Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Cycling adventure at Ubin...
Pulau Ubin is an island at the North Eastern side of Singapore.
The name Pulau Ubin literally translates to Tile Island. According to nature walk/hiking buddy Melvin, there were several granite quarrying sites in the island. The granite was then transported to the main island for the buildings. Today, the quarries are filled with fresh water and now add to the panoramic scene of the island.
It is one of the last few areas in the country that is yet to be modernized. No towering housing units, no Prada or Vuitton, no foreign talent (sorry I had to make that joke! Hehe!). Instead, you will see wooden houses, lush green surroundings, wild animals roaming around freely. This is how Singapore was before it became the very modern city most people know it to be now. To me, it reminded me of the several trips I had to the countryside back in the Philippines. The simple houses, the relaxed environment, the freedom from city traffic and chaos - it was a nice place to be at on a Sunday morning.
Melvin, his friends David and Patrick, and I boarded one of the bumboats at the Changi Point Ferry Terminal around 9AM. After a very short 15-minute boat ride, we reached the Pulau Ubin jetty. Once you get off the bumboat and make your way out of the jetty, it feels like being transported back in time when Singapore had a "kampung" (village) way of living.
We rented a bike at the main village and began our day of exploring. I haven't been on a bike for several years so I had a very shaky start. Hehe! There is an island taxi one can rent, but there is really no fun in that, is there?
The first stretch of the cycling route was on concrete road, which somehow made it easy. After a while, the guys made a turn somewhere and we entered into rugged trail. This proved to be much, much more challenging. Hehe!
The reward for surviving was reaching the Chek Jawa Wetlands. Here, several different ecosystems may be observed. You have a portion covered with plants and trees. Further walking and you will reach a mangrove forested area. A little more walking and you will be led out into a view of the sea where you can see the main Singapore island. Hehe!
One will also find an authentic pre-war Tudor style home built in the 1930s. From the marker, the house is said to be built in the 1930s b then Chief Surveyor Langdon Williams as a holiday home. It now houses the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre.
By the time we were back at the Chek Jawa Information Kiosk, it was already noontime and the four of us were tired and starving. We started to make our way back. The trail going down was a bit more challenging and more steep. I know because I crashed. Haha! There was a warning about the slope being kind of steep. Still, I lost control of the bike and the next thing I know, I was going down very fast and I knew that I was already going to crash.
Thankfully, it was just some cuts and bruises on the knee, calves and arms and nothing major.
On the way back, we passed by one of the old quarries which now looks like some kind of lake. Hehe!
We were back at the main village past 12, and Melvin led the way to one of the restaus for a much-needed lunch. The guys took care of ordering - squid, clams, sweet potato leaves, and one more "exotic" dish. Hehe!
It was definitely a good Sunday morning activity.
By the way, if you're in SG and you like nature or if you just want to experience how Singapore was back in the 1960s, then you should go and make that trip to Pulau Ubin already.
According to Melvin, the government has plans to develop the island already. He even mentioned that there will be an MRT going to the island.