pulau ubin quarry
left arrowGo Back

Ubin Day 2023



9 July 2023

Ubin Day is a celebration for those who love Pulau Ubin. In particular, Wan from Wan's Ubin Journal organised a Malay Kampung Heritage Tour around the island, during which he shared his Ubin Orang Pulau heritage.


Wan took us to various spots around Pulau Ubin, including the main Chinese Village where the Teochew opera stage is located and the former Bin Kiang primary school.


He also introduced us to the native greenery grown and used by the original Ubin people. One of them is a leaf that is used to wrap and ferment beans to make tempeh. The leaves can also be used as plates for food, which can be disposed of in the jungle and become part of the environment again. This is a smart way to reduce waste, similar to using disposable plastic plates for a party.


Wan also showed us the differences between a Chinese Kampung house and a Malay Kampung house. A Chinese Kampung house is usually more symmetrical due to "fengshui" reasons, while Malay Kampung houses are built according to their needs.


In addition, a Malay Kampung house (rumah panggung) is built on stilts and has ventilation nets at the top of every wall to allow for cooler temperatures inside the house. The stilts also provide additional protection from wild animals such as snakes and monkeys. Chicken coops can also be easily found at the bottom of these houses.


With the population of Ubin at only 20 people now, these kampungs are slowly disappearing, especially with the increasing rental requirements from the authorities. When the leasing program was first implemented in Ubin, the rent was only $5/month, but now it is $32/month. Although it may not seem like a lot, we never know how much more it will increase in the future, and the residents may find it even harder to continue staying on their island home.


Wan took us to the mangrove where nipah trees are grown and shared with us their uses. One of them is the leaves, also known as attap leaves, which are used for making roofs for houses. The nipah tree, which is a type of palm tree, is also capable of producing sugar, also known as gula melaka. Lastly, the attap seed that we usually get from Ice Kacang come from the fruits of the nipah tree. Wan reminds us that the many uses of one tree is a way to learn from the Ubin Orang Pulau people to be more green, sustainable and resourceful.


The last stop of the tour was Kampung Surau, where Wan showed us where the Malay Kampung used to live, play, and study at their own Malay primary school. One of the classrooms was even by the beach!


At Kampung Surau, Wan demonstrated what an Azan (calling to pray) would be like in the past. He sang the Azan passionately, making us feel as if we were part of the past. At the end of the Azan, we could tell the passion he has for Pulau Ubin and finding out more about the past and sharing it with fans of Ubin like us. He is definitely an inspiration for us Ubin Kakis, and we hope he succeeds in the future in finding out more about his heritage and culture :)