Back to the jungle (Pulau Ubin)

Pulau UbinSingapore is an island/ city/ country in South East Asia. What I didn’t know when moving here 6 months ago is that hyper-modern Singapore has a few small jungle-islands which you can reach by ferry. I’ve written about 3 of those islands in this blog post.

Unlike the islands in my previous blog post, Pulau Ubin is habited. It’s a small island, 10 minutes ferry ride from Changi Village on Singapore mainland. The island is the closest you get to what Singapore looked like 50 years ago. There is no electricity on the island, but it’s full of bike rentals and restaurants for visiting Singaporeans and tourists.

Manuele and I bought our Trek Mountain bikes a few months ago, and have since enjoyed MTB on trails like Kent Ridge and Bukit Timah. We had already been to Pulau Ubin a few times, catching a bus from central Singapore and renting a bike on the island for the day. But we were eager to test our full-suspension Trek’s on the Ketam MTB trail, which runs through the jungle.

We got up at 7am on Sunday, and got on our bikes. It’s 40 km to Changi Village from where we live in Pasir Panjang. That’s 2-4 hours one way depending on your speed.


Singapore mtb day
This is the trip we made to Pulau Ubin. The advantage of bicycling at 8 am is the lack of traffic. I was really grateful for this when we got lost around the 12 km mark (near Marina Bay) and ended up on a large road under construction.

We were able to bicycle through several parks along the shore. We shared the road with cars until we got to Harbourfront (6 km mark) and then took to the side walks of the city centre, until reaching Marina Bay. I’m always scared to bicycle on the street, I’ve been hit by a car once and I’ve fallen of my bike plenty of times. The combination terrifies me. At some point we joined a large group of cyclists on the road, and I felt like a fish in a stream. It felt safe as it’s hard to miss a group of around 20 bikes. Manuele and I then took a hidden street under the Marina Bay Sands hotel to Gardens by the Bay. The park was nearly empty and a bridge took us to East Coast Park.

bicycing through Singapore

Garden by the Bay

bicycing through Singapore

bicycing through Singapore

bicycing through Singapore

View of Marina Bay from Marina East Park

bicycing through Singaporebicycing through Singapore

It was 11.30 When we reached the Ferry Terminal in Changi Village. The transfer to Pulau Ubin is $2.50/ person plus $2/ bike.

Pulau Ubin

trek bicycles
Here we go..

Pulau Ubin

We found the end of the MTB trail, and managed to get directions to the starting line.

ulau ubin ketam btb trail

I only regret not taking more pictures of the trail. It starts with a blue trail (easy level) which takes us through a relaxed trail with view over the beach and Singapore. The blue trail eventually takes us to the start of the black (hard) trail. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

ulau ubin ketam btb trailulau ubin ketam btb trail

myself at Pulau bin mtb trail
After our first day at Bukit Timah mtb trail, when I fell on my face and had 3 stitches, we don’t go out without protection!

ulau ubin ketam btb trail

We were both exhausted now and discussed if we should ride the last ~300m on the blue (easy) trail or black (hard). We chose the black trail.

ulau ubin ketam btb trail

About a minute later my legs started shaking violently from exhaustion. I could really feel those 50+ km now and I wasn’t sure my legs could bare any more of these rock gardens. After taking this picture I climbed off the bike and walked to the next resting point where I found Manuele (way ahead of me as always). We couldn’t move for a good 15-20 minutes and then got back on our bikes to finish the trail. We had been sitting next to the exit and a few minutes later we were back in the open!

Bicycling

Failing bicycling

At this point, I could’t even ride a straight line any more.

We had planned to make a few loops on the trail but it was clearly not happening, so we spent the next few hours casually riding around the island and had some late and overpriced lunch at one of the many restaurants.

Here are a few pictures from previous trips to Pulau Ubin:

Pulau Ubin

My favourite resting place for coconut drinks. The family running the place are really friendly and will cut the coconut open once you’re done drinking, so you can easily eat the flesh.

Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin
Pulau Ubin Enjoying my coconut water
Pulau Ubin
Following Manuele through the jungle
Pulau Ubin
Pulau Ubin is full of wild monkeys
DSCN0033_1Pulau Ubin
…and wild boars. And they’ll eat your food if you’re not careful.
Pulau Ubin
Baby wild boars!

Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin
Manuele in the watch tower at Chek Jawa wetlands
Pulau Ubin
View of Pulau Ubin from the watch tower
Pulau Ubin
At Chek Jawa wetlands
Pulau Ubin
Chek Jawa boardwalk

Pulau Ubin

Singapore mtb day

And then it was time to bicycle 40 km back home again…

returning from Pulau Ubin

on the way to Pulau Ubin

Singapore Skyline from East Coast Park
Singapore Skyline from East Coast Park

We had both brought water with us from home, but were pretty much out by the time we reached the ferry to Pulau Ubin. I try not buying water bottles but there was no choice, we spent around $30 on water that day. :O I’d buy two bottles of water, I’d drink the first one without stopping to breathe, and then carry on with the second bottle. I drank coconut water where they offered this, but there was no end to my thirst. It was noon, 35c, and painfully humid.

We came home, sat down, and couldn’t get up again. We had bicycled over 100 km

Next time, we’re renting a van.

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2 thoughts on “Back to the jungle (Pulau Ubin)

  1. Yes! Singapore really doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It’s usually just known for being clean with futuristic architecture, but it’s also full of jungle and the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen!

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