Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Mangrove Kayaking and Trail Cycling
Looking for parent-child outdoor activities that are fun, experiential and meaningful for the family for the school holidays? Transport the family back in time by visiting the island sanctuary of Pulau Ubin, and disconnect from the mainland and all its distractions. Just a 10-minute boat ride away, Pulau Ubin is filled with ecosystems and diverse habitats not found on the mainland, and is perfect for city folk to explore and connect with nature, and bond with each other.
If you’d like a water sport that is great for beginners, and your child is at least 5 years of age, try Mangrove Kayaking. Besides learning the basics of kayaking, paddling through the course with your Expedition Leader, and learning about the wildlife and ecosystem of the mangrove, we’ve found that it is a key learning opportunity, not just for children, but for parents too.
Teamwork and Community
Kayaking enjoyably takes teamwork on and off the water. During our time on the water, it was important to coordinate not only our paddling to gain more momentum and speed on the water, but also our weight shifting to ensure our kayak stayed balanced.
When we were done kayaking, we also had to work together to drag our kayaks out of the water and put them onto their racks. It was nice to see everyone help each other out, and functioning as a community. As fortunate residents of Singapore, it is easy to lose sight of this basic human value of community because of how well everything functions around us, and because many things are done for or made easy for us.
Mindfulness and Just Being
Secondly, it was a chance to practice mindfulness, and slow down from the fast and rushed pace on the mainland. As there is no chance to use any electronic devices whilst kayaking, it is a great way to be together, bond and communicate with each other. There were times when we were given the time to sit back and relax in the lagoon whilst floating on our kayaks, and it was surprising when we just felt so uncomfortable with the stillness and silence. Because children take the cue from us parents on how they should respond in situations, it was a stark reminder to be mindful of the moment, to learn to enjoy stillness and silence, and find the inner peace to just do nothing.
If you prefer land activities, cycle your way through Pulau Ubin on the Ubin Bike Trail. As the terrain on this island is hilly, and the bicycles can be ridden on the road and also offroad, it makes for a varied cycling experience. It is also a great way to explore historical landmarks and scenic spots.
Sensorial Engagement and Appreciation
Even though it may seem like this activity is just a simple act of cycling, it is a great way to engage all the senses, and sharpen abilities like balancing, and the coordination between the hands, eyes and feet. There are chances to observe specific animals and birds and people passing by, and also the lush greenery around.
Mindfulness in Activity
Cycling in such an environment also requires us to be mindful. By focusing and using our intuition to calibrate our efforts in pushing through with determination to tackle steep slopes, and managing the speed when going downslope. This kind of cycling builds not just physical resilience and strength but also mental.
A Lesson in Trash
Whilst we were grateful to have the opportunity to just be there, and learn just a little bit more of the great outdoors and what it has to offer, this experience was an eye opener for us as they highlighted the issue of trash and the environment.
When we were kayaking, we noticed the trash in the sea. While we were cycling, we saw wild boar and monkeys going out to the sea and hunting for food and eating trash. While it was uncomfortable to look at, it was critical for children to observe this so that they understood the impact of littering into the ocean, and the importance of creating solutions to protect the environment.
If you’d like to expose your family to varied learning experiences, make your way down to Pulau Ubin to immerse yourself in kayaking and cycling for the school holidays!
The only kayaking team in Pulau Ubin
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