The following articles are reproduced from the December 2011 Newsletter to members.
Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
An Excursion to Pulau Ubin
By Jillien Foo
October rains fell on the morning of 22nd as they have done for many days in the
preceding weeks. The ominous clouds relented only ever so slightly so that TS
members heading for Pulau Ubin for a visit back to the old, rustic Singapore
found themselves boarding the coach amidst light rains and overcast skies.
Despite the sun being largely in retreat, it was obvious that spirits were high
from the smiles on the faces of the participating members.
were mostly punctual, and the coach headed for Changi Jetty in Changi Village at
eight or so minutes past two. Along the way, members made sure they enjoyed the
journey by singing several songs to entertain themselves. With Bro. Larry Lim
and Sis. Lily Chong leading the group, it felt like school all over again as the
coach rang with the hearty – as well as the shy – voices of the busload of
Jetty, the 45 members out of the 48 who had signed up for the trip made the
journey to Pulau Ubin in five or so bumboats together with bikers, nature lovers
and other visitors to the island. At the jetty on Pulau Ubin, the welcome party
for the members included Bro. Ali Ibrahim and Sis. Choi Yook Sau, as well as
several accompanying dogs which lumbered about the jetty, true-blue residents
that exuded languidness in complete congruence with the laid-back character of
with Nparks and stationed on Pulau Ubin, Bro. Ali and Sis. Yook Sau assembled
the members at Visitors' Centre, briefed them and divided them into two smaller
walking groups before leading them on their tour of the Sensory Trail in the
western part of the island.
Sensory Trail, the brainchild of environmentally-conscious students from the
SAVE Club (Students Against Violating the Environment Club) of Singapore
American School, is a joint project with the Nature Society of Singapore to
develop a trail that would allow the visually handicapped to experience nature
at Ubin using their senses of hearing, touch, taste and smell. For the
non-visually impaired, the 1.5 km trail allows its participants to experience
the rustic landscapes and biodiversity of Ubin through an easygoing walk lasting
from 60 to 90 minutes.
the occasional raindrop, TS members embarked on a sensory experience as Ali and
Yook Sau took them through an informative and delightful tour that teased the
whole range of their visual, aural, olfactory, gustatory and tactile senses.
They touched, tasted, examined and smelled a wide variety of herbs and plants,
all to the piercing calls of bulbuls and other resident birds.
two groups wound their way through the Herb & Spice garden and beyond to the
coastal forest and mangrove habitat, the city folks amongst the members saw the
complete plant/tree of many of the fruits and vegetables for which most see only
the fruits or its leaves as they are packed for the markets and supermarkets.
These included the lemon grass, pandan, citronella, guava, jackfruit, banana,
durian, noni, belimbing, tongkat ali, candlenut, cocoa as well as a range of
interesting herbs used in cooking and as traditional medicines, e.g. the garlic
plant and the toothache plant!
leg of the walk included a visit to the house of the last Village Headman of
Ubin. Now under the management of Nparks, the house is a one-storey wooden
building with a coat of paint in sky blue.
in the first group travelled several decades back to an era when houses had
walls of wooden panels, bare cement floors, louvre windows, big CRT televisions,
foot-powered mechanical sewing machines, wooden couches without cushions, and
even charcoal-heated irons! However, members in the second group who enjoyed
their tour of the trail at a leisurely pace only got to view the building from
beyond the locked gate. Still, the sight of the quaint little house in its
idyllic setting on a slope evoked a sense of longing for those of us old enough
to remember Singapore as it once was!
the old-charm wooden buildings with aluminium roofs that worked up a raucous
beat in tropical storms greeted us as ended our walk at Ubin village. Bicycle
rental shops, provision shops and eating houses lined both sides of the tarmac
road that rounded the loop leading back to the jetty. With some time to spare
before the group embarked on the bumboats for the ride back to Singapore, some
members chose to enjoy a beverage and the picturesque view of the sea at the
nostalgic “town” by the jetty.
afternoon, when it was obvious that the overcast sky would deprive the sun of
its final glory at sunset, it struck us that the dark clouds and rumbling skies
that seemed to follow us had not rained on our parade. Indeed, we had been
blessed with beautiful weather that made our walk cool, comfortable so that it
felt almost effortless!
hungry stomachs had to be placated and the group, after the unexpected delay in
the arrival of the coach, headed for Just Greens Vegetarian Restaurant in Joo
Chiat Place where the patience the group exhibited in waiting for the coach was
to be well-rewarded.
“Sumptuous” and “scrumptious” describe the vegetarian meal that awaited us.
Consisting of eight courses, the meal that followed was truly a gastronomical
experience! Starting with a cold dish that teased the palate, the meal was
altogether very well put together.
well-chosen, MSG-free dishes offered by the restaurant included double-boiled
watercress soup, braised abalone with mushrooms and vegetables, and veal cooked
in two different ways - which set a wonderful balance with dishes which featured
deep-fried items such as the cereal prawns, pork nuggets, and fried fish slices
served with sweet and sour sauce. Dessert, too, was a fusion delight which
featured red bean soup topped with sea coconut (I think so! I didn't eat because
of my cough!) and ice-cream.
It was a
delicious dinner that won the vote of every member! We thank Sis. Nancy Teo for
her amazing influence and goodwill as a frequent patron of the restaurant that
made the fantastic dinner for the Ubin outing participants possible!
way it was to close the day!! The smiles and happy faces of the members told us
that the effort was well-appreciated. We regret though to inform those members
who requested (in jest, perhaps!) that such dinners be held monthly for TS
members that this would be out of the question! The society will continue to
devote its efforts to the study and propagation of the ancient wisdom.