Singapore’s Pulau Ubin-Part 2: A Memorable Walk at Chek Jawa Wetlands

Chek Jawa Wetlands or Tanjung Chek Jawa is the most popular tourist destination in Pulau Ubin and the highlight of our trip. The 100-hectare cape is located on the eastern tip of the island and is about 3 kilometers away from the public jetty. What makes it unique is that it is home to several ecosystems found in one area-the sandy beach, mangroves, seagrass lagoon, rocky beach, coral rubble and coastal forest. Indeed Chek Jawa Wetlands is unusually rich in biodiversity.

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these are my new found friends and fellow Pinoy I met inside the bus while I’m on my way to Changi Village-Pinky, Mavie and Rachel

The interesting fact

Check Jawa Wetlands is an intertidal area where the perfect time to visit is during the low tides of 0.5 meters and below for a chance to see their rich ecosystems. To avoid disappointment, do refer to the tide table when planning your visit.

According to Wikipedia, intertidal referred to as the littoral zone that is above water at low tide and under water at high tide, in other words, the area between tide marks.

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abandoned kampong house which is said to be the original shelter house of the residents of Pulau Ubin

 How to get there

Chek Jawa can be reached by hiring a local van for SG$35 or renting a bike at Kampong Ubin (near the entrance) from S$8.00, S$15.00 or S$25 depending on the style or condition. Just be reminded that it is not allowed on the Boardwalk. Park and lock your bike near the Punai Hut. If you want a dose of adventure, walking is the best for you.

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there are lots of bikers during my visit because it was weekend

As for me and my new found Pinoy friends whom I met inside the bus-Richel, Mavie and Pinky, we opted to take a walk. We visited Butterfly Hill, Sensory Trail, Pekan Quarry and our last stop is in Puaka Hill. From there we set out to continue walking to Chek Jawa Wetlands.

It was fun walking on the paved road because of the lush greenery and peaceful environment. Who would have thought that a highly urbanized Singapore managed to retain and safeguard the island’s natural heritage? Amazing!

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the paved and two-way road in getting to Chek Jawa Wetlands

It is Sunday today and I was so happy to see many bikers on the road. There were adults, young and even little kids.

We passed by the Ubin Fruit Orchard along Jalan Ubin. The fruit tree arboretum about one hectare in size planted rambutan, durian and starfruit.

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the entrance to Urban Fruit Orchard

A moment later we passed by a little store and stopped to buy cold refreshments. They were so kind that they allowed us to use their restroom free of charge.

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Not all roads leading to Chek Jawa are paved. Few steps from the turnoff, the road was surfaced by gravel where some portions had patches of water. This is the most challenging part for the bikers. The road was one-way and some parts were steep. There is signage to dismount on a downhill part. It’s best to follow the rules to avoid an accident.   

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this is the road to Chek Jawa, one way and surfaced by gravel with patches of water

Meet-up with the animals

Along the way, we came across dogs, monkeys and wild boars. There were monkeys scattered on the road. It is advised not to provoke these primates because they might attack you. One of the monkeys looked at me straight to the eye and later it followed me humming an unusual voice. Pinky dismissed it by waving her hand then I slowly walked away. The monkey ran away from us.

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these monkeys were playful so we walked away from them slowly

Wild boars were so tame. A sow and its young were roaming around everywhere. They don’t mind if they were being taken a picture by lots of curious visitors.

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the wild boar and the visitors

In a little while, we reached the entrance to Chek Jawa and headed to Visitor Centre. Information Kiosk, rules and guidelines, concrete benches and a vending machine are found here. This is a nice place to stay after biking or walking.

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some stopped in the Visitor Centre to rest, some read the informative posters while the others bought drinks from a vending machine

These are the places to visit in Chek Jawa

House No. 1

This Tudor-style bungalow and the nearby outhouse were built in 1930 by the chief surveyor, London William for a holiday or weekend retreat. The architecture behind and its historical significance to Singapore attracted many tourists to visit the place. Aside from the house, there is the concrete jetty that extends about 100 meters to the sea and towards Pulau Sekudo or Frog Island.

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it was so nice to go inside House No.1 and see what’s inside

Restoration had taken place and original materials were used to preserve the architecture behind it.

How I wish I have a rest house like this where I could sit near the sea to contemplate on many things or take a quiet walk along the concrete jetty. House No. 1 by the way, is the postal address in Pulau Ubin.

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I was mesmerized standing at House No.1 while looking at the water and the concrete Jetty

Jejawi Tower

Standing at 21 meter high is a seven-story viewing tower where a panoramic view of the lush canopy of trees can be seen. It was so wonderful to stand a while at the viewing deck while looking at the awesome sight and the birds flying nearby. Only twenty persons could accommodate the viewing tower at a time. Be patient waiting for you turn.

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it was so peaceful standing at the view deck of Jejawi Tower while watching the canopy of trees and the hovering birds

Boardwalk

They say the best part to see and enjoy the beauty of Chek Jawa is to take a stroll along the 1.1 km Boardwalk which is divided into Coastal and Mangrove Loops. For venturesome people who want to explore more of Chek Jawa can access both routes. But for us, we chose the latter to minimize time travel because afterward each one of us will visit other places on the mainland.

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time was running out so we did not take the two routes in getting to the Boardwalk

The time we stepped into the Boardwalk the water had engulfed the entire beach area. We were deprived of seeing the animals like Fiddler Crabs, Pistol Shrimps, and Barnacles. Anyway, we have to move on to enjoy walking on the boardwalk while savoring the beautiful view.

Along the way, there were educational boards telling what plants and animals can be seen in the area. It was flickering hot so we walked fast to avoid the heat. Halfway there was a rest station where we paused for a while to quench our thirst with water to avoid dehydration.

Who manages the island?

On June 4, 2016, National Parks Board was designated as the central managing agency for Pulau Ubin at Ubin Day 2016 by the Guest-of-Honor of the event, Minister Lawrence Wong. They are responsible for the maintenance of most aspects of the island, maintaining its greenery, the recreation for the public, education and research as well as the licenses issued to the community.

It’s good that there is an agency like this who will surely keep the island clean, green and safe for the residents and to the visitors as well.

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without the National Boards Park, Pulau Ubin will not be this unique as the way it is now

Getting Back

Coming from an awesome adventure at Chek Jawa Wetlands, we took the Jalan Durian route in getting back to Kampong Village. The trek back was easier and seemed shorter. We made it for about 45 minutes only.

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seeing its rustic charm… hearing the sound of nature…it’s so wonderful roaming around in Pulau Ubin…

We were all famished when we reached a seafood restaurant Season Live Seafood Restaurant facing the mainland Singapore and the Ubin Jetty. As we browsed on the prices of the food we found out it was a bit pricey. My buddies decided to eat at Hawker Centre at Changi Village.

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you may eat your lunch at Seafood Live Seafood Restaurant after biking or walking from Chek Jawa

It’s time now to say goodbye to my new found friends. I thanked them for the unforgettable journey we had in Pulau Ubin. I decided to stay for I haven’t fully enjoyed exploring the island.

I went to the picnic area near the sandy shore and ate my packed lunch. There were several people having a picnic there. I felt I was in the Philippines because of the serenity and tranquility defined in that area. After I had my fill, I breathed deeply of the lovely afternoon air and let the beauty of the island sink into my consciousness. I listened to the silence of the place and to the friendly waves.

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the picnic ground and resting place of bikers and trekkers

I was savoring the gentle wind brushing gently into my face. This is a wonderful quiet moment. I enjoyed watching the bumboats go back and forth to Changi Point as well as the airplanes hovering in the sky.

I went back in time and saw how life was in those days on this Island. This was a rewarding experience for I had gained a deep understanding of Pulau Ubin. The journey to the olden times was beyond compare.

After I regained my energy, I went to Nature Gallery and started reading about the rich history of Pulau Ubin. Then later I went back to Ubin Jetty and bid goodbye to what has been said, the last frontier of Singapore.

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My next destination -> Gardens by the Bay, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest.

You may download the map here.

Notes:

  1.  If you want to savor the lush greenery of the island, it’s better to take a walk in getting to Chek Jawa Wetlands.
  2. Singapore is a tropical country, expect it to be hot so wear comfortable clothes, shoes and also bring hats, sunglasses and arm warmer.
  3. Apply sunblock for there are portions of the roads exposed to sun.
  4. Apply also mosquito repellant for there are gnats and mosquitoes to some part of the island.
  5. Water in the public toilet is not potable so it is advised to bring at least two liters to avoid dehydration.
  6. Biking is safe but be sure to check the bicycle if it’s in proper condition, wear a helmet and follow the road signs. Take it slow during downhill and if possible dismount on the uphill portion to avoid an accident.
  7. For a solo girl biker, it is advisable to go to the island on weekend for your own safety because there are lots of people on the road during those days.
  8. Food and drinks are a bit pricey on the island compared to the Hawker Centre in Changi Village.
  9. It is advised to bring food, snack and water because there is only one store along the way to Chek Jawa and sells beverages only.
  10. Do not feed the animals nor provoke them.
  11. Stay calm and walk away slowly when you encounter a wild boar or a monkey.
  12. Do not use flash photography when you take pictures of the wild boar because this may upset them causing them to be aggressive.
  13. In case you encounter monkey, put all your things inside your bag because some of them are playful. They hastily grab things which attract their attention like water tumbler, monopod and sometimes even the bag is being taken away.
  14. For your safety, stay away from the edges of the river, cliffs and granite quarries.
  15. If walking, stay always on the left so as not to obstruct the others especially the bikers because some of them were in a group.
  16. Take good care of the facilities so that the others can enjoy using it.
  17. Do not litter.
  18. No fishing.
  19. No smoking.
  20. There is no wifi signal on the island.
  21. Appreciate the beauty of the island, the sound, the wildlife, the stillness and its rich biodiversity.
  22. Leave nothing but memories. Take nothing but pictures.

 

 

Chek Jawa Opening Hours: 8.30 am – 6.00 pm

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Part 8: Hong Kong and Macau Trip: My Solo Adventure in Disneyland
Loreland Farm Resort: Changed and Evolved The Friendly Trek to Quitinday Green Hills in Camalig, Albay Singapore Family Trip-Part 4: Universal Studios-Singapore The Sky Walk Extreme Adventure in Cebu City

 

 

 

 

 

Part 8: Hong Kong and Macau Trip: My Solo Adventure in Disneyland

I’ve often heard from my friends and office mates that Hong Kong Disneyland is the best place to visit in the city especially if you have kids. But I was on a solo vacation and it saddened me to leave my family in Manila for not spending a great holiday like this with them. Anyway, their encouraging words somehow lessen the agony. They wanted me to enjoy every minute of my vacation especially the most anticipated part of my Hong Kong and Macau Trip.

My solitary adventure in Disneyland!  Again, thank you HSBC for my free trip to Hong Kong.

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Part 7: Hong Kong and Macau Trip: The Peak Experience

Victoria Peak or The Peak is a “must visit” destination and one of the major tourist attractions in Hong Kong. What so unique about The Peak? First, you’ll be thrilled riding the Peak Tram in getting there. Second, you will be rewarded by the panoramic view of a magnificent skyline and the waterfront that will take your breath away.

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it was a downcast morning so this was the only picture I got from The Peak

Perching on an elevation of 552 meters (1,811 feet), The Peak is the highest point on Hong Kong Island and undeniably the place where every visitors will surely enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong.

The ride

For me, I chose the Peak Tram for I want to experience the best and most unique ride in getting to The Peak.

The Peak

The five-minute ride at the Peak Tram in getting to the Peak was short but it thrilled me much. Our trip ended in upper terminus inside the Peak Tower. It is a large shopping complex located in Victoria Gap where it offers dining, shopping and entertainment events.

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We passed by the Peak Market, a lane of souvenir shops quietly inviting visitors to drop by and shop. There was a series of escalators connecting all levels of the tower.

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The major attraction of the Peak Tower is the Sky Terrace 428, the 360 open-air viewing deck located at the top level of the building. Its distinctive stylish architecture includes the captivating wok-shaped roof designed by British Architect Terry Farrell. At 428 meters above sea level, this is where visitors can enjoy the stunning panoramic view of the harbour, the surrounding islands and the skyline.

they say you will get the best view here at Sky Terrace 360

they say you will get the best view here at Sky Terrace 360

Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 11:00 pm – Monday to Friday / 8:00 am to 11:00 pm – Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays

Ticket price:  Adult – HK$48.00 / Children (11 and below years of age) and Senior Citizen (65 years old and above) – HK$24.00

Another attraction is Madame Tussauds, a wax museum exhibiting nearly 100 life-size wax figures of local and international known personalities which are grouped into themed settings. The museum offers visitors a unique experience to get close and have pictures taken with famous Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe, Angelina Jolie, Elvis Presley and Asian stars like Bruce Lee and Jacky Chan and a lot more.

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Opening Hours:  10:00 am to 10:00 pm daily

We set off to a viewing deck in one of the levels of the tower and from there, I was hooked looking at the stunning vista. But since it was a downcast morning, all my pictures were not so alive. I wish the sun will come out so I have a better picture of the view.

Just across the Peak Tower is the Peak Galleria, another shopping complex that also offers dining, shopping, a museum, tourist attraction and free-entry observatory deck on level 3. But the latter has more restaurants and boutiques. Sip your favorite coffee at Starbucks Coffee or have some scoop of your favorite ice cream at Häagen-Dazs, both located at the ground level.

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One of its major attractions is the TrickEye Museum located at the 3rd level. For those who love the mind-blowing tricky paintings and sculptures, this museum will excite you. TrickEye Museum has 50 optical illusion paintings in five different themed zones, Hong Kong Discovery, Secret Garden, World of Masterpieces, Neverland and Great Adventure.

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Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 9:00 pm – Monday to Sunday (All year round)

I had my best shot

After touring around, we looked for a better vantage point to see again the panoramic view. Still, there was no sun. Anyway, I had my best photo of the marvelous skyline soaring high and a breathtaking harbor which is one of the finest I’ve seen.

My sojourn to The Peak had ended. Nonetheless, I was happy and satisfied. Now, it’s time to embrace my intrepid solo adventure…in Disneyland.

Next Destination – Hong Kong Disneyland

Four ways in getting to The Peak:

* The Peak Tram – at Grand Road Terminal tram – opens from 7:00 am to 12:00 midnight-Monday to Sunday and Public Holidays. Departs every 10 to 15 minutes.

* By Bus – take the bus route no. 15 from Exchange Square bus terminus in Central. Operates daily from 10:00 am to 12:00 am – trip may take 30 to 35 minutes.

* By taxi – the shortest route may take a taxi ride from Admiralty MTR Station for about 15 to 20 minutes.

* Mini-bus – you may opt to take the green mini bus route no. 1 from MTR Hong Kong Station Public Transport Interchange.

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Part 6: Hong Kong and Macau Trip: The Double-deck tram, the Peak Tram and the Peak Tram Historical Gallery

Our yesterday’s visit in Macau and to the prime attractions of Tsim Sha Tsui of Hong Kong at night had been crammed with adventure. For my second day in the city, I was again so excited for I will be riding the double-deck tram and the Peak Tram. And lastly, I will be exploring Disneyland, alone. Sounds scary? It’s not! (I guess so, hehehe).

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getting ready for the exciting and enjoyable ride at the Peak Tram

Day Leen and I woke up early, took a quick shower and set out hurriedly to Shau Kei Wan MTR Station to avoid the long queue at the Peak Tram Lower Terminus. We alighted at Admiralty Station and settled for breakfast at KFC. As promised by my new friend, she will let me experience a ride in a double-deck tram right after we eat. And I was pretty much excited to the highest level.

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Double-Deck Tram 

The double-deck tram which is called by the local as Ding Ding is the cheapest and one of the earliest forms of public transport in Hong Kong (over 110 years in service). Its size was smaller compared to the regular bus in the city but it looked so cute.

while waiting for the double-deck tram to stop

while waiting for the double-deck tram to stop

 After our breakfast, we headed to Admiralty MTR Station (an intermediate stop) and boarded excitedly the double-deck tram. We tapped our Octopus Card on the processor and I smiled in delight while standing inside the tram. We alighted on next stop. It was a short ride, but I was so happy for this memorable experience.

Passengers may pay an exact fare in coins or by tapping the Octopus card. The current fare is HK#2.30 for adults, HK$1.20 for kids (below 12 years old), and HK$1.10 for senior citizens (65 and above).

The double-deck tram is also a major tourist attraction in Hong Kong and what’s so good about this? You’ll be riding an environment-friendly way of roaming around the city.

So when you are in Hong Kong try it too! It was fun!

 Our Way to The Peak

We walked all the way to The Peak Tram Lower Terminus in Garden Road to buy our ticket. Since we will not stay long at The Peak, we only bought a return ticket for HK$45. It was around 7:30 am and while waiting for the Peak Tram to set off, I grabbed the opportunity to see The Peak Tram Historical Gallery. It’s like going back in time seeing several memorabilia displayed on the glass wall and be more educated and be amazed how The Peak Tram had started, its heritage as well as the history of Hong Kong.

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have a little history of Hong Kong while waiting for the Peak Tram to set off

Time for the exciting ride!

There are four ways in getting to The Peak. But for me, I want to experience the best and most unique ride in getting there, so I chose the Peak Tram. This is one of the world’s oldest and most famous funicular railways which is serving Hong Kong for 120 years now! Imagine that!

Day Leen and I opted to stand at the back when the tram car slowly moved upwards on a steep slope. So steep that those buildings looked like they were leaning. The cable railway was sandwiched by a lush tropical forest. It was only a five-minute journey and before I knew it, we were in the upper terminus already.

passengers inside the Peak Tram

passengers inside the Peak Tram

For a climber like me, I was thinking, I could trek the top in thirty minutes. The ride though short thrilled me much. Kids will surely love this ride too.

the tram railway on its way to the steep slope

the tram railway on its way to the steep slope

Ticket Price: for single ride – Adult-HK$75 / Children (11 years old and below) – HK$34 / Senior Citizen (65 years old and above) – HK$34

For return ride: Adult-HK$88 / Children-HK$42 / Senior Citizen – HK$42

Next Destination – into The Peak

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