Pulau Ubin

















Shaped like a boomerang, Pulau Ubin (Granite Island) is situated just off the north-eastern corner of mainland Singapore. The 1020-hectare island was once a cluster of five smaller ones separated by tidal rivers, but the building of bunds for prawn farming has since united these into a single island. Two other islets, Pulau Ketam (Crab Island) and Pulau Sekudu (Frog Island), lie to its south. Ubin is largely a series of undulating, granite hills. In the early days, granite mining supported a few thousand settlers. Much of the original vegetation was cleared for the cultivation of rubber and crops like coffee, pineapple, coconut and jasmine. Today, abandoned granite quarries remain as picturesque relics of Ubin’s history, while forests and grasslands have regenerated to cover up the ravages of the past.

A trip to Pulau Ubin is a throwback to Singapore in the 1960′s. The island is home to Singapore’s last villages or kampongs, and there are still about a hundred villagers living here. In contrast to the modern and efficient public utilities on mainland Singapore, Ubin residents rely on wells for water and noisy diesel generators for electricity. Some villagers depend on traditional farming and fishing for subsistence, while others tend to their provision stores and eateries. At the main village, near the jetty, some houses have been converted to bicycle rental shops to support a quiet tourist trade.