Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Survivor - Sisters' Island

2 Days, 11 survivors, dozen of monkeys, 1 island. This is

Survivor - Sisters' Island!

To create our own production of Survivor, we needed to secure a remote location, that is uninhabited, with forces of nature in place to up the challenge. Of course, electricity is to be forsakened, and the place should be as untouched as possible, making camping on the island more exciting. That is when you need to explore the Southern Islands of Singapore!!

After much debate between Pulau Hantu and Sisters' Island, we had no choice but to go for Sisters' Island (Hantu was closed for some conservation work). Alas you think you can just drop by unannounced on the island, this is Singapore afterall! Even Survivor (USA) needs to obtain filming permit!

To be able to land on any of the Southern islands, one must obtain a permit (Free BTW) from the Sentosa Management by emailing to, stating your name, number of 'survivors', contact number, dates, and your island of choice. They maybe a little slow in respond, so it's best you contact them weeks ahead.

Next up, you need to charter your own boat. For Hantu and Sisters' Island, the normal ferry does not serve the route, so you have to contact private operators to take you there and back. We used HENG LEE BOAT SERVICE PTE LTD (64230272). They're located at Marina South Pier Counter 10. There are other operators there as well, but we didn't get their quote. We paid $80/way max 12 pax per boat, so a return trip would cost you $160 (payable upon return). I guess the other private operators would be charging at the same rate.

So happily we (8 guys + 3 gals) embarked on our Robinson Crusoe on 8 Oct, camped overnight and 'hoped' to return unscathed on 9 Oct.

Background Information on Sisters' Island - There are 2 islands: Big and Small (separated by a 100m channel of water with strong current), we will camp on Big Island. Facilities on the island include Toilets and Bathrooms (fresh water), sheltered huts, 1 usable BBQ pit and plenty of monkey action! No electricity (Victor that is NOT a lamp in the Men's toilet), parang or BB Gun to scare off the monkeys. 2 lagoons on each island (Big island has a bigger lagoon).

Edric, our madman doing jumping stunt

Approching our islands (left: BIG; right: SMALL)

Closeup of BIG SISTER

About 20mins later, we arrived in the late afternoon on our own island for the night!!!

The island is rather small, about 39,000sqm, while the Small island is 17,000sqm.

Our neighbours for the night - Monkeys

Our hammocks. Mine is the one nearer to camera while JJ got lucky at the far end

Basically, there isn't much to do on the island itself (hence the late start off). So once we've settled on our sleeping arrangement, time for some water activity! Which means swimming in the shallow and extremely salty lagoon.

Had to take some underwater shots. That is how it looks like down there

There isn't much underwater life to marvel about. The coral are dead (if any) and the water is muddy. Worse of all, the water is fucking salty! Current within the bigger lagoon is quite strong actually but manageable. Yes, there are jellyfish in the water.

No idea who wrote that though....

After a few mins in the water, we had to rush inland to fend off the monkeys! These monkeys were snatching our food (wang wang biscuits, potato chips and peanuts) and happily eating them in the trees while we watched helplessly.

Hands down the winner in the upside down challenge

I had to give it a try, with my head on the ground

After that, it was sitting around the BBQ pit and waiting for the sun to set.

It took us 3mins to get the 1st one lighted and fly up

We bought Kong Ming Lantern to light up at night. The 1st light up was a failure (the lantern drowned) but the subsequent 2 were a success!

By night fall, we were sitting by the tables, drinking 1 bot of Martini, 1 bot of Midori, 1 bot of Baileys and several cans of Beer, and before you know it, it was time to turn in for a good night's sleep (or so we thought).

What is Survivor without the intervention of Mother Nature to wreck some havoc!?!?!

We had 2 small tents and several hammocks. I was happily asleep comfortably in my deep set hammock when the wind picked up. Still it was cooling and comfortable with the wind swinging the hammock like a lullaby. Then I felt a wetness down my back and before I knew it, there was a torrential downpour and I was drenched! Even though we tied our hammock under the sheltered hut, it was not spared from the downpour as we were in the direct hit of the rain pattern. Shivering and teeth chattering, I climbed out of my hammock, grabbed my slightly drenched sleeping bag and fully soaked self and walked over to seek shelter in the small tent, thinking "I'm saved!".

Alas, the moment I stepped into the tent, regret overcame me. The tent was savaged by the wind and snapped, barely holding up, and flooded. 6 of us sat huddled in the small tent soaking wet and unable to sleep. Apparently, the 2nd tent also snapped. After a few agonizing moments (i think i fell in and out of sleep), it was decided to seek shelter in the toilet. Yes, it's survivor!!! With ground sheets on the floor of the toilet (it's actually quite clean cos the island is rarely visited), I slept in my wet clothes, huddled in my wet sleeping bag and tried to catch some beauty sleep.

Tossed and turned the whole night, shivering most of the time as I was basically sleeping in wet conditions. Woke up at 7am, shivering still and unable to fall back to sleep. Had to wrap myself up in my friend's dry sleeping bag for a couple of hours to gain warmth. Surprising, JJ was able to sleep high and dry in his hammock cos he was lucky, and his spot was the farthest away from the 'hit' zone.

As the sun rose, it felt warmer and warmer and a perfect day appeared before us! Lazing around by the beach and reading a book, we decided 'It's time for the 1st reward challenge!' That would be to swim across the channel to Small Sister Island!

We stood observing the current and decided it was not too rough. So me, JJ, Edric and YH jumped in and swam the 100m across.

Swimming across the channel

And we made it!! It was not bad a swim, current was ok (Ok, I must admit we were damn lucky not to have strong surges of current else we would have been lost/drowned or whatever).

Must take photo to prove we did it!

The small island was really a lot smaller, but no monkeys!!! (Ok, we saw only 1 outcast). And we would have avoided the downpour if we camped here!

We met a group of canoers who camped on Small Island. They had canoed over from Mainland Singapore.

After a short walk around Small Sister, we swam back again to Big Sister. Once again, no strong current.

Important Note: We were crazy and lucky enough (or maybe we were just too beaten up by last night's experience) to attempt the swim without any harm or current. However, this is strongly discouraged as many people failed in the quest and some met unfortunate ends. So please be mindful and DO NOT be stupid..

I've got the Coconut!!!

Along the way back, we found coconuts!! Edric, our survivor leader, made use of a wooden plank and hacked his way through the coconut. It was very sweet.

Let master Edric demonstrate the act of hacking a coconut

At 1pm, we called the boat and headed back to mainland Singapore. And there ended our expedition. Next up - Pulau Hantu sometime next year. And I have to claim my 4 milkshakes some time also!

1 comment:

rody said...

Your post was helpful. Thanks.