There is an unspoken rule among volunteers when they head out for a public walk. There is to be no mention of “rain” or “lightning”. Instead, one can only mention “pyrotechnics”, “light display” or “special effects in the sky”. So Jun came up with, the weather looks “funny”.
But by the time we all reached the visitor kiosk, the weather was no longer “funny”, but sunny. And sunny days are perfect for our visitors from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) to enjoy the Chek Jawa boardwalk.
Once the groups were formed, we set off. Our first stop was the coastal hill forest. It was durian season, and we could see durian trees in the distance. The rambutan trees were also heavy with fruit. As we walked further in to the mangrove habitat, we reached the boardwalk, where we stopped to peer at the fiddler crabs and mudskippers going about their business.
I was telling my group that creatures like horseshoe crabs exist near the mangrove areas. One of the walk participants shared that when he was young and living in Changi, they call it the ‘belangkas’ and that the horseshoe crab is well-known for its medicinal qualities. Unfortunately, though, populations of these ancient creatures in Singapore have been severely reduced over the last two decades. In Singapore, the Coastal Horseshoe Crab (Tachypleus gigas) is listed as vulnerable. The main threats are habitat loss and pollution.
From animals, we shifted our attention to the trees. The majestic Nipah palm trees, the only true mangrove palm, also have many uses for humans. In the olden days, it is the leaves of the Nipah palm which was used for the roof tops.
Its fruit is still used nowadays to make the attap chee for ais kacang. The sweltering heat made us all crave for something cool to eat!
No sign of the shy mud lobster but the vinegar crabs were out. The vinegar crabs are so called because the Teochew pickles this crab black sauce with vinegar, and eat it with porridge. Did this guy manage to get a glimpse of one?
We soon reached the Jejawi Tower and marvelled at the view of Tekong and Malaysia. Who can resist taking a group shot against such a beautiful background? Here’s CH’s group with their sunny smiles!
My group couldn’t resist taking a picture either when we got down from the tower.
The people in LK's group were fortunate to witness, not once but twice, the magnificent Oriental Pied Hornbills of P Ubin. There is a very healthy population of hornbills in Ubin now, thanks to conservation efforts by NParks.
The view from the top is definitely breath-taking, but we were soon back on the boardwalk, taking in the view from the ground. The tide was too high for us to see marine life of the seagrass lagoon, coral rubble area and sandy ecosystem, but pictures of sea stars, crabs, nudibranchs etc saved the day. We also saw barnacles, and learnt more about how the male of the species goes to great lengths to reproduce!
Speaking of which, we soon reach the Tongkat Ali plant, used to concoct the traditional “Viagra”. One of the walk participants shared that actually, it can also be ingested by women. He also said that the Tongkat Ali plant is beneficial more for one’s well-being, so perhaps it is more similar to “Ginseng” than the little blue pill in its effect.
Just next to the Tongkat Ali plant is a well, which in the distant past, was used by the villagers. What’s down there, mister?
Last stop – House No. 1. Interesting fact! It was actually the Singapore Land Authority who allocated the House to be used by Nparks. Now it has become a visitor centre so that we can all learn more about what we have seen on the Chek Jawa boardwalk.
It’s drawing time! Our visitors put pen to paper, sharing their thoughts on the Chek Jawa boardwalk. See one of our young budding artists at work!
Let’s see those dazzling smiles one more time!
Thanks to LK, Marcus, Jun, Jerald, CH and Vyna for coming down. Credit goes to CH for some of the pictures. We hope all our visitors had a great time!