Saturday April 24, 2010
Villa fit for king of fruits
By K. KASTURI DEWI
email@example.com Photos by ZAINUDIN AHAD
PENANG’S ‘durian king’ has come up with an innovative package for those who want to savour the fruit — you can do so in an air-conditioned villa with a private swimming pool and 32-inch LCD television.
Bao Sheng Durian Farm owner Chang Teik Seng has so far built two mini villas in his Sungai Pinang orchard and plans to expand to a few more if the project is successful.
He said he had spent more than RM70,000 on the villas which were equipped with king-size beds and LCD TVs as well as swimming pools amid lush green landscape.
“The idea is for durian lovers to watch the sunset from their villas while savouring the king of fruits,” said Chang, fondly called “Durian Seng” by the locals.
He said the villa project was proposed by his customers, especially those from Hong Kong and Singapore, who had wanted to stay on for a few days to enjoy the different varieties of durians.
“There are also those who come here specially demanding for the just-dropped durians as they don’t mind waiting a few days for such fruits,” he said.
Chang said he was also promoting a special “eat-all-you-can” package where one can pay RM25 to enjoy the durians for breakfast, RM35 for lunch and RM45 for dinner.
“Durian lovers can get an RM88 one day pass to eat as many durians as possible the whole day,” he said.
He added that this year’s unpredictable weather had affected the flowering season but the harvest period was expected to begin in mid-May and peak in early June.
He said he would try to maintain last year’s price as the demand and supply would affect the pricing.
The durians can cost anything from RM5 to RM45 each, depending on the grade. For instance, the premium ones such as Hor Lor (gourd) is priced between RM18 and RM35, Kun Poh (RM8 to 18) while Ang Heh (red prawn) costs from RM20 to RM45.
He added that farms from Sungai Pinang to Teluk Bahang were experiencing a good yield with 60% of the trees fruiting.
Australian tourist Henry Kwaczynski, 62, and his wife Jocelyn, 60, described the villa package as “having your favourite delicacy at your doorstep with a magnificent view unspoilt by development”.
“He (Chang) is very visionary. I wish I had such a place back home,” said Kwaczynski, a former pilot from Queensland.
The couple had, in fact, fallen in love with the king of fruits since 1975 when Kwaczynski was based at the Royal Australian Air Force base in Butterworth.
They were passing by Sungai Pinang yesterday when they were introduced to Chang and brought to his durian orchard to savour some of the fruits.
Kwaczynski, who owns an avacado farm in Australia, said he and his wife would make it a point to visit Penang every two years.
“And if we happen to be here during the durian season, we would never miss the opportunity to eat as many fruits as possible,” he said.
Being a fruit farm owner himself, Kwaczynski said he had suggested to Chang to organise retreats for senior executives at his orchard.
Pondok Upeh orchard co-owner Tham Soon Seong, however, said this year’s season was not much better than last year’s as only about 30% of the trees had fruited.
“Sungai Pinang and Sungai Rusa are experiencing a better yield compared to other places like Pondok Upeh and Bukit Cengkeh, while Pulau Betong and Teluk Kumbar are faring well,” he said.
Tham said durian prices this year might go up by between 10% and 20% if imports from the mainland was low.
Another estate owner Lee Thoo Sen said he expected harvest at his orchard to be lower by 40% this year.
“Many of the flowers dropped during the rainy season. Fewer flowers mean fewer fruits,” he said, adding that he felt prices would increase during the early part of the season.