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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pulau Ubin

Over 2 Saturdays, with 1 more to come, a gang of us visited Pulau Ubin, the last bastion of the "ulu" way of living and an unspolit nature. The trip to Pulau Ubin involves a short 15 minutes trip ferry trip from Changi Ferry Terminal. The ferry ride cost only $2.50 each way and the ferry will only move off if there are 12 passengers. 

Pulau Ubin is now largely inhabited by a few storeowners who run bicycle rental kiosks and restaurants catering to the hordes of weekend visitors who goes there to soak in the fresh air and get some exercise. Pulau Ubin is also home to various students training facilities like the Outward Bound School, the NPCC and NCC training camps. There is also a small holiday resort which seems to be not very popular.

The welcome sign at the jetty after alighting from the ferry.

Most of the villagers have gone now leaving behind abandon houses such as this

A close up look at the sign on the wall

Pulau Ubin is covered with swamps. Probably a good 50% of it is swamp such as these.

Then there are the forest. Some are rubber plantations, some are just secondary forest and some are simply nature growing over all the abandoned houses

In the past, there used to be some vegetable farms but these have mostly shut down and now the only vegetable left is in this little place known as the Secret Garden where all sort of crops such as these pomelo can be found. Admission is free like every other place on the island.

One of the more well known place in Pulau Ubin is the Ketam Mountain Bike Park, a vast area specially set up for mountain bikers.  This is an advance bike riding park not for novice rider and the park is installed with artificial obstacles in addition to the natural trails.

On the way to the Ketam Mountain Bike park, there was this sign. A German Girl Shrine? Unfortunately, we didn't have time to locate the shrine. Story has it that in 1914 a German girl felled off a cliff and died. Her body was discovered the next day and buried at the beach. But the villagers kept seeing her ghost and eventually they moved her remains into a temple.

The Ketam Mountain Bike park is a 45ha park with about 10km of trails . We only covered a portion of about 1.7km and this is part of it. This portion comprised several sharp turns on a slope. 

The highlight of the mountain bike park is the panoramic view of the Serangoon Channel and  the Ketam Island which is what the park is named after. 

The most famous place on Pulau Ubin is Chek Jawa, a sea shore teaming with sea lifes. In the past, people are allowed to wade in the water and look at the creatures there but they were at the same time destroying the  sea life there so the Nparks has now built a wooden boardwalk and visitor has to view the creatures from the it. 

The boardwalk stretch from the entrance of Chek Jawa covering the swamp with plenty of mangroves and palms. 

There is a watch tower and this is the view of the island from the top of the watch tower.

Creatures we spotted from the board walk along the coast line include this fiddler crab. Actually, there were plenty of  the little creatures all over the shore.

Then we saw this bird. Not exactly sure what it is since I no naturalist. Is it a heron, an egret or a crane?

Slightly more easy to recognise is this hornbill.

And from Chek Jawa one can get a view of the Changi beach

Because Pulau Ubin is so small, one can access many beaches. Like this small little unnamed beach

Then there is the Mamam Beach where one can see a whole stretch of wooden stilts probably belonging to some fishermen.

After the Maman Beach, there is this heavily fortified Noordin beach meant to dissuade illegal immigrants.

While running around, we came to this stretch of dam fronting the sea. There was a hut there and plenty of rubbish along the whole stretch evidence of either fisherman or illegal immigrants?

The patch of swampland behind the dam

Pulau Ubin is known for its many quarry and this is one of them. I think this is the Balai Quarry.

And this is the Pekan Quarry

Pulau Ubin has some quirky signs. Like this one. Both sides are on a single pole at the front of a road. So if the road is close, why still ask people to use it?

Maybe it is tongue in cheek? Cos the people there seems to have a great sense of humour. Like this drink stall owner.

And this shop owner has a great quote from the great Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius

Even the ferry owner got in on the act with this charming little ditty

And of course there are the serious sign like this very obvious danger sign. And luckily for us, we didn't spot the hornet nest.

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