Saturday, February 23, 2008

Coastal Erosion Management - Ubin Style

Waterfront living is no easy task. The above picture depicts the edge of a slope that has been eroded away, looking like a 2m tall cliff, with the beach just below.

According to the reddotbeachbum, a year back during a coastal cleanup on Pulau Ubin, the team had to remove an abandoned motorbike from this spot. You might be thinking, who would want to abandon a motorbike on a beach? How bizarre is that!

Well apparently the story goes that this site used to be the home of Pak Ali (malay headman and owner of the coffeeshop by the jetty). His son explained that their home was in danger of being slowly eroded away and in order to slow down erosion, they dumped the motorbike there ala a impromptu seawall! Well I guess the seawall mentality of coastal erosion prevention goes even as far as Ubin - cept definitely more creative!

Now you know how to make your own ad hoc seawall - Ubin Style!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Former Civil Service College Chalet

In 2006, SLA offered up for tender the site of the former civil service college chalet. Located conveniently right in "downtown" Ubin, it is mere minutes walk away from the main jetty. However, it has been abandoned since 2001 when the area was supposed to be reclaimed. However, since the deferment of reclamation along the east coast of Pulau Ubin, the chalet has been neglected.

According to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) press release in 2006:

"The property has a site area of about 6,505 square metres and gross floor area of about 783 square metres, equivalent to about three tennis courts. It comprises three blocks of single-storey buildings with a camp, a pump house, three shelters and some ancillary facilities. Capitalizing on the rustic charm of the island, the approved uses adapted some of the former recreational uses, including that of a Bed & Breakfast, or a chalet or resort for short term lodging. It can also be used as a campsite or for group and corporate retreats for the conduct of team building, leadership or motivational activities. This is to cater to the traveller and tourist who are looking for a unique experience in rustic Singapore, away from the hustle and bustle of city life."
Last Saturday (16 Feb 2008), a visit to the site saw that the chalets have been recently cleaned and renovated. Having never been there, I was surprised at its pristine state. However, we soon realized that there was an ongoing party at the chalet to view the air show across the straits at Changi.


We were then kindly informed by the new caretaker that the chalet is now owned by a Yes Group who intend to rent it out long-term to companies. The company appears to have been awarded the tender for more than 3 months as the caretaker seems to indicate that they have completed renovations over the past months. There will be 2 additional chalets which will be set aside for short term rental. Corporate retreats, bonding sessions and other adventure type events can also be hosted there. Since we rather surprised them by taking advantage of the low tide coastal access, we were informed that the area is now private property. Alas, we have a feeling that the site will be yet another out of bounds area. The caretaker informed us that public rental are not in the plans.

Andy Dinesh, a past visitor at the chalet informed us that there used to be a dormitory behind the main chalets. However, a brief exploration of the area and questioning the caretaker informed us that it has now been totally erased from the landscape. What remained is a lamp that reminds us of Narnia.

Perhaps what is most charismatic about the chalet is the jetty / pier / bridge that extends out to see, connecting 2 huts sitting on trademark ubin granite boulders to the beach. That too appears to have been refurbished. There are also balinese-thai looking pavilions and lots of bbq pits.

While we were told to look for their head company, "Yes group", I was hard-pressed to find contact information online for this company. Could it be the "YES F & B Group Pte Ltd" that I've found on yellowpages? I tipped off recently that there was news of the successful bid of the CSC chalet but again, I was unable to find anything in the archives. Does anybody know more about this?

For more photos, see my flickr set.

More related reads
News about SLA tender of Civil Service College Chalet
WildSingapore's write up on Civil Service College Chalet
SLA Press Release on CSC Chalet tender

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Endangered Ubin Lontong II

4 months ago in October 2007, I wrote about the endangered Ubin lontong.

"Now why is this lontong endangered? Well this delicacy comes from the hands of the macik (auntie) of the establishment, wife of Pak Ali. The couple must be at least 90 years old now ... Unfortunately, as with the rest of the aging population, the lontong is under threat as it may very well disappear from the face of this planet when the cook is no longer with us. Where then would we find our Ubin lontong?"
Darn my words but the lontong came very close to true endangerment a few weeks before the Lunar New Year.

On 3 February 2008, I was tipped off by a duck that the lontong was unavailable as the coffeeshop was closed on that very sunday. Some asking around revealed that the Macik who mastermind this delicious lontong has been hospitalized! Apparently she fell at her home and broke her hip a few weeks before.

Fortunately, it comes as good news to this monkey that the couple's son is still often on the island. It had worried me that like many of the older residents, their offsprings may be more comfortable entrenched in urbanised Singapore and its many conveniences such as piped water and grid electricity.

On 16 February 2008, I finally met the couple's son, Hassan. He informed us that Macik is finally discharged and resting at home. What a relief! Hopefully she has managed to pass her secret recipe to her children before she took to her bed. At least the coffeeshop is now opened for business again. Thank goodness!

Related Reads
"Endangered Ubin Lontong", Pulau Ubin Stories, 26 Oct 2007

Diesel cars on Pulau Ubin

"Tax levy on private diesel cars reduced"
16 February 2008, TODAY

"Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the current tax on such cars was too "punitive", which explained why there was only one such vehicle on the road today — an observation that drew laughter from the House, especially when he said that there were two others on Pulau Ubin that did not pay road tax."

Read the full article here

Saturday, February 09, 2008

On this day, 66 years ago...

While searching online today for interesting tidbits of news about Ubin, I came across an archived New York Times article dated February 9, 1942 which mentions Pulau Ubin during WWII! Unfortunately, the article cost $3.95USD to read but here's the sneak preview:

New York Times - Feb 9, 1942
"Enemy patrols were reported to have landed on Pulau Ubin [Ubin Island] this morning. During enemy raids over Singapore Island this morning our fighters ... "
I may perhaps pay SGD$6 just to read this article. It better be good!

An earlier articles (also from New York Times) include:

"BASE AT SINGAPORE IS FORCE FOR PEACE; Defense Project Brings New ..."
New York Times - Feb 20, 1938
Opposite Changi and lying directly in the eastern entrance to Johore Strait is the Island of Pulau Ubin. It is several miles long and constitutes an ...
Other WWII articles from other news agency include a newspaper from Ohio, USA:

Zanesville Signal, The (Newspaper) - February 9, 1942
A few hoars Japanese troops had occupied deserted, un- fortified Pulau Ubin (Ubto kland) off the northwest coast, within half a solle of Sbigapore. ...