Lea Wee Straits Times 19 May 17
Take a hike to a little-known western part of Pulau Ubin, visit a kampung house to get a taste of kampung life or join in nocturnal activities including nature walks and kayaking trips.
These are just some of the things you can do at Pesta Ubin, which celebrates the culture, nature and way of life in Pulau Ubin. The festival is back for the second year with close to 100 activities lined up over 10 weekends till July 16.
This is almost double the number of activities at last year's festival, which was held over five weekends and drew about 6,000 participants.
With more activities over a longer duration, Ms Ria Tan, the coordinator of the open house who runs wildlife website wildsingapore, expects to see a bigger crowd of about 8,000 people this year.
Some of the activities that are back by popular demand include night walks by nature guide Subaraj Rajathurai from Strix Wildlife Consultancy and kayaking at the granite quarries at Pulau Ubin with student volunteers from Republic Polytechnic. The quarries are usually closed to the public.
Nature walk Balik Chek Jawa also returns this year. On June 3, volunteer guides will be stationed at different parts of the boardwalk to talk about the wildlife at the wetlands.
This is one of the few occasions when registration is not needed to go on a guided walk to Chek Jawa, which was saved from reclamation in 2001.
There are also new activities such as a hike by youth from Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) to little- known parts of western Pulau Ubin, including parts of the OBS campus.
Visitors can also have a taste of kampung life at the new Living Fisher Village - a kampung house where a villager known as Uncle Ah Kok still lives - part of which has been opened to the public for the festival.
There, they can take part in activities run by volunteers from the Sea Angels group. These include cooking demonstrations and storytelling sessions. Visitors can meet fishermen to buy their fresh catch.
As the house is located near the shoreline, it is the meeting point for many Pesta Ubin activities, such as day and night kayaking and boat tours to floating fish farms and mangroves.
Like last year, there are more than 10 nature art activities, but the programme this year is more varied, thanks to the participation of the National Parks Board's nAtuRe connecTion.
It has a series of free art workshops, talks and an exhibition run by local artists and friends of Pulau Ubin, including Mr Francis Theo, who sketches with a ballpoint pen, and veteran artist Ho Kah Leong, who is known for his oil paintings of nature and kampungs.
For those who wish to give back to the island, this edition of Pesta Ubin offers many opportunities for volunteering.
Participants can be nature guides at Chek Jawa, help reforest Ubin's habitat with the National Parks Board or join a forest clean-up with Nature Society (Singapore).
Electrical technician Mohammad Juhari, 67, will be volunteering at Pesta Ubin for the second time this year. Among other things, he will be manning a kampung photo booth in Ubin Town and volunteering at Balik Chek Jawa.
Mr Juhari, who grew up in Sentosa, says he loves island life.
"Ubin is special because it is not just full of nature, but also heritage. I hope that as a volunteer, I can get more people to visit this island."
•For more information and to register for activities, go to pestaubin2017.blogspot.sg
Lea Wee Straits Times 19 May 17