There Will Be Durian

Digested timeline posts from thee too-brief stay in the Philippines.  Hyperlinks are to the individual posts in question, and the full-res photos are available just here.

August 13:

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I may be a minority of one, but…I kind of love Manila! Only walked around for a few hours, and only in some areas near the airport, but, people are really cool, Bananas are cheap and delicious — what more you need? Don’t know why I became reluctant to go snapping the street scenes, as that’s usually my number one stock in trade; suffice to say that on this lazy Sunday afternoon, everybody was out singing, dancing, playing, getting drunk, razzing the farang (don’t know what terminology the locals call us by here) walking through their neighborhood, and otherwise enjoying the weekend. Oh, also, from what I have seen, I think Manila’s traffic may be even more gridlocked than Bangkok’s — and that’s something I never thought I would see.

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By the way, look at these two basketballs being layed-in: One’s the size of a medicine ball, t’other the size of a Grapefruit. Weird. And, assuming it’s not readable here, the name on the back of #17’s jersey in the ONE TIME mural is “Poor Boy”. Well, it made me laugh, if no one else…

September 6:

Aeroplane Captain just finished announcing that we could not proceed directly to the gate due to “parking space problem”. Alas, I seemed to be the only passenger to find humour in that particular choice of phrase.

But the concept is pretty funny too, isn’t it? I’m picturing a series of freshly arrived big old jet airliners circling ’round the tarmac trying to find parking spaces; the pilots cursing each other out for stealing their spots at the last moment, parking their jumbo jets in designated compact spaces, failing to return their gate bridges to the holding bin, and various and sundry other perceived or real crimes and/or misdemeanors.

September 8:

Two brief scenes from thee first day in Fruit City…

Hotel’s Security Guard: Durian?

Me: Yeah.

Guard: [Frantically pawing through my bag, then…] Oh my god.

Me: [Laughing.]

Sheesh, I was only going to drop something off really quick-like; but even that was too much — made me leave it at the entrance and retrieve it again on the way out. Goofnut.

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Old Lady Standing On The Corner: Do you want a [unintelligible]? I haaaave some.

Me: You have what?

Old Lady: [Pointing to nearby stairwell] Giiiiiiirls.

Me: Oh. No, thanks.

Old Lady: Whhhhhhhhhhhhy?

Me: [Laughing.]

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September 9:

There is nothing more je ne sais quoi than music, ain’t it? With the exception of one song — Deep Purple’s “Wasted Sunsets” — during my youth music never brought me to the brink of tears, though I was listening to it constantly. The older I get, however, I find it hitting me in the thumpy place with ever-increasing frequency.

Take this fine gentleman here, for example. One might consider his playing basic or unsophisticated or what, but as I shuffled past of a Saturday’s eve, no argument could possibly have convinced me that it wasn’t the most beautiful sound I ever had heard. Dropped some coins in his Donation Box and proceeded down the stairs, but by the time I’d got to the bottom, I was so in thrall, I had to head back up and shoot some footage. Looking at it now, I only wish I’d kept the camera rolling a few minutes more…

UPDATE: Meanwhile, a dude in the dorm is playing The Scorpions on his mobile without putting the headphones — which is a pretty grievous violation of generally accepted dormitory etiquette. But when thee Scorpions are involved? When thee Scorpions are involved, you can take your fuckin’ dormitory etiquette and ram it all thee way up your fuckin’ bootyhole (is what I say).

September 10:

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: I guess there must be a headphone shortage in the Philippines, because now there’s a different dude violating etiquette and deejaying out tunes to the entire dorm. Just as I was beginning to wonder how perturbed I thought I ought to be (I like Adele, but can only really take her in small doses), he switched over to a clip of Springsteen covering “You Never Can Tell” with a white-hot horn section, followed by Morello guesting on “Ghost Of Tom Joad”.

Uh, anybody needs me, I’ll be over here trying to scrape my jaw off the floor. (And, oh yeah: Fuck dormitory etiquette!)

September 10:

Truthfully, you could say any dirty filthy nasty mean-hearted thing you wanted to say about Durian itself, I wouldn’t even squawk. But whoso deigns to besmirch/impugn/slander the fine good name of the Durian People: Just know that I will fuck…you…up.

Having spent a very great many farmside and parkside feastings with them in Thailand, Malaysia, and now here in thee Philippines, I feel very confident in my assessment of the Durian People as the most awesomest in all of space-time. Such a beautiful community.

(I can hear some of you wondering, “You really expect me to believe that these Durian People are more awesomer even than the Fegs?” Yeah, the Fegs; it’s a valid argument. Well, let’s call it a draw…)

September 17:

Island-hoppin’ Talikud styleee. Burnt to a crisp and wiped the fuck out; but, a great day in The Philippines.

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September 18:

Wow. This demi-monde of a Puyat here was not only the best Durian I’ve eaten since arriving, but has also incited me to slip Davao past Chanthaburi and into second place among Durian centres whose produce I have sampled. Penang still reigns as thee undisputed champion, but — especially considering it’s apparently a down year here — colour my dimpled ass: Impressed.

September 20:

Durian goals at its finest.

Photo Credit: Jessa Ricamora

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September 21:

Kan Yao AKA Ganyao AKA Ganja; the most prestigious variety in Thailand — with the price tag to match. While its reputation is well earned, here in Davao the quality is as good as in Thailand, if not slightly better…for about one-fifth the price. I’d call that a goddam bargain (the best I ever had). I’d also call it one of the very finest Durians of the season — except that I’ve had so many great ones in my time here that it’s about impossible to keep track anymore.

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In the meanwhile, the proprietor of the bitchinest stall in town takes a break from the sommelier duties to meticulously fix hisself up a motherfuckin’ Durian god damn sandwich (!), y’all. Oh, yes, thee rumours are true: We livin’ it up LARGE here down Mindanao way.

He may be the most laid back gentleman in all of Davao, but disrespect his Durian — as I witnessed four meretricious Chinamen doing this very same afternoon — and he’ll toss your not-so-dimpled ass into the street without even the tiniest pang of remorse. After the incident, steam still billowing visibly from his ears, he related to me that they’d accused him of trading in Durian which had been cut down and trucked to the stall unripe rather than being allowed to ripen on the tree (he and his brother own the farm). So, now you know the one thing to never, ever say to a Durianmeister in Davao…

September 22:

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Anybody within range of this transmission, GET YOUR DIMPLED ASS DOWN HERE. Your mileage may vary, and crap like that, but in my estimation, these Kan Yaos are really holding their own even against Penang’s very finest. They’re not quite at the same level — but they’re awfully close. Interestingly, they’re in flagrant violation of Bao Sheng’s two most important pillars of Durianistic Achievement — freshness and age of tree — but it seems not to matter. I’d be curious to see how they will taste like in ten or fifteen years’ time; Penang might find itself hoisted by its own petard!

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Also, Cob variety (eight-pound beast) pictured on the right took almost until nightfall to finish eating. Shit, only two days left in Davao; but no complaints forthcoming from thee Peanut Gallery: Along with Chanthaburi and Penang, this marks three bullseye Durian seasons for me this year, with Borneo still to come. Last days of Babylon, and all…

September 23:

Game/Set/Match, Davao. The picture of thee year, if not the decade. Seriously, Lukasz, you oughta submit this image to a magazine (The Perfume Journal might even run it on the cover, I should think…).

Photo Credit: Lukasz Czelusniak

September 24:

Thee traditional middle-finger send-off. If only you kids knew how fugging cool you are.

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September 25:

[Note to moderators: Please ruthlessly excise any and all passages from the following correspondence which reek of sentimentality, sincerity, sappiness, purity, or anything resembling the same. We can’t be having such pointless drivel all up in here…]

Pictured: One final visit to the O.G. Funtimes Durian Shack™.

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From my very first day in Egypt — very first hour, in fact — I have been so lucky to find my very same self connecting with the most awesomest, most interestingest, most funnest, most righteousest people a lowly sumbitch such as myself could ever possibly imagine with whom to shoot thee breeze and/or eat thee Durian and/or partake thee adventures around and about. It’s been the case at practically every stop along the trails this year; so much so that I may finally have been cured of my lifelong nostalgia complex: Why feeling apprehension at leaving some good friends behind knowing that still more of them will cross one’s path in the very near future?

Having said that, this Davao vegan community is really something special, to my way of thinking. I’ve got some issues with the city itself — mostly having to do with its motorways’ shite air quality and its all-around pedestrian-unfriendliness — but my admiration for the people who’ve created and sustained their fantastic little niche here knows no bounds.

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I’ll tell you what, if any of you human persons whiling out there in Internetland have ever wondered whether Durianism might be right for you, I could offer that…well, like with any religion, the scriptural traditions, the arcane symbolism, the liturgical riddims, the costumery, the hallowed temple halls, and so on and so on — they’re running rampant in the Durian Practices™, too. But, also like in other religions, all that stuff is really just a McGuffin — a proverbial hook upon which to hang one’s wool/knit cap. Nah, the real action is in the meeting and the greeting and the slapping of knees with one’s fellow parishioners. And there ain’t no finer people on thee Planet Fuckin’ Earth to meet your greet with than these goddam Davao True Believers, I can promise you that. Sheeyit, the local Filipino durianists here even speak English ten times better than we-all gringo Americanos can. So come on down give it a try, for fuck’s sake — the water is warm, the Durians are beyond™, and the culture is ten times the shizzle. Can I get a freakin’ “Amen”, or what?

So many thanks for allowing my dimpled ass to float downstream for a few weeks with y’all, y’all — could never even begin to tell you what a thrill it’s been. I’ll miss you lot a helluva lot.


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