[Updated 8 July, 2011-- Photos from Sec-Sea]
|Palau Ubin-- Getting the kayaks ready to head out. Rosita (watching from the surf) was our lead guide-- very pleasant, and a fun attitude. Our total paddle was about 4 km.|
Our purpose for a second trip to Palau Ubin was to take part in a sea kayak tour. Elaine has been wanting to do kayaking in Singapore for quite a while. For some unknown reason, you must be "certified" to be able to hire a kayak and paddle about the reservoirs and/or coastal areas. Certification means taking a course from the agencies that rent out the kayaks. Since Elaine and I have been in both river and sea kayaks, it was not clear what we might gain from the certification. However, the training course schedules just never worked out. The kayak tour was guided through the mangrove area of Palau Ubin, and required no previous experience. The kayaks were tandem, the sit on top type.
Full disclosure: My interest in kayaking in Singapore has been significantly less than Elaine's. Actually zero. The reservoirs are limited, and thoughts of four plus hours in the tropical sun/humidity were not appealing to me-- I would have skipped the whole event. However, Elaine persisted and the kayak tour was booked. It turned out to be a good day.
We were fortunate-- there was a nice breeze blowing (unusual), and periodic cloud cover, which kept things relatively cool. At one point during the tour it rained. Since we were dressed to get wet, it was not unpleasant, and the rain lasted only a few minutes.
Although we have kayaked previously, I think this was our first time together in a tandem. Marriage on trial. Kayaking is similar to canoeing, but because of the double bladed kayak paddles and smaller boat, there is a greater requirement for synchronization (and communication). Compared to others in the tour group I think we did very well, but not without some disagreements and confusion. Elaine did not drown me and we both returned safely to the jetty-- no one left behind stranded on a mangrove sand bar.
I would rate the tour as OK-- but too many people on it. Perhaps one of the longer tours would be better. We saw (briefly) some Oriental pied-horned bills (like a toucan), and mudskippers-- a strange, nearly amphibious fish that skates along the surface of the mud and/or water. We've seen small ones before, but saw a couple that were 6 to 8 inches in length. And lots of hermit crabs. Apparently a Collared Kingfisher was spotted by the leader (these are highly colorful birds) but it was long gone before we reached the location-- the tour consisted of 30 persons, and in places in the mangrove, we needed to pass single file through a narrow channel. A much smaller group would have been preferable. There are wild pigs on the island, but none sighted on this excursion-- we saw some on our first visit to Palau Ubin. The tour was hosted by Sec-Sea (Sea Expeditions Centre of South East Asia), a professional and fun tour outfitter. This is the tour we did.
|Training-- A little orientation and training before we head out. Yes, I've always been the attentive student. What did you say?|
|Instruction --on how to parry and block that blow from your exasperated kayak partner's paddle.|
|Trained, suited up, and ready to paddle|
|I'm providing directions and encouragement, Elaine is doing the paddling (heh, heh, heh)|
|Don't try this at home-- What's that they say? Never stand up in the boat...|
|Single file-- With a large number of kayaks and narrow passages, we go singe file into the mangrove lagoon.|
|Better picture-- Here's a picture of the Horned bills, courtesy Sec-Sea.|
|Shell Squatters-- Lots of hermit crabs in the estuary (Sec-Sea photo)|
|Mangrove lagoon-- This is the lagoon that rapidly lost its water due to the falling tide. We paddled about in here for only a few minutes (maybe 5) before we realized we had better paddle out or face walking out.|