I finally managed to reach this island without the gods sending thunder and lightning raining down on me. Myself and friend chose this day to visit as from the 12th - 17th May the islanders were celebrating the birthday of the deity Tua Pek Kong and we knew there would be more to experience than on a normal day. We were expecting there to be queues waiting for the bum boats across, but no we were the only people on the boat apart from one local family and were certainly the only "westerners" on the island for a couple of hours. We arrived about 9am and as we alighted onto the landing jetty we were greeted by flags and lanterns lining the jetty (they obviously knew we were coming!!!!) We turned left and entered into the main "town" square adorned with more flags and lanterns. The Wayang (tradition teochew opera ) stage is a permenant fixture here on the island and is one of the few permanent ones left in Singapore. In the evening during the festivities there are performances of modern getai (song stage) It is built in the traditional kampong style on stilts and with louvred windows just below the roof to allow air through. This stage was fully decorated, as was the temple in the far corner, with offerings already there early in the morning but which would be over flowing with the 5 meats and other offerings come midday.
Tua Pek Kong (Grand Uncle in Hokkien and Teochew) is a Deity of wealth. He is reportedly the guardian of Pulau Ubin. His birthday is in the 4th month of the Chinese lunar year and always coincides with Vesak Day (Buddhas birthday) this is because the deity chose this date as he wanted to emulate Buddha.
|Entrance to Tua Pek Kong Temple, his villa|
|Tua Pek Kong in his villa before the start of his celebrations|
|Hu Ye, the Tiger God residing in his cave|
|Tua Pek Kong being tied to the sedan chairs with red ribbons|
|Tua Pek Kong on his journey down from his villa to the office. These strong men swing the chair from side to side on the way down the hill. Now we know why the spent so long securing him!|
|rope/snake that was cracked in front of each deity. Anyone shed any information on this?|
|Tua Pek Kong in his new clothes. Anyone know who his sidekicks are?|
|Hu Ye the Tiger God after he's been cleaned and given new clothes and offerings.|
|The 5 meats|
|There's something about these that remind me of happy gremlins!!|
Pulau Ubin mean Granite island in Malay. Pulau meaning island and ubin means "squared stone' in Javanese. It was once mined for granite with many abandoned quarries that are now flooded and home, as the rest of the island is, to wildlife many that is now endangered in Singapore. The stone that was quarried was often made into tiles and called "jubin" the name was then shortened to ubin. Ubin is boomerang in shape but the myth on how is was created comes from a story about an elephant, frog and pig that decided to race each other across the water to Juhor. They all failed and were turned to stone, the elephant and pig became Ubin and the frog became frog island (Pulau Sekudu)
There was once just a handful of inhabitants on the island but in the 1880s Malays moved from the Kallang area to Ubin and the population grew from there, In 1952 a school was established with over 400 pupils at its peak, before it was closed in 1985 and demolished in 2000. Many inhabitants left in 2005 at the height of the bird flu outbreak when poultry farmers had to raise their poultry on the mainland. They were given HDB packages but were also allowed to still live on the island if they wished. However like many communities the population is an ageing one with the younger generation moving to the City and not wishing, or able to continuing the old ways. At present there is still a rural existence with wood houses, many stilted. Although the Government has many ideas for Pulau Ubin at present it has largely been left alone to the locals, wildlife, campers and daily visitors. Long may it remain so...
As we walked just a short way around, which probably covered just a 1/3 of the island, we spotted a couple of hornbills. This is one of Ubins success stories, they were once extinct but have been reestablished successfully and are now breeding. Just in the short area we covered the amount of wildlife we saw was varied, sadly I couldn't tell you what most of them were. The noise from the birds and insects was almost defending but a pleasant relaxing noise compared to that of the traffic and construction on the mainland.
|A long way up but I think this is a Dollar bird?|
|Monkey far up in a coconut palm waiting for us to vacate our/their shelter|
|The one and only stationary butterfly|
|Mud Lobster mounds|
|The "Blue" house after the durian tree destroyed it in 2012 courtesy of Stomp|
|The "Blue" house today being restored or taken down?|
|427. The home of the former head of the island|
|one of the many jackfruit left to rot on the trees, many were on the floor too.|
|and this fruit? looks like orange but on a vine?|
|no need to tell me twice!|