In 2016, armed with umbrella strollers, baby carriers, and two massive backpacks, Andrew and I took our then two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter on a backpacking trip through 15 European cities with a couple of stopovers in Singapore. This is but one of our many memories from that trip.
I first heard about Pulau Ubin on a CNN ad in 2016 while unpacking our bags in an air-conditioned Singapore hotel room. “Surely if we leave early enough, we will miss the heat,” I explained to Andrew as I organised our belongings to make the hotel room feel like home, something I would do 16 more times in the coming months. Eager to explore Singapore beyond its city limits, Andrew agreed. Miss 4’s pleas to go back to the Jacob Ballas children’s playground we visited earlier in the morning were replaced with questions like “Will there be sharks?” and “Will the boat sink?” after I explained to her that we get to go on a bumboat to get to the island.
With the sinking realisation that walking in Pulau Ubin is like walking in the middle of summer in Australia, plus the humidity and toddler load, we headed straight back to the bike stalls for Plan B. Late night text messages to my adventurous outdoor loving cousin from Perth the night before gave me all the basics on biking with child seats. “Big kid – back seat, small kid – front,” I relayed to Andrew as we inspected bikes for hire.
After reshuffling children, our family continued riding along the Sensory trail. Miss 4, witnessing the earlier bike fall, leaned forward after a few minutes and whispered, “I will be quiet mummy so you can concentrate and not fall down”. She then resumed sucking her thumb as we wobbled along the quiet streets and gravel paths without falling. We passed a group of students walking and were overtaken by a couple of hired tour vans. Andrew, the more skilled cyclist, rode with ease, wind in his hair, pointing out houses and tropical fruit plants to Master 2.
We didn’t make it to the Chek Jawa Wetlands as planned. Instead, we stayed on the roads and dirt tracks near the main jetty. Frequent stops to read signs and soak in the scenery of what is claimed to be what Eastern Singapore looked liked 50 years ago was enough to take up most of our 2-hour bike rental time. After returning our bikes and treating ourselves to a small seafood lunch, we headed back to the main jetty for the bumboat ride back to Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Just as we arrived at the Ferry Terminal, Andrew spotted a taxi pulling up to drop off a passenger, which he quickly hailed down. “You are lucky,” the driver said before adding “Taxis don’t normally come here, so you could have been waiting for a while”. Cheers to my best friend Andrew, to all our Plan Bs, and the universe aligning when required.
Ready to explore Pulau Ubin? Click here for more information about the island from the official Visit Singapore website.