and this one as already booked by another customer, but I was intrigued and would definitely book one for next time!
Because the lunchtime rush can be intense, the best way to enjoy Jimmy’s is stay overnight into the relaxing hours, when Jimmy is hanging out in his kitchen drinking coffee and chatting with visitors.
The crickets and cicadas make a ruckus as the sun goes down, and Jimmy’s place begins to feel like a little island oasis in the middle of the darkness. Besides the noise of the highway, there is nothing around – no lights, no other houses – and if you walk into the parking lot the Milky Way looms overhead.
Most of the rooms have a shared toilet downstairs, which was immaculately clean when we visited. There are 9 rooms in the front house that share 4 toilets.
But if you want an attached bathroom and a little more privacy, there are 4 Deluxe Rooms in an attached house just behind the pond, accessible by a covered walkway from the big kitchen and dining room.
We were fortunate that all the other rooms were booked out one night, so we got upgraded to the Deluxe!
It was large and comfortable, with a big writing desk and a floor that felt cool to our feet when we came in from a hot day out in the orchard.
Sungai Dua Waterfall
This is a wide shallow pool that gets deep enough to swim around the base of the waterfall. There is a big area for sitting and paddling, great for little kids!
From Jimmy’s, the waterfall is only a 3km walk on a quiet road that starts directly across the E8 Highway from the farm. To get to the quiet road, you have to run across 4 lanes of oncoming traffic and hop a concrete divider. But once you get to the other side, it’s a peaceful walk through orchards, with plenty of mist in the early mornings.
Jimmy’s Durian Orchard can get a little busy in the late mornings and early afternoons, especially when weekenders from Kuala Lumpur decide to breakfast at the famous Chee Cheong Fun restaurant in Bentong or along the Saturday Morning Market, and all arrive at Jimmy’s at approximately the exact same moment.
The best way to experience Jimmy’s is to go in late afternoon, when things are winding down, when Jimmy is relaxing in his dining area drinking coffee, telling stories, and sharing durian. Stay into the night, and marvel at the night sky before turning into bed or back onto the highway toward home.
Just make sure to book your durian ahead of time so it doesn’t sell out before you arrive!
Getting to Jimmy’s Durian Orchard
Jimmy’s Durian Orchard is located on the E8 Expressway from Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan, just before you reach Exit 813A for Karak Town.
Turning into the driveway involves quickly slowing and pulling onto the shoulder of the 2-lane E8 Expressway. If you are from a Western nation, you may find executing this move a little nerve wracking. If you’re accustomed to driving in Malaysia, it’s just fine. Don’t worry.
Contact Jimmy’s Durian Orchard:
When is the next season of durian?
How to book for homestay?
Miki Lim says
Plan to next durian season walk in for the visit.