04 July 2009

Exploring Noordin, Pulau Ubin

An early start for Alyce, Chay Hoon and me to explore Pulau Ubin.
It's a glorious blue sky day and the tide is high!

Lots of bumboats were already heading out for Pulau Ubin. And there was a steady stream of barges carrying sand as well.
And in the clear morning light, I took this shot of the boulders on Pulau Ubin near the old Civil Service chalets.
Apparently, these boulders are the ones featured in John Turnbull Thomson's 1850 painting — Grooved stones on Pulo Ubin near Singapore. I missed November's Leafmonkey workshop yesterday which featured the geography and history of Pulau Ubin. I heard they had a really great session!
First we stop by at Pak Ali's shop for a fortifying breakfast of freshly made traditional favourites: Nasi Lemak and Mee Rebus, with teh and kopi. Yum! Thanks to Chay Hoon for treating us to breakfast.
We head out for Noordin Beach today. The blue sky and high tide almost makes the hideous fence more tolerable. There were lots of fishermen on the beach getting ready to fish with the incoming high tide. We met an interesting gentleman who was fishing for Pasir or Whiting (Family Sillaginidae). He caught them one by one with a line and bait! In a short while, he caught quite a lot of large fat Whitings. Amazing.
We stop by to see the wondrous Bakau mata buaya (Bruguiera hainesii) that we saw on our previous trip. There are only two of these big trees on the mainland! Today, almost every flower had some sort of large insect in it. Of course, I only noticed it when I processed the photo, so I don't have a better shot of the insect.
Alyce and then later Chay Hoon found some propagules of the tree on the ground! There's an effort to replant these precious trees, so these propagules will hopefully lead to more of these beautiful trees in our mangroves.
After a quick look around at Noordin Beach, we head out the mangroves that line the road towards the beach. Along the way, there are lots of enormous durian trees, still festooned with fruits. It's durian season at Ubin, resulting in a frenzy of durian collecting, eating and hoisting of durians back home.
Rambutan trees are also common and Pulau Ubin and many of them were heavily hung with the bright red hairy fruits. Alyce found a fallen one and she tasted it and declared it delicious!
We find a little path through the forested area and nip in to have a look. It eventually brought us next to the mangroves, with lots of our usual favourite plants. Including this humungous mangrove fern (Acrostichum aureum).
As we reach the road, Alyce discovered that she has picked up a hitch-hiker on her hat!
As we try to remove it, it hops onto Chay Hoon's arm.
We finally settle it down on a bush, where it looked just like a stick!
You can hardly even see its eyes. Chay Hoon noticed it was releasing a kind of greenish liquid from its feet.
I saw a little furry Heavy jumper (Hyllus diardi) a pretty white jumping spider, hopping around in the vegetation.
The mangroves along the road are very easy to look at as they grow right up to the tarmac.
We saw lots of our usual favourite mangrove trees. And noticed that some rarer ones had been planted along the roadside.
There were many Tui or Mangrove trumpet trees (Dolichandrone spathacea). These elegant trees have narrow leaves, a beautiful large white trumpet-shaped flower that turns into long seed pods. We didn't see any flowers but there were some trees with seed pods.
Also planted were some Dugun (Heritiera littoralis) and some other trees I couldn't identify.
Along the mangrove banks were lots of young mangrove trees.

And what a wonderful treat, when Chay Hoon noticed a troop of Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) quietly moving through the mangroves. These native monkeys originally live in the mangroves and are sometimes also called Crab-eating macaques. I've seen them swimming in the sea at Sentosa, foraging in a forest at Admiralty Park but this is my first time actually seeing them in the mangroves!
The most exciting encounter of the day was when Alyce spotted an Oriental whip snake (Ahaetulla prasina)! This slender looping snake looked just like a climber among the vegetation.
It was sticking out its tongue! Snakes generally do this to 'smell' their surroundings and figure out what is around them. In this case, rather smelly humans. It soon got hot, and my feet started to give way again. And it was time for a nice cold coconut at Ubin Town! Alyce treated us to lunch and then it was time for me to go home. While Alyce and Chay Hoon headed out for more exploring on Ubin's Butterfly Hill! Way to go ladies!

Alas, today, at almost every turn we encountered vandalism. At the shelter on Noordin Beach, almost every horizontal surface was scrawled with grafitti, while almost every wooden bench was scarred or destroyed by barbecue pits.
Among the trees, there were all kinds of labels tied or even nailed onto the trees. The perpertraors of these are also clearly labelled. Shame on these organisations for not removing their labels.
Earlier, on the way to Pulau Ubin, I noticed an enormous crane sticking way out of the forested area behind Fairy Point at Changi.
It is really huge.
As we head further out, we got a better view of this monstrous contraption at Loyang. I'm not sure whether it is being serviced or is actually doing some kind of work on the shore there. Oh dear.
Let's hope it isn't going to result in massive impact on our Changi shores.

The morning low tides start soon, and more explorations await.

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