21 April 2013

Makan time at Ubin

As this hornbill shows us, there's lots of good food to eat at Pulau Ubin!
Andy, Ivan and I spent a slow morning eating our way through Ubin!

I love the 'white pants and black jacket' ensemble of the Oriental pied hornbill! This big bird spent a short time eating the ripe papaya before hopping off.
Shortly after, a smaller bird with a smaller bill took his place to eat the papaya. Did he make way for a younger bird? How nice.
Meanwhile, there was a whole bunch of hornbills in a nearby durian tree.
It was a bright sunny morning when I left Changi for Pulau Ubin.
Right next to the Ubin Jetty at the happy entrance to Pulau Ubin is Pak Ali's shop which features my favourite dish: Ubin-only, Sunday-only Lontong!
I quickly got my portion of lontong before a large group of cyclists settled in the shop. As I waited for the rest the arrive, I also gobbled up a plate of their delicious mee siam!
We saw this reporter interviewing at the shop, it's good to see the continuing interest in Ubin villagers. Others like Tan Sijie spent 5 hours chatting with 3 villagers, and shared on Facebook details of how Ubin villagers are coping with HDB/SLA issue. Thanks to friends, I came across The People of Singapore on Facebook featuring some people who live and work on Ubin including bumboat operators.
We decided to stroll the eastern loop at Ubin which includes the Sensory Trail. It's a great site to learn about the vegetables and plants that we eat. What does a coffee plant look like? How about lady's fingers? The Trail was set up by the American School for the visually handicapped so it highlights all the senses. For those of us who spend too much time in the city, it's a great way to also free up our own senses, sometimes handicapped from lack of use!
Yesterday, as part of Earth Day celebrations, NParks launched an exhibition of the Sensory Trail at the Ubin Volunteer Hub. NParks conducts a guided walk at the Sensory Trail every third Saturday. The next one is on 18 May.
Photo from the NParks FB page
"Since adopting the trail in 1990, The Singapore American School
students have been regularly bringing
participants from
the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped

to walk the trail."
Along the trail, we see some interesting natural consequence of eating. Civet poop! We saw fresh and not so fresh poop all along the road. Read more about Singapore's civets and the people studying them (and civet poop) on the Life of a common palm civet in Singapore blog.
Here's a closer look at the civet poop. Civets and other related mammals have been cruelly exploited for their poop which is involved in making expensive gourmet coffee! Unbelievable but sadly true. More in this article: World's most expensive coffee tainted by 'horrific' civet abuse.
The route takes us through a small patch of mangroves where Ivan pointed out my favourite mudskipper! The flashy fancy Blue-spotted mudskipper. They were huge and abundant here, rudely showing one another the 'fin' as they foraged on the mudflats.
I saw one Giant mudskipper in the circular 'swimming pool' that he probably built. Staying quietly out of the way of the more boisterous Blue-spotted mudskippers.
In the mangroves, I had a quick look at the two rare plants found there. On the left Gedabu and Tumu berau. As we saw on our trip here in Feb 2013, the Gedabu tree is still being strangled by a vine but the Tumu berau tree seems to be holding up despite the trampling and branch breaking due to people using it to clamber up and down the mud bank.
The route ends at some old fish ponds that have been replanted by NParks with all kinds of colourful freshwater plants. From tall reeds and pretty lilies as well as lotus plants. What a lovely scenic setting.
There's lots of fruit trees planted by the Ubin villagers. Nangka, banana, rambutans and lots more. The fruits are often sold fresh during the season at Ubin Town.
We check on the durian trees and we see some developing flowers! Hurray. In a few months, there'll be more of Ubin's famously delicious durians for sale.
The bright red temple in town still gets visitors, young and old.
Ominous thunder and heavy humidity suggested it was time to stop for lunch. We headed for our favourite "Two Sisters" restaurant run by the two sisters. The walls are plastered with photos provided by the restaurant's fans and include nature and historical photos of Ubin.
We had our favourite crispy sotong, kampung chicken and deliciously fluffy egg omelette.
Right next to the "Two Sisters" restaurant, the Ubin First Stop Restaurant is now up for lease. I heard because he couldn't afford the higher rental, Vincent who used to run the Restaurant has given up the lease. Vincent now operates a bumboat and we took his boat on the way home.
We headed back to the mainland in aircon crisp cool weather, towards more rain. Perfect for an afternoon nap after a busy day feeding on Ubin.
If you haven't been to Ubin, go soon! There's lots of great cheap and good makan, from traditional dishes to seafood, as well as seasonally fresh fruits. And great relaxing sights just a short stroll away.

More about Pulau Ubin how to get there and what to see and do on wildsingapore.

Upcoming walks on Pulau Ubin include:

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