27 April 2014

Double dose of Ubin!

Today, a wonderful day with the Leafmonkey Imagine Ubin Workshop. Yesterday, Chek Jawa with the Naked Hermit Crabs!
Sunday-only Ubin-only lontong is the highlight of the weekend! We all greatly appreciate this delicious and highly threatened dish, as Mama Crab Ley Kun shows. Even going twice, back-to-back, I only barely scratch the surface of all the fun and awesome things we can see and do at Pulau Ubin.

I'm with an enthusiastic team of facilitators for the Leafmonkey Imagine Ubin Workshop. It is organised by November and Kai who are so busy preparing for the Workshop that they have yet to snarfle down their lontong.
Chee Kien and Andrew have brought lots of vintage Ubin materials to share with everyone!
After a great introduction to Ubin, we are divided up into our groups. With trepidation, I agreed to facilitate the group on Sustainability even though I have almost zero knowledge about the issues. But we were very fortunate to have Daily Life Renewable Energy (DLRE) give us a personal briefing about the awesome microgrid set up at Ubin which since Oct 2013 has been providing electricity to all homes and businesses at Ubin Town.
The system is smart and can be monitored in real time on the web (above), based on solar panels as well as biodiesel generators to charge jell batteries (below). It results in reliable electricity supply which costs less in the long term than running separate generators with diesel imported from the mainland.
Not all in Ubin Town have embraced the micro-grid electricity. We noticed this brand new pink generator at one of the businesses.
We also stopped by this trash point used by the NEA contractors who gather trash only from Ubin Town. NEA does not clear trash from homes or businesses outside of Ubin Town. The bags of trash are piled on a ricketty jetty over the sea for transfer by bum boat to the mainland at Changi Point.
I was also very lucky that Robert Teo from NParks who manages Ubin was with our group. We learn from him that NParks takes care of clearing trash from all NParks bins on the half of Ubin that it manages (the other half of Ubin is managed by Outward Bound Singapore). Robert shows us the trash collection point. It is well inland with no possibility of trash bags accidentally falling into the sea. Hurray!
Robert shows us a water tank at the Ubin Info Kiosk. We also learn about some of the difficulties of meeting NEA's potable water quality standards and how villagers deal with water issues.
Robert shows us a well in town that provides water to several users in town.
We notice that there is already some recycling and trash sorting going on.
What is the destiny of these sorted coconuts? There is quite a lot that we still need to find out and learn about basic services at Pulau Ubin.
Although we had to focus on Sustainability, we couldn't help but look at wildlife and nature along our walk through Ubin Town. We spotted a huge Golden orb web spider, stopped by the beautiful quarry and glimpsed butterfly hill, and peeked at some pretty homes and interesting temples.
During our tour of Ubin Town, we pass this house which is falling down. The result of a purist 'leave Ubin as it is' can result in such disrepair and decay. It is tough to find a balance between preservation and development.
We had a very lively and interesting discussion of what the various groups saw on their walkabouts, the dreams and ideas each came up with. Each participant also made a pledge to make our dreams for Ubin come true. I was busy listening and updating our online open notes of the discussions that I didn't take any photos. All too soon, it was time to go home, and November takes a selfie of all of us!
Yesterday, I had a lovely day at Ubin with the Naked Hermit Crabs for our monthly free guided Chek Jawa boardwalk tour. Since I'm still not able to walk well, I didn't actually guide but managed to hobble around to disturb the other guides.
Here's Chay Hoon pointing out the interesting critters in the back mangrove.
Joanna joined us for the first time. A great nature photographer, she used her camera to take a photo of the large but well camouflaged crab so the child could 'see' it. Often, without a 'search image' it is hard to see an obvious large animal that blends in well with its surroundings.
Here's Jonathan sharing lots of interesting features of our forests and mangroves. Other guides include Ley Kun, Kai and Pei Yan.
And oh! A tiny durian! Last month we saw lots of fallen durian flowers. Looks like the durian season is going well and in a few months, we will enjoy delicious Ubin durians!
We end the walk, as usual, with everyone sharing wonderful drawings and thoughts about their experiences. Thank you!
I'm always amazed at what the kids spot and remember during our walks! The guides ended with our usual lunch at Ubin Town, which was great even though there are no pepper crab :-(
It was good to see that the water is the normal green colour without any hints of a brown 'teh-o' colour that often accompanies plankton blooms that lead to mass fish deaths.
There are many issues that affect Pulau Ubin and many stakeholders. Thus, I am excited about the upcoming Ubin Project which was announced by Minister of State Desmond Lee, 10 Mar 2014:
“We will initiate a conversation soon with Singaporeans, including the islanders, interest groups and experts, on how we can sensitively enhance the natural environment of Ubin and protect its heritage and its rustic charm. We will seek ideas about nature and heritage conservation, and about education and nature-based recreation. Minister Khaw has asked me to lead this project, and I am humbled and privileged to do so. We will consult and engage widely. And we will not rush, because the process is as important as the outcome and we want to hear from as many Singaporeans as possible. Our collective ideas, when implemented, can be a gift for many generations of Singaporeans. Some of these ideas, if ready, will also be meaningful in our commemoration of Singapore’s 50th anniversary next year. We will share more details about “The Ubin Project” later this year.”
In response to Minister Desmond's announcement, the Leafmonkey Imagine Ubin workshop is an effort to gather dreams and ideas for Pulau Ubin from a wide range of stakeholders. Some of the key discussion points are highlighted in this online open notes of the workshop. Look out for more workshops on Ubin as well as other issues.

On 14-16 May, November, Kai and I are excited to launch a three-day workshop on nature guiding with the School of the Arts! This workshop is for those new to nature guiding, as well as existing guides looking for new tips to engage visitors. Expand the tools in your nature guiding tool box! Through fun filled activities, you will learn from and share with other guides; reflect on the deeper principles of guiding; design your own nature walk; and learn about guiding in various social contexts. Each evening will cover a different topic and begins with a brief introduction to provide the framework for two workshop activities that follow.

14 May (Wed): Mangroves and marine by Ria; and dealing with 'difficult' visitors
15 May (Thu): Forests by Vilma; and dealing with 'difficult' visitors
16 May (Fri): Design your own nature walk; and exploring other ways to reach out for nature

More details and online registration.

Links to more about Pulau Ubin (thanks to the Leafmonkey Workshop)


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