Take a trip to the other side of Penang Island for some fresh air and beautiful sunsets.
Penang – ask anybody on the street what the place reminds them of and their answers most probably would revolve around food, street art and the heritage of Georgetown. They are not wrong but the truth is the Pearl of the Orient has a lot more to offer than char kuey tiaw and murals. One hidden gem – and when we say hidden we mean tucked away on the other side of the island – is the Bao Sheng Durian Farm, which truth be told doesn’t become so secret anymore from May to August, when the King of Fruits is in season.
If there’s anything Balik Pulau is renowned for, it has to be the durian it produces for about four months each year. That’s when the sleepy town gets the most visitors, as durian lovers from near and far visit to get their hands on the thorny fruit and the golden treasure it holds within. The craze for durian amongst its aficionados in recent years has become so acute that orchards have begun offering accommodation options for visitors to stay longer and not part with the fruits, including Bao Sheng.
During season, the fans of the fruit will have a variety of activities in the farm to partake in, with durian-eating being a given, accompanied by eco-trips, morning runs around the hill trails that go through the orchard, and talks by durian experts, including Mr Chang Teik Seng, the owner of Bao Sheng Durian Farm, or also affectionately known as Durian Seng. Every year the farm is visited by travellers from the far corners of the world with one fruit in mind, the durian. Some even volunteer to work as farmhands in return for shelter, just so that they could have unhindered access to the fruit and its flesh.
The stellar reception for the durian variety offered in the farm recently grew into something even bigger – the annual Bao Sheng Durian Festival. Organised by the Durian Ambassador to the West, Lindsay Gasik and partner Ryan Lewis, the festival educates participants on the thorny fruit, from its cultivation to its different types and tastes. And what better locale to have such a festival than in a pesticide-free, organic farm where other fruits grow alongside the durian.
However, our trip to the farm was not durian-related at all. We were curious; what can you do at a bed and breakfast in a durian farm when it is not the season at all? We met up with Zhi Vooi, aka ‘Chowe,’ who is the son of Durian Seng to guide us in the farm as we spent a night there. Here is a list of what we discovered.
The durian orchard of Bao Sheng is the true star of the farm, be it on-season or off. Breathe in fresh air as you go on a morning walk or a quick jog on the trail that winds through the durian trees. The green of the orchard will not only be calming for the mind but the soul as well. Keep an eye out for some wonderful birds and tree-hopping critters too while you’re at it.
Another specialty of Balik Pulau is the sunset, for the sun sets on this side of the island. Catch hues of blue, yellow and orange streaked across the sky. All the accommodations on Bao Sheng Durian Farm allows unhindered access to the sunset, helped by its hilltop location.
Visit the farm during off-season and Chowe might just give you a fully-fledged workshop on the art of coffee. Equipped with a hand-wound grinder, strainer and coffee beans from Cambodia, taste the flavours of various stages of coffee – from the espresso to the regular. By the way, no sugar will be provided!
The Titi Kerawang Waterfall is located literally five minutes away from Bao Sheng Durian Farm, walking. The area is perfect for a morning hike followed by a relaxing dip in the falls to the soundtrack of birds chirping and leaves rustling.
If the city is where you live, a little quiet now and then would do you some good. Borrow a bicycle from the farm for a ride or lounge in the pool and take in Mother Nature at her glory. It’ll be worth it.
Bao Sheng Durian Farm
150 Mk2 Sungai Pinang
+6012-411 0600 / +6012-401 0800
* This post has been edited for clarity and relevance.