Having not been on Ubin or in Singapore for the last six months, I decided to make up for my absence with weekly visits to the island for various purposes. On my most recent trip, I visited the island with my parents. Having left her birthplace 40 years ago, this visit was very nostalgic for her. Unfortunately, we were not able to go all the way to the west as we were... on foot! This is particularly apt as personally it was my first time getting around the island by foot but yet this is how my mother got around the island till the age of 12 as she did not cycle. Every day was a 1.5 - 2 hours walk from "downtown ubin" (where the jetty is) to her home near the "pineapple hill" (or Ong Lai Sua in hokkien).
Walking down one of the few paths left on Ubin that even vaguely reminded Mother of the old dirt tracks she walked every day from school to home. Only difference is the resort that sprouted at the end of the path and the wide paved road that astounded her with its reminder of urban singapore. Photo by November.
Pineapple Hill in actuality on today's renamed ubin map would be somewhere west of Aik Hwa quarry where the old Mazu temple would be, on Outward Bound School land. In the past, there were no maps and much less no official street or landmark names. The locals had common names for places that probably varied between the different ethnic groups. What more, it was referred to as Pineapple Hill because there used to be many pineapple plantations there, according to stories told to her by her grandmother (or my great-grandmother!). The area was also called Ban Gang or "half port". (read more about Ban Gang at the post "Ma Zu Temple")
Just as there is a half port, there is also a Xin Gang (or "new port") where the German Girl Shrine currently stands. While Jelutong bridge being the first waterway you pass on the way west, it is referred to in dialect as Dao Diao Gang (or "number one river") and Pukau bridge and the river it crosses is referred to as Ji Diao Gang (or "number two river").