If you’re a broke student looking to get away from school and city-life craziness in Singapore in general without leaving the country, Pulau Ubin is definitely the place to go. The whole island holds a different frame of mind; one that looks like it came out the end of a 1960’s time machine. You can feel the air let a deep, calm breath out once you step off the boat and its hard not to do the same (I don’t know why you would even want to try not doing this if you’re coming to the island to relax).
I at least had the foresight to look (admittedly briefly) into where on the island the Celestial Ubin where I was supposed to be staying was located. From what I gathered, I needed to turn left and walk. This may seem overly simple, but it was a small island and I figured there’s no way I could mess up turning left. As it turns out, I have even less directional sense than I thought (which should have been expected, I once got lost going home from one of my best friend’s houses after living there for 3 years..!) and ended up making a wrong turn in there somewhere. In a feeble attempt to try to salvage some of my dignity, there was a garden in between the left turn and Celestial Ubin and these things very easily distract me:
After wandering through a marsh for a while, I eventually had to ask for directions (lucky there happened to be someone out walking, the dirt road I was on was pretty empty) and realized that I came within 10m of the resort before turning around in the wrong direction – distracted by all the starfruit – I TRUSTED YOU!!
My plant anger soon vanished when I got to the reception and saw that the free bike rental I was promised was actually so much more than just that – it was a tandem bike rental!!
Now, one of my friends in high school had a tandem bike, and we rode it quite a few times, so I figured I’d be okay to drive it, plus, I’d just been on a regular bike in Vietnam. Now, if you’re catching on to the trend here, things are never as simple as they seem and after convincing my roomie I wouldn’t kill her, we loaded on the bike and I immediately veered towards a nearby ditch. Shrieking in fear, I whipped the wheel around the opposite direction and Pulau Ubin-drifted back onto the road. After a few similar shrieking turns, I eventually got the hang of things, and we were on our way… For about 2 minutes before getting distracted by the sheer un-Singaporeanness of the island:
After several photo-break pit stops, it began getting threateningly dark – especially under the tree cover, so we decided to head back before getting lost (again).
Since I had finally satisfied my inner wild horse by exploring the land around the island, it was time to move onto aquatic exploration and break out the kayaks. After waking up and tracking down someone who worked at the resort (which was quite a bit harder than you would think), we were told just to take a kayak and bring it back whenever. After briefly contemplating kayaking away to Singapore and selling the kayak on the black market, I decided that would go against the heart of exploration (not because it would be unethical, but because I’d already been to Singapore, so the trip wouldn’t be as exciting as exploring the rest of the island). We ended up on Pulau Sekudu, a tiny island off the coast of Pulau Ubin. It was pretty miniscule, but full of colourful shells and coral, which I went and pillaged (to get some kind of pirating activity in)!
Unfortunately, the tides began to turn and the weather quickly started to turn foul, so we had to cut the raid short and escape back to Pulau Ubin before getting kayak-wrecked out at sea. Thankfully, we made it in time and were able to hop on a bum boat back to Singapore (there were actually other people around wanting to leave the island now, so it was easy to get a lift), pockets bulging with treasure.