Getting to Murai Lodge

There’s only one bus that goes to Lim Chu Kang Road where the Murai dormitories are. It is Bus number 975.

A useful point to catch Bus 975 is just outside Choa Chu Kang Interchange and MRT station. For those coming from Little India, Bus 67, which comes down Jalan Besar, and then up Bukit Timah Road, terminates at Choa Chu Kang Interchange, allowing an easy transfer to Bus 975.

However, Bus 975 does not commence from Choa Chu Kang Interchange (its route starts from Bukit Panjang) and so, to catch this bus, one has to wait at the bus stop opposite the MRT station.

Wait for Bus 975 at this bus stop opposite Choa Chu Kang MRT station and Lot 10 shopping mall.

I arrived at this bus stop at 3:16 p.m. The bus came 13 minutes later at 3:29 p.m. Although the route directory indicated about 20 stops between my embarkation point and the nearest bus stop to the Murai dormitories, the bus reached the destination bus stop at 3:44 p.m. The journey took 15 minutes.

One can either alight at Jalan Rusuk (there’s only one stop along Jalan Rusuk), or after the bus has turned right to re-join Lim Chu Kang Road. Both these bus stops are only about 100 – 200 metres from the entrance to Murai Farmway.

Coming from Choa Chu Kang, Bus 975 will approach from the bottom of the map. Look out for the Chinese cemetery on the left side of the bus to get your bearings. Don’t alight until it has gone into Old Lim Chu Kand Road and then Jalan Rusuk.

The dormitories are about 2 minutes’ walk inside Murai Farmway. The entrance to Murai Farmway has signs indicating Murai Lodge 1 and Murai Lodge 2.

Entrance to Murai Farmway from Lim Chu Kang Road; note the streetlamps

Another view of the entrance to Murai Farmway from Lim Chu Kang Road

Murai Lodge 1 is reached first, with Murai Lodge 2 a little further in.

Entrance to Murai Lodge 1, about 2 minutes from the main Lim Chu Kang Road

It didn’t look as if security is tight, and it might have been possible for me to wander in for a closer look. Unfortunately, it began to rain and I had to choose between the risk of going in only to be stuck there for 30 – 60 minutes, or getting out to the bus stop. I chose to leave and come back for a closer look another day.

However, before checking out the front of the buildings, I had checked out the rear. I first approached Murai Lodge 2 from the Chinese cemetery.

View of Murai Lodge 2 from the south

Approaching from this direction gave me a better view of the dormitory than approaching from the front (i.e. via Murai Farmway). It becomes clear that Murai Lodge 2 consists of about 10 separate buildings. Murai Lodge 1 too has several buildings. As some workers have reported previously, Murai has tens of thousands of workers housed there.

A close-up of one of the blocks of Murai Lodge 2

Another block in Murai Lodge 2. The windows are closed perhaps because the workers are out at work.

Murai Lodge 2 consists of many blocks

Both Murai Lodge 1 and Lodge 2 overlook a Muslim cemetery on the west. But the open space also means a certain breeziness.

View of Murai Lodge 1 from the Muslim cemetery

View of Murai Lodge 2 from the Muslim cemetery

Another close-up of a block in Murai Lodge 2. The sleeping rooms are at centre and at right. At left, the area walled off by a green panel is probably the bath area.

The dormitories are fenced off from the cemeteries. There was no way I could get in from that direction. The only entrance is via Murai Farmway.

The bus stop on Lim Chu Kang Road is close to the entrance to Murai Farmway (you can see the signs at the left edge of the photo)

I went back to Lim Chu Kang Road and reached the bus stop opposite the entrance to Murai Farmway at 4:47 p.m. With time to spare, I looked at the bus route and fare information board, and noted that the adult bus fare to Choa Chu Kang was around $1.20.

The bus came at 4:54 p.m. (i.e. after waiting 7 minutes), and reached Choa Chu Kang MRT station at 5:14 p.m. The journey took 20 minutes.

Pulau Ubin house

Currently, no one living there, except Mr Tan who goes there some weekends for his personal retreat.

House is only 50 – 100 metres from the island jetty via footpath.

House looks down a gentle slope to its front yard (can grow vegetables) and towards the sea. It has a well (drawn via hand pump) for fresh water, but no electricity. There is a small generator, but it consumes about $5 worth of petrol per hour. Cooking can be done with cylinder gas.

Mosquitoes are ferocious. Will need mosquito nets.

Mr Tan wants to keep Room #1 for himself. Men can sleep in the hall, in rooms #2 and #3, if they wish, they can also sleep in the porch or in the outdoor “pavilion”.

This is room #2:

Room #3:

The water from the well looked very clean (look into the red bucket) and was cold. It is drawn by means of a hand-lever pump:

The cooking area:

The house has a small room designed as a bathroom, but the piping is broken and so detergent water will seep into the soil, which won’t be good for the plants and vegetables.  If the men can fix an extension to the pipe to drain the bath water all the way down the slope to the public drain, the bathroom can then be used.

The house has no lavatory, but there is an outhouse:

Actually, the men don’t have to use the outhouse at all. Almost next door to the house is a public toilet block built by NParks for hikers and visitors to the island. No charge:

Next to the house is a Singtel mobile phone tower. Reception (at least Singtel) is excellent. Here is the front yard, which can be used as a vegetable graden:

Just visible at the left edge of the above photo is the “pavilion”. Here’s a better picture of it, great for enjoying the evening breeze:

And the front of the house again:

To reach the house, one has to take a boat from the ferry terminal at Changi Village:

It is a 10-minute crossing, costing $2.50 per person.  But there is no fixed schedule, with boats leaving only when 10 – 12 passengers can be found. Mr Tan advises that the earliest hour that 12 passengers can be found would be around 7  or 8 a.m., and the latest hour would be about 6:30 p.m. Beyond those times, one can hire the whole boat for $30.

The ferry terminal is about 30 minutes’  away from Tanah Merah MRT station by Bus #2. From Tanah Merah, it is about 30 minutes to Singapore General Hospital or MOM.

SUMMARY

  • Can house up to 12 men (4 each in hall, room #2, room #3).
  • Ideal for those with arm or upper body injuries; not advisable for those with leg injuries.
  • Considerable distance from downtown, must allow 90 minutes’  travel time.
  • No electricity except by generator (costly); no light at night; no refrigerator.
  • Good water supply.
  • Can get gas in cylinders.
  • Need to clean up the house; minimal repairs needed other than drainage pipe from shower.
  • Mosquitoes.
  • Can grow vegetables, fruits.
  • Should be cool in the evenings, with all the greenery around.
  • Still haven’t worked out costs, but will likely include: (1) rent, (2) repair, fitting out, (3) transport allowance for men, (4) food allowance for men, (5) fuel for generator, (6) cylinder gas, (7) essential daily supplies such as mosquito repellent.