" How we got to Pulau Ubin "
The name Pulau Ubin literally means "Granite Island" in Malay, which explains the many abandoned granite quarries there. The word 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.
The island is known as chioh sua in Hokkien, which means "stone hill".
Pulau Ubin is one of the last areas in Singapore that has been preserved from urban development, concrete buildings and tarmac roads.
Pulau Ubin's wooden house villages and wooden jetties, relaxed inhabitants, rich and preserved wildlife, abandoned quarries and plantations, and untouched nature in general make it the last witness of the old "kampong" Singapore that existed before modern industrial times and large scale urban development.
The Singapore Government's development projects on the island in the last few years has been controversial and debate has been able to find its way through government-controlled media. So far ideas to build public housing on the island connected to Singapore island via undersea tunnels carrying MRT lines have remained on the urban planners' drawing boards.
Though recent government action has been limited to widening the paths for bicycles, building shelters for trekkers and other facilities for the growing number of visitors, it is already discreetly changing the face and nature of Pulau Ubin from untouched to planned, and paving the way for further developments.
In 2007, the Singapore Government decided to reuse the Granite Quarry in Pulau Ubin due to indications that Indonesia might restrict exports of granite to Singapore.
The future of the island is in the hands of Singapore Government which may postpone its development preferring to concentrate on re-developing existing space on Singapore island and nearby Pulau Tekong. For now Pulau Ubin is a haven as a former rural way of life will most likely disappear with its last "kampong" generation passing.
There are a few tarmac roads on Pulau Ubin but most roads are still gravel roads. There are a number of minibuses, Mitsubishi Jeeps and motorbikes on the island. The number plates for all vehicles on the island start with PU - which stands for Pulau Ubin.
On arrival to the Island, you first encounter many places offering the bikes for hire..... prices start at $2.00, up to about $8.00. Not bad for a day of riding around the Island.
Though the island attracted attention for development and planning only in recent years, Singaporeans visitors have been visiting Pulau Ubin for summer camps and outdoor activities for many years.
With growing attention and interest in nature, the flow of visitors to Pulau Ubin has increased over the years.
We did a bit of riding around the Island, which was easy on the made roads with plenty of good signs.
The village area is still very old, as seen in the following images, there are only about 80 residents that now live there as Singapore Goverenment has relocated many to Singapore.
One of the current popular tourist attractions on the island is Chek Jawa. We hope to visits that next time. It was a previous coral reef 5,000 years ago, Chek Jawa can be said to be virtually unspoilt, with a variety of marine wildlife comparable to other islands, such as sea hares, sea squirts, octopuses, starfishes, sand dollars, fishes, sponges, cuttlefishes and nudibranchs.
We had a delicious lunch in the village (will post about that tomorrow) and then a wander around before boarding a Bumboat back to the mainland......
farewell Pulau Ubin ......
till next time.......