Pulau Ubin Stories

Stories, old and new, about Pulau Ubin, Singapore

Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Legend of Ubin

Legend has it that three animals from Singapore -- a pig, an elephant and a frog -- had a challenge to see who would reach the shore of Johor first. Whichever animal failed to reach the shore would be turned into a Rock. All three creatures had difficulties swimming the Straits and while the frog turned into Pulau Sekudu, both the pig and the elephant changed into one big rocky island. The island of Ubin. (Source)

As can be seen above, the island is well known to resemble a boomerang. So where are the resemblances to the animals in the legend?

Pulau Ubin had not always been one whole island. In fact, the main island itself was originally two halves, bisected by Jelutong River. When prawn farming was a thriving trade on the island, the farmers built mud bunds across the Jelutong river so as to form dams or pools of water so as to rear the prawns and these are controlled by sluice gates which determines when the water is allowed to flow. Usually, the sluice gates are only opened when the prawns are mature for harvesting and a net is put on the other side gate where the prawn would flow into. These mud bunds was formed across the river so as to join the two halves of Ubin to form one whole island. Thus, this explains why, today, we only see one whole island of Ubin instead of the different halves that resembled the animals.

That surely solved the mystery that the island was comprised of 3 animals - the frog (Pulau Sekudu means frog island), the pig (one half) and the elephant (the other half). Now which half looks like the pig and which half look like the elephant is a mystery to me! I guess we'll just have to leave it to the vivid imagination of our minds to figure that mystery out then. I have even heard of somebody commenting, after much scrutiny, that one of the ends of the island actually resembles the head of the tiger. The rumors of tiger stalking the island must have fueled their imaginations!

What always made me wonder was, why is there a Pulau Ketam (Crab Island) - an islet off the south-west coast of Ubin - when there are no crabs in the legend...


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