Beads of perspiration trickled down my forehead, as I wondered to myself: “who in their right mind would go to the hot spring on such a hot warm and sunny day?” Still, I trudged on towards my destination for the day – the only natural hot spring on mainland Singapore, the Sembawang Hot Spring.
Located in a relatively remote part of our island, the Sembawang Hot Spring has enjoyed bouts of popularity from time to time since its discovery in 1909! In the past, villagers swear by the healing powers of the geothermal waters, while punters in the 1960s believe the very same hot spring water to be highly auspicious. These days, visitors are there mostly for the supposed health benefits.
Before proceeding further, I must confess that I feel like “The Idiot Abroad” at times – except geographically and theoretically, I am actually “The Idiot at Home”. While I would like to blame the local educational system that spoon-fed and fashioned me into a do-as-you-are-told and don’t-ask-too-many-questions model citizen, I supposed it would be better to look forward and make efforts to understand places, situations, people, matters etc better. With this in mind, the ignorant me seek to look for answers that I have with regards to hot springs.
#1 What are hot springs?
Interestingly, there is no universally accepted definition of a hot spring! In my own interpretation, hot springs simply refer to water that has been naturally heated underground. This led me to the next question…
#2 How are hot springs formed?
Geothermal springs, as its name suggests, refers to water in contact with internal heat of the earth. They are formed when underground water passes through hot rock masses. The resulting high pressure causes the water to seep upwards through cracks, forcing itself out of the ground as a spring.
#3 Have you ever wondered why some areas of Earth have hot springs and others do not?
While there is heat in the earth beneath any spot on the surface, this heat is concentrated closer to the surface in some areas. One such area would be a shallow magma chamber within the earth’s crust. Think volcanoes! Another area where the heat of the earth can be concentrated near enough to the surface to generate hydrothermal systems is where the crust of the earth is stretched and thinner than normal. With the absence of volcanoes in Singapore, I believe the Sembawang hot spring is a result of the latter.
#3 Are hot springs really good for us?
As heated water can hold more dissolved solids, hot springs usually have a high mineral content, which lead to its supposed health benefits. When used as a form of hydrotherapy, hot springs can be helpful for mild forms of rheumatism or muscle strains.
Going beyond health benefits, hot spring soaks can be a fun and relaxing activity among family and friends.
#4 What is the content of the Sembawang hot spring water?
According to tests conducted by the PSB Corporation and SGS Testing & Control Services, the Sembawang spring water contains 420 mg of chloride per litre (substantially higher than waterworks in nearby districts) as well as sulphide content that is three times more than tap water! This spring water is also slightly alkaline due to the presence of minerals. The relatively higher content of these minerals implies certain health benefits.
#5 What are the dangers associated with hot springs?
Due to the high temperature of the water, caution must be taken to avoid getting scalded! There was an incident whereby a diabetic man lost six toes to gangrene after bathing in the Sembawang hot spring. Hence, people with nerves disorders or diseases affecting blood circulation are discouraged to soak in hot springs. Besides these, there are organisms that thrive at relatively high temperatures and such hot spring biota may cause infections.
Ever since my return from New Zealand, my foot problems that previously had the family and BFF labeled me as “FRG” (foot-rot gal) has unfortunately returned:(. Can the natural hot spring water of Singapore help ease my foot problems? I think I might have to visit a few more times to reach a conclusion. Meantime, click the following for: