Pulau Ubin, Singapore - An urban jungle is exactly how I viewed Singapore for many years until I paid a visit to a rustic little island that goes by the name of Pulau Ubin.
This boomerang-shaped island is situated in Singapore's northeast and is one of the last rural areas to be found in the country - with an abundance of natural flora and fauna.
To get there, visitors must go to Changi Village, then take the MRT and hop off at Tanah Merah Station in order to catch Bus No 2 heading to the Changi Bus Interchange, which is a three-minute walk away from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal, which has Pulau Ubin on its list of destinations just 15 minutes away.
No immigration clearance and customs checks are carried out. Customs checks, however, are conducted via a scanner for people returning to the Singapore mainland.
Upon arriving at Pulau Ubin, I could immediately feel that Singapore `kampong' (village) essence, even more recognisable when compared with how vastly different the main island is.
A stroll through Pulau Ubin reveals the simpler pleasures of life similar to Singapore's 1960s. It was like all the cares of the world had been left behind. As we walked further we saw several old shops still in operation such as basic goods shops, seafood restaurants and bicycle rental shops.
The islands have so many linking roads and trails and tourists can explore these areas by riding bicycles, which is also the cheapest and most convenient way to get around in one's explorations.
The Celestial Resort is also nearby and provides accommodation for visitors who wish to stay overnight.
Once we finished settling in at our accommodation, we went off to explore the island. En route to the summit, we saw a great many hornbills.
There used to be three hornbill species in Singapore until they all became extinct in the 19th Century due to rapid urban development. We are now seeing a revival of one of the species.
There are a few lakes around the island where a variety of migratory birds can still be found. Spiders are also a common sight despite being able to blend in superbly with their surroundings.
As we cycled further into the island we could see different types of vegetation, mostly rubber trees. Fruits such as durians and rambutan could be seen in abundance.
Mangrove trees, Nipah Palms and other coastal areas of vegetation can be seen thriving, indicating a wealth of coastal breeding pounds for life in all its forms such as monitor lizards, egrets and more.
A few houses can be seen selling cold beverages to quench a visitor's thirst.
Pulau Ubin is a great day trip spent walking or pedalling through rustic roads under swaying coconut palms, exploring shady trails in overgrown rubber plantations, checking out secluded beaches and flourishing mangroves.
On Pulau Ubin the air is fresher, and the sights and sounds are soothing to the soul.
It is very peaceful and a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin