Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pulau Ubin

Joined the National Heritage Board's (NHB) 'Ubin Experience Tour'. I haven't been to Pulau Ubin for a while. The organizers arranged for little vans to ferry us around to the points of interest on the island for the hour. You could do it in two hours on bicycle too. Erm, maybe bring your own bike? Those rental bikes are really creaky. It's all part of the five-week Pesta Ubin which celebrates culture, nature and way of life on the island.

It was a pretty good outing, except for the 'boat uncle' who 'cheated' our fare on the return trip from the island. We weren't required to pay for any rides because NHB had done so, and at the island's jetty, we were hurdled into the waiting area by NHB staff. But no NHB staff got on the return boat with us like on the way in. Apparently our operator insisted that his boat wasn't the designated one, and rudely demanded fare. WTF.

Maybe the 'boat uncle' did it knowingly. He would have seen our orange wrist tags. This wasn't the first weekend of the tours. Maybe he really wasn't the designated operator. Whatever. There were too many 'maybes' and I wasn't interested to bicker like a shrew over S$3 or get thrown off the bumboat. Although if I wasn't carrying a phone and a backpack, I'd have been super dramatic and protested by jumping into the sea to swim the rest of the way back to Changi Point Ferry Terminal. I'm not a poor swimmer. On a day like this, it was near and probably safe enough. A 15-minute swim was greatly enticing on such a hot day. However, once we got back on mainland, we alerted the NHB volunteers and staff at the ferry terminal so it wouldn't happen to the rest of the groups. It was almost hilarious when a NHB staff offered to refund us. Naah. It wasn't a refund we were looking for. It was a point for them to consider in their reviews and reports.

I've completely forgotten that there's a Tudor-style house on the island that was built in the 1930s for Chief Surveyor Langdon Williams as a holiday retreat. It's got pine trees and its own jetty. Never understood why a chimney and a fireplace was needed in the 1930s in this climate. Hahaha. It also has really low ceilings. It now serves as Chek Jawa Visitor Center. I've always wanted to check out Chek Jawa, but it's been years and I haven't gotten down to doing it. Weekends are simply impossible because the slots seem to get snatched up so quick. Need to find a week day to do the coastal walk.

Stopped at the quarries and took in the quiet nature that has sprung up around it. We also stopped by the two drink stallsAhmad Kassim's that's on the premises on his home, and Madam Ong's Ah Ma's that's in the area of a former prawn farm. Didn't buy any drinks though. We brought water.

The German Girl Shrine is now all renovated and not at all creepy. Almost wailed when I saw it. WAH LAU EH. IT'S SO SANITIZED! I think the renovation happened last year. From the videos on Youtube, up to 2014, the shrine looked like how it has always been. The Barbie doll that used to represent the German Girl is now oddly a statuette of probably the Goddess of Mercy. Even the name of the shrine has changed. Some sort of charm and mystery are lost.

Fresh back from WA, I didn't mind the ferocious humidity. Good for my parched skin. At least I was dressed for it. Heh. But when the sun hit the zenith, it was debilitating. Ahh, good old Singapore heat. Those blue skies and sunshine made for beautiful photos. While I still have the beauty of Pulau Ubin to ooh over, I'll enjoy its current state before urban development eventually takes over.

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