Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Durian Chase: 'Love Will Keep Us Together'

Image from:


My Music and Food Trail

The Letter from NTU Students

"I read your post on 5 places you can still find durian trees in Singapore and you mentioned your memories of seeing durian trees along different places. I am wondering if you would be interested to share more about your experiences with durians when you were growing up in the 60s and 70s?

Me and my friends are year 4 students at Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and we're working on our final year project on the topic of durians. It's a campaign aimed at getting youths to appreciate durians, not just for the fruit and taste but also the history, the sellers, people who work to create durian flavoured products or crafts.

In one of our phases, we want to do a video series on stories of durians back in the 60s, 70s and 80s and also on durian picking in Singapore (Wee Kim Wee School of Communications in a letter to Lam Chun See of Good Morning Yesterday from whom I received a copy)."
C.W. Kee's Durian Cartoon (C)
My Story:

Durian Feasts

I never like durians and whenever members of my family bring home durians to consume I will always ask them to take the path to the kitchen using the side garden of our residential home and never through the living room. Feasting must only take place in the kitchen with windows wide open and fans full blast. That is how much I dislike durians and even up till today, the same rules apply. 

The Mersing Trip

It was the mid-70s and the chase began when a group of friends wanted to buy durians from Mersing in Malaya.  I only agreed because it was my first time going and I had hopes of passing by the little water-fall and take a peek at Pulau Tioman a holiday place which was just across the waters from Mersing.

It wasn't too long a trip and four of us cramped into my tiny jalopy, a Datsun 1000 (used, 3-year old @ $4,000).  Since the car was a four-door affair the ride was pretty comfortable.  We were all skinny young 'uns and ready for an adventure. 

Love Will Keep Us Together

On the way across the three musketeers sang, Love Will Keep Us Together, a big hit those years and sung by Captain and Tennille. It was quite obvious what the durian chasers were referring to:

"Be there to share forever 
Love will keep us together 
Said it before and I'll say it again 
While others pretend 
I"ll need you now and I'll need you then..."
Southern Tip of Malayan Peninsula showing Mersing and Tioman

The Causeway was not difficult to cross. Traffic wasn't too heavy then. I cannot remember if we had to pay charges for crossing over but the immigration       officers from both sides let us through without fuss.

When we reached Mersing there was this open field with lots of durians and their keepers. And there was a huge crowd, all running around hurrying and trying, buying and eating durians a plenty.

My three friends scuttled out of the car before I even jammed the brakes.  I was just as ignorant then as I am today and cannot remember where this area was, but it wasn't too far from the waterfall. I left my friends as the stench was unbearable and hurried to the waterfall alone.

Brimming The Boot

When I came back two hours later I saw the three of them waving to me excitedly. But I wasn't as enthusiastic when I saw a basketful of the horrible fruit at their side.  They decided, without my permission, to buy as many of the green spiked balls as they could for their dinner date at home.

I disagreed and refused to transfer the fruit into my car but after some plea bargaining I agreed with much frustration. They filled the boot to the brim. The cover just managed to shut.

Fruit of the Season

I was grumbling all the way, what with the hot humid weather and the smell, I was ready to burst.  It was like a journey to hell and when we reached the causeway I thought my trouble was over but it was only the beginning of more problems. The immigration officer eyed us sharply but was polite.

"Do you have anything to declare?" he asked with a sincere demeanour on his face.

"Nothing sir," I declared since I was driving.

"Nothing? You mean nothing at all? Not even fruits of the season?" Then he added, "I can smell them you know."

"Yes, we have a few durians in the boot," I replied.

I felt the perspiration down my spine. The way he looked at me it was as if I was smuggling drugs into Singapore.

"Aha." he remarked with glee, "can you please open the boot." And when he saw the heap he shouted, "So many ah... And you say a few only!"  

You Tube: Captain n Tennille, Love Will Keep Us Together by Desperado0001

The Tax Charges

So the rule was short and simple, "I have to charge tax. If you want a         receipt you must pay $15 for the durians. If you don't need a receipt, just pay $5."

It was quite obvious. The officer took me to his little hut, pulled out a huge *Blue OMO box from under the counter and signalled me to put the five dollar note into it. I looked inside. Full of 5 and 10 dollar bills.

"Lucky ah... we paid only 5 dollars!!!" my friends remarked as we hurried home.

"I paid!" I retorted. 

And, by the way, neither love nor durians have kept us together.  We went our separate ways and on the trip, I never even visited Pulau Tioman.

Durian, King of Fruit? Bah!


*Blue OMO is a detergent, well-advertised on TV and a household name those years.

Song: Love Will Keep Us Together by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. A Captain and Tennille international hit in 1975.

Images: Google.
Cartoons: C.W. Kee's Comic Strips (Malaysia).


There is no intention to discredit anyone in this posting. It is a true story and the situation was different in the 60s and 70s. It has changed much today.
C.W. Kee's Durian Cartoon (C)

Here's a post you can read as extra knowledge about durian power:



That was an interesting story of your love affair with the king of fruits.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

"Where do I begin
To tell the story of
How great our love can be
The sweet love story
That is older than the sea
The simple truth
About the love she brings to me
Where do I start..."

chakapchakap said...

"Love Will Keep Us Together" is a popular song written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, first recorded by Sedaka himself. Captain & Tennille's cover version was a worldwide hit in 1975.

The single rose to #1 on both the Easy Listening and pop charts, staying atop the latter for four weeks starting June 21, 1975. It also hit the top of the 1975 year-end chart. In the U.S. it was the best-selling single of 1975.

Edited from Wiki


Hi Andy

This is really an old happening associated with non other than the king of fruits. I am quite surprise that this great fruit and you do not go together well, rather strange unlike many many others whom are all enjoying that we usually see around.

Anyway, this is an interesting story that you remember most parts well. I am impressed by your ability to make adjustment even though you clearly do not enjoy the other part ie eating it that is great.

Perhaps you should go on and give it a try some day, I mean some day.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Rickie.
I can eat a few, may be four seeds maximum. Nothing more. I shall never forget the song and situation because every time I hear "Love Will Keep Us Together', I remember the durian chase in Mersing.

Power of music.


Dear Andy,

On my first visit to the Changi Village Amah's Market in August 1963, a friend and I stopped at a stall piled high with fruit just as the stall-holder sliced open a large fruit with his knife. "Phwaah!" said my friend, holding his nose. "Was that you, Allan?" Indignantly, I replied that it was not, and remarked that I thought it was he who had passed strong wind. The stall-holder was very amused by the effect his newly-sliced durian had had on us, and he proceeded to enlighten us on the dubious qualities of this exceptional fruit. On another occasion when I was swimming at Changi Point, the Magnolia man came along the beach with his motor-cycle and ice-box full of ices and cold drinks. I selected what appeared to be a vanilla iced-lolly only to discover, on sucking it, that it was a durian-flavoured lolly. The Magnolia man chuckled as I tossed it into the sea in disgust and bought an orange-flavoured lolly to take away the taste. All part of the learning experience of the innocent young Scotsman abroad.
Best wishes.

(Allan has more than a dozen stories to tell on this blog. Connect to his stories by clicking on his name above.)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks again Allan for another exciting anecdote. I hope readers will connect to read your adventures when you were on this Little Red Dot in the 1960s.

AUDIE NG said...

Hi Andy,

Story One:
You don’t know what you are missing. The best fruit and, do you know, the best type is called, Durian Gajah or Elephant Durian. When the elephant has swallowed the fruit and passes it out, the fruit goes through the body and the process of digestion makes it perfect for consumption. No kidding.

Story Two
One of our Silver Strings tours of Malaysia was organised by the late Bakar Alsagoff. His family name made it easy for us to cross the border from Singapore. We were in a chartered bus, so along the way at a roadside we stopped to buy durians to load into the bus. One of the roadies, while standing, tried to push the fruits below the seats. He accidently sat on the pile of durians, so you can imagine what happened. His bum was spiked with holes worse than those of a whiplash. He could never forget the incident for the rest of his life.

BILLY RIFE (From You Tube) said...

I wa 2 when that song came out. I was living in Germany when it came out, but got popular when I was 3. Lol! On the American Forces Network (AFN) on tv it was heard on a verity of tv shows and on AFN radio you couldn't go 1 day without turning the radio on weather at home or in the car without hearing it. It was my favourite and still is my favourite song of all time. My parents use to have Neil Sadaka's version on LP ani I have his version on CD. thanks for posting it.

sauquoit13456 said...

From a Top Fan:

In 1975 {August 16th} "Por Amor Viviremos" by Captain & Tennille entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; eventually it peak at #49 & spent 6 weeks on the Top 100.

On April 19th the English version entered the Top 100; and on June 21st that version reached #1 {for 4 weeks} & spent 23 weeks on the Top 100.

On August 27th 'Captain' Daryl Dragon will celebrate his 71st birthday; and Cathryn 'Toni' Tennille celebrated her 73rd birthday on May 8th.

stardustdays said...

thanks Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield wrote this in 1973 - it was the last song the long time song writing partners put together. They wrote it about their collaboration since their high school days. Neil Sedaka recorded this for his Sedaka's Back LP before Captain & Tennille did their version. from song facts website (part owner).

You Tube

chakapchakap said...

Daryl (Captain) Dragon was keyboard player for BEACH BOYS. Tenille briefly became keyboardist with them and was only "beach girl" in BEACH BOYS history.

Would have been nice if they could have come to Tioman or Mersing beach to play their song in 1975, then the 3 Musketeers would have enjoyed their durians all the more.

henri gann said...

Another great writeup Andy. There is no way I will not come back for more at Andy's blog after reading this :)


That's A Full-Time Job Chasing After Elephants n Their Poop !! Rock Steady Bro.

Still, Love Pricky Though but Mellowed With Age. Couldn't Eat As Much but Durian Always Reminds Me Of My Grand Ma. She Would Eat Durian Mashed With White Rice n Pour Fresh Coconut Milk Into That Combination. It's Strange To Me but That's The Way She Likes It !!!


Hi, Andy -
First of all, I have to find and elephant that swallowed a good quality durian before someone else.

Haha Cheerio.


I like the Ang Bah ones


Let's have durian bonding session.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

I don't mind durians, especially the quality ones but the smell in the house and car don't go away for days...:-) Very yucky la.

Sorry Michael, just seen your reply. Yes, how to find the elephant. 😆

Good idea Herry, maybe with the Silver Strings playing and we all eat durians? Thanks for the response. Enak bener.

Yes, I've seen the durian eaten this way. Thanks, Merlin. That's a food we have all forgotten about.