09 August 2005

A Visit To Pulau Ubin

I have not written for more than a month now. Chris very kindly informed me that my blog had spider webs growing on it. "Guess that's why it is called the World Wide Web", I thought to myself. I shall not bore you with the details of my 'disappearance act' here - it is actually quite interesting, meaning that I feel it is worthy of a separate post which I will do in due course. (Patience, Chris). But briefly, besides being preoccupied with other more pressing issues, I had another reason for not writing for some time - my computer had difficulty connecting to the Internet. After personally carrying out about a week of diagnostic tests and troubleshooting, I finally managed to identify the cause to be a noisy Singtel line which carried my ADSL signals. Singtel finally rectified the problem on 6 Aug 05 and I am back in action again.

So this post is part of my BackLOG (hehe, no pun intended).

On 24 Jul 05, my family of four visited Pulau Ubin. It was a trip organised by the Sports Club of my wife's office. We took a ferry (the more correct terminology is a bumboat) from Changi Village ferry terminal at about 9 am. The ferry could take a maximum of 12 passengers. It would normally not leave the terminal until it was filled to capacity. However this was not a problem that morning as there were scores of trip participants in addition to the usual Sunday crowd.

No one in my family can remember ever visiting Ubin although we have come across much media information about this idyllic island before. The media has always emphasized that this island is one of the last countryside places in Singapore where one can enjoy peace and serenity away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore's hectic city life. The nature lovers have always been clamouring that the island be left in its present pristine natural condition. They do not want the island to undergo too much development and commercialisation like Sentosa. If it were so, the island would lose it main attraction that is its natural charm and become just another tourist attraction.

My personal impression of the trip was that it was indeed quite an experience for all of us. For example, I can't remember when I last did a 4-hour walk, much less my younger son. At one point, he complained that he can't feel his legs! But the trek must go on for there was no transport provided - we had chosen to go on foot rather than on bicycles and daddy had left the car at home. It didn't help when it started to pour.

When we reached Noordin beach in the 'Noorth' of the island, we could see Malaysia across the straits. We even felt that we were in Malaysia - our phones started receiving smses welcoming us to Malaysia. We were careful not to call each other indiscriminately then because we would be charged double trunk call rates if we did - once for routing the call back to Singapore because the called party was a Singapore subscriber and another time for re-routing the call back to Malaysia where the called party had been falsely detected to be roaming. Yes it was that complicated. Even on the idyllic island, we could not run away from this technological intrusion which was evident from the ringing of mobile phones every now and then... unless we had purposely left them at home.

On the walk back to the jetty, we visited a prawn farm. The prawns were intensively bred in huge cement tanks some distance away from the sea. This high-tech agro-industry was set up on the island only about 2 years ago. If the industry proved to be successful, it would be able supply relatively cheaper live prawns for the local market.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience for all of us but we are not so sure if we would want to make the 4-hour walk again anytime soon. Maybe the next time we visit the island, we would either be on bicycles or on one of those 'PU' registered vans which abound on the island.


Ria Tan said...

I came across your blog entry in my daily search for what people think and say about Ubin.

Thank you for sharing about your trip to Ubin! Glad you found it interesting.

We are among those people you mentioned who really like Ubin the way it is and hope that it can left as the last unspoilt island in Singapore :-)

Hope you've seen and felt a little of what we find so special about Ubin.

I've posted a link to your entry on the focus ubin website http://www.focusubin.org/

Victor said...

Thank you very much for your comments, Ria. I feel both honoured and surprised that I have a distinguished visitor who not only noticed my post but also provided a link to my blog. My close friend Chris joked that one day, I might become as famous as the 'Sarong Party Girl', hee.

In fact, it was Chris who notified me of your comments. Chris has so far been the lone regular reader of my blog, and I of his. At first, I thought he was only pulling my leg. We do this to each other very often as part of the horse play which draws us closer to each other. His claim was totally out of my expectation.

Looking at the weblink that you have given, I deduce that you are likely to be the same Ria who is the co-project editor of the 'Chek Jawa Guidebook'. Incidentally, on the same trip to Pulau Ubin, I purchased a copy of the book from an elderly resident of the island. Tied to the pillar outside his wooden house near the jetty, was an A4-sized notice announcing that the book was available for sale there. Being a nature lover myself, I can't resist the temptation to buy a copy and at the same time take a curious peek into his humble abode. Sad to say, his type of dwelling is a fast disappearing sight, even on the island itself.

Finally, I must say that the way in which your book is being marketed on Pulau Ubin is as charming and as traditional as the island itself. :)

Ria Tan said...

Victor, you embarass me with all this high praise. I'm just a grubby girl who is happiest knee deep in mud chasing after crabs :-)

I'm glad you liked the Chek Jawa guidebook. It was done with a whole bunch of other people who fell in love with CJ and felt it should be properly showcased.

I'm also glad you bought it at Ubin. Then more money goes to the CJ volunteer programme (all profits go there) and to the Ubin folks who sell it. On the mainland, 60%of the money goes to the bookshop.

We've asked the Yeos to sell it for us at Ubin because they used to live on CJ itself. We felt this was only right. The famous pig was the pet of Uncle Choo who is member of that family.

One of the many reasons why I love Ubin is that I never ceased to learn there. Not just about the flora and fauna, but also the people who have lived their lives there.

Chris Sim said...

Thanks for sharing your adventure in Ubin, Victor. Your account on the 4-hour walk and how your junior couldn't feel his legs is rather amusing :))

Other than the 4-hour walk (we did worse during NS time), the prawn farm and the humble abode of the elderly resident, what exactly did you see. What? Only two grainy pictures? I half expect to see some of those beautiful pictures found in the book you bought. I've never been to Ubin and your account, though interesting, is not about to convince me to make a visit anytime soon...