Saturday, June 09, 2007

"Ten cyclists injured each month on Pulau Ubin's 'danger spot'"

Ten cyclists injured each month on Pulau Ubin's 'danger spot'
Channel NewsAsia, 09 Jun 07

SINGAPORE: From falling tree branches to falling cyclists at Pulau Ubin - each month at least 10 cyclists get hurt while negotiating a particularly tricky spot on the rustic island.

Two weeks ago, radio DJ Zhou Chong Qing was sent flying to the ground while on his way down a slope in front of Belatok Hut.

"When I came down from here, the speed was very fast. So when I pressed the brake, I just flew off the bicycle, and I broke two bones from my left arm, and I scratched myself and I broke four teeth. And also the bicycle scratched me at the right side of my body," says Zhou.

Those familiar with the spot say over 10 accidents occur here each month. In fact, in just 10 minutes, Channel NewsAsia spotted two cyclists almost falling off their bicycles. This is despite warning signs that had been put up some 10 feet away from the danger spot.

But the rugged slope is not the only issue here - operators of bicycle rental kiosks here say Singaporeans rarely rent protective helmets!

"Caucasians are more aware of the safety aspects of things, so they are willing to pay $2 a day, compared to locals. Especially in this area here, it's a bit hilly you know, it's not like Singapore roads also," says Chan, Bicycle Rental Kiosk Operator.

Adventure-seekers are advised to be more aware of personal safety needs to maximise their thrills - minus the spills! - CNA/yy

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pedal Ubin on 2 June 2007

Pedal Ubin guides and 2 participants after a satisfactory ride

Yesterday was the first Pedal Ubin held this year as from now on, the event would be a quarterly affair. More than 40 participants turned up although many more actually signed up for the event. However, the smaller number made each group more intimate and personal.

The Balai Quarry near Chek Jawa at Northeast Ubin

My group consisted of 3 guides and we took on the east route towards the Malay kampong and went as far as the gates of Chek Jawa. It was the second time I took the route and the first time I actually cycled to Chek Jawa. It was a breezier ride than I expected and the first time I glimpsed sight of Balai Quarry near Chek Jawa. If there was a stamp for every quarry one visits on Ubin, I'm happy to report that I would have collected the entire set! I've now seen all of the quarries and each one just as spectacular.

The gates of Chek Jawa, due to be opened soon

The boardwalk at Chek Jawa is due to open soon, possibly in July, and I await with much anticipation. Next time we would be able to cycle all the way to Chek Jawa itself and visit the boardwalk.

Remnants of a previous house at the Malay Kampong

Still this ride to the east is a rare chance for casual visitors to see things that one would usually not see on Ubin! This includes the old Malay Kampong that was resettled to make way for the reclamation at Chek Jawa and the southern shoreline of Ubin. Sadly, since reclamation was defered, what change has been made cannot be undone.

The little bit of brick longkang sticking out of the shoreline is what remains of Sungei Ubin and the mangroves beside it are all young'uns

Houses were not the only things that were removed. What more, entire shoreline of mangroves were also removed to make way for prawn farms at Sungei Ubin since it was thought to soon make way for reclamation. However, since deferment, it would take another 50 years before the mangrove would regain its previous majesty.

Yet all is not lost, despite Sungei Ubin being reduced to a small opening controlled by sluice gates, chek jawa like intertidal areas were spotted at low tide. A giant mudskipper happily swam by when it heard my enquiring for its appearance.

I also finally encountered the tallest tree on Ubin - the Pulai Tree on the way to Chek Jawa - for the first time! After always trying to photograph it from out at sea, its height did not fail its reputation upclose. Interestingly there is also a malay grave at the foot of the tree! This must be a sacred tree indeed.

Chek Jawa on the left with the boardwalk being seen visibly extending out from shore and Pulau Sekudu can be seen as a little islet on the right. The tallest tree, Pulai tree can be seen sticking out from the canopy on the left of the picture.

At low tide, Pulau Sekudu, the frog island, was also spotted clearly and the new boardwalk at Chek Jawa could be easily seen. This surely brought on much anticipation in this monkey. For more photos of the 2nd June 2007 ride to the east, visit my flickr set.