Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun

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Photography – The Oriental Pied Hornbills of Pulau Ubin

Banana Feast - Oriental Pied Hornbill

I journeyed to the island of Pulau Ubin in anticipation of seeing this magnificent bird. There I was, walking all the way with my eyes focused on the trees above, and I walked right in front of this little fella who was feasting on a bunch of bananas at eye-level in front of me.
Fingers trembling, I scrambled to change my telephoto lens to a shorter one, and managed only one decent shot before the shy bird flew off. Wow, what an exhilarating moment to remember! Morale of the story? Don’t walk with your nose up in the air, sometimes the best things in life are just right in front of you ;)

The Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) is a fascinating bird that is distinguished by its large down-curved yellow beaks and unique hollow structure (casque) above their bills. Common to Southeast Asia, there used to be three Hornbill species in Singapore until they became extinct in the 19th century due to hunting and loss of habitat. Years later in 1994, a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills were spotted once more in Pulau Ubin, most likely flown in from Malaysia.

To survive in modern Singapore, these hornbills have learnt to live in ‘HDB apartments’ much like the rest of Singaporeans – while they generally nest in natural tree holes in the wild (which are very limited locally), they now live in artificial nest boxes put up by the Singapore Hornbill Project (a research collaboration between Jurong Bird Park, NParks, Nanyang Technological University and independent researchers Marc Cremades and Ng Soon Chye). Their ‘modern apartments’ are pretty hi-tech too – the nest boxes are equipped with sensors and cameras to help researchers study the species. Talk about the origin of reality TV lol.

The hornbill’s breeding habits are pretty intriguing – at the start of the breeding season, females seal themselves into a nest box or tree cavity using mud, vegetation and droppings. They stay there for three months to incubate their eggs and raise the chicks, and are solely reliant on the male partner to bring them food through a narrow slit in the seal. Luckily, hornbills mate for life, so the males are pretty loyal to their responsibility.

It’s heartening to see the efforts put in by a tiny island like Singapore to keep its biodiversity intact amidst rapid urban development. While it is inevitable that urban jungles quickly build up, we should never forget the greatest treasures that will last through time, are nature’s own.

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My Wefie of the Year!

Ubin Day Photography ExhibitionThis is definitely my Wefie of the Year – how often do you get to take a wefie with the Prime Minister himself? It was super cool :)

Ubin Day Photography Exhibition

My photography group participated in Ubin Day with a humble exhibition documenting the various sights at Pulau Ubin, one of Singapore’s last villages/kampongs and preserving its rustic charm.

Ubin Day Photography Exhibition

That’s my photo! :D


Ubin Day Photography Exhibition

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was the Guest of Honour giving his speech. It was nice to hear him sharing his fond memories about Pulau Ubin, and that he once stayed 17 days on the island.

Ubin Day Photography Exhibition

It was heartening to hear PM Lee share that shoreline restoration, habitat enhancement, species recovery, cultural mapping and a new centre for research and education are among some of the initiatives that the Government will roll out in a bid to sustain the rustic charm of Pulau Ubin.
Pulau Ubin has grown to be one of my fave weekend outing location, with so much biodiversity to photography and I do enjoy cycling round the island to get some much-needed exercise.

Ubin Day Photography Exhibition

Ubin Day Photography Exhibition

I had 3 photos on display :)

Ubin Day Photography Exhibition

Ubin Day Photography Exhibition

This photo was a panoramic shot made up of 18 photos stitched together. I was glad I was able to put my newly-honed panoramic photography skills to use lol. If you have the chance, do make the effort to climb up to Puaka Hill, the highest point at Pulau Ubin. The view is quite spectacular.

Ubin Day Photography Exhibition

Glad PM Lee seemed to enjoy the photos. I was impressed he knew quite a bit about photography :) He was so friendly and approachable, he made me want to join the grassroots lol.

Ubin Day Photography Exhibition

And we had a cute visitor who lingered on at the exhibition, much to everyone’s delight. And I’m talking about the furkid, very manja :)



A Happening Saturday


Rise & shine!
The sun was gorgeous on Saturday, so chum D & I went on an outing to Pulau Ubin. It was my first time setting foot on the island, so I was pretty excited even though I had to drag myself out of bed at 5.30am.

Pulau Ubin

Enjoying the sight of glistening waters on our boatride to Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin

The most handsomest guy in the Whole Wide World, how carefree he looks :D


A tranquil laid-back scene greeted us. Have I gone back in time? Can’t wait to explore the island!

Pulau Ubin

Only the birds, the sun and the bees – ah, serenity.

Fractured elbow

Guess I got too excited, cycled too quickly and fell. And tumbled down the slope like Jack & Jill. The bicycle went flying just inches over my head. Good thing I had enough fats to cushion most of the fall.

D was so very very sweet to accompany me to the doctor then to the hospital to get my arm mended, although I sorta arm-twisted him to go (pun intended). He was so tired and dozed off soundly while we waited, but he chose to stay throughout cos’ he knew I would be scared. And there would be no one to take this photo. LOL.

I think the doctors and nurses probably thought I had hit my head and gone looney too, taking photos and laughing throughout the entire ordeal. I was asked “Did you hit your head?” at least three times. Until I wondered about it myself too.


New arm accessory for Spring/Summer 2013

And so that’s how I ended up with a fractured elbow – my very first cast! The first thing I asked the nurse was “Can I choose the colour of my cast?” I think she sorta rolled her eyeballs…a girl still needs to be fashionably togged, injured or not! Will be in this form for the next few weeks until the fracture heals…


So with a fractured arm on one hand and a sprained wrist on the other, here’s how I drink my coffee now. Super unglam heh.

It will be hard to do anything much these few weeks until the cast is off, but I refuse to let this temporal inconvenience affect me. Will still continue to blog – letter by letter with one good hand :) It’ll be trying and very slow, but not impossible.

Upside of this misadventure? I discovered I could write my name with my left hand! And more importantly, I have someone who would stand by me when the need arises. Then again, I didn’t need a broken arm to ascertain that, cos’ I already knew :) What an unforgettable weekend.