GEORGE TOWN, June 27 — It started back in 2009 when she was helping out at the wedding of a raw vegan couple on a farm in Oregon. That was when Lindsay Gasik smelled her first durian.
She was so curious about it, she used her birthday money to buy a durian and tried it. “It was exotic and the taste was amazing,” she remembered.
Then seven years ago, Gasik set off on an amazing journey to follow the durian trail all over Southeast Asia. For a year.
It was that epic trip that kick-started everything. Today, she is a bona fide durian hunter who knows the nooks and crannies of most of the durian farms and orchards all over this region.
The 29-year-old American has been trekking all over 13 countries in Asia year in, year out following the durian season, so much so that she knows the locations of the farms, the stories behind them and the many varied species of durians available like the back of her hand.
In 2014, she released a Thailand durian guide book to help Western durian lovers navigate their way around Thailand; to get to durian farms that were not easily accessible due to the language barrier.
“I was receiving a lot of emails asking for help on where to go for durians so I came up with the guide book in Thailand, just so I could stop replying all these emails,” she said when met at the Soon Huat durian farm up on a hill in Balik Pulau.
The book proved a success and Gasik has since updated it with a newer version in 2016. This is still available in e-book format on her “Year of The Durian” website.
But how did she herself get over the language barrier in all these different countries? Gasik explained that she kept asking for help; she had help from local Thais who could speak a bit of English and continued asking around.
Coincidentally this was also how she overcame her shyness, by forcing herself to ask for help and ask questions.
She also picked up a bit of Thai over the years but now that most of the orchard owners know her, it’s much easier. In Penang, she signed up for Mandarin classes and picked up some Hokkien. Gasik explained that It’s easier here since most can speak English.
Gasik also started working on The Durian Tourist’s Guide to Penang, a project that spanned four years as she visited farm after farm, interviewed the owners, tasted variety after variety of durians, all the time while conducting durian tours all over Asia.
“I don’t have a base currently, I go where the durian season takes me and my tour packages follow the peak times to enjoy durians all over 13 countries,” she said.
The 300-page book, available both in printed and e-book format, is not a mere guide to durian farms and varieties of durians in Penang. It also has Gasik’s take on the history behind the farms she visited, the stories behind the durians and the stories of the durian farmers.
“It is like a durian-tasting guide book and it is also about exploring the culture here through durians,” she said.
The book features about 65 farms all over Penang, including those on the mainland side of the northern state, and the types of durians available at these farms. “There are so many stories to be found here, there are like a thousand farmers here, each with a different story… there’s so much to learn and tell,” she said.
A view of the Soon Huat Durian Farm in Balik Pulau, Penang.
Source :Yahoo News