September’s trip marks my first time guiding at Chek Jawa, hopefully not my last. While I have previously been there as part of a CCA trip, I have never understood the significance of the place as I was merely enjoying the sea-breeze and panoramic view, not knowing what was lying beneath and around(: thus the first trip marks a considerably noteworthy day for me(:
The second trip was during November, approximately 2 months after my first trip. It was also my supposed On-The-Job-Training (OJT). While there was not much difference in that there was still a high tide, one thing about nature is that the things and sights that you see will never be the same. Indeed, I have seen much more on this trip including snakes and eagles which I will share more about later^^
There were two purposes for me in these trips, one being a brief personal interlude amidst the preparation for PW, and the other being fulfilling the objectives of EXCEL Programme, which is to expose myself to such a unique leadership and guiding opportunity.
Personally, I definitely enjoyed the second trip better as there were more creatures to see, and not to mention the young kids that I got to interact with during the trip. It is true that kids make a lot of difference to one’s guiding experience, because even the most sharp and observant guide will be amazed by how kids can manage to spot the littlest of creatures and their excitement and curiosity seems to influence us as well^^ Their enthusiasm in spotting even the smallest of animals got me excited as well, spotting the little creatures like crabs was no longer something I took for granted. I really really enjoy talking to them(:
My next favourite personal experience on the trip was climbing the tower. I did not climb it on my previous trip as the people on the tour didn’t want to climb. So this actually marks the first time I climbed it and it was really cool^^ I actually have a bit of fear of heights but I realise that if you look ahead and you don’t look down it’s not so scary. It was nice to have wenxin on the trip as well because we were both quite scared of the shaking tower so there was some commonality there! :D Ta Dah! The one in red is me!^^
Not only that, when we were at the top, we actually saw two eagles at the tree a distance away. It was pretty cool because the eagle was “gliding” across and while it was quite far away, Mr Loh’s camera could take a close-up photo of it. so here it is! I like how the eagle seemed so carefree in the middle of the sea^^
The last animal that I was quite surprised to see was the green snake. Apparently I was quite afraid the snake will dart and bite somebody but it didn’t. And the colour of the snake is definitely “striking”.
One thing I noted would be that it really does pay to stroll and walk slowly while on a tour like this because if you walk too fast you will fail to observe a lot of things that are out there. For example, you won’t be able to see this snake or the mudskippers in the mangroves because they blend easily into their environment. So note to self: Remember to walk slowly!^^
I think we (Sylvia, Janet, Wenxin and me) were all very tired after the tour and it was nice to have the seafood lunch after we were back.
While in Chek Jawa I got to spend time with adults, children, families and even individuals who signed up for the trip by themselves. All of them want to know and learn more about Chek Jawa, even if it means enduring the sweltering hot weather and coming all the way to pulau ubin themselves. There was a lady who is currently teaching and she had signed up for this tour by herself, just to see how nature is like in Singapore. It was a joy to meet them and I hope that after the tour, they would still be continuing to attend more of such trips and embrace the beauty of Singapore’s nature. I do hope to visit the meadows of Chek Jawa soon!
Lastly, some personal thoughts on the environmental message behind these tours, I was encouraged by the number of people who turn up for the guided tours every time I went. It makes me feel thankful that there are families who are still passionate, if not excited about nature. I enjoy seeing kids on the trip because such education and influence from a young age goes a long way in the future. The excitement from the parents will hopefully be imbued in their children as well. I remember that my parents would never bring me on such tours and I realise how much youngsters might missed out schools never organised such trips for them. They might never know Chek Jawa existed before it is gone!
Thank you Naked Hermit Crabs for this opportunity. Thank you to the young acquaintances whom I may never meet again for opening my eyes to the many small creatures out there at Chek Jawa. May we all continue to preserve Chek Jawa and continue to do the hard work that needs to be done. The distinction is that this hard work is voluntary and out of interest and enjoyment. And that is what makes it significant. We can all make a difference.