Friday, April 3, 2009

hot taps at gambas avenue

photo from national archives of s'pore

i think i first visited the sembawang hot spring in 1961, the year i sat for the primary school leaving examination (psle). after the psle, my form-teacher mr m z a rahim organised an excursion for the class. we went to macritchie reservoir park and the sembawang hot spring. i do not remember seeing this well although it seems to have been existence then.

what we saw were some kampong houses around a stream and some puddles. quite a number of kampong folks were around the spring, some washing their clothes and some cooking their eggs, like what we did today.

at the suggestion of one of the regular users at the place, i took out my tee-shirt which i had in my knapsack and soaked it in one of the containers. we had taken four eggs there to have it half-boiled.

according to jason, the eggs would not become hard-boiled because the temperature of the spring water never reach boiling point. so, we left them in the running water for almost half an hour. the woman advised us to keep the water running so that the water would remain hot. victor offered the fourth egg to the regular user (woman).

according to the caretaker of the place, not many people visit the place on a weekday. the usual number is 4 or 5 but on weekends, the place will see about 30 visitors in the morning and another 30 in the afternoon or evening. the caretaker has this tent for shelter and some privacy. there is no changing room and no toilet facilities are available.

everyone and anyone is free to use the plastic chairs stacked by the side, near the fence. after using, you are expected to put back the chairs at the same place.

for the vain ones, there is a mirror hanging by the side of the brick structure in the middle of the 'hot taps'.

another regular visitor was this elderly man, who stripped down to his china ah pek underwear (those loose cotton striped shorts) to give himself a good wash. he collected a few containers of water, set them aside to let the water cool down and then later started to give himself a good wash.

the place is open from 7.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. every day. the scene today is a far cry from what we witnessed in 2006 when the place was packed throughout the day, regardless of weekday or weekend. before they cemented the place and put all those retrictions in place, you could cycle or even drive and park right next to the hot spring.


Yang Yang said...

Hi, yeah its so close to our camp that the guards for the day are required to open & close the gambas gate daily & promptly at 0700/ 1900!

yg said...

hi yang yang, i thought there is a slef-appointed care-taker for the place. each time i go there, i always see him. so, he goes there after the guard has opened the place at 7.00 a.m.
last time, it was a natural spring. you could see the hot water coming up to the surface and the smell of sulphur, i think, was much stronger.
at one time, f & n bottled the water under the name seletaris. those days, mineral water was not popular, so it did not sell well.