Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Pulau Ubin - Close to Nature ,an Island in Singapore

Sometime you just want to be close to nature. So if you are in Singapore and quite tired of visiting well organised and highly urbun places with every modern facility possible then why not try Pulau Ubin
Pulau means island. Pulau Ubin is a small island (10.19 km²) situated in the north east of Singapore, to the west of Pulau Tekong. With few hundred villagers , its one of the last rural area left in Singapore. It was famous for its Granite Quarry. It shows the real picture of a tropical island with its natural vegetation and features.
Pulau Ubin is a great day trip spent walking or pedaling through rustic roads under swaying coconut palms, exploring shady trails in overgrown rubber plantations, checking out secluded beaches and flourishing mangroves, a chance to see the mangrove life closely. On Ubin,  air is fresher and sights and sounds so soothing to the soul.

How to Get There : Pulau Ubin is off Changi Point, accessible via Changi jetty (public bumboats) and Marina Country Club (guests of Ubin Lagoon Resort).
Take a bumboat from Changi Jetty (now called Changi Point Ferry Terminal), which is near the Changi Village Hawker Centre.
To get to the bumboats, go down the stairs at the Terminal. This Terminal also serves those going to Penggerang, Johor. So be sure to join the correct queue for Pulau Ubin.
Cost of the bumboat: $2.50/person Maximum 12 passengers. Just join the queue and the boats will leave when they have 12 persons. If there are less than 12 persons, you might have to wait a little while until enough people turn up. Or you can pay $30 and go straight away.
Bumboat operators run from sunrise to sunset. You can make special arrangements with the operators for trips after dark.

Getting Around:

Strolls : Ubin is ideal for leisurely strolls. There are well-marked roads and trails to explore. Stop by the NParks Information Kiosk near Ubin jetty for a free map and information on the latest happenings.

Cycling: (Recommonded) The best way is to enjoy Ubin is throw cycling. People bring their own bikes here through boat but if you don’t want to carry you bike then need not to worry you can just hire bikes there. You will get the rental shops for bike just after getting down from the boat. he friendly bicycle rental people can tell you more about Ubin and advise you on where and how to go to various places of interest.

Taxi: Taxi or cabs are also available for hire . Taxi ,comprising panel vans that can take up to 12 persons. As well as passenger cars for 4-6 persons. During the weekends, plenty of drivers wait at Ubin jetty for potential passengers. These can be hired by the hour as well as for specific destinations. Many of the drivers are experienced and can bring you to special places or to look for special things. Rates are negotiated before the journey begins. Van drivers will give you their name cards so you can call or page them on your handphones when you are ready to go home, or you can pre-arrange a pick-up time upon your arrival.
But I will not advise the younger people for this as i told you bike is the best way

What to See :

Get down from boat and rent a cycle (bike) for yourself. Take some guidance from the shop itself if you have any question in mind. Go to information centre first and take the free map.
The island is safe.. The ride is suitable especially for those who are clueless about Ubin. Don't worry if you're a novice cyclist. As long as you can balance yourself on a bike, you can certainly join the ride!
With maps, Signboards and information you can easily explore the island.
But you can also ride with a trained guides to discover the nature and heritage of Ubin , else , Information and map are enough.

Attractions :

Bin Jetty: Your first stop with a good view of Ubin Town,Chek Jawa to the east. Stop by the NParks Info Kiosk at the exit to get a free pamphlet of Ubin and advice from the friendly NParks officers on how to spend your day on Ubin.

Ubin Town: Has eating places, bicycle rental shops and provision shops that stock almost everything you could possibly need on your daytrip. Highlights include a wayang stage with a colourful history and a little shrine.

Heading toward North: The Chek Jawa boardwalk is now open any tide. Also explore farms, fruit plantations, kampongs, rubber plantation being taken over by the forest to the two beaches on the northern shore of Ubin.

 Heading toward East: sensory trail, mangroves before rejoining the northern route.
 Heading toward West: quarry views, bukit puaka and mangroves.

Chek Jawa :  
Chek Jawa is called as the jewel of Ubin. A previous coral reef 5,000 years ago, Chek Jawa can be said to be virtually unspoilt, with a variety of marine wildlife comparable to other islands, such as sea hares, sea squirts, octopuses, starfishes, sand dollars, fishes,sponges, cuttlefishes and nudibranches.
The beauty of Chek Jawa is that several different ecosystems can be seen in one small area. These ecosystems and the plants and animals found there are no longer common in Singapore. They are also fast disappearing elsewhere in the world.

Coastal Hill Forest
The hill overlooking Chek Jawa is covered with trees and plants that shelter and feed a variety of animals. Many plants and animals in this coastal forest are no longer commonly seen on mainland Singapore. Some of the rare birds you may spot include the Oriental pied-hornbill and the Red junglefowl. The liquid bubbling song of the Straw-headed bulbul is often heard. Among the beautiful and unusual trees you may see are the Critically Endangered Delek air tree and the Seashore nutmeg. The new tower gives a panoramic view of Chek Jawa.

The mangroves of Chek Jawa have many interesting plants and animals. Mangrove trees have unusual shapes and properties as they are adapted to being covered in seawater at high tide and to grow in soft mud. The new boardwalk into the mangroves bring you close to these trees as well as the marvellous Nipah palms. Fiddler crabs and mud skippers are the highlight of a visit to the mangroves.
Rocky shore
Chek Jawa is among the few places left with a natural rocky shore, gravel beach and other interesting rock formations. At low tide, we can have a closer look at some of the strange animals that live here, including barnacles, crabs and fierce shell-drilling snails. Under the rocks are even more amazing animals such as living cowries, sea stars and fast flat crabs.

Sandy shore and sand bar
The sandy shore teems with tiny crabs which, if undisturbed, go about their amusing antics at low tide. The sand bar is the backbone of Chek Jawa and provides a home for all manner of intriguing creatures. The Common sea star is a must-see with visitors, and fortunately, it is plentiful on Chek Jawa. Sadly, it is no longer common elsewhere in Singapore. The sand dollar is another intriguing creature to examine. The sand bar is also a popular rest stop for shorebirds that fly in from as far away as Siberia. Overhead, majestic birds of prey hunt for fishes in the sea.

Seagrass lagoon
A calm, shallow lagoon lush with seagrasses and seaweeds form behind the sand bar. In the seagrass meadows, a rich variety of marine creatures shelter during the low tide. First-time visitors are often stunned by the carpet anemones which are bigger than your face and come in a stunning variety of colours. At some times of the year, the sea grass may be dotted with colourful sea cucumbers. Other sea grass dwellers include secretive crabs and snails. A lucky visitor may also encounter sea hares, squids and mantis.

Coral Rubble Area
The coral rubble area near the front beacon is probably the richest part of Chek Jawa and also the most fragile. Rarely exposed, even at low tide, this area shelters delicate sea creatures that prefer to be submerged most of the time. The big red Knobbly sea star is a favourite! Others include sponges in bewildering shapes and colours, delicate fan worms and even living corals! Octopuses, seahorses, branches and colourful flatworms are some of the other amazing residents of this special part of Chek Jawa.

No poaching please
Please do not remove any wildlife from the shore. Poaching of hard corals and other sealife threatens this precious shore.
No cycling on the Chek Jawa boardwalk as the 'planks' are made of concrete and cycling will fracture them. Bicycles are to be parked at designated bicycle park area near Punai Hut about 50m from the Visitor Centre (ask for a bicycle lock if you are renting your bicycles on Ubin)

What to do:
1. Leisure Stroll
3.Mountain Biking - Pulau Ubin is home to one of Singapore's best mountain bike trails, Ketam Mountain Bike Park which was built in 2007. The trail is approximately 8 kilometers long and features a wide range of terrain ranging from open meadows to thick jungle. There are numerous steep but short climbs and descents. The trail is well-marked with signs indicating the difficulty level of each section.
The vast majority of the mountain bikers that ride this trail bring their own bike, although the rental bikes on the island can also be used.
4. Discovering the unique life of Chek Jawa
5.You can bring your picnic with you as there are several picnic huts you will find on your way.
6.Ubin are also enjoyed by sailing and canoeing enthusiasts.
7.Stargazing – Because of the clear sky its famous among stargazers. They camp there sometime.
8. A nice place for Photographers and painters.

Travelling Tips:-
1. Wear light cloths – as you will feel the heat and sweat after cycling .if you are too prone to sweat then you can keep a spare T-shirt.
2. Sun Screen – keep you sun screen lotion or cream,
3.Cap and Sun Glasses
4. Lock for bikes – though the island is very safe and the rent shop people will say you to leave your bike at the stand without lock while site visit but its better you keep locks with you.
5. Mosquito Repellent Cream/lotion – It is a must thing to pack with you before heading for Ubin as this island is having tiny mosquitos because for its wilderness.
6. Keep some small food bites and water with you as while biking you might need some refreshments
7. Wear sports shoes.
8. You can keep umbrella .Though you can find plenty of shelters around the Ubin.
9. In case of rain avoid taking shelter under any tree to avoid Thunder stroke danger . 
10. Remember to come back at the boat boarding point on time in the evening. As the last boat operates till sunset. If you are planning to stay there for longer time then make your own arrangements, Though there are not much to do after sunset, if you have not planned any special activity for the dark hours of the day.
11. Great with Friends :  Last but not the least , It is the place good for enjoying with the group of friends. So make the group of 3 or more friends and hit the island.

Enjoy your special day out  with nature , away from the urban life in  Pulau Ubin

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