PULAU UBIN (UBIN ISLAND)

 

Description : A bowl of fresh air and change on Singapore's second largest island

Comments : There are more interesting things to visit in Singapore but this island is as far from the modern sterilized city as you could go...

What to do ? Feel like in a different country & forget about the modern life / Cool down : it is 2-3 degrees cooler here at noon than on the mainland / Get a map of the authorized trails at the information office / Walk, cycle or tandem around / Spot macaque, monitor lizards, bats (in the evening) and plenty of insects (at any time of the day) / Look up at trees to find birds' mug nets / Listen to the secondary forest's colorful birds (more than 145 species) / See wild flowers or domesticated orchids (Orchid Farm near Mamam Beach) / At Tanjong Chek Jawa, visit an abandoned villa and a jackfruit orchard (other fruits to be discovered as well) / Walk rubber trees plantation / Watch planes preparing to land / Fish or spot fishermen, old or new style / Swim, if you dare... / Camp ! 

What you may not like ? Noordin Beach, the dirtiest public beach spotted in Asia (a shocking record for Singapore) ! / Mamam Beach, the only public beach with fences to prevent you from falling into the sea / The rubbish alongside the roads & paths, gifts from the visitors (so, after all, Singaporean, far away from the police and the fines, are as dirty as most people in Asia...) / The fences around the beautiful granite quarry / The cars on the concrete roads / All those "forbidden" signs / The undrinkable tap water (bring supply) / If cycling around, the paths going up / Being blasted by dynamites (not recommended to walk the mines at certain times of the day but it is forbidden anyway) / The tiny yet active mosquitoes / 

How long ? Half a day is a minimum. Consider a day if you combine the island with a stroll on relaxing Changi Beach Park and a visit to Changi Prison.

Where to stay ? No accomodation yet on the island but camping is possible.

Where to eat ? A few restaurants by the jetty or the beach areas. A cheap basic place (R2 Mee or Nasi Goreng) 10mn walk toward Kampong Melayu.

Walking or cycling ? Most people are seen cycling around but they miss the show ! How can you see wild life if you scare them off or speedily bypass them ? Beside, the road isn't too flat and the island isn't too big (8km long but o ne third is off access and only 1.5km width). This being said, cycling can be considered as the attraction and, in such case, plenty of shops by the jetty : $3-4 per day for old mountain bike, $5-7 for "bump free" bikes or $8 for tandem. Shop around. 


Other nearby attractions ?

- Changi Beach Park : a long relaxing stretch of sand, much cleaner & inviting than on the island. This is also an excellent spot to watch the landing gear of planes as the airport is just behind. It is very popular with locals on WE. 
- Changi Village : basically a lively restaurant street with a few nightspots. 
- Changi Prison : experience the life of WWII Prisoners through photographs, painting, sketches & artifacts. It is free and open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Bus No2 pass by, as well as by new modern prisons for actual prisoners...


How to come & leave ? The recommended itinerary from the leaflet is to take the MRT to Tanah Merah (E9, $1.2 or $1.4, 20mn), then Bus No2 from the bus station A ($1.1 or $1.2, 20mn) to the terminus, then a bumboat to the island ($2, 10mn). A cheaper but slightly longer option is to forget about the MRT and take the No2 bus from Bugis on Victoria Street ($1.4 or 1.5, about 1 hour). Seat on the left to spot Malabar Mosque, an original structure just before the Lavender stop.
Bumboats have no fixed schedules and leave only when reasonably full (faster therefore during WE). They operates from around 6am to 11pm daily. The last bus back leave Changi at around 11:30pm. All buses from Changi should reach an MRT station.

Backpacker's Tips : Sivasothi, Singapore (March 03)
 Your statement "Noordin Beach, the dirtiest public beach spotted in Asia (a shocking record for Singapore) !" is false. There are much worse cases of public beaches in Asia. You cannot judge the true situation from a few visits though. Noordin's beaches do have cleaners, so most would see it without the debris. The real case about the Straits of Johor (the waterway fronting the beach) is not easily detected. Seasonality and storms affect deposition of debris on beaches; e.g. Beaches on the northern coast of Singapore look much worse after a heavy rain. Most of marine debris is nestled deep within coastal ecosystems, particularly mangroves, and is thus hidden from the public eye.

    National Parks