With one guide down with flu, another shifting house and others going or already overseas, the registration cut-off turned out to be just nice. A 15 participant to 2 guide ratio is quite comfortable and allows the guides to enjoy the ride more. This is important since we intend to keep at this for years. I did have to turn away some non-registered individuals at Ubin itself. We simply can’t take them on ad hoc anymore now that we have fewer guides.
Grace Leng and I led a group that went on a hunt to find durians – I warned them at the very first stop that I’m too much of a durian fan! We stopped and scoured the ground at every slightest hint that there might be fruits on the ground. At one point, we bashed through lallang taller than us. Two participants managed to collect three fruit. Even the small boy in our group followed us through the lallang!
I took them through the rubber plantation (yes, now open once agan) to get to Noordin beach. The former prawn pond is under construction to become a fish farm. It’s much more open now, so can’t stay too long for the heat but luckily we had plenty of shade nearby to take cover.
We met a bunch of youths wearing NYP dark blue t-shirts who had been going round and round the farm. They were heading to Noordin so I told them to go straight. I hope they didn’t take the right path at the fork in front – they wouldn’t have gone round again! hehe…
I like that the participants were all so game!
One of other groups (Joelle, Kenneth & Alvin) took the easier approach with durians by patronising auntie’s stall at Jelutong bridge:
Marcus and I took a large and game group to the Sungei Ubin, Sensory Trail and the Chek Jawa boardwalk where they fell in love with fiddler crabs and had a hornbill encounter with four individuals. They also saw two otters out in the distance. The Chek Jawa counter was teeming with people, it was like a fish market!
The ride to the east proved that exercising caution and riding slowly allowed the steep slopes along Ubin’s main trails to become manageable. At the site of the old Malay village, we encountered a 90-year grandmother back from the shore after collecting bivalves and oysters. She gamely chatted with us and posed for pictures!
We id not pursue durians but marveled at the enthusiasm of the durian hunters we saw all around the island. We had no idea the other groups were just as enthusiastic! As Marcus and I debriefed the ride (we were the last group back), our group members plunked rambutans on our table as they passed us on the way out to the jetty. Nice!
Ivan Khong writes of his enthusiastic group:
The early morning shower raised the humidity by several levels – and probably the number of no shows as well [attendance was 83% – ed.].
We did a brief introduction and bike check whilst awaiting other guides and participants to appear.
Ivan chatting with the early birds before the pre-ride briefing.
First stop, Pekan quarry! Egrets coming back from all directions from breakfast to rest by the tranquil water. Nice start – and the group already visibly excited!
At the good ‘ol Jelutong bridge, stories on mangroves were told. Participant eyes were aglow when informed about the importance of mangroves, and how marine litter is a bane to marine life. Mudskippers were skipping in the background (must be happy someone is raising their plight). Half beaks aplenty at the sluice gates!
At the Marina Ubin toilet stop, the group enthused over the hornbill research tower. It must have been a very welcome toilet break because everyone went!
On the way to the German Girl Shrine, we stopped (as usual) at the mouth of the inroad, for a quick safety briefing. This pays off well once again as even the wobbly ones make it to the top without incident!
At the beach near the German girl shrine, we saw a grey heron – no talking needed! The whole group was peacefully admiring the beautiful sight of this magnificent bird looking for food. As usual, the only time we forgot the camera, everyone shows up. Gave Ketam trail a miss, as many of the bikes were felt like they were going to crumble.
While waiting for group to reassemble at the mouth of the inroad, an old friend greeted us in the bright sunlight – Episersema!!! Sitting on top of the mudlobster mound, it was happily basking away. The enthusiastic folk approaching the crab scared it back into its burrow but it reappeared for the later group, along with a few others from other mounds! We had a hearty time with group as they had so many questions! Managed to get them going again by getting them excited about Sg. Buloh Wetlands Reserve. Heh!
To prevent heat exhaustion (and to conserve energy for work the next day), a coconut break beckoned at the “why you so like that” stall. Then we journeyed north towards Mamam beach, and stopped by the coconut plantation to see the source of their cool drink! This group’s enthusiasm was bubbling still, and we planed to take them to the sensory trail after Mamam when a sprarakling flash of lightning rearranged our plans immediately with a sprint back to the village!
As we headed back to the jetty, we reflected upon our rides of past- and turn to face a brighter future ahead thanks to the little things each of us had done that day in our very own way.
– N. Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman