Dear friends, recently I conducted a day trip exploring the potential of macrophotography at Pulau Ubin. As the SG Rediscover Voucher was expiring on the last day of Dec 2021, a glance at Klook activities quickly confirmed this was the event I wanted. The tour package includes guided service, ferry fare (2 ways) and a return taxi ride to Chek Jawa.
In all honesty, the compact island is easy to explore, so booking the guided trip was just to extend a little helping hand to pandemic-hit local travel firms by using the government-sponsored vouchers. Ubin has not changed much from my last trips there in 2013 and 2015. It’s still a lovely laid-backed place, though prices have crept higher. We should feel blessed that our local nature activists were successful in convincing the Government to shelve their plan to redevelop the island into a housing estate in late 2000.
Macrophotography at Pulau Ubin
A hornbill at the trees near the ferry terminal greeted us before we leave for Pulau Ubin. The healthy wild hornbill population is a testament to Npark’s successful conservation work which started in 2004.
The ferry terminal passageway to Pulau Ubin, the closest thing to going “overseas” feel, as the last two years of international borders closure since the pandemic started two years ago.
The boatman pushed the boat throttle, taking just 15min to reach the island. The ferry fare is now $4/each way (it was $2/each way when I last visited in 2015).
No luxury airconditioned suite or plush seats, just sea breeze, occasional wave splashes and engine kerosene fume as the aged boat chucks along. Part of a unique experience of the Ubin signature flavour.
Our licensed guide for the trip, Joseph, engaged by 96 Travel & Tours. Nice easy-going guy setting the mood for a relaxed outing on the island.
Chek Jawa Wetlands
Our 1st stop is the island’s famed conserved Tudor-style house. Named House No.1, it was built in the 1930s as a holiday retreat for the Chief Surveyor of Singapore, Landon Williams. It now serves as the Chek Jawa Visitor Centre.
The No.1 House private jetty is definitely one of the most Instagrammable spots on the island.
A calm, shallow lagoon with seagrasses and seaweeds from behind the sand bar. In the seagrass meadows, harbourage to a rich variety of marine creatures during low tides.
Chek Jawa Wetlands is located at the eastern end of Pulau Ubin, about 3 km away from the public jetty. You can hire a van or rent a bicycle from the main village, or attempt the 40 min trek from the main jetty.
To facilitate easy access to Chek Jawa, visitor facilities were set up since July 2007, such as a visitor centre with a viewing jetty, a 1km boardwalk (Mangrove and Coastal Loops), and a 21 m viewing tower called the Jejawi Tower. This development is part of a long-term sustainable visitor management plan to protect the rich biodiversity.
Chek Jawa Boardwalk will certainly be one of anyone’s fave activities on the island.
A sheltered rest stop along the boardwalk. Great for an escape from the scorching afternoon heat. It definitely felt like 40ºC that day.
We were lucky to spot the Sea Eagles soaring above the skies around the boardwalk. This pair appeared to be gathering materials for building a nest.
Meet the local “residents” – the Wild Boars
At the conclusion of the Chek Jawa walk, our guide told us to observe our taxi driver, who can summon his “pet” wild boars with his whistle. Interesting moment indeed.
The wild boars might have a reputation of accosting visitors for food, but they definitely displayed natural affection among themselves. They rarely attack humans unless cornered, or unless it is a female protecting her piglets.
Before the tour wrapped up, we had a final pic-stop at the Pekan Quarry. Over the years, this quarry has blossomed from a bleak disused quarry, into a thriving freshwater wetland habitat, home to a variety of fauna and flora. Herons, kingfishers, waterhens, otters, as well as dragonflies and damselflies, have been spotted to be using these floating wetlands.
Macrophotograhy at Butterfly Hill
Common Grass Yellow is one of the most widely seen butterflies in Singapore. This is likely due to its many host plants being available in the wild or widely cultivated in public parks. They regularly visit flowers for nectar and puddle on wet grounds for minerals.
I spotted a leaf cutter ants nest and agitated the nest a little to trigger their defence response. Within 2-3s, the soldier ants pour out of their home to deter any would-be aggressors in a show of force.
This very protective aggressive soldier was eye-balling me while the rest returned to their duties.
A Golden Orb-weaver Spider at its web, waiting for prey to be entangled in its trap.
A Torch Ginger Flower in full bloom. This plant takes about two to three years from germination before it flowers.
A great “model”, this cooperative butterfly stayed very still, sparing us some happy shooting moments before departing the island.
Hope you like my article on macrophotography at Pulau Ubin. Do follow my webpage for photo-centric posts that I will share in the near future. For more tips on macro photography, you might like to check here. Photo data of macro pictures used in this article: Camera – Canon EOS 5DMkIV, Lens – Canon EF100mm F2.8 USM. Flashlight – Canon 580EX (with self-made diffuser box).
Footnote: All pictures used in this travelogue are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and all rights reserved. The opinion expressed is factual, objective and that of the author.