Saturday, 2 May 2015

Pulau Ubin Island

My last trip to Pulau Ubin was way before my younger brother was born. Now that he is already 25 years old, I had not set my foot there since then. I had the company of one of my girlfriend to visit the island for photo taking. We were pretty early on a Friday morning basically to avoid the crowd as it was Labour Day on 1st May. We squeezed our way through and an uncle was asking: "How many of you?" We said 2. And he told us to follow him. His bumboat had enough room for the last 2 of us so we were lucky without having to queue at all. It was a short journey of about 15 mins. Good to be early because the bicycle rental shops had early bird special. And the auntie said: "Early bird I give you cheap." My friend commented: "Early bird still so expensive?!" You could imagine renting the bicycle at a normal rate without being early. We got the bike for $10 for the whole day. Not too bad at least you get to choose a better bike.

It was great to be early as the air was cool and the sun wasn't too warm. You could literally see the dew droplets on the vegetation around you, making it a perfect photo shoot. We took the eastern route and had our first stop at a pond. 

Our objective was to visit this pond and Chek Jawa. First objective met and everything went as planned. The increasing number of visitors started coming in and it was getting crowded as we left the pond to explore other places. We headed into Sensory Trail. The ride in was stoney, but the view was very beautiful and natural. 

There was a herb garden inside and entry was free. It grew herbs that we had eaten in our daily lives, and due to being too urbanized, most of us do not know how the actual plant really looked like. Frankly, I had only seen it on books.

We headed back out onto the main road and continued our journey towards Chek Jawa. There were many people walking and cyclists along the way, and most of them were heading to Chek Jawa, which was the main attraction on the island. We passed a very eye cataching tree, which had became the trademark of Ubin island. You would not missed it because it was a very huge tree. Upon arriving at Chek Jawa, a group of wild boars welcomed us. They were resting beside the hut where our bicycles were parked.

Bikes were not allowed in Chek Jawa so we locked it outside the gate before proceeding in. It was a short walk before you reached the information kiosk. We headed in and there it was, Chek Jawa. Tide was high on this day and we coud not catch the sight of any sea creatures. Or else, there would be more interesting photos. The broadwalk out to the sea was not too sunny, where you could also see planes departing Singapore. I did managed to capture some sceneries of the sea. 

As we proceed inland towards the mangroves, the more challenging photo shoot awaited us. The mangrove was filled with tiny creatures. We sat, instead of squat or kneel, along the wooden walkways every 50 to 100 metres to photograph the shots as it was pretty tedious capturing the perfect moment. It was an eye opener on the lives of tiny animals of the mangrove world. 

We spent almost 2 hours shooting these little creatures. It was quite an achievement for us. We are glad! It was past lunchtime and we decided to eat something before proceeding to the other side of the island. We had covered the eastern route leading to Chek Jawa, whereas for the northern route which headed to the NCC campsite, we skipped it. It was because the route that we saw before us was an uphill slope. We were exhausted and needed to recharge our energy. Th slope would definitely kill us... Haha!! We went back to the jetty for lunch where there were shops and eating houses around. But due to the number of people flocking in, waiting time for a table was about 2 hours. We gave up and decided to go for the easy preparation food selling in one of the shop. We had instant microwaved food, packed rice with lemon fish. It tasted not too bad, maybe because we were hungry. 

After lunch we headed west for further exploration. We passed the butterfly hill and saw many butterflies hovering around. It was a hill therefore we gave it a missed too. The western route was an easy route. There were also beautiful sightings along the way.

Suddenly rain came and we seeked shelter at a hut named Bubut Hut. We waited for awhile as the rain was getting lighter. It was rain from passing clouds but the drizzle went on for some time. After checking the map, we decided to park our bikes and hike up the route next to the hut to view Kekek Quarry. We shared an umbrella as it was light drizzle, main protection was not getting our heads and cameras wet. It was a fanatstic hike uphill with stones and protruding trunks along the way. The path up was steep and there were ropes alongside where you could use it for support. The view at the top was beautiful. But if you had seen a few of the quarries before this, it was more or less similar. 

On our way down we managed to capture shots of Cicadas. The noise maker of the jungle! Cicadas were interesting insects where they lived underground for 17 years before coming onto land, then climb their way up the trees to change into adulthood by separating themselves from their original shell. Their wings only appeared after they were out of the shell. And the casing were left stuck to the trunks of the trees.

We made our last exploration at the Bike park before heading back. We passed the iconic drinks stall that was shown everywhere on the internet. Everyone could clearly identify it when they rode passed it.

It was an easy bike route but because we were exhausted, slopes were the main obstacles for us. The mountain bike path were pretty dangerous because of the uneven stones and sand. Our buttocks hurt after that. We could hear light thunders above us so we headed back to jetty after this. We had covered almost the whole island, east and west. It was a great and wonderful experience!!

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