Visit the Southern Islands – Pulau Ubin & St John’s Island (Team Bonding Idea 7)

Ever wanted to travel back in time? Today’s technology may be advanced but travelling through time is still not possible. Visiting Pulau Ubin however, will give you a feel of what it was like when people lived in Kampongs around Singapore.

The zinc roofs and wooden houses will give some participants a nostalgic feeling if they had lived in atap houses before. even the houses made of concrete are a far cry from the 20 storey flats that most of us live in today, in mainland Singapore.

To get to Pulau Ubin, you will need to get to the Changi Jetty and head downstairs to the basement and wait for the bum boat to arrive. The ferry fare is $3 per way and they will usually only leave when the boat is full (12 passengers). If you are in a hurry, you will have to pay for the empty seats before they will leave.

When you first arrive at the Jetty, you will see a few coffee shop and a chinese restaurant. After that, you will realise that Pulau Ubin has the highest concentration of bicycle rental shops per square meter of land, followed closely by coconut drink stalls. These vendors mostly stay on the island and they make a simple living out of renting the bicycles and selling drinks and coconuts to the island visitors, which is mostly students. Which means, their business thrives during school holiday seasons and their income will not be as good during exam periods.

You can spend a whole day in Pulau Ubin, cycling around the island (bicycle rental there is the cheapest in Singapore, from as low as $3 or $4 for a whole day!). Please rent the better bikes that cost a little more, about $7 onwards, the terrain in Pulau Ubin is already not the most friendly, to get a run down bike is to make life more difficult for yourself.

Before renting your bicycle though, remember to get a map from the Park Rangers’ Office near the Jetty.

There are a lot of interesting flora and fauna in Pulau Ubin that you will not usually see in Singapore. At low tide a wade at Chek Java will also be an eye opening experience.

We do not know whether or when Pulau Ubin will be develop into a beach resort, after Sentosa is fully utilised. So we should try and visit this island before it disappears forever.

Another place that you can visit is St John’s Island. To get to St. John’s Island, you can take a ferry from inside Sentosa, at the Ferry Terminal. The ferry operators told us that they will be operating from Sentosa Ferry Terminal until January next year, afterwhich they will like dock at HabourFront Ferry Terminal, which is just across where they are docking now.

Everytime we go to St. John’s island, it always feel like we are in some dive resort in Malaysia. The water there is crystal clear. In fact the water condition there is so good that there is a Marine Science Reasearch Facility operated by Tropical Marine Science Institude from NUS at St. John’s island. There are schduled visiting days where they will allow publics to tour their facilities. When we visited them, we had the chance to touch star fishes and sea horses and other live marine creatures in their touch pool. They also bred endangered giant clamps that live on the nutrients from the algaes which photosynthesise in them! This trip will definitely be an eye opener to most people!

You can visit their website to find out more about the type of research they do and their public visit schedules. Entrance fee is $25 for adults and children below 18 at $7.

www.tmsi.nus.edu.sg/edu.htm (copy and paste this link to your web browser to visit thier website)
or you may contact the person incharge (copied from their website at the time this article was written) to make a reservation to visit the Marine Science Research Facility:
Ms Jenny Koh
Tel: 67749657
Email: tmskgh@nus.edu.sg

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