16th July 2005: Official launch of the Pulau Semakau Recreational Area
Early morning of the event, we were stricken by bad weather. There was light rain which got gradually heavier, but thankfully the rain stopped soon enough and we didn’t have to cancel! The day was really quite pleasant – cloudy, slightly windy and very cool.
We started off on the wrong foot actually – Toddycats Victoria, Grace and myself held up the 7.45am ferry for about 10 minutes, which we regretted and were apologetic for! We were thankful they waited as it meant we reached the booth at 8.30am and allowed us an hour to set up before the guests arrived. Chin Ling joined us later together with the arrival of the VIP party, as planned.
It was a little difficult setting things up because the strong winds blew everything around! Eventually we managed, with the help of a lifesaver float, and a rock!
There was ample time for set up, so we looked around the exhibits put up by the various groups. Blue Water Volunteers was right next to us, and there were also exhibits put up by the NSS bird group and the Sport Fishing Association.
The VIP party with Minister of Environment Dr Yacoob Ibrahim, and including A/P Peter Ng, Wang Luan Keng and Ria Tan, together with the ex-residents of Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sakeng, arrived at the booth at about 10.15am, after they attended the ceremony held at the jetty.
The guests looked around the exhibits until about 11.15am. Our booth was visited by the VIP party shortly after their arrival as we were the nearest to the arrival point of the guests. Dr Yacoob Ibrahim, accompanied by A/P Peter Ng and others, actually ate one of the mangrove fruits that one of the ex-residents indicated was edible. It was a fruit of Ximenia americana
It was quite a crowd and the guests were mingling and looking at the exhibits. One of the groups brought kites to fly and there were bicycles too. There was also a fishing competition for the folks from NEA by the Sport Fishing Association that continued until much later.
The event organisers provided box lunch in a goodie basket and many of the ex-residents and other guests were sitting at the tables provided or at the rocks around the site having a picnic. Some of the guests actually brought tents and camped at the edges of the site and around the lagoon area.
The event ended at about 11.45am when the VIP party was ferried back to the jetty by bus. We packed up and caught the 12.30pm ferry back to the mainland.
I felt we felt we managed to pull through a decent job, although we had just two days and planning was done the same week. We were worried as we had no guide for the collection trip, as Siva was down with the flu, and there was no one else! However, we were immensely relieved that our touch pool held more than just mangrove mud and water!
In fact the exhibit was able to excite the interest some of the ex-residents and guests into peering into our tanks. Some even hazarded to touch the sea stars, but Dr Yacoob Ibrahim took tthe proze for bravery by trying the fruit!
All of us agreed Pulau Semakau was a nice nature spot, and it would be nice to visit it again! We certainly had a bit of fun during the two days!