This, too, is Singapore.

Pulau Ubin

Before the skyscrapers came, there were kampongs. On the little island of Pulau Ubin, old times are still here, and narrow roads shadowed with tropical forest twist between the village and the sea. You cycle up them, pausing to swallow buko and listen to the insects buzzing in abandoned fruit plantations. There is no mains electricity or tap water on Pulau Ubin, but there is something wilder, quieter, hotter.

It is not so many years since tigers and black leopards swam in these turquoise straits, but the largest predators today are white-bellied sea eagles.

It is stifling – always – and the skies are stiff and sullen.

Pulau coast 29 May 2018

Red rocks, smooth beach, hot waves – this is Singapore.

Pulau Ubin beach

Long-tailed macaques exploiting the human presence – this is also Singapore. Nobody likes to see wildlife handling plastic, and it is rather depressing that monkeys are still affected by it even in the most anti-litter country on Earth.

Long tailed macaque with orange juice

Like wildlife conflict everywhere, it can be avoided with a little common sense.

Long-tailed macaque Pulau Ubin 29 May 2018

But the crabs of Chek Jawa concentrate on the tides rather than people.

Crab Chek Jawa

Pulau Ubin knew granite mining in the past. Picturesque quarries are silent reminders of an era of Chinese secret societies and massive construction in Singapore proper. Lighthouses on the main island were built out of Pulau Ubin’s bones.

Quarry Pulau Ubin

The industry fell apart decades ago, and rain filled up the quarries. But nature, as ever, just carries on.


Mystery bird SG

8 thoughts on “Timelapse

  1. Adele, an interesting place! Great images! I don’t think I would fare very well there, with the heat and all! I just naturally fair skinned and suited more for the north! I’m glad you are able to describe it so well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. It took me time to adapt when I first worked in a tropical forest but since then have acclimatised more easily – well, most of the time. Croatia was tough last year; it was 42c when I left which was just crippling. You end up organising your entire day around the temperature!

      Singapore is very hot and humid all year, but it’s amazing to see all the wildlife and plants that thrive there. It’s not hard to imagine tigers strolling through the forest, although they haven’t been seen for many decades.


    1. I completely agree. Modern towns can look like they were made with cookie cutters. The older parts are the heart of the place.

      Singapore has a unique and complicated history of course and it is difficult to imagine the 1830s when you are downtown now. The smaller islands have changed too due to land reclamation projects, but you can sense the land’s natural mood much more easily there.


  2. Such lovely photography! The birds are such beautiful creatures. Thank you for sharing such a well written and enjoyable blog post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Singapore is very rich in birds as soon as you leave the skyscrapers behind – or even within them, to some degree. I’ve seen orioles flying down main roads. They take the idea of a ‘garden city’ very seriously and trees are growing in every bit of free space, which has certainly helped the wildlife.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They are lucky to have so many interesting species. Do orioles live in North America as well? It sounds like such a beautiful location!


      2. There are birds called orioles in North America, but confusingly they’re from a different family to European and Asian orioles. Wouldn’t it be nice if bird names made sense! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s