Ubin Day is on Sunday. I was on the island last weekend with a group of friends.
I had not been to this rustic island off the north-east of Singapore for many years, but was happy to revisit with friends to enjoy a birthday lunch of seafood by Ubin's waters.
So, here are my five things to enjoy in this last nook of rural Singapore.
1. Get started with a not-so-bumpy bumboat ride
Pulau (a Malay word for island) Ubin is a short 10 to 15 minutes' trip by bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Each ride costs $2.50 per person, plus $2 if you bring your bicycle. The bumboat will leave when there are 12 on board. If you don't want to wait, you can charter the boat for $30.
2. Try a seafood meal by the jetty
Haute cuisine this will never be, but just try the wild boar's meat stir fried with thick soy sauce and a dash of pepper. We also had crabs cooked three ways - with chilli, black pepper and steamed. The firm, sweet flesh lifted the mundane sauces in the chilli and pepper version.
Overall, food was so-so. But, for me, good company and cool bubbly in the balmy heat lifted by the occasional sea breeze and industrial-sized fans made this a meal to remember - so much so that I forgot to whip out my handphone to snap a photo!
3. Walk off those calories
There are many trails to take on the island. But come prepared: Hat to ward off the sun from your face, suntan lotion for those exposed limbs and mosquito repellent to keep those pesky insects away.
We took a leisurely stroll along leafy roads to my next highlight of this trip.
4. Stop by and chat at Ah Ma's Drinks Stall
Mother and daughter were there when we stopped by the stall after a 2-3km walk from the jetty area.
Get Ah Ma to open a coconut (from Thailand, not the island). Then tear off the top and scoop up the sweet, white flesh. Munch on that while sipping the juice and chatting with mother and daughter.
And don't forget to say hello to Pong Pong (Hokkien words to describe fluffy things like fur), the resident dog taking his 10th nap of the day on the dirt floor. Sadly, his doggy companion Kopi passed away suddenly a couple of months ago, said Ah Ma's daughter.
5. Next: Visit Chek Jawa
I didn't have the time to do this on such a short trip, but I know I will be back soon (not after several years though) to visit the Chek Jawa wetlands, perhaps with a volunteer guide to better appreciate the rich marine life in the area.