9 August 2014
The smell of the burning incense was in the air as I stepped out of the lift at 3am.
As I drove, making my way to Keppel Pier, I could see some people still awake, setting up tentages for the next day’s 15th day Lunar month celebration of the Hungry Ghost festival.
I guess it is my mind playing wtih me as I am preparing an island visit to Pulau Hantu this early morning. Pulau Hantu literally means “Ghost Island” and it was rumoured to have Malay warriors once dueling to the death here and their ghosts are said to wander the island. At 3am, my imagination was running wild! I could feel a cold shudder trying to shake itself loose from my body. This was definitely going to be an interesting journey!
It was a 30 minute boat ride from Keppel Pier before I could step into the jetty of Pulau Hantu Besar. The welcome sign was ominious at dusk and it looked as they took a leaf right out of the movie Shutter Island.
The entire island was unlit as we made our way to explore the island. In the darkness, I could almost feel the souls of the past flick past me in their gladiatorial quest. You see, there were two great warriors once upon a time that were caught in a desperate battle at sea. Many died as each warrior attempted to gain an upper hand, so many that the seas turned from blue to red.
The battle upset the Jinns who called the bottom of the sea their home. They created a whirlpool to stop the bloodshed and the two warriors were brought to the bottom of the sea. Despite being in deep water, the two warriors would not cease their battle. The Jinns then blinded one of the warriors. The other saw that he finally had the upper hand and thrust his sword into the blinded warrior’s stomach. The blinded warrior thrust out with his sword, connecting as well.
Both warriors collapsed and died, there at the bottom of the sea. The warriors were transformed into islets because of the interference of the Jinns and it is the bigger islet that I was visiting this early morning.
Warriors battling at the bottom of the sea… if their ghosts were around, they could just stay at the bottom of the sea as far as I was concerned!
I was on this trip courtesy of Ria and other members who was conducting their regular intertidal survey and monitoring of coral bleaching. As they got on with what they were doing, I was pretty much left alone. I felt that the right thing to do was to sit on the seawall and wait for first light. You never know when you might encounter a warrior ghost seeking vengeance on a Jinn, after all…
The beautiful lights from the petrochemical plants at nearby island Pulau Bukom drew my attention as I remembered my conversation with Ria on the boat ride here – Even in the midst of heavy industry activities happening so close to this island, beauty still blossoms.
She has made it her purpose to keep documenting and paying close monitoring these beautiful marine life in her blog. What a respectable cause! Click on image below to view more from her Flickr album
If you would like to learn more about Pulau Hantu, then I highly recommend reviewing the information in the following link: http://www.wildsingapore.com/places/hantu.htm
How to get to Pulau Hantu (source: Wildshores Singapore)
Currently, there are no regular guided walks at Pulau Hantu. But if you are keen on organising one, you may try contacting these nature guides and nature groups to see if they can bring you there.
There are no regular ferries to Pulau Hantu. You can charter a fast work boat from West Coast Pier to take you there. Rates will have to be negotiated with the operator which depends on their availability and diesel prices among others. The work boats operate 24-hours and generally service business on Jurong Island and ships in our harbour. These boats are not intended for leisure trips and are not designed for comfort. Admission to the island is free. Camping overnight requires a permit from Sentosa Leisure Group (SLG). There is no charge for the permit. More information is available on the Sentosa website. It is advisable to consult SLG if you are bringing large groups even if it’s just a day trip.
At the end of the journey, I was first thankful to have experienced zero warrior ghosts. There is a tremendous beauty here that shouldn’t be overlooked and I cannot wait to make another journey here in the future.
Maybe just not at the witching hour.