Pulau Ubin has been preserved, at least for now, because of the fragile ecosystems that still exist there. It is like time has stopped. There are some abandoned mines, and a small kampong village, and not much else. Paths and riding trails are spread all over the island, and you can rent a bike (super cheap and easy) and start exploring right away.
We tried our best to keep a lookout (and not fall) as we rode around the island. Our big wildlife interaction of the day was when a family of wild boars emerged from the jungle and crossed the path. We could only hear their piggy grunts at first, and then out came a big one – so we got scared and rode away. (But only far enough so we could still get some pictures of course!) We also liked seeing a bird feeding her tiny noisy babies in her big nest and the swamp dwelling creatures… but no hornbills or sea otters (maybe next time!)
The wetlands area, Chek Jawa, has to be explored on foot, but it is really fun with a long boardwalk winding out in the ocean, past the seagrass lagoon, and through the mangroves. There is also a 20-metre tall tower, a viewing jetty, and a visitor center in an old cottage. It started to rain, so we wrapped ourselves up in our rain jackets (which we have been dying to use), and powered onwards! The rain turned into a storm, and soon we were soaking wet, riding back through the thunder and sheets of water. It was awesome! After we returned to the village, we handed in our bikes and sat down with a $1 mug of hot teh and felt like heros.
For a cheap, fun, and different day off, Pulau Ubin is definitely worth it. It did take a while to actually get to the island – we thought the ferry terminal was closer to the MRT, and so ended up taking a taxi from Tanah Merah instead of the 40 min bus ride. But the ferries are hilarious. Those things must be OLD! We were bundled on tightly with a group of strangers and our $2.50 cash was randomly collected – and off you go! It only takes 15 mins to boat to the island, but being out on the water was definitely part of the fun.
We love doing stuff like this – exploring at our own pace, taking photos, and getting super excited about wildlife sightings. Being out in nature is the best reminder that there is a bigger world outside work and stress and schedules. Hopefully the Singaporean government continues to preserve this land – it would be very sad to see Pulau Ubin over-developed, and hopefully this little pocket of natural Singapore can always be protected!