Chek Jawa is a cape on the tip of Pulau Ubin. Is is known for it's unique feature of having several ecosystems in a single area.
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I must confess, this place surprised me. After walking from Ubin Village, past Malay kampungs, Malay cemeteries, disused granite lakes and so on we reached the entrance to the wetlands.
Typically lots of signs warned us to not do anything naughty, including parking our bikes outside. As we had none, we were allowed in. the staff on duty were really pleasant and helpful. They directed us to take the boardwalk around the eastern cape of the island.
Starting on the western shore, we wandered along the impressive boardwalk enjoying the breezes from the sea and the surrounding islands. We reached the wetlands were a couple of choices awaited us. We took both, and were duly impressed by the number of crabs and small creatures. It was low tide. Even climbing the Jejawi Tower was worthwhile: not for viewing the tiny crabs, but simply for feeling like a monarch of all you survey.
I came back a few weeks later at high tide and it was equally much fun,
Singapore has another wetlands walkabout like this, at Pasir Ris Beach park. Check Jawa is by far the better. I am not an expert on mangrove life, but I do appreciate its importance to the cycle of nature. Not having to scramble through sticky mud is a plus! One observes from above, not disturbing the fragile environment. I hope the builders of the massive boardwalks were equally respectful.
Then back to the entrance and reading up on the place and its meaning, its life forms, its purpose.
Then to the visitor's centre housed in the weirdest building in Singapore: the holiday treat built by the CHief Surveyor in the early 1900s, complete with Tudor height ceilings. All that means is that you have to duck when you move from room to room. Apparently the Surveyor built it, complete with its own jetty, as a holiday retreat.
I can imagine how much he enjoyed relaxing by the open fire place (Singapore's only one!) on a cold winter's night. Whilst a few metres away tropical mudskippers, fiddler crabs and tiny crabs carry on oblivious to the presence of such an august personage.
Altogether, a visit to this part of Pulau Ubin is worthwhile.
Nature at our doorstep
After hearing of the rich biodiversity of Chek Jawa and the strong protests against reclamation of the area during my secondary school days, I was extremely thrilled when I finally had the chance to visit the place in junior college for a class outing.
Having been in a class of biology buffs and nature enthusiasts, it came as no surprise that there was a lot of careful planning and "homework" done beforehand - but that certainly paid off during our trip there. Apart from the largely unspoilt and tranquil natural surroundings of the area, which made the cycle into the main reserve site particularly refreshing (albeit a little arduous too, with the muddy and uneven terrain!), we were rewarded with some of the most amazing sightings of marine wildlife, including blue-and-orange fiddler crabs scuttling along the mud bars, horseshoe crabs mating in the shallow waters surrounding the boardwalk and even the rarely spotted green carpet anemone.
We also had a little adventure with an unusually large, black wild boar that started sniffing around our haversacks and bicycles while we were taking a short snack break nearby. Fearing that the boar would turn aggressive if we approached it, we could only wait a distance away, willing the wild boar to go away so that we could continue on our journey (so much for our pluckiness in wanting to get up close and personal with nature!)
All in all, if you've ever lamented how limited nature and wildlife in Singapore is, Chek Jawa is definitely a place I would recommend to visit while it still remains preserved, to catch a glimpse of some of the most unexpected wildlife species in their natural habitats - right here on our Singapore shores. It would be best to plan carefully and do some reading up beforehand, or go along with some nature enthusiast friends, to get the most from your experience there.
Go at low tide!
Chek Jawa has one of the most abundant ecosystems in Singapore and was actually spared from the list for land reclamation because of it.
Although I did not get to see many of the featured wildlife because it was high tide during my visit there, my friends and I had fun exploring the quiet traditional cottage which doubles up as a visitor center. We also had a wonderful view of the sea from the boardwalk with the sea breeze blowing in our hair.
It's a pity.. if we had come during low tide, we could've seen much more. Nevertheless, a trip to Ubin wouldn't be complete without a visit to Chek Jawa, low tide or not.
An urban getaway
After studying about this special landmark in school, I had the opportunity to visit this place. Located at the other end of the Pulau Ubin, I had to cycle a fair bit of distance from the harbour before reaching there. The scenary there is rather breathtaking.
The boardwalk was similar to those in other nature reserves but the species there are rather different. Chek Jawa is different during high tide and low tide as well, making it stand out from the other nature reserves. I would certainly recommend nature lovers to visit!