15 July 2016, by Rachelyn Gordon
Due to a serious lack of time and (let’s face it) motivation, the start of my university journey seriously annihilated any attempt I made to exercise. They were in fact, all replaced with either pouring over lecture readings, writing of essays or working freelance.
So over the Hari Raya weekend, N and I decided to go on an impromptu Pulau Ubin hike. I am really using the word ‘decided’ loosely here because all I agreed to do that weekend was explore Changi Village with N. That means I agreed to eat as much food at Changi Village as I could. However, N, being a heck of a lot more spontaneous than me suggested we go to Pulau Ubin for a hike. “How can we come all the way to Changi and not go to Pulau Ubin? It is literally a stone’s throw away!”
N’s suggestion was initially met with a lot of resistance from me. “What?! Go on a hike?! Do not be crazy, no one exercises on a Public Holiday!!” However, somewhere in the time that I took to finish my morning nasi lemak, I agreed. I suspect it was because of N reminding me how much I whine about not being able to exercise and then turning down an opportunity to do so. (Times where my whining backfires on me :p)
Thus, while I usually carry an arsenal of sunblock, insect repellents, mosquito patches (and the list goes on) on hikes, I had nothing with me for Pulau Ubin. This made me very nervous. Especially since we had an important wedding that weekend and I really did not want to look burnt or suffer itchy mosquito bites. N managed to temporarily alleviate my worries when he said that there were shops on Pulau Ubin that would sell what I needed, so off we went on a boat towards Pulau Ubin.
Imagine my horror when we reached and found none of the usual shops open. Only the bicycle rental shops were open and they certainly did not sell sunblock or insect repellents. I could feel my mood darken when suddenly I spotted with my little eye, mosquito patches! Woohoo! Rejoicing for some form of weapon against nature (hahaha), we proudly wore our mosquito patches, rented a tandem bike (I can’t actually cycle 🙁 ) and off we went, exploring Pulau Ubin.
The sun never did come out in its full force as I had expected it to and much to my surprise, I had a tremendous amount of fun pushing our bike up and down steep slopes and then cruising down short roads, taking in the fresh air. Hiking, I realised was a wonderful form of exercise. Not only do you not realise you are actually exercising because on a challenging hike, you are going to be spending all of your mental energy psyching yourself up to finish the ascent of a steep hill, it is also free! No memberships or booking of classes necessary. And the biggest benefit in my opinion is the change of view that hiking offers you. I don’t know about you but I for one, definitely enjoyed feasting my eyes on the acres and acres of greenery in Pulau Ubin that are left untouched.
In fact, N and I welcomed the change of scenery so much that when a sneaky little monkey swung its way into the front basket of our bicycles and stole our water bottles, we stood mouth agape, not knowing what to do or say! It was only after the monkey had run off that N and I burst out laughing at our inexperience with encountering nature up close and personal.
Oh and I can say that the nap that I took after the hike was easily one of the BEST naps I have ever taken. So here is hoping that I go on hikes more…just for the naps that I get to enjoy afterwards! 🙂
P.S: Does anyone know of hiking groups in Singapore?