The allure of the "magical" healing properties of the Sembawang hot spring used to attract hundreds of eager visitors a day. These days, it sees only about 20 visitors daily during the weekends between 7am and 7pm.
The crowds first started appearing in 2001 when word of a natural hot spring located in the Sembawang Air Base spread like wildfire. A short trek of about 100m, from an inconspicuous gate along Gambas Avenue, leads visitors to a clearing where they will find a brick hut enclosing the well and three water taps.
Caretaker Lim Tay San, 70, who has been working there for nine months, said: “ Some visitors expect to see water springing up from the ground, but once they see the well – inside a brick hut – they lose interest.”
Retiree Tay Hee Seng, 63, has heard of the hot spring for years, but has never been able to find it. It was only recently that he managed to find it using a GPS tracking game, geocaching.
The Serangoon Gardens resident takes a half-hour bike ride down regularly to soak in the spring’s warm waters, purportedly to help alleviate a persistent skin condition, which has since improved.
“This place is like a treasure,” Mr Tay said. If the entrance could be made more conspicuous, and changing rooms built, more people might come, he said.
“But too many people might spoil the atmosphere here, it’s best to keep it as it is.”