Pulau Ubin is home to Singapore’s last villages called kampongs and some say it’s how Singapore looked like back in the 1960’s. A 10 min bump boat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal and you are on the shore of a treasure house of wild plants and animals. According to folklore, hilly Ubin was formed when an elephant, a pig and a frog challenged one another to cross the waters to Johor, across the Straits of Johor. Whichever failed — and all three did — was turned to stone. The pig and elephant became Pulau Ubin, and the frog Pulau Sekudu (Frog Island), visible from Ubin’s southern coast.
Now and then when I feel like getting away for the City life in Singapore this is one of the places I venture off too. I rent a bike and once on the bike I just trundle off to see where the road takes me. And what a nice feeling to be surrounded by mother nature. As soon as your off the boat the bike stores are there trying to convince you to rent a bike from them. The prices differs from S$2 to S$10 for a day and so do the quality of the bikes. As you arrive you enter a tiny village with a few stores and some restaurants and from there a few paved roads fan out to coastal campsites and the Chek Jawa Wetlands.
I was on one of the paved roads when I spotted this Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) crossing the road. I was curious to see where it was heading and wanted to try to capture a good shot of it, so in a moment, my fare of snakes suddenly vanished. I followed the snake with my camera as it was elegantly finding its way up some plants alongside the road. At this time I had informed my friends about the snake. I probably yelled out loud, there is a snake, knowing myself right as I’m not particular found of snakes and if I can avoid seeing them I’m quite happy. Having my friends around made me feel a bit more safe being this close to it. The snake did not seem to be affected of us looking at it and it was just finding its way slowly up the trees. We where all excited and tried to get some shots of it, but being long and thin with a green color it was not easy as it was blending in with the nature.
Another animal I have bumped in to many times on the Island is the wild boar. Another interesting animal and looking at it I would not like to get to close to it.
Maps are placed in most of the junctions on the paved road telling you where you are and for you to get an overview of where you are heading. There is small paths of the main road that are interesting to follow if you feel like getting out of the main stream. You will pass houses on the way and most places is selling cold drinks and a few places you can hire a boat to see the Island from the sea.
It’s mainly the older generation still living on the Island and it’s not many of them left. They seam to have a laid back attitude and enjoy the quiet way of living.
The younger generation have moved to Singapore to find work and take the trip back to Ubin to visit family. As the 3 sisters I started to chat with on my last trips to the Island. They where down in the mangroves collecting Oysters.
I saw them when I was passing by and was curious to what they where collecting so started to talk to one of them. She excused herself for not speaking much English, but I could understand some of what she was telling. Her sister was opening the oysters and collecting them in her bucket. She told me they used to live on the Island but they had all moved to Singapore. Her parents had lived on the Island until they passed away not long ago. So they still use to come over at least once a month to collect oysters and spend the day on the Island.
It as fascinating to see how the women opened the oysters and handled them. I meet the sister I talked with again a bit later in the day, standing on the side of the road with her trolley, looking up in the trees. She saw me and tried to show me a durian tree but for me it was hard to spot it. So I asked where her sisters where and she told me they where down in the field collecting some vegetables. I smiled friendly to her and wished her a good day and continued my journey.
Alongside the road you find the lotus ponds and I like to stop and look at the dragonfly whenever I can spot them.
The chek Jawa Wetlands is another interesting place to visit. Chek Jawa is made up of 7 interdependent ecosystems – namely, its coastal forest, mangrove forest, its rocky shore, the sandy shore, sand bar, sea grass lagoon and the coral rubble. Within each of the ecosystems, there is an abundance of natural creatures, rare plants, local and migratory birds.
At house number 1 you have the visitor center. There is a boardwalk out on the sea, another around the wetland and a tower if you are interested in walking up to look at the view. The tower becomes quite shaky if there is lots of people up at the same time, so I would recommend to get up when the crowd i less.
Shaped like a boomerang, Pulau Ubin (Granite Island) is situated just off the north-eastern corner of mainland Singapore. A trip to Pulau ubin is a journey back in time, back to basic, back to the nature and perfect for a day trip.
How to Get There: Bumboats to Pulau Ubin leave from Changi Point Ferry Terminal when 12 passengers are ready to board, cost 2.50 Singapore dollars each, or charter the whole boat for 30 dollars. Bumboats to and from Pulau Ubin, and public transport on the island operate from sunrise to sunset
Getting Around: You can get around by foot, rent a bike or hire a taxi.
Dining: Some seafood restaurant are located at the main village as soon as you get off the boat.
Staying: There are basic campsites on the island (campers have to register at the park kiosk by the Ubin jetty), and you have the Celelstial Ubin Beach Resort close to the jetty.