by Eric Oandasan, Filipino, CSR Club Co-Chair, Nanyang MBA participant, Intake 2011
A few months into the program, being stuck inside the air-conditioned, sometimes freezing confines of the classroom, can sure take its toll on our ‘sanity’. Offering a refreshing escape from the city, the CSR Club held its first event at Pulau Ubin, an island off Singapore’s main island, one of the few reserved spots in Singapore untouched by urban development. Already a popular tourist destination, the small island brought 15 of us, mostly city-dwellers, to a brief experience back to nature. Coming from various cultural backgrounds, from Europe to Asia, and having experienced nature treks in our own countries, we were looking forward to this common yet different experience from our rather predictable city life.
After a short boat ride from Changi Jetty, a ferry terminal at the eastern end of Singapore, the group arrived excited and unscathed with minimal to no effects of seasickness. Pulau Ubin greeted us with pleasant, sunshiny weather and a fine bustle of activity in the village streets. Briefly exploring the short stretch of restaurants and small shops, we eventually settled into a bike rental shop and picked our rides. Soon after, we pedaled off on our somewhat rickety, but overall reliable rented bicycles.
Cruising amidst the lush green of towering trees was a refreshing contrast from our usual urban treks through Singapore’s city streets. A few kilometers into the ride some of us felt that biking through the paved roads was little bit too easy. The group needed a more challenging trek, so we went off to the Ketam Mountain Bike Park, an area designed specifically for mountain bike trail riding. While the trail was a bit more difficult, and a bit more perilous than riding on the main road, the bike park offered us stunning views of the bluish green waters of the Ketam and Kekek Quarries. It was well worth the mud and bruises our legs have accumulated.
The midday sun was upon us, yet the looming threat of sunburn didn’t stop us from heading off to our next destination: the Chek Jawa Wetlands. At the other side of the island from the bike park, this area featured a bit more of a nature hike than a bike ride. After parking our bikes at the visitor center, we walked into the park and were greeted by the howls of monkeys and a family of wild boars. A brief stroll into the area led us into the coastline, where a gorgeous view of a boardwalk, the ocean and the main island awaited us. Later, we went to the mangrove swamp, and climbed a viewing tower. Above the canopy of trees, we enjoyed the view of the wetlands.
Needless to say, the ride to Chek Jawa that offered longer uphill inclines was exhausting for us smokers, but at least it translated to an enjoyable downhill ride back to town.
Despite some broken bike chains, malfunctioning gears, a minor scare from a monitor lizard and the leg-burning exhaustion, it was an overall pleasant trip, which also gave us a first-hand experience into one of Singapore’s various conservation efforts.
For more information on Singapore’s national parks visit – http://www.nparks.gov.sg/
Photos courtesy of: Nyan Kyaw, Myanmar, CSR Club Co-Chair, Current Nanyang MBA Participant