My body still doesn’t know enough to go to sleep at night, so my friend, Dr. Ng Wai Chong came by today to take me on an excursion and tire me out a bit.
Pulau Ubin is an island off the northeast coast of Singapore, on the edge of the South China Sea. Environmentalists resisted its development and in an unusual collaborative move, worked with the government to develop a nature preserve. There are trails for walking and cycling.
Access to the island is by a “bumboat” ferry:
which dropped us off at the bike rental, where a couple of bucks got each of us a mountain bike. No helmets, deposits or waivers–just “Here’s the gear shift, here’s the brake, and off into the jungle you go!”
I had read that one might see wild boars, exotic birds, even a Komodo dragon, and Wai Chong mentioned that an elephant swims over from Malaysia on rare occasions. Other than the exotic birds, most didn’t appear for us, likely due to the oppressive 95/95 heat/humidity. Then suddenly, the Boar Family appeared at the side of the path:
They seem to be the Singapore equivalent of the raccoon, when food may be around. I told Wai Chong I was surprised we’d see any creatures in this weather and he replied, “Thailand is hotter.”
We also rode by a number of rough houses in the park–mainly older people who are “aging in place”, and resisted the development of the 1960s and ’70s, before which much of Singapore had looked like this:
We eventually came to the Chek Jawa wetlands, which had several different phases, from a traditional rain forest:
to a mangrove swamp,
To the seacoast:
We stopped at one of the Malay cottages for cold drinks, and the owner’s relatives all arrived for a visit, greeting each other (and us) with a “Salaam alaikum”. The patriarch stopped to visit outside:
We finally cooled off and filled up at the Changi Village hawker stands: great lunch for two, for about $6 total. Tomorrow I start earning my keep, beginning with a dementia talk to an SRO crowd of 200.