Chek Jawa is wetland area featuring seven different ecosystems located on the island of Pulau Ubin, a 15 minute bum boat ride from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Once you arrive at the Pulau Ubin jetty, you can walk or ride a bike to Chek Jawa, or you can hire a driver to take you there for a few dollars per person. On our most recent trip to Pulau Ubin, we took a van out to Chek Jawa in search of wildlife. We weren’t disappointed as we found two specimens as soon as we exited the van: long-tailed macaques and wild boar. These animals are harmless as long as you don’t provoke them and keep a little bit of distance.
Aren’t these boars adorable? These two were like little twins, rooting around in the dirt in unison. Of course, mama boar wasn’t far, but she didn’t seem to mind our presence as we were just photographing and not disrupting the boars. Our trip to Chek Jawa was an extension of a talk we had attended by award-winning photographer and author Dr. Chua Ee Kiam. The talk was called “I Am Nature’s Eyes”. It was organized by Nikon Singapore. We paid SG $28 per person for this talk and the trip to Chek Jawa was an optional extension. We paid for our bum boat and van costs, but Dr. Chua led the group around to show us the various ecosystems of Chek Jawa and the butterflies of Pulau Ubin on his own time. He is a very inspirational speaker whose mission is to photograph wildlife so as to expose the beauty of nature and encourage conservation and green living. You can learn more about Dr. Chua and view some of his photos on his website Simply Green.
Pulau Ubin was initially inhabited by Malays and Javanese. This is all that remains of the Malay cemetery on the island. In the past century, Pulau Ubin was used for its granite quarries. During these times, kampong life was abundant on Pulau Ubin and there were as many as 2,000 people inhabiting the island. However, as the quarries closed down, people moved away to find work. Now less than 50 people live on the island.
The 1.1 kilometer boardwalk runs along the coastal area of Chek Jawa and through its mangrove forest. Here you can view a variety of wildlife, such as birds, crabs, and snakes. We did not see any mud lobsters, but we found many of their mounds. The mud lobsters make high mud mounds for their homes within the mangrove forests. These mud homes are good for the environment as the digging the mud lobsters do to create them aerates the soil, plus many other creatures live in the mud mounds as well so the mud lobsters are providing shelter for other wildlife.
Look at that face! These male fiddler crabs, each with one large, red claw, are trying to vie for the female, who has two same-sized claws. The red claws are part of their courtship. Many of the fiddler crabs were underground except for the red claw, which they wave in the air to attract females. A few of the male crabs, however, were fighting with their red claws. Could this be a love triangle?
In addition to the birds, animals, and mangroves, excellent specimens of indigenous plants are also found in Chek Jawa. Above are the fruit and flower of the nipa palm. This palm grows underground and only the flower and fruit burst out of the ground. The sap from the fruit is used as a sweet flavoring in ice kacang, a shaved ice treat common in Singapore and Malaysia.
One of the highlights of Chek Jawa is the 20 meter/7 story tower named Jejawi Tower. From here, you tower above the tree tops and can see out to the ocean. If you are fortunate, you will see some birds flying above the trees. I did see a hornbill, briefly, but was not able to capture on the camera. I also spotted an eagle, pictured below.
The Visitor Centre, also called House Number One, was built in the 1930s for an Englishman named Langdon Williams. There is information about the wetlands inside the house.
From the jetty, you can spot tiny Pulau Sekudu, also known as Frog Island. The legend goes that three animals- a frog, an elephant and a pig- challenged one another to a race from Singapore to Johor. The price of failure was being turned into a rock. However, all three failed. The pig and elephant formed together to create Pulau Ubin while the frog made his own island, Pulau Sekudu.
If you go:
- Catch a bum boat to Pulau Ubin from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal for $2.50 per person, one way. Queue up in the seats outside the boarding area Once twelve passengers are prepared to go, your boat will depart. Be prepared to wait until there are twelve passengers.
- You can walk or rent a bike to Chek Jawa. If you ride a bike, you will need to walk it for large portions of the trail. Walking will take about 45 minutes.
- If you prefer to ride to Chek Jawa, vans will offer to drive you as soon as you exit the Pulau Ubin jetty. Price is $2 for a one-way ride. Drivers will give you their phone number so you can call them when you are ready for pick-up or you can arrange a time in advance.
- You will need about 2 hours to explore Chek Jawa. You can make a day of it by also exploring Pulau Ubin.
- Bring plenty of water plus mosquito repellant.
- You can look for long-tailed macaques, wild boar, and monitor lizards on Chek Jawa in addition to crabs, lobsters, mud skippers, snakes and birds, such as horn bills and herons.
- There are seafood restaurants near the Pulau Ubin jetty. If you prefer, you can find a larger variety of food at Changi Village Hawker Centre, right next to the ferry terminal.
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I will be sharing this post on Monday Escapes and on Wordless Wednesday.