Crew Log: Missing people, mis-turns, and missing birds

Date: 2023.02.23
# Crew: 23
Conditions: Cloudy/Sunny/Breezy; 28-30° C
Departure Point: The Quay Hotel West Coast, Singapore
Time of Departure: 08:00
Destination: Chek Jawa wetlands, Pulau Ubin island, Singapore
Time of Arrival: 11:02
Time of Return: 13:28
Logged by: Grace Chung

Audio Transcript:


The current time is 9:35 am and we are already one man down.

We have just arrived on Pulau Ubin island and have yet to begin our trek to the Chek Jawa wetlands. In an unfortunate attempt to spot anemones in a small tidepool, crewmate Will Collins slipped and suffered scrapes to his shin and hands. Luckily, the medical team––led by Katie Wood––is on-site and providing immediate care.

Student on rock with bandages

Will Collins awaiting medical care. (Taken by Emily Prudot)



 Will appears to be able to continue. We are setting off.

During this time, though, half of the crew led by Tom Schultz has long departed and are no longer in sight.


 Not 20 minutes have passed, but we have lost sight of seven of the 11 members in this latter half of the crew. There is only one road…?


 At this time, we have successfully found and retrieved all missing members. They apparently took a detour to look at dragonflies.


 We received directions from the first group: “Take a left at the fork.”


 We came across a fork and are taking the left path down a narrow, dirt path. Morale is high; we hope to find some snakes and other wildlife along this trail.


 This was, in fact, not the right fork. Morale has suffered a slight blow, but we are turning back and continuing down the original road.


We have reached another fork; road signs point right for the Chek Jawa wetlands. No matter, we are heading down the left path as instructed by the former group.


 The pace of this group is slow, delayed by frequent stops to observe and document wildlife.

group of students taking pictures.
Left: Nick Kaney, the main source of delays. (Taken by Madeline Jones)





















We see the former group! They appear to be walking back towards us. Reason unclear.


This was, in fact, not the correct path. There is no left turn at a fork. Morale is low, but the two groups are now reunited. We are backtracking to the original road.


We just arrived at the start of the Chek Jawa wetlands trails. We are resting before we continue. Much of the crew is gathering to stretch. Morale is rising.

Students stretching in a circle
Some crewmates seem more flexible than others. (Taken by Grace Chung)

















We are now making our way through the wetlands––largely comprising mangrove swamps––on a boardwalk. The 23 members of the crew have once again broken up into several small groups across the trail. I am among the last of the groups.


We see an Oriental Pied Hornbill amongst the mangroves less than 15 meters away! The coloration of its bill and feathers are beautiful.

Katie has been hoping to encounter one of these hornbills herself, having missed previous sightings already. We hope that she has seen this one.

Oriental Pied Hornbill (bird)
An Oriental Pied Hornbill, but where is Katie? (Taken by Nick Kaney)















I caught up to some crew members and have discovered that Katie, in true tragedy, has missed the hornbill once again, having gone ahead much earlier.


We are at another rest area and are pausing to buy drinks from the vending machines. The cans are cold and refreshing in this heat.


Two adult-sized Long-Tailed Macaques have just jumped out from behind the vending machines, scaring all of us. One has even opened the vending machine flap to check for the very drinks we just purchased. All drinks remain safe in our possession.

We have already been advised not to maintain eye contact or otherwise provoke the primates. They are known to be aggressive when attempting to swipe at belongings and look for food.

We are trying our best to remain calm while they follow us; we will try to slowly inch down the trail.

Long-Tailed Macaque monkey
Long-Tailed Macaques are not friends. (Taken by Nick Kaney)
















I see a group of our crew ahead on the trail, now slowly backing up towards us. I spot several macaques following them.

They appear to be herding us.


I hear some shrieks; there appears to have been some close calls with the macaques. We see no alternative but to turn back and head towards the Chek Jawa Visitor Center, a small hut off the main trail that also leads to a viewing jetty over the water.


A macaque is still following us.


There are more of our crew here at the visitor center, who also seem to be hiding from the macaques. We’ve all kept our distance from the lone macaque, but it has now run past us and is making its way down the jetty…

Where the other half of the crew are.

… whoever said we’d be safe on the jetty was oh so wrong.


We are safely observing from shore; the macaque has made it to end of the jetty. We see commotion.


people walking on bridge with monkey on railing nearby
“Tom Schultz and the Macaque”, only in theaters now. (Taken by Erika Berlik)













Most of the group on the jetty have quickly made their way back, although the macaque is accompanying some on the way back. Tom Schultz does not seem phased.


We made it out of the Chek Jawa trails. No lives or limbs were lost. (Disclaimer: no animals were injured in this process.)


The time is 2:20 pm, and we are now back from Pulau Ubin island. We are eating at the hawker center just by the ferryboats. There is no threat of macaques.


Multiple hornbills have been spotted next to the hawker center! Katie has finally had her moment with the hornbills.


All is well.

person watching hornbills in a park
Katie Wood in her moment with the hornbills. (Taken by Erika Berlik)









End log.


GPS track with annotations: