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In 1984, this little hill was a rubber estate with no water source or electricity. Helen and David hired villagers who had helpful local knowledge and skills. They dug, planted, watered and fertilised all morning. Then ate lunch by the cool river. This was just on the weekends, they had full-time jobs during the week.

THE BEGINNING

All the rubber trees on the 12-acre lot were removed, and durian seedlings were planted. Lovingly developed over decades, Helen, David and their five children always referred to their home as the Dusun or the Orchard. When it became apparent that others loved the Dusun experience as much as we did, we opened it to the public in 2009.

RESPONSIBILITY

Some call it responsible tourism, others call it eco-friendliness – but it’s what we have always done here. The Dusun still hires from nearby villages, but we now also receive applicants from other villages through our grapevine. Our guided jungle trek and traditional massages are designed to raise awareness of Malaysia’s beautiful natural and cultural heritage and support local traditions and communities.

We don’t need pesticides as the fruit trees are quite resilient, and our vegetable patches are mainly organic. Chicken shit is a favourite for fertiliser, and our guests produce huge amounts of compost. All wastewater goes back into the ground and trees, so we buy eco-friendly cleaning products from the Malaysian non-profit Truly Loving Company (TLC). Our plastic-free soap and shampoo are handmade and customised for us by the talented people at Kinder Soaps in KL.

ETHOS

We don’t need pesticides as the fruit trees are quite resilient, and our vegetable patches are mainly organic. Chicken shit is a favourite for fertiliser, and our guests produce huge amounts of compost. All wastewater goes back into the ground and trees, so we buy eco-friendly cleaning products from the Malaysian non-profit Truly Loving Company (TLC). Our plastic-free soap and shampoo are handmade and customised for us by the talented people at Kinder Soaps in KL.

The contractors always found it amusing that we’d bellyache about cutting even just one tree to make way for a house. We also cut very little into the hill; instead, we designed houses to fit into the landscape.

Life on the Dusun may be surprising to some, but it is designed for those who enjoy fresh air, lush greenery, jungle views, lingering private meals, peaceful strolls and tranquil swims. All accompanied by the wonderfully uncoordinated orchestra of the birds, crickets and frogs.

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