Monday, October 2, 2017

Sembawang Hot Spring

Having heard about the Sembawang Hot Spring since many years back, I seriously do not know why it took us so long to visit it, especially when it is so near to our house.

Located along Gambas Ave, this is the only natural hot spring you can find in Singapore. If you are driving, the nearest place to park will be at the HDB carpark (Blk 114 Yishun Ring Rd). By bus, there is bus stop along Sembawang Rd (opp Blk 115B Yishun Ring Rd), bus numbers 167, 856, 858, 859, 969, 980. After you have alighted, walk along the direction of the traffic flow, turn left when you reach Gambas Ave, walk another 100m or so, you will find a signboard that looks like this.

Don’t bother to look for the Hot Spring sign, it does not exist. Just watch out for this pavement that leads in along the army camp. Do take note that the Sembawang Hot Spring is open 7am-7pm daily.

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One turn away, you will see the entrance into the secret place.

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We are here! Before we left the house to the place, the girls were excited to be visiting a new place. Along the way, it rained a bit, probably dampened the spirits slightly, as we walked into the pavement, the girls were visibly disappointed as the place looks rundown and a bit dirty. Maybe they were thinking of some fancy water playground idea.

This is taken from one corner of the place. As you can see, the place is not very big and there is NO natural steams of water flowing down from the mountains or spurting out from the ground. All you can see are just taps and pipes where the hot spring water are being channeled out for the public’s use.

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As we settled in our corner (altogether there are 3 clusters of pipes), an older uncle came by and told us that the spring waters have some healing properties but we have to still see a doctor if we are sick. We were so amused by his comment. I have read from reports that many older folks believed that the hot spring waters can heal sicknesses. But still to hear from someone who looked like a regular “customer” is pretty amusing.

Anyway, my mother was shocked to find out that the hot spring has been around longer than she is alive. In fact, this Sembawang Hot Spring was discovered by a Chinese merchant named Seah Eng Keong, the son of Seah Liang Seah (yes, Liang Seah Street @ Bugis is named after this man) in the year 1909. Throughout the years, many plans were announced by the State with this plot of land, and the latest was, the Hot Spring area will be turned into a park by end of 2018, and work will start as soon as Dec 2017. Which means we have only less than 3 months time to enjoy this place!
Will the hot spring be retained? Or maybe the park will be designed with the hot spring in mind as part of its uniqueness?

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Joey asked, “How does the water becomes hot? Where did it come from?”
My answer, “Must be something in the ground that causes it to be hot but I don’t know where did it come from.”
So much for the educational trip intention …

So here is what was reported, for all the parents who are reading, so that you can appear to be wise and knowledgeable in front of your children.

[The exact source of the water remains unknown to local geologists, but it is believed that its origin may possibly be at Bukit Timah. Hot springs are formed when underground water comes in contact with hot rock masses. The resulting high pressure causes the water to seep upwards through cracks, forcing itself out of the ground as a spring.
Studies on the water properties have shown that the spring water here contains a substantially high level of chloride compared to water from Choa Chu Kang and Bedok waterworks. It was also found that the sulphide content is 3 times more than tap water and the spring water is slightly alkaline due to the presence of minerals.]

So what are the activities at Sembawang Hot Spring?

Needless to say, the main thing is to enjoy the hot spring water. But how? That is left to your own creativity.

Like this regular user of the spring water. He was basically bathing with the hot spring water minus the shampooing. As you can see, there are lots of buckets and pails available for the public’s use. All you need is a towel to dry yourself. Unless you are a cleanliness freak, then BYOB (bring your own bucket).

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The girls chose their own buckets and we are ready for business. Be careful as you prepare to soak your tired feet, the water can be really hot, so don’t be too eager to plunge in and later regret.

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Test water.

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After like 10mins or so, the ladies are totally enjoying the treat! Feel free to top up your bucket with more hot water, it is FREE!
Use a pail if you are want to soak those tired calves too.

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Like I said, be creative in using the hot spring water. So we brought along a thermal flask and some eggs (ok, it was actually other people’s idea).

A word of advise, don’t boil the eggs like you see at Yakun or Toastbox. Leave the container directly under the running tap if possible, that way the water temperature can be maintain.

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Even with the water running over the thermal flask continually, it took us 30mins to achieve what we wanted. Eggs that are about 75% cooked.

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As a first time visitor, we forgot to bring spoons or sauce for the eggs. So it’s going to be just eggs for us.

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It was good!! Trust me, you have to try it when you visit.

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End of the day, it was a short trip (slightly more than an hour) most fulfilling. I get to spend time with my girls and my mom. Experiencing something new and unique. Living the “kampong” lifestyle in Singapore.
And I got to really relax my tired feet!

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We will be back for more!

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