Ubin Day Out with Asian Detours

by Chelsea Wee
Chelsea is our first Actxplorer intern with a big heart to serve & make the world a better place. She recounts her first Actxplorer trip beyond the shores of mainland Singapore – a kayaking adventure in Pulau Ubin! 


It was a really beautiful day to be out and about Pulau Ubin and that was what we were about to do. Having heard so much about Pulau Ubin and the amazing natural landscapes and wildlife there, I could not miss the chance for a trip to a kelong. 

We took a short but enjoyable bumboat ride to Pulau Ubin, When we reached the island, it felt like being transported back in time to when Singapore was a small fishing village, the air was fresher and the atmosphere seemed a lot more relaxed. 

Singapore from the Pulau Ubin Pier

A quick 5 minute walk from the jetty brought us to the Asian Detours Hut where we met our guides and kayaking instructors of the day Colin and Sharil. Colin was very patient and extremely detailed in his explanation of the parts of a kayak (which most of us didn’t know about), and taught us the fundamentals of kayaking such as how to paddle properly and what to do… in case of a capsize.

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Colin – our guide for the day


testing out our PFDs while learning what to do in case of a capsize (photo by: Asian Detours)

We quickly got in our kayaks and headed for the kelongs surrounding Pulau Ubin. It was an enjoyable journey, being surrounded by the sea and nature. We even saw 2 adorable dogs swimming around the kelongs!

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beagles swimming in the sea
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kayaking to the kelongs

Once on the kelongs, the owner showed us around the different pens, and explained the value of the different fishes. He had a whole pen of huge Grouper fish, almost a meter long, and other types of fish like Sea Bass.

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checking out the huuge fish on the kelongs

We had the chance to catch some fish for lunch and learnt how to descale and clean it. It was an eye-opening experience to learn where and how fish are farmed for consumption. I had my first-ever experience of gutting and scaling a fish – an achievement that my mum was very proud of.

on the kelong catching our lunch
the crew (photo by: Asian Detours)

We headed back to Pulau Ubin for our barbecue lunch with our catch from the kelongs. It was the first time Asian Detours organised a BBQ lunch at the kampong house for guests after a kayaking adventure.

Ah Boh is a long time resident of Pulau Ubin. He hosted us for lunch at his cosy house – and steamed 2 fishes using his secret ah-boh recipe for us. Ah Boh himself did not have the fish because he had too much fish the past week! (photo by: Asian Detours)
fish from the kelong being barbecued for lunch (photo by: Asian Detours)
the crew and Uncle Beh with our half-eaten fishes – cooked in 4 different ways (photo by: Asian Detours)
yummm (photo by: Asian Detours)
a barbecue party will not be complete without roasting marshmallows (photo by: Asian Detours)

The conversations were light-hearted and fun. Colin entertained us with stories about how Pulau Ubin has changed over the years, and his own adventures of spotting tigers & leopards as an outdoor guide in Malaysia. He hopes to bring more people on trips around Pulau Ubin to show them that Singapore has very beautiful natural landscapes and wildlife, and hence encourage them to be more environmentally conscious.

going home!
heading back to the mainland (spot the eagle!)

Overall, it was a great time spent meeting new people and learning more about kelong fishing. If you would like to come with us on an adventure with Asian Detours, click here!

The Kelong and Kampong Barbecue adventure are still in the works – we will let everyone know when the kayak & lepak trip with Asian Detours is ready!

Thanks once again to Asian Detours for inviting us to Ubin Day Out!!

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