To me , Pulau Ubin is somewhat like a teleportation “machine”. A machine that teleports you back more than 20 years back in time, right into the no-Yahoo, no-Google era…no world wide web period..while some may shudder at the thought, myself included, you can’t deny the charm this quaint little island exudes.

“Ubin” is the Malay word for tile. So Pulau Ubin means “Tile Island”, which tells the island past as a quarry, supplying building materials like blocks, slabs and tiles for walls and floor. The Woodlands Causeway built in 1923, used granites from Pulau Ubin. The boomerang-sized island is about 1020 hectares…which translates into 2520 acres or 2520 football fields, for easy visualization. Well, so much for the numbers crunching…join me for a pictorial ride to Singapore last unspoilt precinct.


Welcome to Pulau Ubin…where time crawls (but actually time flew during the visit with my photography buddies…..whoever said it crawls ??? !!!) and where a populace’s determination and loud voices actually succeeded in bending the wills and noble aspiration of the omnipotent government.. Errr.. No, let’s not get political here, shall we? C’mon..Chek Jawa, the Singapore’s last piece of nature awesomeness is still condos or resorts have taken over yet. Phew !

And Yes, you will be forgiven if you pulled out your ringgits to pay for your purchases at the groceries shops or eateries…it does feel like you are in some Malaysian rural towns in the outskirt…Such is the charm of the little quaint island, which I hope to convey in my pictures.


There’s no helipad at Pulau Ubin yet…so the best option is via a non-aircon old-styled ferry at the Changi Ferry Terminal. The ferry fare per pax is S$2.50 each way. The boat man will, at his discretion, commence the 5min transfer either way only upon accumulating 12 passengers.


No worries about getting lost at Pulau Ubin…the GPS (General Pointing System) located near the main entrance will orientate you quickly…


The main mode of transport at the island…reconditioned vans. Van = Taxi > Vanxi ? The number plate starts with PU…no price for guessing what it stands for. A round trip to Chek Jawa per van is $24/- (10min each way) Seats up to perhaps 8-10 ? So economies of scale rule here.

The driver will give you his handphone for the return pick up arrangement. Don’t lose that number…and the mobile network may be sketchy at Chek Jawa entrance….stretch your mobile to the skies (^___^)…


This somehow summed up the ambience of Ubin…. here Taxi Uncle at the “Taxi Service” booth, waiting for business to come to him on a quiet Tuesday morning… No hard sell…relax ah…


Other than the Vanxis, bicycles and our own 2 horse powered  legs…the other form of “public” transportation is the aged Police Land Rovers… fancy a free ride on a “public vehicle”…just shout as loud as you can “MATA MATA !!!” from Chek Jawa… lol


Hmmm….a disused dilapidated jetty….or residents did not pay tax ? just joking…seemed to be in this condition since my last Ubin trip a year back…


Rolls and rolls of gleaming 2 wheelers waiting to carry riders to the other parts of the island. Competitions are intense here…especially on a quiet weekday. A whole day rental can be had for $5/-per bike (worn out normal types) and about $15/-per bike for those with good brakes and suspension…BUT do be careful on the trails, a few cyclists in the past have perished.

Have a fun time but never throw caution to the wind. Wear proper safety gears and watch out for the bends and slopes. Come to Ubin happy, go back happier and live to come back again.


Enroute to the Ubin “Central”…the area where the shrine and “opera stage” is located. Prepared to be mildly accosted with shop owners asking “bicycles?”, “jiao ta che?”(Mandarin for bicycles)…


A key activity on the island…low carbon footprint, Gaia-friendly and great for cardio work out.


For those that came with their own mountain bikes or those expensive flashy bikes…you might like to have it washed before returning home…


“Lao Pan…no problem,…we wash your bicycle clean clean one…$2 cheap cheap”… Don’t you just love our flavourful Singlish?


Aspiring artist display “gallery”on a shop wall…perhaps of an Asian Mona Lisa… definitely no Sotheby’s or Christie’s ingredients here though…but unique to Ubin. Helps in the Ubin characters building…


A pic of a provision shop by my photo buddy…can you hear the coins tinkling in the coin tins ? So flavourful… Try to avoid visiting Pulau Ubin on Tuesdays, as all the restaurants (except one) are closed. Chances are…this provision shop will be your lunch spot…feasting on the cup noodles and canned drinks.


Resident preparing for the imminent 7th Month Hungry Ghost Festival… the Chinese Opera performances will be commencing soon…to entertain the “good brothers…” (O___o)…


Floral & fauna at the island……


Some green-fingered residents here fully harnessed the good clean air and weather to cultivate nice flowers and shrubs, which you can spot along the village paths…


My photo buddy here, recording a granny and her grandson, for pixel immortality…residents are naturally more laid back  and amiable…such is the pulse of the island.


On the way to the Sensory Trail…a lovely maintained spice and herb garden, where many medicinal and fruits trees are planted. But more often not, you can encounter amazing wildlife like birds, insects and reptiles. For nature photographers, this spot which takes casual visitors about 1 hour to appreciate, will extends to 2-3 hours…maybe longer.


Spotted this tiny little insect…about 4-5mm. Looked fragile but very “co-operative model”. And it stays still …definitely unlike butterflies, which is a challenge to shoot. Anyone care to identify this species ? I am still trying to put a name to it… same for the one below, which is probably same species…except it’s black in colour…look at the gorgeous transparent wings…


This 2 tiny flies kept me occupied for at least 20min, as I attempted to record it in it’s full glory…


This was one of our stars find on the trip…a cute and colourful juvenile Lantern Fly…about 4-5mm in size. We were unable to identify it initially…so my photo-buddy nicknamed her or him…”Little Rhino”. Such is the fun in insects macro photography…you never quite know what you can find..


A long-legged insect we could not quite positively identify…not quite a grasshopper (no wings), not quite an aphid (legs too long), not an katydid (not that pretty),… gosh! a new hybrid? a never seen before species ? Are we going to be famous and get knighthood ?…lol… please excuse us for shallow depth in entomology…


Termites (BIG headed termites here) ! Ewwww… yes, the feeling is mutual. But having in-depth knowledge of termites from my work in a pest control company some years back, you will be please to know that this insects hold an important role in nature. They break down the plant cellulose materials which in turn fertilize the land around it. But as we encroached on “their” land…that’s where problem arises…


A reptilian resident eyeing us as we visited his territory… tread quietly, respectfully,…we are in their house…


My photo-buddy recording a couple of playful mongrels on the beach…. eat , sleep, eat, play,…it’s a dog-life on the island.


The activities at the jetty makes for an interesting spot for photography and people watching too…and some anglers used this place for fishing…too bad the water here are not crystal clear…that would be lovely…


The ferries chugging passengers back to Singapore…you might have enough for the day…but you will return to Ubin one day…someday…that’s the magic of Ubin (does not look like we have much of a choice, do we ? )… (^___^)… but at least we still have a choice.


Departing from the idyllic charm of Pulau Ubin…


Have a last look at the jetty before leaving…. should look the same when you come back in the future…


We hope this precious little island will be preserved for our future generations to come… unspoilt , unadulterated,… some thing are best left untouched. Thank you for hopping along for the journey…(^______^)//

{article BottomM: Nature & Park Photography}{text}{/article}