Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Relaxing Day On Ubin

Three of my secondary friends decided that we should have a meal together, and since I had a CJ appreciation BBQ on Saturday night, I managed to convince them to go to Ubin for lunch so that I didn't have to run around too much.

It always feels good to go to Ubin. When ever I'm there, I just feel very relaxed and forget all my troubles for a while. On our way there on the bumboat, I could see one of the kelongs nearer to the jetty - it was flying a Singapore flag! So cool right? :)

Soon, we reached the jetty. Dark clouds were gathering then, but fortunately it didn't rain. I had planned to bring my friends to the Chek Jawa Boardwalk to test out the route for our guided walk, so was really hoping for a dry day.

As we walked towards the shops, a hibiscus plant next to the road was in full bloom! This particular hibiscus blooms in the morning as a white flower, and slowly turned pink in the afternoon, and eventually in the evening, it turns magenta and will probably drop off that night or the next day.

We went to the restaurant and ordered several things, including my favourite fried squid. Yum yum, it was definitely a great meal.

After the meal, we were discussing whether we should cycle or take a van to the Chek Jawa boardwalk. Since there were only 4 of us, I wasn't sure if the van drivers will charge us more than the standard $2 per person, and none of the van drivers I knew were around. Just then, someone I'm not familiar with approached us and said he could drive us there for $24! Wow! That means to-and-fro will cost us $48. We thanked him, rejected his offer and decided to go for the bikes instead.

And just as we were reaching the bike shops, yet another van driver who I was also not familiar with saw us, and told us that he could take us there for $2 each, even if there were only 4 of us! So off we went with him to Chek Jawa.

As we entered the coastal forest, one of my friend spotted something moving on the sand. I squat down to take a closer look, and realised that it was a pair of sea slaters, probably working hard for the next generation! :)

Although the tide was quite high, the rocks at the beginning of the coastal boardwalk were still exposed, and there were lots of oysters stuck to them. These oysters will feed on tiny edible particles or organisms when they are covered by water during high tide.

The coastal boardwalk was about 600m long. Including the mangrove boardwalk which was 500m long, the entire boardwalk took about 18 months to build.

And here are some of the perepat trees near the mangrove boardwalk, and their flowers are pollinated by bats which feed on the nectar and pollen.

There were lots of fiddler crabs waving their pincers just below the boardwalk, looking as if they were saying, "Come come, don't shy." Haha...

On the sea hibiscus tree next to the boardwalk, we found lots of cotton stainer bugs. Like the sea slaters we saw earlier, many of the adult bugs were also working hard for the next generation. :P

There were lots of juvenile cotton stainers too.

And along the mangrove boardwalk, mud lobster mounds were a common sight. The mud near the entrance looked really fresh, and was still trickling down the slope. Did we just miss seeing the mud lobster bringing the mud to the surface?

We also saw a juvenile monitor lizard. I have seen juvenile monitor lizards many times at the boardwalk, but have not seen any huge adults so far. Wonder where they have gone to.

And of course, a mangrove walk would certainly be incomplete without seeing a mudskipper! This is the giant mudskipper, the largest mudskipper in Singapore. Mudskippers are actually fish, even though they can stay out of water for quite a long while. They basically carry water in their mouth and gill chambers for them to breath, and thus they cannot move too far away from water as they will need to replenish the water once the oxygen runs out. They can breath through their skin when it's wet too!

On one of the storyboards, a pretty little beetle caught our attention. Have no idea what's the species though.

There was a group of people gathering around a spot, and walking closer, I realised that they were looking at a tree-climbing crab just under the boardwalk. Looked like it was feeding on a rotten sea almond fruit, as we could see it picking something from the fruit and put it into its mouth every now and then. Or maybe it could also be feeding on something on the rotten fruit? Hmm...

And here is the Jejawi Tower, named after the Malayan Banyan tree growing next to it. It's 20m tall, and can take about 40 people.

And a group shot of the gang of four. Cheers to almost 20 years of friendship.

After about one and a half hours, we finally reached the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre, also known as House Number 1 which is its postal address in Pulau Ubin. This unique building was built in the 1930s for Langdon Williams, the then Chief Surveyor, as a holiday retreat.

As there was still time, I decided to bring my friends to the Sensory Trail after our walk at the CJ boardwalk.

And there were cotton stainers here too on the lady's fingers. Bugs from this family mainly feed on seeds from plants of the Malvaceae family, which includes the hibiscus, lady's finger and cotton.

Strangely, I couldn't find any cotton stainers on the cotton plant though, even though they were fruiting. Remembered seeing the cotton stainers when I was here the last time.

Soon, it was getting dark, and my friends took the bumboat back to mainland Singapore. I stayed on though, for part two - the CJ appreciation BBQ.

Joined Adelle and the other volunteers back at House No. 1, and we took a walk along the jetty. The sun was setting, but the boardwalk still looked spectacular in the distance.

After the BBQ session, some of us decided to go for a walk on the boardwalk. As it was quite dark, we didn't really see lots of things, but it was still quite exciting as we walked and joked about.

This was one of the spiders we spotted on the boardwalk. It was just there, not moving, even when I got nearer to it to take this photo. Not sure what's the species though.

We also saw some of the usual suspects that we saw in the day time...

..such as this tree-climbing crab...

..and lots of cotton stainers on the sea hibiscus tree.

We also saw another species of crabs that climb trees - the tree-dwelling crab.

Understand that some of the others even saw civet cats on the boardwalk, which I missed.

Anyway, it was a great night, all the volunteers gathered for some fun and laughter. Will be even better actually if we can combine this with an exploration trip down the tidal flats at CJ actually. Hope we'll get more of such get-together activities in future.

Thanks to the NParks people for organising this :)


~ Mantamola ~ said...

tat's the Huntsman spider that quite common in kampung houses. Looks like a female spider...

tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

Thanks Samson! I'm never good with terrestrial life :P