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The search for the perfect durian

While driving along Highway 4 from Phetchaburi to Prachuap Khiri Khan, you will notice vendors sitting under big umbrellas in roadside stalls selling their farm products such as pineapples and rose apples. During this time of the year, you also will see another popular fruit of the province — the Pa La-u durian.

Pa La-u durian. (Photo: Karnjana Ayuwatanachai)

The durian variety is the geographical indication (GI) of Prachuap Khiri Khan. It originated from the monthong variety but has unique characteristics of trees grown in tambon Huai Sat Yai in Hua Hin district.

Thanks to the geography and soil quality, the Pa La-u durian has an oval shape with sharp spines and olive-colour husks. The yellow flesh is thick while the seeds are thin. The taste is custard-like with a mild odour. The weight per fruit ranges from 1.5kg to 5kg.

The history of the durian trees grown in Ban Huai Sat Yai traces back more than 50 years, according to Sompong Phumphuang, a local guide.

It began in 1966 when HM Princess Srinagarindra Mahidol and King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great visited Ban Huai Sat Yai. They planted 10 durian trees in the community. Years passed and trees bore fruit. The taste was sweet and creamy so local farmers began planting monthong durian trees in their orchards.

Today more than 3,000 rai of land are converted durian plantations, expanding from 2,000 rai a couple of years ago, growing both monthong and chanee durian among other strains. The high demand of Pa La-u durian, drives the supply and price up. Pa La-u durian costs about 250 baht per kilogramme this year.

Orchards are open to visitors to taste the ripe Pa La-u durians. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, visitors are limited and not open to people from high-risk provinces including Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani.

Some orchards accept online orders while others sponsor stalls along Highway 4. Pa La-u durians are available until the end of July.

For more information, contact Sompong Phumphuang at 087-025-8741. Other options for site visits or purchasing durians include the Pa La-u Durian Farmer Group (facebook.com/durianpalaau or call 087-156-6417) and Suan Lung Noi (bit.ly/3A2kLkK or call 081-008-3894). Some farmers grow durian trees organically.

Visit the Facebook page of Pa Na Durian Orchard at bit.ly/3qpISW6 or call 062-464-4519.

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