A peek at Pulau Ubin – sensitising novice visitors with video stories about life there

Pulau Ubin is a truly special place in Singapore with layers of biodiversity, culture, heritage and adventure stories. Since 2014, its role to the Singapore community was enhanced through engagement with various sectors of the community in the Friends of Ubin Network; see the FUN microsite. And since 2015, there is a lovely map!

Since 1998, NUS Toddycats (and its precursor The Habitat Group) introduced members of public to the island through the Pedal Ubin programme. In 2009, all those years of preparation to explain, guide, ensure safety and explore the island was imported into an undergraduate module, LSM2251 Ecology and the Environment.

So twice a year, NUS undergraduates have visited Pulau Ubin to scrutinise the terrestrial habitats on the island and observe birds through bird counts of species and abundance. The class size has varied from 200 at the start to 80+ in recent years. And next Saturday, the 23rd batch visits the island. And typically, for two thirds of them, it will be the first or second time!

This year the students will have move in distanced groups of five, and function more independently of their TAs, in order to avoid congregating, as part of COVID-19 mitigation. We will prepare students with a lab practical to ensure they have a more fulfilling time on the island. they are introduced to the island through maps, photos of avian life and habitats, taught to use a binoculars and we discuss the methods they will use for bird counts.

There are some articles to read, but videos are excellent to sensitise them to several aspects about the island. Several short and good videos have been published about the lure of the kampung feel, nature and various people who work and live in Pulau Ubin. Here I list 15 videos of good quality, all enjoyable, and mostly (11 of 15) less than five minutes long. They were posted online between 2013-2019.

  1. “Welcome to Pulau Ubin” (Hiking guide; NParks, 2016) [3:59]
  2. “Cycling In Pulau Ubin – What to Look Out For” (NParks 2016) [4:09]
  3. “Pulau Ubin – the last rural land left in Singapore,” feat Subaraj Rajathurai (The Telegraph 2014) [2:32]
  4. “Life on Ubin,” feat Subaraj Rajathurai (Ethnographica, 2016) [23:29]
  5. “Exploring Pulau Ubin’s ecology: More than just a place to escape to,” by Audrey Tan and Marl Cheong (The Straits Times, 2020*) [7:15] *updated 10 Nov 2020
  6. “The Boat Operators of Pulau Ubin.” Heritage in Episodes Season 2 (NHB Root.sg, 2013) [7:46]
  7. “The Boatmen of Ubin,” (Today, 2018) [3:24]
  8. “Living in Pulau Ubin till the end,” feat Mr Ahmad Bin Kassim (Today, 2015) [1:02]
  9. “Pulau Ubin’s ‘Ah Ma’,” (Today, 2015) [1:28]
  10. “Pulau Ubin ‘is the place that saved us’ WWII survivor,” feat Ahmad Kassim (Today 2017) [2:06]
  11. “The Pulau Ubin Crab Hunter,” feat Satay (Our Grandfather Story 2018) [3:18]
  12. “A Day In The Life Pulau Ubin’s Postman,” feat Harom Jomahat (The New Paper 2017) [3:37]
  13. “A Journey To Pulau Ubin, In Search Of A Lost Home,” feat Nor Syazwan Bin Abdul Majid (Our Grandfather Story, 2019) [3:20]
  14. “Singapore Islands returning home to Pulau Ubin – The Islands That Made Us,” feat Ah Liang (CNA 2019) [10:25]
  15. “Pulau Ubin Singapore” (Koh Yiwei 2013) [4:26]

I am also glad they will see and hear our iconic and beloved friend of nature, Subaraj Rajathurai, RIP.

SubarajRajathuraiPhoto from The Telegraph (2014) 

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