Your transport to Pulau Ubin awaits!

Students were greeted by the welcome sign that greets island visitors from the shore. A brief walk through the heart of Ubin Village brought the friendly sights of bike rental shops and provision shops, islanders and visitors, and a few friendly stray dogs that inhabit the island. From Ubin Village, the group walked on in the western direction, along Jalan Jelutong. Ubin has no vehicles apart from taxi vans, so the roads serve these taxis, as well as cyclists and pedestrians. Care must be taken when walking on the service roads, as traffic can come from both directions on the small roads.

Welcome to Pulau Ubin!

Pulau Ubin – Granite Island in Malay – is often compared to Singapore of the 1960s. Lush vegetation has taken back the island since the closure of Ubin’s main industries of granite quarrying, rubber production and farming; now the island caters to the thousands of curious visitors and locals who come to Pulau Ubin for a slower, more relaxing pace than mainland Singapore. For the nature lover, there is plenty to see, from a harmony of ecosystems and habitats, nature trails, bike trails and more recently, kayak tours of the island from the water. Pulau Ubin supports a range of wildlife, from wild boar, monkeys, snakes, lizards, birds, bats, insects, and spiders. For the botanic lover, a gorgeous variety of flora decorate and complement the island’s wild and untamed beauty.

Heliconia Rostrata a.k.a ‘Lobster Claw’

There was much to see on the scenic jungle island. One of the first sights was the Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple, located only a few minutes’ walk from Ubin Village; it is situated on Buddha Hill, and has a shrine dedicated to the earth god (土地公), behind which sits a monstrous piece of granite rock, for which Pulau Ubin is named (‘Granite Island’).

The visitors also stopped at Pekan Quarry, a former granite quarry (mine), one of six located on the island. Granite quarries employed thousands on Ubin during the 1970s, but when the quarries shut down, the open mines gradually filled with water and are now beautiful habitats for a range of wildlife, including herons, which like to roost in the branches of shoreline trees.

Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple

Scenic Pekan Quarry

Reaching a junction that leads north to Nordin Beach, the group took Jalan Endut Senin Road, which led the teachers and students to a bridge over Sungei Lelutong River, and the grand Wei Tuo Fa Gong Temple, also called Lotus Pond Temple, so named for its nearby lotus pond. Here students had the pleasure of feeding the turtles and catfish that inhabit the pond, and visit the temple on the rise, where they could see many Buddhist statues, including Kwan Yin – the goddess of mercy, Buddha, Thai statuettes, and majestic elephant statues.

Turtles! Fish!

Kwan Yin observes the visitors.


A few minutes’ walk later, the group reached Ubin Quarry, where they enjoyed a cold refreshing drink at a drink stall – a true oasis in the jungle! Continuing on their journey the CEC group walked past the Marina Country Club Ubin Resort, and an area of land that has been replanted with endangered native trees. Crossing another bridge, this time over Sungei Puaka river, the group neared the Ketam Mountain Bike Park; at its entrance, students were greeted with a peculiar sign, reading ‘German Girl Shrine’. As they continued down Jalan Wat Siam, the students got a rare glimpse of an owl, carefully hidden among the trees.

A lone owl.

Eventually, the paved road gave way to gravel, and they came to the renowned shrine built to honour one of Ubin’s oldest residents: her name has long been lost to history, and is known only as the German Girl.

Following the outbreak of World War I, British authorities sought to take the sole German family on the island into custody – the sad consequence of war and suspicion. While the husband and wife – coffee plantation owners – were arrested, their teenage daughter escaped into nearby Ketam Quarry, and there fell to her death.

Workers going to the quarry the next morning found and buried the girl’s body where it lay; however, sightings of the girl’s restless spirit prompted some to move her body into a shrine built in hopes of appeasing her spirit. The shrine was eventually relocated and rebuilt to hold the few remains of her body. More recently, the shrine has been beautifully renovated; and visitors flock from all over the world to stand in respectful silence in the shrine to contemplate the mysterious German Girl.

The German Girl Shrine: Before …

And now …

A local taxi van driver explains that when people enter the shrine, they should remove their footwear; if the visitor is a male, they should enter the shrine left foot first; if female, right foot first.

The friendly taxi driver brought the Edu-Trip group back to Ubin Village, where they took some final farewell photos before embarking back to mainland Singapore; the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful and rustic places in Singapore fills one with a sense of wonder and deep respect for what makes Singapore so unique and wonderful.

One of Ubin’s local residents, ‘Uncle Lim’, runs a shop and is very keen on promoting Pulau Ubin to visitors; he also organizes tours and activities on the island. You can visit his blog at