At the start of March we had our second set of house guests – Will’s Mum and Dad. We did a fair few of the more touristy things with them (Raffles, the Night Zoo, Marina Bay Sands) but we also wanted to do a couple of things that were more off the beaten track, and highlighted another side of Singapore. Their visit also happily coincided with some of the hottest weather we’ve had since we arrived in Singapore – seemingly endless days of bright blue sky and soaring temperatures.
We decided to make the most of the weather and do something outdoors. A couple of friends of ours had visited Pulau Ubin a couple of weekends previously, and raved about, so we were eager to explore for ourselves. You catch the bumboat over from Changi Point Ferry Terminal for the princely sum of S$2.50 (for UK readers, that’s about £1.25!). There aren’t any fixed departure times – the boats just go when they’re full. We seemed to time it just right, and there was one getting ready to depart as we arrived. I love being out on the water, slight spray on the face, wind in my hair – I felt oddly elated as we travelled over.
Going to Pulau Ubin is like stepping back in time. It is described as one of the last ‘kampongs’ (villages) left in Singapore, and is supposed to be like what the rest of Singapore was like in the 1960s. Needless to say, I loved it! Such a brilliant, chilled out kind of vibe, and so wonderful to be around so much nature – even if I did acquire several mozzie bites within the first 15 minutes of arriving – the air feels fresher somehow, and its great to escape all the modern materialism of modern Singapore. I’d definitely recommend it as an escape on those days that you are feeling a bit disillusioned and fed up with Singapore.
There are loads of bikes for hire, for pretty cheap prices. We chose a more sedate option and just walked around a bit. Both Will and I are keen to go back and bike soon though, as we definitely didn’t get to explore as much of the island as we would’ve liked to. But it was fun walking around the little village bit, admiring some of the original art work, and hand painted signs for fresh seafood.
I loved strolling along the shady paths, spotting all kinds of local flora and fauna – which reminds me, I really need to get some kind of guide to that, as there are tons of things I don’t know the names of! There are some small buildings, near to the ferry point, which tell you all about the history of the island – it used to be famous for its granite quarries – as well as more about the wildlife you can find there. I’d like to go back and explore the mangrove areas next time.
There are plenty of places to sell you a cold drink, and we took Will’s parents to the only accommodation on the island, the Celestial Resort. There is a pretty decent restaurant there, where we enjoyed fried squid and noodles for lunch, whilst enjoying seeing all the brightly coloured fish (and a ray!) swimming around the restaurant – its set out in a little lake type bit. It was pretty relaxing to be honest, and nice to get out of the hot midday sun that was over us.
In the end the heat defeated us a little bit (I am pretty acclimatised to the weather now, but I still flake out when it’s that hot…I’m a Brit, ok…sun is like a foreign thing to us), and we headed back to the jetty to go back to the mainland. I really enjoyed my short trip to Pulau Ubin, and I can’t wait to go back and explore properly by bike another time. If you are looking for a little slice of peace and quiet in Singapore, I’d definitely recommend a day trip out there.