Sunday, 30 November 2014

Stone Island of Ubin

Pulau Ubin (Granite Stone Island)
An island full of granite or stone scattering around the island. It made up of four smaller islands separated by tidal rivers. Early settlements were mainly from Malay villagers of Kampong Kallang near Kallang River was founded by Encik Endut Senin who sought the permission of the Sultan (Kampung Glam Palace) to live on the island, which at that time, had no name. Fifty other Malay families later joined him to form a thriving Malay community at Kampung Melayu, Kampung Sungei Durian and Kampung Surau. 
With less than a hundred villagers who live life at their own leisurely pace, Pulau Ubin might be the last Kampong in Singapore.
As the population grew larger, the original inhabitants and the new settlers to Pulau Ubin soon had to deal with the issue of maintaining social order on the island. The original inhabitants resented the arrival of more and more newcomers. Furthermore, a number of Chinese immigrants to the island were members of Chinese secret societies and they brought with them their rivalries from Singapore. There were frequent clashes as each secret society claimed to be the “kepala” (head) in Pulau Ubin. The violence ended only after the Japanese occupied the island during the Second World War.
Changi Point Ferry Terminal 
It remains largely authentic, unspoilt and rustic, right down to the occasional whiffs of wildlife. With an area of 10.2 square kilometres, this boomerang-shaped 1,020-hectare island sits just off the north eastern corner of mainland Singapore, in the Straits of Johor.
Nature lovers flock here on weekends as Pulau Ubin supports a rich ecosystem teeming with flora and fauna as well as threatened species of birds.
Point of Departure
Getting to Pulau Ubin is just a 10-minute bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal.
Bumboat Ride Price to Ubin
Price per trip - S$2.50, Surcharge for bringing Bicycle - S$2. Max. of passenger is 12 per boat and distance to Pulau Ubin is 10 minutes boat ride. You can bring your own foods and water bottles to island and furthermore there are shops, drinks stall (wooden hut) near Chek Jawa and restaurant near public jetty sell snacks & cooked foods and drinks too. Wear comfortable shoes, bring along urmbrella, bring your own medicine just in case you need it.

After we reached the ferry terminal, it took us 10 minutes wait for our turns to board a bumboat that carries only 12 passengers per trip. We were lucky as the boatman called out 2 more person as we were only 2 person among them (some of them bring 4 or more friends). So they have to wait for another bumboat.
On a Bumboat ride
Hopped on the bumboat was a tricky and unbalance due to water rushes under it, pushing the boat up and its like riding on top of the wave would make me fall backward if not careful. It took 10 minutes ride to Pulau Ubin. 
 Pulau Ubin Public Jetty
 Long bridge of Ubin
Pulau Ubin Jetty
Latest Notices
1. Noordin Campsite is closed until further notice due to erosion of the shoreline. Thank you for your understanding.
2. To book the Assembly Area, please visit If electricity is required, please contact Daily Life Renewable Energy Pte Ltd at 6295 2522 (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm) or
3. Part of the boardwalk at Chek Jawa Wetlands (from Floating pontoon towards House no. 1) will be closed for upgrading works from 27 July 2015 to end October 2015. View map
4. Jalan Jelutong is closed for repairs to vehicles only. It can still be accessed by foot or bicycles. Repair works will be completed between end-November and early December 2015.
5. Upgrading works at certain toilets and shelters will be carried out at various time periods. Please click here for the schedule.
6. Boat fares to and fro Pulau Ubin have been raised from S$2.50 to S$3.00 by the service provider as of 7 September 2015.
Ubin Signage
Pulau Ubin was once a bustling settlement, with a school and other amenities. Among its interesting historical sites is House No. 1 near Chek Jawa. There are also temples and shrines rich in history.  The intertidal flat comprises coral reefs, which are home to extensive marine wildlife, such as sea hares, sea squirts, octopuses, starfish, sand dollars, sponges and cuttlefish.
Rustic Kampung houses
In a corner of a rustic island off mainland Singapore, a secret wonderland of nature stayed hidden from locals for centuries. The natural attractions of Chek Jawa were discovered, ironically, only when the area where it sits was slated for redevelopment in 2000. Chek Jawa is an intertidal area, with some of its eco-systems only appearing at low tides of 0.5-metre and below.When Singaporeans realised what had been uncovered - a 100-hectare wetlands teeming with wildlife - they flocked to the area and plans for redevelopment were halted.
Old Civil Service Chalets
Tucked away on the eastern shore of Ubin on its own beach was the old Civil Service Chalets. Comprising several chalets with modern facilities and an old bungalow with more basic facilities and bunk beds. There are also barbecue pits and a large shelter for group activities. The chalets were shut down in 2001 with the pending reclamation of Ubin's east coast.
After a long period of closure, the chalets were reopened and are now run as Celestial Ubin Beach Resort and is open to the public.
Chek Jawa Wetlands
It was an accidental discovery that has since benefited thousands of visitors to this treasure trove of biodiversity, where six major habitats meet and mix.The Chek Jawa wetlands are fantastic. The mangrove forests are the lungs of the earth and here you can get up close and really personal, without any human damage, because of the magnificent board walk which takes you through a great viewing platform. Bikes not allowed, just park them in the bike rack at the front, and enjoy the bird calls, the cicadas, the butterflies, and the views. The road with humps, bumps, and cemented road, rough roads, massive mangroves, the beach, the sight, the fresh air with no haze!.
Toilet leading to Visitor Centre
Once built an ancient pre-war structure with bricks and was then called the English Bungalow/Cottage as the House No. 1. A peaceful and spacious home under pine groves trees, with its own long old jetty, it has a great view of Pulau Sekudu (known as Frog Island) within the mainland of Singapore. The two-storey building has a lovely airy verandah and comes complete with fireplace with typical British style of old and built in the 1930's in the English Lytyenseque or Tudor style.
 Chek Jawa Visitor Centre (House no.1)
According to the sources, it was built in the 1930s by the then Chief Surveyor, Langdon Williams, as a holiday retreat. The architecture is Tudor-style, with adaptations to the tropical climate, and is similar to the cottages built in tea plantations during the British colonial era. Other accounts, it was said be originally be the vacation home for the resident British medical officer. It is said the home was later taken over by a rubber company and the local rubber estate manager stayed to this house..
Closeup: Chek Jawa Visitor Centre
The bungalow was granted conservation status on 1 December 2003 by URA. And in 2006, the work was completed to restore it to its original. Replacements for the damaged roof, wall and floor tiles were carefully sourced and the massive timber beams were treated to prevent termite infestation. It now serves as the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre, commonly known as Tudor Style house or House No. 1.
Side view: Chek Jawa Visitor Centre
While the House was meticulously restored, the jetty in front of it was rebuilt and now a long wooden walkway to view the scenery. The restrooms were originally housed for the servants back then. If you want to visit Chek Jawa, go by van or rent a bicycle if you can't walk a long distance. The distance to walk from Pulau Ubin jetty to Chek Jawa mangrove/coastal board walk is 3.3km or more including taking photos along the way. So I did it.
Upon leaving Chek Jawa, I remember there's some hidden secret lies in, the 4 unknown tombstones, frozen in time but visitors just walk by without a second glance to see. Wild boars aplenty and roaming in the leafy forest off the dirt path but occasionally sidle up to visitors. Visitors tread on a boardwalk and mount the 20m-tall Jejawi Tower for panoramic views.
Brick Fireplace
The House has a working chimney! The brick of the fireplace is boarded up due to the rare bats (Pouched tomb bats) have decided to make it their home. The water tower near House No. 1 was left untouched as there are rare species of bats have settled there and now I don't even know where it is now. Oh yes, this brick fireplace is similar to one of my uncles' house in UK, London where my family and I sat near the fireplace to keep warm during Autumn and Winter season that was in the year 1989. I still keep the old photo of his house.
 Cyclists and visitors' rest house
There is a rest place or shade wooden house for cyclists and visitors after a long walk and cycling under the humid and hot weather. This is the place where they can buy drinks at the wooden house and rest for a while before they continue to their journey. Surrounding the wooden house full of plants and pine trees.
Hidden Well
If you walked along shady field among the mangroves, you will see a hidden well that covered and sealed up.with metal poles to prevent visitors or cyclists from walk over.or look down the well as it's too dangerous for any kids running around. It is out of bound.
Storage or toilet?
The aluminium storage or toilet is seen among the brushes and it was managed by NParks.
 Dead leaves lying around
A long concrete staircase covered with dead leaves as if no one or owner of the house does not even bother to sweep the fallen or dead leaves at the staircase for a long time. This due to because the weather climates in Singapore will change any time of the day especially raining or dry season during hot sunny day. The tree's leaf that surrounds the house would fall on the ground during dry climate who knows. A large batch of fallen leaves (from cannonball tree) on the ground just below my block as there are a few cannonball tree around my block.
 To NPCC camp
 Kampong house
Closeup: Kampung house
An elderly woman who lives in this house with her two dogs when we strolled along the path and passed by and greeted by her dogs, saw elderly woman busying with her chores. So I might not disturb her and carried on walking along the footpath.
NParks trail guide - 42-year old Kampung house
Two years ago in 2012, a huge 90 year-old "durian tree" crushed the 40-year-old traditional kampung house (as above) as it was featured as tourist spot in the National Park's walking trail guide because it was so special and it lies within the coconut trees and peaceful surroundings. This house belongs to the owner - Madam Puasa Ahmad age 80, mostly stayed on the mainland with her son since her husband died four years ago. Luckily, there was nobody at home. Her two bedrooms in the three-bedroom house were wrecked, but the outdoor kitchen and generator were unaffected. This house was special to her and it was built by her late husband. She lives alone in this kampung house which is on a state land and it is peaceful, more comfortable living place and doesn't worry about the bill. It holds the fond memories of her husband in this house. This photo was taken in 2014 after the "crushed tree" incident and it had rebuilt again after the durian tree were cleared by the authorises. This is the third time of fallen trees especially a Durian tree who damaged the kampung house when it became weak over a long period of time.
Elephant in Pulau Ubin 1991
Remember the elephant that escaped from Johor and made its way, ended up in Pulau Ubin in 1991. But before this, there was another elephant found at Pulau Kekong in 1990.
On 29 May 1990, a national servicemen was on Pulau Tekong, spotted a family of three elephants while he was out for training in the jungles of the island. They seemed to have had a happy stay on Pulau Tekong island, enjoying the plentiful food available to them, in the form of their favourite meal - coconut shoots.
 Recreation station
Rental Bicycle
A dog is taking a nap on the ground as if it tends the owner's house and the bicycles. Lots of activities consisted of educational workshops, talks and performances at the wayang stage. It focused on teaching "keen" participants on how to conserve natural resources and to appreciate the beauty of nature.
 Pulau Ubin Dogs
Pulau Ubin dogs are friendly and not aggressive as the furry dogs live to the island for a long time. Villagers would take of ubin dogs and feed them for as long as they live. Visitors also bring dog foods from mainland Singapore when they visit to the island as seen in this photo above.
These Ubin dogs will accompany you on solo bicycle rides, strolling along, or run alongside your vans and keep you company on the whole island. However, Ubin dgos can get tiring and these furry dogs are often seen taking a quiet nap to recharge their paws and energy for another day of the glorious island life and hours of playing under the sun. In addition, Ubin dogs are vaccinated to protect them against deadly viruses such as Distemper.
Stage show
When there is a show on the stage be it wayang shows, a Teochew operas & Getai (sometimes staged), music performance..etc, perform daily all year round. Watch and listening to the music performance organised by organisation groups from mainland Singapore yearly
 Pulau Ubin Visitor centre
Back view: Stilt house by the sea
It is so refreshing to live in that house by the sea instead of the forested area. Typical fishing villages aka stils house and the boat people living by the sea. 
Front view: Stilt house by the sea
Fishing boat is moored beside the stilt house (building on high ground). Tougher planks were used to re-build the walkways to make them safer. The wooden planks making up the walkways that link the stilt houses had rotted over the years. Some collapsed. Some villagers even had to abandon house and to rebuilt another house at different location.
A boat is left on the shore
The boat people living on stilt house by the sea. They began making their living from fishing and today, they have adapted their lifestyle between nomadic and sedentary, housed in villages, attap houses by the sea.
 Low tide walkways
 Back to boat jetty
After a long walk, we felt tired and it's time for us to hurry back to public jetty and it was getting late. We miss the German shrine and other onshore trails but next time we will be back again.
Spotted bum boat coming
Bum boat finally arrived
After waiting for a few minutes at the public jetty, a bum boat finally arrived, much to my relief as the sun goes down soon,
Man fishing near Ferry Terminal
Upon reaching at ferry terminal at Changi Point, I spotted an elderly man fishing near ferry terminal from where I walked on the footbridge. We then headed off to the Changi Point for our hearty dinner before heading back to home.

1 comment:

  1. great article. heartening that there are folks who still care abt these 'old' places - used to go here often. but not been here for years. keep up with the good work!!