Recce-ing Pulau Ubin on Bicycle
Took a Raleigh All-Terrain to the Pulau Ubin trails for a recce and the Ketam Mountain Bike Park for some fun (but only managed part of the wimpy Blue Square though as the sun was already setting, but the Double Black Diamond stuff looks like adrenaline rush on a stick!). Will return!
Possibly because the people who use Ketam are generally padded with protective gear, more skilled on two wheels and careful because of the inherent risk of off-road biking, the serious cycling accidents on the island have historically taken place on paved roads outside of the Mountain Bike Park, mostly along Jalan Batu Ubin (near Belatok Hut. A Chinese tourist had a fatal accident here in 2011), along Jalan Mamam (the road leading to Chek Jawa Reserve) and along Jalan Wat Siam “Cemetery Hill” (two fatal accidents: one in 2010 and one in 2006).
Communing with nature off the beaten path, at least in Singapore, always requires all senses to be on high alert – there are mosquitoes and other biting insects in the air; scorpions and snakes in the undergrowth; more snakes, some poisonous spiders and sometimes aggressive monkeys in the trees etc. So there are some who say that few unbelievers live close to the wild, that is, when one cannot control one’s environment and is always a bite away from death, one believes in some higher power (as the many temples around indicate, including one dedicated to a German girl). Generally, i’d have thought it more prudent to trust someone with a good track record of being in control of things and caring about humans, above one who has difficulty taking care of him/herself and/or needs to be cajoled into providing some protection.
To get to Pulau Ubin, hop on a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. They leave when there are 12 people or when the boatowner feels like it. S$2.50 per person, S$2 per bicycle. Charter an entire boat if you’re bringing pets so as not to inconvenience those whose religions oblige them to consider certain animals (eg. dogs – yes, even that hypoallergenic labrapoodle) unclean.
Several villagers sell cold drinks in/in front of their houses. The drinks are generally more expensive than on mainland but considering the cost of bringing the drinks across the sea, the fact that local islanders have little in the way of other livelihood, and general principles of demand and supply, prices quite alright (and still cheaper than 7-11!).
*the blur on some of the photos wasn’t added to suggest the romance of nature. My sweat got onto the lens, dried, and left behind little crystals. Just in case anyone was wondering…