Cycling- Pulau Ubin
Pulau Ubin is an island located off the north east coast of Singapore which is only accessible by a bum boat ride from Changi Village. Pulau Ubin is described as taking a step back in time to 1960’s Singapore with its Kampongs and villages. You can walk around the island but most people hire bikes from the many shops that line the main route into the village.
Top tip *shop around for the best bikes & prices as some of the bikes are really old with poor brakes. One hire shop tried to get me to hire one where the frame was held together by bubble wrap!*
Top tip *also question the sellers if they have any newer bikes in stock. They often do but won’t freely show them to you. Also be prepared to pay a higher price for them. You can haggle.*
Armed with a vague map of the island, we headed off on our cycle trying to avoid other cyclists, people, minibuses and stray dogs! The paths are easy to follow and are signposted but make sure you know what route you are aiming to follow otherwise you can get off track. Some of the paths are more rocky but no serious off road mountain biking skills are required. There are places along the routes to get drinks from vending machines or little stalls but I would advise taking plenty of water, sun cream and bug spray!
The ride through the leafy jungle is great and there is an abundance of wildlife to look at including monkeys and wild boars. We were lucky enough to see a baby boar at the bike holding area and they seem completely oblivious to humans as they came quite close to us!
After cycling to the bike holding area, you have to dismount and then walk the rest of the way to the Chek Jawa Wetlands which has a great walkway over the water and a viewing tower looking back over towards Singapore. There’s plenty of wildlife to find as well as it being quite a nice walk through the jungle.
The cycle back to the village is mainly downhill and once there you can find a few local restaurants serving plenty of seafood. The restaurants are not really cheap but the food and portion sizes were good.
Top tip *if you are planning on travelling on a public holiday, go early to pick up the boat. We queued for over an hour in the sun for the boat across on a public holiday.*
Bukit Brown Cemetery Tour
There is a lot of hidden stuff to do in Singapore such as the Chinese grave tour (not as creepy as it sounds!) which is on a time limit as the land is ear marked to be utilised for housing and a new highway so this graveyard will no longer exist in a year or two. When I did the tour the move towards modernity had already begun as the hoarding and the diggers had already begun to encroach on the graveyard. The graves are decorated with intricate carvings and some have pictures of the departed which really provides a sense of history and a story as many of the individuals buried here travelled from mainland China to work and sent money back to their families living in China.
One of the graves that we stopped at was the grave of the individual who set up a money moving system, helping the workers based here in Singapore to send money back to their families in China and the network was vast travelling from Singapore to mainland China. Most of the graves line the main pathway but our guide did take us through some ‘jungle’ parts to get to some of the graves which are now overgrown with foliage and it felt like you were in a different world and not in Singapore.
The graves are built at a slight angle away from the ground and this is to ensure that water flows off them but also so that they are closer to their ancestors. All the guides here are volunteers and are campaigning to keep the site open and to not let it be removed so it is nice to go along and support them and to learn more about the culture. The best way to get there is by taxi as it is quite far from the main road, although make sure you have Google maps on or something similar so that you can aid the taxi driver with directions as it’s not easy to find!
Tiger Brewery Tour
Located almost on top of the border with Malaysia, the Tiger Brewery is a great little afternoon trip out. The tour takes you through the whole brewing process and the brewery’s history.
Following the tour, which has plenty of photo stops, you then get a 45 minute ‘free’ drinking session in the English themed pub. This is all included in your ticket price, but if you really want you can certainly get your fill of alcohol! The staff are really friendly and you are able to drink other beers/lagers other than Tiger.
There is also a pool table and a darts board for those that want to stay a bit longer than the 45 minutes, which we did and took advantage of the relaxed atmosphere. This is a great tour to do with any visitors/guests to Singapore.
MacRitchie Nature Trail and Resevoir
This area of Singapore has long been on my list of places to see given the contrasting nature of it to the concrete jungle that surrounds it. MacRitchie is 12 hectare area of green space, a tree top walk, open water and dense forests which is also home to many creatures such as monkeys, lizards and birds.
When entering the area the first thing you see if the open water which often has canoeists on it as you can hire canoes. The area is filled with walkers, runners, people having picnics and tourists.
We opted to do the main walk which runs past the open water and then heads out into the forest. Throughout the whole walk there are two options; one which takes you more through the forest areas and the other that flanks the water. All the paths are well sign posted so as long as you know your end point you should be ok!
The path we chose took us through the forest areas and we weren’t disappointed. Although very hot and sweaty, the walk is very peaceful and gave us a glimpse at the wildlife, which included two lizards and a troop of monkeys. It was great to watch these monkeys interacting with each other from babies to older ones, grooming each other and having fun swinging through the trees above our heads. You can see pictures of this on my Instagram page!
Top Tip *this walk is long (11km) with uneven paths and hills so make sure you have the correct footwear, take plenty of water and wear sun cream.*
Top Tip *there are no water stops on the way round so make sure that you have enough water or other drinks for the walk.*
Due to the length of the walk and the temperature, we decided not to do the treetop walk which is towards the end of the 11 km route but it is good for those that have a head for heights!
Walking through this lovely area, reminded me of how important it is to protect these natural areas particularly when the endless pursuit of modernity is creeping into the space. It would be a shame if this area disappeared from the landscape.
Taking place at Fort Canning, the Battlebox is the military bunker where the British made the decision to surrender Singapore to the Japanese during World War Two.
You can only visit this area on a guided tour which you can join from the visitors centre and you can find the timings of the tours through the link in the title of this post.
In total the tour is about 1.5 hours and provides a walk through of the lead up to the surrender from the military prospective of land, sea and air. The guide provides a running commentary but there are also two video stops which provide additional information.
The tour is really informative and I learnt about a part of history that I didn’t know much about. The guide was engaging and showed a passion for this part of Singapore’s history. I can thoroughly recommend this tour!
At the end there is a quiz question (I won’t tell you the answer!) and I was the geeky one who got it right so I won a prize which was a copy of the signed surrender document which will now go up on my wall!
Top Tip *You can’t take pictures inside the Battlebox*
Top Tip *There are no toilets within the Battlebox or water stops so make sure you take your own water with you*