Pulau Ubin – The Legend of An Elephant, A Frog And A Pig!

Three animals from Singapore challenged each other to a race to reach the shores of Johor, Malaysia, with the unsuccessful animal turning into stone. All three animals faced many difficulties and failed. The elephant and pig together turned into Pulau Ubin whilst the frog became Pulau Sekudu or Frog Island. Thus born the legend of an elephant, a frog and a pig!

Pulau Ubin Island 乌敏岛

Pulau means Island in the Malay language.
It is a few minutes ride by bumboats from Changi to the island.

Pulau Ubin, also called Ubin Island, is a small island (10.19 km²) situated in the north east of Singapore, to the west of Pulau Tekong.

Granite quarrying supported a few thousand settlers on Pulau Ubin in the 1960s, but less than a hundred villagers live there today. It is one of the last rural areas to be found in Singapore, with an abundance of natural flora and fauna. The island forms part of the Ubin–Khatib Important Bird Area (IBA), identified as such by BirdLife International because it supports significant numbers of visiting and resident birds, some of which are threatened.

The name Pulau Ubin literally means “Granite Island” in Malay, which explains the many abandoned granite quarries there. Pulau means “island”, and Ubin is said to be a Javanese term for “squared stone”. To the Malays, the island is also known as Pulau Batu Ubin, or “Granite Stone Island”. The rocks on the island were used to make floor tiles in the past and were called Jubin, which was then shortened to Ubin. – Wikipedia

Oftentimes, Pulau Ubin is regarded as the last kampong (Malay word for “village”) in Singapore and strolling through Pulau Ubin is like taking a walk down memory lane – back to the 60’s. The rustic road starts as soon as you join the queue for the bumboat at Changi.

Andy, Benjamin, Jimmy, Washiyama and I went to Pulau Ubin on 2nd May 2015. We had early lunch (will be posting soon) at Changi Village Hawker Centre before boarding the bumboat ride to Pulau Ubin. The fare was $2.50 each and a minimum of 12 passengers for the few minutes’ ride. As we arrived, all our city cares were left behind. Our mindset magically seemed to change “frequency” and adopt to enjoying the simple pleasures of life. The air was fresher and people were friendlier, and even if I had asked stupid questions, my friends were not frustrated. On watching the video below, I realised that while I was making a clip of our bumboat ride, Yama extended his right arm for my safety. Such a sweetie! 😀

Pulau Ubin Bumboats

The fare was $2.50 each and a minimum of 12 passengers for the few minutes’ ride.

Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin is regarded as the last kampong.

Pulau Ubin

Mode of transportation – walk, cycle or to our surprise…

Pulau Ubin-Taxi

Taxi service available and we booked Mr. Tek’s van at S$12 per trip.

Pulau Ubin

Mr Tek, our cabbie (actually a van) joked as we pass through the streets, “This is the Orchard Road of Pulau Ubin”.

Pulau Ubin-Dinner

These were all we had for dinner.
Each buddy a square of kaya (coconut egg custard) bread and 1-2 bars of chocolate wafer.

Pulau Ubin is a great for day tripping either on foot or cycling. Oh wait, there’s another option, we booked a van “taxi” ride to our location for S$12 per destination regardless of the number of people. The van can easily take up to 8 adults.

Pulau Ubin Island 乌敏岛

Andy (my macro kaki) enjoying kampong coconut while we had Lychee and Longan freeze.

Pulau Ubin Island 乌敏岛

Talking about macro, here’s a small fly that landed onto Alaric’s bag after we laid them on the ground sheet.

Pulau Ubin Ladybug

Ladybug on a plant nearby.

Pulau Ubin

I was photographing the grasshoppers on the bags.

Pulau Ubin Grasshopper-5290-

There were quite a few specie of grasshoppers and I managed to shoot 4.

Pulau Ubin Grasshopper-5277-

Stripes and polka dots.

Pulau Ubin Grasshopper-5274-

Alien eyes!

Pulau Ubin Grasshopper-5268-

Isn’t it amazing?

There are several seafood restaurants, bicycle shops, grocery stores and the coastal police station which we registered ourselves for ease of contacts should any emergency arises. Natural and heritage sites include the Butterfly Hill, Pekan Quarry, Sensory Trail Ponds, Kampong House, Old Bin Kiang School site, and the Toa Pek Kong Temple. Activities you can participate in are guided Kampong Tours (free and paid ones available), Chek Jawa’s Naked Hermit Crab, etc… etc… (see link below for upcoming events).

If you are spending the night there, you can stay at Celestial Ubin Beach Resort or camp at 1) Jelutong Campsite which is less than 10 mins walk from Ubin Jetty. 2) Noordin Beach Campsite which stretches up to one kilometres of white sandy beaches (best during low tide). 3) Mamam Beach which had to be reinforced with a wooden railings after it was threatened with serious soil erosion in 1999. You don’t need any permit to camp at the 3 beaches above as it is on a first come basis. There other beaches on Pulau Ubin. They are generally wild, quiet, unspoilt and without facilities.

Please note that Pulau Ubin is a natural environment. You are not allowed to cut trees or branches or set up a campfire (offenders can be find up to $50,000 under ‘Parks & Trees act, Cap 216 , 2006 Edition) Only Jelutong Campsite has facilities to accomodate a campfire.

Pulau Ubin

This tent became the refuge for our camera gears and bags when the storm came later in the night.

Pulau Ubin

It was on these bags I took pics of the insects.

Pulau Ubin

Yama making himself comfy with his hammock.

Pulau Ubin Ben & Sam-

We had a great time despite the humidity and heat.

Pulau Ubin Island 乌敏岛

I wonder if any of these rocks were the elephant or pig.

Pulau Ubin Island 乌敏岛

It was a very hot and humid afternoon.

Pulau Ubin Island 乌敏岛

“When I admire the wonder of a sunset, or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Pulau Ubin (Island) 乌敏岛

It was a beautiful sight to behold.

Pulau Ubin Island 乌敏岛

The blue hour after the sun had set.
The Milky Way was supposedly to rise where the tree on right is but the sky was too cloudy – our hopes dashed.

Over the past 2 decades, Pulau Ubin’s native population has dwindled from its peak of more than 3,000 people to now 38 people living in 24 households (last count in 2012). Taking into account the 20 odd staff members from the National Parks Board (NDP) and National Environment (NEA) Agencies, the working population of the island is still less than 100. Some of them live there but most prefer to commute between the mainland Singapore and Pulau Ubin daily.

In the 60’s, most of the residents worked at the quarry or at farms rearing chicken, ducks and pigs. In 1989, all the pig farms were closed due to the swine epidemic. In 1999, the quarry on the island was closed and in 2005, the authorities prohibited the rearing of chicken and ducks due to the avian flu. Since then, the island’s population has been on a decline. It seems like there are more wild boars, monkeys and lizards on the island than people! – InSing.com

Pulau Ubin Island 乌敏岛

This was the calm before the storm.

Below is a very short time-lapse of the storm clouds that evening. I did not have time to linger on for more photo-taking as the storm was fast approaching hence this slo-mo the clip with the help of Vanessa. It was also unfortunate that we did not wander off to the many other interesting areas on the island but we’ll be back after I’m healed of sandfly bites!

Admission to the island is free. There are no opening or closing hours, but regular services only run during daylight hours. The NParks Information Kiosk is open 8.30am-5pm. Bumboats to and from Pulau Ubin, and public transport on the island operate from sunrise to sunset (approximately 6am to 7pm, please check with the boat operators).

Pulau Ubin Island 乌敏岛

Important Contacts
Ubin NParks: (+65) 65424108
Ubin coastguard: (+65) 65428664

Celestial Ubin Beach Resort
Address: 8V Pulau Ubin Island.
Singapore 508421.

Tel/Fax: (+65) 65429749

To know about the wild happenings in Singapore and their events, visit: http://wildsingaporehappenings.blogspot.sg/

Info credit: Info credit Wikipedia, Wild Singapore Happenings and InSing.com

Happy eating and bonding 🙂

Click here to see what we ate before going to Pulau Ubin.

2 Responses to “Pulau Ubin – The Legend of An Elephant, A Frog And A Pig!”
  1. Bill says:

    Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing them. I love the Gandhi quote. How fitting.

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