As featured on Straits Times Living City
Kayaking Leader, Asian Detours
Going to Ubin is something that recharges me. It doesn't feel like work at all.
Being there on your kayak and going through Ubin's nature, it's something that you will never get anywhere else in Singapore. Once you enter the mangrove in your kayak, the mood changes. The air changes. There is a drop in energy, and you can see it on the faces of my participants. They realise that this place is different from mainland Singapore.
Honestly, I don't think my kayak participants know what they are in for when they sign up. (Laughs) Some of them thought someone else would do the paddling. But they are very happy when they realise they have the freedom to explore the mangrove trail and interact with that space. That is something you cannot do if you were to trek or cycle.
When you are on a kayak, it is almost like going into stealth mode. It's quiet. When you come up to the trees, the animals will not be spooked, so you will get to see them in action.
We have Singaporeans who came to Ubin when they were young and decided to come back. We also have tourists who come here to explore because they've heard about Pulau Ubin. We want to introduce to people the beauty of the mangroves, and its importance to our ecosystem, and that there is another side of Singapore that is not Marina Bay Sands or The Esplanade.
Personally, Ubin has a place in my heart. My grand aunt used to live here, and I still have friends there.
The people there live off the mangrove. They fish from it; this is part of our culture. Sometimes I wish more Singaporeans know about it.
In the 1970s, there were pig farms and fish farms in Ubin. Ubin was always trying to find its identity. Then we tried to make it a nature reserve. Today, it is a mini tourist destination.
There was talk once that HDB flats may be built on Ubin. Everyone was taken aback; they reacted this way only because they love this place too much. They were worried that with a population increase, things would change on the island.
So the future of Ubin depends on Singaporeans recognising that it is there, that it has always been there. And it will still be there for you, your children and your grandchildren.