In a region with a sometimes bewildering variety of fresh fruits, there is only one ‘king of fruits’: the durian. While infamous for its overpowering and lingering smell (responsible for durian bans in hotels and public transport across SE Asia), the fruit is increasingly popular. Watermelon-sized with a spiky, tough rind, durians grow on large trees native to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, and are now also grown widely in Thailand, as well as in Cambodia and Vietnam. Reactions to the odour and flavour of durian are typically either profound appreciation or powerful disgust; rarely indifference. Durian is used in a wide variety of ways: to flavour sweet desserts, eaten with sticky rice, fried with chilli and onions, added to soup, dried into chips, fermented and used in sauces, or, of course, eaten fresh. Regardless of your preference, or if your preference (after one whiff) is to stay as far away as possible, you can’t ignore royalty; talk with us and make sure there is a durian experience on your SE Asia itinerary!

Upon completing his university degree, one young man in Thailand, against the advice of his family and community, returned to his home village to run a small eco-tourism business instead of pursuing more economically viable opportunities in urban centres. A member of the Karen ethnic minority, Mr Phanon is diversifying crops on his family’s land, from only maize to include strawberries, and the small bamboo houses and tents he’s constructed for visitors to stay in have been fully booked. Successful community tourism requires many elements, but among the first are surely determination and willingness to accept risk, well demonstrated in this mountainous village of Uthai Thani Province. 

In a first, yak herders in Bhutan recently trained on snow leopard conservation have captured camera trap images of these elusive animals. Snow leopards are apex predators and a flagship species of this Himalayan region. By training local people to conduct data collection and camera trapping, conservation authorities are building awareness which will hopefully promote the ability of these communities to live in harmony with snow leopard and other predators. Contact us for more information about experiencing the incredible natural riches and unique culture of this region.

Vietnam has a rich natural heritage, and is a global hotspot for monkeys and apes. Yet several species are in danger of slipping quietly into extinction.  But something is being done. Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working in the remote forests of northern Vietnam to protect vulnerable populations of Cao Vit Gibbon, one of the world’s rarest primates and only found in Vietnam. With FFI support, local people now patrol the forests against poachers and have developed ways to meet the needs of local communities while preserving the fragile forest habitat of these charismatic creatures.

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