Travel Notes - Desaru Fruit Farm
Updated: Oct 17, 2020
Recently, I've re-read two books by favourite and talented Bulgarian author that lived in my country in the 19th century-Aleko Konstantinov. And despite his short life, he got to travel to places and his travel notes tell the stories of his enthralling adventures. Interestingly enough re-reading the books after years helped me see and understand the events of those times in a completely different way, comparing with the current world we live in and my experiences on this planet so far.
So I decided to put a few words, describing my adventures and impressions of beautiful Malaysia, and perhaps re-read those notes in a couple of years, and discover what has changed.
First I will share with you (and with future me) a fruit farm I visited not so long ago. I mentioned before that one of the greatest joys this country has provided me with is the abundance of fruit-in all colours, shapes, textures and flavours. Obviously, I had to visit a fruit farm and learn how these delicious fruits are cultivated.
Welcome to Desaru Fruit farm-180 acres of tropical Fruitland. About 60km east of Johor Bahru (my current residence), this place is a popular and attractive tourist destination for both foreigners and locals. I arrived on a hot day, dressed with long sleeves and trousers (still trying to balance between what's appropriate to wear in a Muslim country, what's comfortable and what can provide you with some comfort in the humid heat). Luckily I brought a fan, I've purchased in the old town of Melacca (a historical port and another very appealing destination). The fan is made of dried palm leaf-pretty and sustainable!
But anyway the heat, this is a given here, the first this we did at our arrival was to book a tour of the large 'Fruitland'. 15 minutes of strolling up and down the richly loaded market (with an excellent selection of fresh and dried fruit and nuts), we were invited to hop on a typical farm truck with an open back and decorated with whimsical garlands and flags. Getting on the truck was not as easy (keeping in mind my not yet recovered leg-I have a bit of a trauma going on by the way). Once seated, the group was ready to head to the acres and acres of mango trees, rose apples, jackfruit and my favourite (NOT) durian. We were quite a good mix of passengers-mainly Malay families with little children a few Chinese and me, as the only 'outlander'. Therefore because of my 'majesty', the tour guide held the talk in English.
First stop was Dragon fruit-one of my absolute favourites. Also known as Pitaya, this dangerously looking product of mother nature is the fruit of several types of cactus species, originally brought from the Americas. The unique name has been used since around 1963, apparently resulting from the leather-like skin and prominent scaly spikes on the fruit exterior. The ideal fruit is unblemished and overripe. The interesting thing about this fruit is that it only blooms when the fruits are ripe and ready to pick. Its blossom appears at night only and lasts for a few hours only too. Just like a silent, but very beautiful 'visual' alarm. there's three different types of dragon fruit-red, which is red inside and outside, also a very rounded shape; white, which is also red, but on the outside only, comes in a more oval shape; and yellow which is actually white, this time on the inside only. Yellow pitayas are very rare and therefore quite pricey. Indeed a very curious little 'creature' but super tasty and nutritious.
Next stop was Jackfruit. I had a moment or two, or a couple of weeks actually, where the only thing I wanted to eat was Jackfruit. I ate so much of it, now I can't even smell it. Having said that, this spectacular fruit is worth sharing as it looks nothing like a safe to eat food on the outside. It is actually a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family, and it is just as sweet, like its brothers and cousins. The tree bears the largest fruit of all trees, reaching as much as 55 kg in weight, 90 cm in length, and 50 cm in diameter. A mature jack tree produces some 200 fruits per year, with older trees bearing up to 500 fruits in a year. It's safe to say that jack fruit is sold in abundance and is quite cheap in price. The flavour of jackfruit is something between pineapple, banana and mango, the seeds are edible too, they can be roasted and taste like chestnuts.
Next came the walk of fame, or a wide path covered with a canopy of passion fruits, surrounded by banana trees. Banana's blossoms are beautiful too and depending on if pointing up or down, indicate which fruit is edible and which poisonous. Yes, there are poisonous bananas too. they won't kill you, but they'll most likely lock you in the restroom for days. (For your reference-down is edible, up-not! Or when in doubt copy the monkeys, they know.)
Mango and apple trees add a very enchanting feeling to the farm, creating an 'into the woods' experience. One can also see and pick different herbs, amongst which-various types of basil and stevia, the fresh leaf of which is so so sweet. (Yes, you can sample too!).
The tour ends at an actual animal farm, with chickens, peacocks, turkeys, rabbits and goats. The last are loud, just show them a branch with leaves, and they will scream with joy happily jump on you.
Once back at the starting point we were offered a complimentary basket with fruits, that comes with the price of the ticket. Visitors are also invited to a fruit feast, in the farm's open 'dining space'.
Definitely worth the visit, five points out of five!