Butterfly Hill at Pulau Ubin

I confess I have no idea there was such a place at Pulau Ubin. I only saw it when I went to shoot the Pesta Ubin Run recently. And I knew I have to come back to take a closer look at it.  Soback on Pulau Ubin over the weekend for a full day trek, we made a pit stop here to check out the scene. 

And my golly, there were indeed butterfly galore. Just walking alongside it, I could see a few butts flying –  a couple of Jeezebul and some Yellows. I knew I must explore the place in depth. But the hike training has to take priority and after just about half an hour of looking at the many different butterfly flying around, I have to move on with just 3 photo of butterfly out of the so many there. One Peacock Pansy, a Glassy Tiger and an unidentified butterfly or maybe moth.

Peacock Pansy

Blue Glassy Tiger

Unidentified Butterfly/moth

I consoled myself that earlier on right at the beginning of the day, I had got a photo of the beautiful Common Birdwing at the Assembly Area.

Common Birdwing

And there was bound to be other butterfly around although I swear I am so gonna come back to Butterfly Hill again just for the butts. 

Anyway, at the fruit farm, I managed to shoot a beautiful Lascar. Not too sure whether it is a Common or Malayan Lascar though.


There was also a pair of Glassy Tiger flying around the same plant

Dark Glassy Tiger

On the way in to and out of Chek Jawa, there were a few butts flying around despite it being almost 4 pm. Despite being pressed for time, managed to get a photo of a Knight. Too bad the angle isn’t too good. It was too skittish and it didn’t help that there were many cyclists whizzing through and every time one of them pass by, the butterfly will take off.


I shall return and the next time it will only be butterfly time!


Pulau Ubin

It been some time since I last visited Pulau Ubin and then suddenly in the space of 2 months, I been there 3 times. Each time I am struck by its wild beauty and marvel that such a rustic place can be reached from bustling busy Singapore city with just a 10 minutes ferry ride.

The same run down little shop houses with the eateries and bicycle rentals are still there. The wayang stage is still there and nothing much seems to have changed. Time seems to have come to a stand still there which is good. Hopefully no Sentosa twin ever.

On my latest visits, we noticed 2 places that we have never seen or noticed. Butterfly Hill where there are apparently more than 140 species of butterfly spotted.

More of that in a later post though.

The numerous quarries are still there and together with view of the surrounding sea postcard like backdrop of the island.

Former Ubin Resort (now part of Learning Lab)

Fish Pond

Pekan Quarry

Chek Jawa is still a very much beloved part of the island with its picturesque jetty and mangrove boardwalk.

And we stumbled upon this little hill

At the summit which is only probably about 50 metres above sea level, one get a very beautiful view of the Ubin quarry on one side and the Pasir Ris town on the other.

View from top of Puaka Hill

View from top of Puaka Hill

Other places that have withstood the test of time includes the German Girl Shrine(which seem to have been upgraded in fact)

German Girl Shrine

and this very iconic drink stall which is on every visitor’s list of must take photo

We went to the Ketam Mountain Bike park by foot and not by bike and was rewarded with beautiful view of the Ketam Island and more view of Pasir Ris town.

Ketam Island

We followed a trail to a temple which looks like a copy cat of a Tibetan temple which colourful flags everywhere.

We were training for an upcoming hike and birding and butterflying at the same time so we took a fair bit of time to cover probably 2/3 of the hill. Good excuse to come back another time.

Pulau Ubin Night Walk

Went for a guided night hike at Pulau Ubin organised as part of the Pesta Ubin 2017 activities. The walk was conducted by the famous Subaraj Rajathurai, of Strix Wildlife Consultancy. Here he is briefing the group on the type of bats that can be seen on Pulau Ubin. 

It amazing that he can identify the bats flying up and down. And he does a good bird mimic too! But because the group is too big, we split into 2 groups and we followed his son who was just as knowledgeable.

And before long, he spotted the first snake for the night. A Common Bronzeback Snake high up in the tree. It simply amazing how they can spot something so small and indistinguishable in the dark. Can you see it in cropped photo? 

We spotted a lot of Four lined frogs including a mating pair.

Also a few Asian Toad

And apparently a rare Chorus frog which got our 2 guides all excited. 

And of course there were geckos and insect and this weird looking Hammerhead Flat Worm.

And also a moth

And a Huntsmen Spider

And after 2 hours of walking, we ended the night with another snake sighting. In fact 2 of them – both Oriental Whip Snake.

Oriental Whip Snake

Trail Running at Pulau Ubin

Good friend, ultra marathoner and trail lover, Kelly Lim has started a facebook group dedicated to trail running. The objective of the group according to the burb on the page is “An online trail running community to bring together trail runners based in Singapore, provide a platform to exchange info on training and local/overseas races and running routes, and to inspire more to step out to embrace nature”.

To kick off the group, she organised a trail run at the last running frontier of Singapore, Pulau Ubin. The last time I went there to run was in 2011 for the North Face Series and I thought why not? So I too went along for the fun.
Apparently great minds think alike and about 50 persons turned up for this inaugural run. Weather was great and everybody was in a good mood except for maybe a rather “wet” photographer, Marcus Lim from Running Shots who went into the sea at the island to retrieve a dropped handphone of one of the participant.
Photo from trailrunning.sg
The distance to be covered was only 10km. But there was a long long break to walk the broadwalk at Chek Jawa and photo taking and that took up nearly an hour. Some of us decided 10km wasn’t really enough for a good workout after coming all the way and went an extended distance of another 5km. For once, most of the runners managed to stay together during the run so it was rather enjoyable running at a leisurely sight seeing pace. I think everybody had a great time.
For those who are interested in joining future trail runs, do check out their facebook page for the latest update.

TNF Trail Run Series #5 Pulau Ubin

Woke up to an orange sky and the wind howling and trees rustling. Oh no not again! Sure enough, it starts to pour. It was the morning of the TNF Trail Run #5 at Pulau Ubin. Rather pessimistically, I changed into my North Face attire. Is the Pulau Ubin jinx going to strike again? It had rained the first time we went in February to recce the route and as a result, we had aborted the recce and postpone the run in February. Then at our next recce, it rained again and we had to delay going over to the island until nearly 8 am. It didn’t rain during the last recce but it poured right after we finished our recce. So don’t blame me for being apprehensive.

The rough sea after the rain
By the time we reached the ferry point, most of the hardcore runners were already waiting. Still it was a smaller than usual crowd. Only about 30 persons compared to the usual 50 – 60 of the past few runs. Credit that to the rain and the early meet up time. Fortunately, the rain stopped and we sailed over no doubt most of us with a silent prayer that it will not rain again. 

And the sky held up! And in the end the rain turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it became one of the best run ever with beautiful scenery, cool weather and great company.

RL Brokie pointing the way to the Secret Garden

Our route took us through various highlights of the island. First was the cutesy named Secret Garden which was actually a garden with all sort of vegetables and fruit trees including coffee, bitter gourd, starfruite, pomelo, corn, watercress………
From there, it was a winding run through the trails passing swamp, rubber trees and cemetery to the Chek Jawa wetland. We stopped for a group photo at the jetty. However, I think everybody was busy eyeing the beautiful coastline of Pasir Ris and Changi and looking for the many sea creatures hiding in the seagrass. That plus the windy breeze and it was with great reluctance that the runners finally decide to continue the run.

One of the many quarries on the island

More trails and a quarry later, we came to Mamam Beach. From there we ran past some old huts, remnants of the villagers and fisherman on the island maybe? Unfortunately one part of it was filled with rubbish. There was an oily smell in the air and the ground was uneven and there were potholes all over. Kelly one of the run leader fell around here the last recce and I reminded the runners with me to be careful but barely had I ran a few metres when I heard a shout and turned round to see one of the runner down on the floor. The first thing he said when I asked whether he was hurt was “hurt nevermind, most important is camera not damaged”. 
The ‘danger’ part where runners fall

We continued through this oily dirty stretch before hitting the road enroute to our second stop, Noordin Beach where we had our second group photo.

The sprawling Ketam Mountain Bike Park

After that, it was non-stop road run passing more cemeteries, jack fruit, coconuts before and durian and more durian trees before we reached our final destination, the Ketam Mountain Bike park. Due to a lack of time, we only managed to do a 1km stretch of the park. That stretch took us through a winding trail before coming up to an open ground where we could see the Ketam island of which the park was named after. 
From there, it was a 3 km run back to the Jetty for our return trip to mainland Singapore. And that conclude one of the most relaxing and easiest run in the series. For many of the runners, it was their first time on the island and even for those who have been there previously, most had not covered the trails that we covered on this run. We hope we had managed to convey the beauty of the island to the runners and that they will come back to explore this last little bit of nature on their own soon before modern development claims the place.

For those who are interested, this is the route we took.

More photos here and more of Pulau Ubin here

Never Stop Exploring – TNF Trail Run #5 Preview

Pulau Ubin must be one of those places that most Singaporeans know about but have not visited. On weekends, the place is bustling with cyclists. So the group of us must have made a odd sight for the bicycle shops owner with our hydration bags but no bikes. 
We were of course not there to cycle but to run. More precisely to carve out a running route for the next TNF Trail Run. We had with us a “tour guide” Ayin who showed us the way.
Our very first Kodak moment was this beach. In fact along the way, there were another 3 or is it 4 beaches all with breathtaking view of the sea.

 Then there are the quarries. Mainland Singapore has 4 quarries. Pulau Ubin has if the info on the net can be trusted 25 quarries and this is just one of them.

Then we got to run through a rubber plantation. Very nice and shady but lots of mosquitoes though.

We came out to this dike or dam which led to a swamp like area.

And we round off the run with what else but another quarry!

All in, it was a nice easy run. No major slopes, no technical trails, just fresh air, nature and our stinking sweating bodies.