Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pulau Ubin, Chek Jawa - an introduction

Im almost embarrassed to say this.

Despite being a girl guide for 4 years in secondary school and a girl scout for 3 years in JC and post-JC.. I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO PULAU UBIN UNTILL THE 28TH OF MAY 2009.

This isnt a sight you often see in Singapore. Well, here we are, 28th May '09, my first visit to Chek Jawa, Pulau Ubin. and i promise it wouldnt be the last, im in love with this place (:

Okay firstly, some bit of background info on Chek Jawa. Chek Jawa is located at the south-eastern tip of Pulau Ubin, it is one of the rare NATURAL Rocky shore (with sandy shores as well) in SG.

Other rocky shores can be found at Labrador Park (which is the ONLY un-reclaimed, untouched and natural stretch of beach in the southern area of SG) and on the other offshore southern islands.

The area hosts several ecosystems:

#1 Mangroves - plants and organisms adapted to the highly salinzed ('salted' due to backwash from the sea) environment

some methods of adaptation is to have Prop roots - to be able to take in more oxygen

and also breathing roots - which are the things you see sticking out of the mud.

next time if you happen to be around mangrove habitats, also notice the waxy leaves surfaces - this prevents water loss.

#2 Seagrass habitats - they are different from seaWEED, seagrass has roots, they dont just drift around.

(Ignore the 2 crazy people in the foreground, and look at the seagrass at the background)

#3 Intertidal habitats - these areas are exposed during low tide and covered with water during high tide, making it a really dynamic area to live in.

imagine this, you live under water for 6 hours and above water for the next 6 hrs and so on.

i think i'll go mad.

John told me that the Norwegians commit suicide because of the different amount of sunlight they receive in the different seasons, which thus alter their environments and sense of time. and many of them cant tahan the changes. but this is probably nothing compared to the rates of changes and extent of changes in the intertidal habitats. okay i think im going off tangent. HAHAHAHA

okay back to the super long intro.

Chek Jawa was slated for reclamation in the late 1990s/early 2000s. However, due to a group of paasionate conservationists petitioned against the reclamation plan, which culminated in the video Remember Chek Jawa (

and the government shifted the reclamation project to Pulau Tekong (good for biodiversity, not so good for army boys).

Chek Jawa, then, got a new face! broadwalks were built to allow visitors easier access to the different habitats mentioned above

you can see the habitats right below your feet!

Im not sure if thats a good thing or a bad thing tho.

its the same environmental debate that takes place all the time - make the place accessible for education and creation of environmental awareness, yet, when this happens the environment is disturbed and at times destroyed. for example:

our favourite constructor Phua Chu Kang obviously paid Chek Jawa a visit and left something behind.
I HATE RUBBISH (which arent in the bin).


anyways my point is, why go on an educational trip and litter?
okay maybe the rubbish drifted over from somewhere else. then, my point is, WHY LITTER?!

okay let me go get my marbles back.


<3 Serene Special Thanks: -Janette Goh for organizing this super trip -Karin, Willis, Ashton and Kynneth for providing great company.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

meatball marinanara...The Marina Barrage II

Call me a nerd. But i went back to the Barrage again today! what a greeaat way to spend my saturday ((:

remember i was going on and on about littering and peeing in drains. well, this was what i saw today:

it saddens me to see this. granted, its on the sea-ward side of the Barrage. But i spotted bits of random rubbish floating arnd the fresh water side too.

many people complain about the lack of beaches in singapore, but honestly, with rubbish like that, thank god theres no proper, hawaiianish beaches.

anyways just a picture to prove my point about the tidal protection that the barrage offers:

lovely picture, taken by Ser Chung. notice:

1)the friendly lightning warning guy,

and most importantly,

2) the difference in water level on each side of the barrage. The seaward side (thats on the right of your screen) is notibly higher during high-tide.

you may ask what that "barrier" in front of the barrage is for, it is really to protect the Barrage from ships which may lose control and crash into the barrage (what are the odds?).

3) the seaward side is lighter in color (something to do with the minerals?) and also more choppy and wavy as it sees more sea traffic and wave actions.

i was a little disappointed today, cos i wanted to cross the bridge to the other side of marina. and follow the path and see where that leads.. but there was lightning! i'll do it the next time. another post den (:

stay tuned for next week! i'll be going to Chek Jawa intertidal walk with Karin and Willis. will bring back loads of photos to share!

for e.g. if we are lucky:
(i think this is a coral)

(and this is a stingray)

Kevin Lim, Tan Heok Hui and N. Sivasothi


special thanks to serchung for spending his precious saturday listening to me whine over every single piece of rubbish that i saw.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Some pretty cool sculptures at the Marina Barrage

Jiayi and I were fascinated by these 2 metallic things sitting in the mid-day sun at the Barrage.

At first we thought its one of those avant-garde (is that how you spell it?) shit that the govt likes to put arnd, you know so we can be cool like France:

But on a closer look, this is actually a sculpture that makes perfect sense!

its titled: "what goes around comes around". That circular thingie is actually that guy's finger - what you do to Earth, will eventually come back and smack you in the butt. you cant get away from it.

say, if you buybuybuy loads of things now (like me), and as a result produce a lot of rubbish and pollution (aiya its the process of making the things you buy, you get the point) which will eventually kill you or your sons/daughters/granddaughters etc off. i know its warp, but it makes sense.

sculpture number 2:


ah okay, here is #2.

This is... "Mother nature's fury"

as we see, man(represented by the woman in this sculpture) tries to control and tame nature in various ways. We modify slopes at bukit batok, we channelise the Singapore river etc etc.

However, what we need to recognise is that, very often, Mother Nature still exerts control over us - landslides, floods, volcano eruption (oh i can go on and on abt volcanoes), earthquakes. its about time that we respect Mother Nature, before we spin things out of control.

okay i hereby pledge to control my implusive consumption. what about you?

Love, Serene!
btw, if you look closely, you can see jiayi and i in the picture P.S Jiayi, the sociologist-to-be, askedan interesting qn: Why is a WOMAN used in #2? can anyone answer that HAHAHAHA

Thursday, May 21, 2009

meatball marinanara...The Marina Barrage I

I think LKY is a prophet.

"In 20 years, it is possible that there could be breakthroughs in technology- both anti-pollution and filtration. Then, we can dam up the mouth of the Marina, the neck which joins the sea. And we'll have a huge fresh water lake."

Lee Kuan Yew, 1987.

and here we have it! 22 years later,

the dam (or Barrage) and..

the promised Fresh water lake.

well, he IS the sandwich maker.

so what is this Barrage SUPPOSED to do:

1) Prevent flooding of the low-lying coastal areas - it acts as a barrier to keep out high tides, and also flushes out excess water during heavy rains

to give you an idea abt FLOODING in sg.. heres orchard rd , in front of Shaw in 1982 (HAHAHA im not born yet)

(i koped this off flickr, credits: Wonderlust676 (hmm) photo collection)

2) Adding on to the reservoir collection in Singapore -the number 15th reservoir.


there are some issues of concern.

- is the reservoir too deep? its nearly 100M deep (is it? correct me if im wrong here)

Jiayi said, "okay maybe its shallower at the inner parts"

i sure do hope so. the average depth of our reservoirs are.. 18m to 25m deep. Shallow reservoirs ensure even distribution of sediments and nutrients (okay fine, pollutants, we geographers like to be objective) in the water, making the water body treat-able for consumption. 100 M is really too deep!

PLUS! it is important to control the water quality of the lake... the worst case senario would be this:

okay i know it doesnt look that bad here. nice green things floating on the water, adds to the aesthetics right? but the nice green things are really algae, which proliferates when the water gets too "nutritious" (okay, polluted).

it will stink up the whole city.. not too pleasant people working/staying near marina eh? neither do we want to be remembered as "Green Sludge City".

so hopefully, PUB pays attention to this.

you too! HAHA think before you throw rubbish or pee into drains, you are really adding to the:" "nutrients level" which little by little, will flow to the various reservoirs/waterways. and in 50 years time.. ah i do not want to think about it.


(to be continued)

Love, Serene!
____________________________________________________________________ Special thanks to: Ms Lim Jiayi, for accompanying me to the Barrage. Im still pissed that im the only one sunburnt!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Greetings and ....

HAHAHAHA did i catch your attention there?

this is our friend, Mus, standing under an UPROOTED tree which we stumbled upon at Hillview Gardens, Jalan Dermawan. Yes.. IN SINGAPORE.

to give you an idea how big that tree is, here is another scale of comparison:

see, im at the top right hand corner, apparently scratching my head while the guys risk their lives over the fence taking pictures and studying the poor tree and its surrounding soil.

so a couple of "geographical questions":

1) why did the tree fall?
- the tree fell at the wake of the March 18th strong winds
- Note that the root network is rather shallow for such a big tree, resulting in weak anchorage to the soils

2) what does this say about THE SOIL
- the soil may appear to be loose and unconsolidated at the upper zones, but it is really compacted at the lower horizons, thus, roots arent able to "grow deeper" into it

(Im sure it wouldnt be pleasant for home owners in hillview to wake up under a bunch of stem and leaves)

Hence, as we run through our daily lives, geographical processes are actually taking place right under our noses - things that have gone unnoticed, like soil compaction, landslides (for example this awesome landslide at hillview in 2007),

river floods and changes in the water quality of our water bodies etc etc..

we will be talking abt the water environment, the "inland" processes (a more chim term = terrestrial processes), the marine and coastal environment...

and also everyone's current FAVOURITE topic climate change. (urgh)

Even more pressing, are some issues about our natural heritage.

The coral reefs (yes, we have them!) mangroves, and our secondary forests are under constant threats due to land reclamation, river channelization and urban developments (im no tree hugger, but you'll see). And this blog will too, draw your attention to our natural heritage, or at least, whats left of it.

We hope that through this, you wouldnt be running through life, but geoging through it.

open your magic eyes! (:

how did a puddle of water get there?

Love, serene!
to thank some people:
-Miss Karin Chai the creative genius for this awesome name "you run, we geog"
-Mr Mustafa for being the ruler
-Animefreakz for brilliantly capturing the frightfully awesome hillview landslide
- Mr Chong Ser Chung for the absolutely brilliant tagline "geography where you think it doesnt exist".

P.S Serene is a bad speller/grammar person, her posts will usually contain some spelling and/or grammatical errors.