10 April 2009

How to survive Pulau Ubin on a long weekend

Two words: go early. Well, maybe four words: go early, leave early.We arrived at Changi at 7am on this Good Friday holiday. There were still plenty of carpark lots (free parking on holidays) and so few people going early that we had to wait until about 7.30am before we got a full boat load to leave for Ubin.

And what a pleasant surprise! Pak Ali was serving the Special Ubin Lontong!
This 'Only on Ubin', and I thought 'Only on Sundays' is a special homemade dish of Lontong the Way it Ought to Be. Soft rice cakes (instead of the plasticky hard stuff we get on the mainland) with a delicious homemade soup of fresh ingredients and herbs. Fantastic first thing in the morning with kopi!
Well fed, we headed out to explore the mangroves of Pulau Ubin which were blooming like crazy today.Ubin is a great get-away, with kampung scenes and a laid back atmosphere. And we had a very pleasant quiet morning with hardly anyone else on the trail. Just a few hikers and very few bikers.

Another fantastic attraction of Ubin are the local fruits. The rambutans and just getting started! Pulau Ubin is also famous for its durians! And those were also getting started, with many trees just finished flowering and tiny little durians starting to grow. Soon, you can visit Pulau Ubin to enjoy these local specials!Another intriguing plant is the Chocolate tree! One large tree can be found near the Volunteer Hub. These trees produce the beans that are used to make our cocoa and chocolates!It was around 10.30am and we were already done with our little walkabout. In Ubin Town, things were still very quiet. Dogs could nap on the main road, and bicycles were all nicely laid out ready for rental.Things were starting to pick up, with the narrow road to the Town starting to get jammed up with visitors.One of the two sisters who run this eating house (which serves the best homemade food in Ubin) had just arrived with a bunch of supplies. She was just opening up so we couldn't have lunch there. The restaurant also has lots of fascinating photos of Ubin's history and flora and fauna on the walls. You must have a meal there if you are at Ubin.The tide was really high as we headed to the jetty.We stop by for another round of Pak Ali's specials. This time, the To Die For Nasi Lemak. I love the food at Pak Ali because it's simple, home made taste is something you can't get anymore on the mainland. The food is made and served with love.It's about 11.30 when we head back for the mainland, and the tide is REALLY high. The Rhino Rock is almost completely submerged, with only the tip of its horn above water.There were several pretty jellyfish in the water! This is probably Acromitus sp. which we often encounter in numbers at certain times of the year, and then none at all for some time. There big ones and small ones bobbing about in the water today. And easy to photograph as the tide was so high. Just as we were leaving, lots and LOTS of people started to arrive. Here's a bunch walking down the jetty towards Ubin.

And when we arrived at Changi at about noon ...There was a huge queue at Changi to go to Ubin.The line went around to the stairs,Up the stairs,And around the building! Wow.

If you start to go to Ubin later in the day, not only is the queue to go to Ubin a killer, the huge numbers of visitors at Ubin during long weekends means there is an equally long queue to go home at the end of the day.

Chay Hoon and I queued for more than an hour on our way home from our last trip to Ubin during Chinese New Year. We certainly learnt from that experience.

Ubin is a great place to enjoy a quiet day out in the countryside. It is still possible to enjoy a pleasant trip even during the long holidays. We should just go early, and leave early.

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