Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

Familiar? Yes, this is our very own natural jacuzzi!

I remember visiting this place once - before Lost World of Tambun was built – and my brother and I would relax in the pool while watching the world go by :-) There was a very distinct smell of sulphur in the air, but it didn’t seem to matter to the crowd. I also recall a man selling eggs (which were left to cook in the smaller pool, while you soak or swim in the larger pool).

Are the hot springs still there now? Last I heard, the place would open after Lost World closed for the day – which was around 5 or 6pm. If I’m wrong, I stand corrected. If anyone out there knows MORE about this, do tell us. We’d also like to hear of YOUR memories of the hot springs…..

  1. ipohgal says:

    This was the place my grandma brought us to several times in the early 70s. My sister was suffering from a persistent skin problem and we went there so that she can soaked in the sulphur water. Grandma chartered a taxi and all of my siblings and cousins went too. She also brought along a basket of eggs to cook for each of us. Though I hated the smell of the sulphur, but I enjoyed playing in the water. I was about 6 or 7 then. After a few trips, my sister’s condition was healed and we didn’t go there anymore due to transport problem.

  2. felicia says:

    Hi Ipohgal. yes, i’ve heard too that the sulphur in the water is good for skin problems. have you visited the place recently, maybe with your children?

  3. LMS136 says:

    Hi ipohgal and felicia ,

    If the photo was one taken in 1950 then it was the heyday of the hot spring judging by the crowd and the pool infrastructure . The lady in the centre of the photo was quite comely and might have been a very welcome sight amidst all the thorns . A group outing ? This looked like a posed photo , not a candid camera shot .

    I cycled there with 2 other friends in the late 60′s . The sun-baked condition of our bodies , the sulphur-infused high temperature water followed by the long ride home under the burning high noon sun – these were enough to make us boiled lobster red . It did not help that we brought along only a small quantity of home-bottled water .

    The hot spring was in a very dilapidated state and very deserted , perhaps because it was a week day . It was unattended , forlorn and poorly maintained .

    What a turn off ! Has Yen Yen and her cohort put their backs to it to make it a more palatable tourist attraction ?

  4. ika says:

    The photo is definitely in the 50′s and the picture is “posed” in as much as they were a group of youngsters from Sam Tet School who went up their together one weekend and one of them took the photo.

    I went their for a look-see in 2000 and the place was empty, dirty and under the care of a grumpy old man who wanted us to pay just to walk around.

    Is this not the hot spring taken over by The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, which is a select and expensive place. If it is then earlier this year that would not let me in either to have a preview of their facilities. Visits were said to be by prior appointment only.

    Maybe I am not destined to get near local hot springs and presumably there will be no more schoolboys fooling about there either in future.

  5. ipohgal says:

    Hi Felicia,

    No, I have not been back to this place since we last went there some 35 years ago or so! It was quite inaccessible and since none of us have skin problems again, we did not bother anymore. I did asked my siblings about the location but they were also vague about this place too.

    and LMS136,

    Wow, you did have sharp eyes! The lady in the centre with dark glasses was indeed a rose among the thorns though I am not sure this is a candid shot or a posed photo.

    Forget about Yen Yen. For all that she is widely known to be, I bet she will give a care to this god forsaken place. Some years back, I went to a hot spring at Prastagi during a trip to Lake Toba. The hot spring facilities there were good and many tourists were seen taking a relaxing dip while admiring the beautiful Sibayak Volcano just a short distant away. Even our Indonesian neighbours are doing a better job than our feisty lady from MCA!

  6. Ng says:

    This place shall be a nice place until now. But for some unforseen circumstances, this place is take over by the Malaysia Government using force and power. A beautiful place with natural resources and natural water. Perhaps my grandfather did not pictured in this picture but he is the one who built this Tambun Hot Spring. Not this Sunway Lost World or bla bla those sh*t.

  7. LMS136 says:

    Hi ipohgal ,

    My earlier training as a junior boy scout in Standard 3 , in playing Kim’s game which was all about a test of observation and recall , laid a strong foundation . Some 30 odd objects were laid out on a table and after being given only 2 minutes to take in the visuals , we had to list down on paper as many of the displayed items as we could remember .

    Very useful – emphasizes the importance of careful observations , making mental notes , listening and thinking rather than jump the gun by shooting off the cuff .

    The way in was through a long narrow secondary jungle path , passing close to a small hill face .

    Yen Yen , if politicos will either deliver or else fly off as the swallows do to “cari their own makan” then heaven and earth will be at rest in peaceful harmony .

    It is good to know that our neighbours in Sumatra work on their environment to earn a decent living . I must add that the Poring hot springs in Sabah are reasonably maintained .

    Hi , ika ,

    The style and cutting of the swim wear worn by the lady and the guys probably suffices to back up your assessment of the year when the shot was taken .

    Good on Sam Tet ! Sam Tet was not a co-educational school . Can we assume that the lady was the teacher in charge as there were no roses in class ? In the 60′s there was “To Sir With Love” .
    Was there an earlier “To Miss With Love” version of the film in the 50′s ?

  8. ipohgal says:

    Hi ika,

    A few years back, I was in Tambun town with a few of my siblings to buy some pomelos and biscuits. I took the opportunity to ask about the hot springs but the answers from the locals such as the hawkers and taxi drivers there was disappointing to say the least. Answers such as “Don’t know”, “Never heard of such places” to just a blank stare. So much for promoting the natural beauty of Perak!

    and to LMS136,

    You are right about our “travelling swallow”, only recently, she defended the humongous project to build the 100 storey mega tower in KL with answers like “Taiwan and UAE built mega towers too. We should not hold back or why should we hold back?” or something to that effect. See, she was more interested to promote mega towers to tourists than natural beauties like hot springs and limestone hills which are aplenty in Perak. The reasons are obvious.

  9. ika says:

    The photo came from an album of my friend and he is in it that is how we know the approximate date.

    We understand that as well as the swimming pool, steam bath and egg boiling, there were also bath rooms and bowling alleys. Can anybody confirm that please?

    Ng, any more details, stories, photos to sghare about your grandfather and the springs?

  10. LeoLim says:

    I have a hunch that the photo here was certainly not taken in 1950. For several reasons. In 1950, the place would not have been this well developed. Even back in the 60s, the area was a sheer combination of a small pool with several “hot-ponds” surrounding it. And the bare-looking & cement-finished pool had no terraso-chips embedded along the sides. Next, notice the spectacle-frames of those people who wear glasses. They cannot have been the fashion of 1950, when frames were exactly like those that were worn by the Emperor Puyi, in the film “The Last Emperor”. In 1950 here in Malaya, there were no platic frames at all! The better bet is even not in the late 1960s. Look again at the hair-styles of the chaps. I put my last cent on the 1970s.

  11. Hong says:

    I have some old family video footage of the hot springs i believed filmed during the mid 1960s. Our family love to visit the hot springs and also the Tanjung Rambutan waterfalls, especially when our out station relatives visited us. Will upload the videos of hot springs and the Rambutan waterfalls after I convert them to quicktime.

  12. ika says:

    Hi Hong, We would love to have a copy of the video on DVD for our archive. Would that be possible please.

    Hello LeoLim, I admire your sleuthing approach and you may of course be right. I shall go back to the owner of the photo in a day or two and try to pin him down to an exact date. Then I shall let you know the verdict.

    By the way, welcome to our world, ipohWorld. Hope to see you both again soon.

  13. cm yong says:

    Yes, I remembered this place. Indeed it brought back good memories…My dad used to bring us (family)there for a swim. My mom will bring some raw eggs and then cooked in the small hole of hot water and voila we have half boiled eggs!
    Have not visited the place since it was taken over by Lost World.

  14. D-T says:

    Hi, fyi, the hot springs as depicted in the picture is now the re-developed exclusive Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat and is no longer accessible by the general public unless you are prepared to pay close to RM1k per head for a night stay in the retreat. Whereas the Lost World hot spring is actually hot spring water diverted from the original source located at the Banjaran Hot Spring retreat to the Lost World Theme Park for the average public to enjoy. I understand it cost some RM5 earlier to experience it but recently the price has been raised to RM12 after the recent upgrade.

    I manage to try out the old hot spring some 2 yrs before they closed it off to redeveloped into the current Banjaran Hot Spring Retreat. Too bad that now the natural beauty of the place is now no longer accessible by the general public.

  15. Old timer says:

    ika
    Regarding the 2 swimming pools(1 big and 1 small),bath rooms,bowling alley, there was also a small hotel.
    I agree with LeoLim that it could not possibly be in the 50′s. If my memory have not failed me it was as LeoLim said – in the 70′s. Before the area was developed by Ng’s grandfather, the area was just some hot waterholes. I am sure that Ng can confirm when the area was developed.

  16. Katherine Wong says:

    I agree the swimming pools is in the 60s. I used to go swimming with my group of friends in the pool mostly every evening. After the swim we really slept like a log.
    We loved to go there, until one day we saw a man covered with sores and pus all over the body swimming there. That is the last time we swam.
    I think that people believed or know that sulphur is a substance that heal skin disease. Agh…..
    Just don’t understand why there was no separate pool for those people with skin disease.
    I forgotten how much we paid for the entrance. The pool is not well maintained. The bathroom and toilets were deplorable.
    Before the pool were build the vast tract of place was free for people to go and wade in the hot water. I think I have handed Ika a photograph of the original Tambun hot spring.
    Anyway I see whether I could dig out some photographs of the place.

  17. felicia says:

    Hi Katherine. yes, DO dig up those photos ;-)
    it’s sad to know that this once public-friendly place has been turned into an exclusive-resort, which charges almost 1k for a nights stay!

  18. Old timer says:

    I agreed with Katherine Wong’s reason why she did not patronise the place again after seeing those people with skin disease. That was also my reason for not going there and I am sure that there are many more people who are of the same opinion.

  19. Ken Chan says:

    I have not visited the Tambun Hot Springs before while I was living in Ipoh but it is an outright travesty that a private developer is allowed to grab a natural gift from nature and have the audacity to convert it into an exclusive resort for the wealthy and well-heeled. The wonders of nature are for everyone to enjoy and should never be reserved only for the upper echelons of society. I was absolutely mesmerized by the thermal energy that is throbbing within the geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone, in the US and Rotorua in NZ, and it is a shame that the average man on the street cannot enjoy such gifts of nature in Ipoh.

    On the subject of building yet another mega tower as a tourist attraction, the political heavyweights and honchos should get real and face the fact that visitors don’t travel halfway across the world just to see another glass and steel skyscraper. What they want is to experience the sights and sounds that are unique to the country, and are not easily seen in other parts of the world. The decision makers in the tourist development board should give themselves a timely pinch to get in touch with reality. The wheel of fortune in the tourist industry is spinning towards eco-tourism. Wake up! Don’t waste your resources on mega towers just because Taiwan and the UAE have them.

  20. ika says:

    Welcome back to our world Ken. We have missed you. By the way there is still time for your “growing up” article, but we are getting close to the deadline.

  21. Katherine Wong says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Ken Chan about eco-tourism. My friends from overseas always are awe and fascinated about our natural environment and landscape of Ipoh. They love to go to the limestone caves, the pomelos orchard, our fruits farms. They love to see and taste our tropical fruits like mangosteen, duku langsat, rambutans, pomelos, papayas etc…
    They were thrill when I take them to the rubber plantation and the huts in the kampong.
    They love the museums, history and culture. They enjoyed my stories of the town that tin build.
    The least interest is on high rise buildings and western franchise food.
    I could see the enjoyment of the food like banana leaf curry rice, curry mee, laksa etc…. I was quite amuse to see their perspirations and how they reacted to our spicy food. Yet they enjoy the local food tremendously. They like to experience everything local. Like eating with their hands. Ya, not with their fingers. Once some of them wanted to eat the banana leaves which the rice and curry was put on. Most probably they thought it is dessert for them. If I don’t stop them in time, they would have eaten the whole leaves. hahaha……
    They rather like staying in our local homes than a hotel, not that they cannot afford. They would love to experience the warmth and local culture in the homes. In my opinion homestead will bring in tourist dollars.

  22. Charlie says:

    The last time I visited Tambun Hot Springs was in 2000. At that time the area was already alocated to the Sunway Group for development. Because of the economic downturn of 97/98 Sunway shelved their project. The then operators of the Hot Springs stayed on and continued to operate. However the Hotel/Club House construction had stopped and the was not completed. I remember when we went there the entrance to the pool area was Rm 3.00 for adults.
    There were two man made pools as well as a few natural ones. Imagine, we saw live fishes flourishing in the hot water!! This is also where people boiled their eggs. The small pool was used for holding the hot water, for sediments to settle. Unlike normal swimming pools where there are pumps, filters and chlorination plants, the water in the Main Pool, where the public swims in, is replace once a week on Mondays, when the place is closed. I was told that on this day, the main pool would be drained, and hot water from the small pool is transfered over and mixed with normal water to cool it down. The place would be open from Tuesdays to Sundays, but we were advised to go on Wednesdeys, because on Tuesdays, the water is still too hot. From Thursdays to Sundays, it would be getting crowded and the water more contaminated.

  23. felicia says:

    Hi Katherine. yes, i too think that homestead would be a great attraction for tourists. i wonder if the state tourism board has considered this idea to boost tourism…

  24. Ken Chan says:

    Spot on Katherine! It is the natural scenic beauty, the multi-ethnic society and its colorful culture, the food, and the friendly people that lure boatloads and planeloads of tourists to our shores, not mega towers. Regrettably, the tourist promotion priorities are hopelessly misdirected and consequently, the country’s natural attractions are not marketed or developed to its full potential. What purpose does it serve to construct another tower when the Twin Towers are not even fully occupied after all these years? The prestige that is so often associated with such so-called world class projects has a hollow ring to it. In reality, it is nothing more than an ego trip that will succumb to a rude awakening as soon as a taller or more massive structure is being built in another country.

    Thanks Charlie for the insightful account on the Tambun Hot Springs. It is too bad I did not make a trip there when I was living in Ipoh. The next time around, it would cost me an arm and a leg to test the hot waters in this fabled place.

  25. ika says:

    At last I have got back to the donor of this photograph, Thomas Lee, and clarified that although it is in the 1950s album, it was actually taken in late 1967 not long after the hot springs were rebuilt. The photo is of the luke-warm pool, it was taken by one of the Sam Tet boys and the lady was nothing to do with the boys. Maybe she took every opportunity to pose whenever there was a camera around.

    My apologies to those I misled.

  26. Cecilia says:

    Hi, I run into your article when trying to find more detail on Tambun Natual Hot Spring.
    The website was already “monopoly” by The Lost World of Tambun, I can’t find any details on this park anymore. Is there any further detail you can share with me? whether this park is still in operation? is it really like what you say they only operate from 5/6p.m.? Thanks in advance.

  27. ika says:

    Cecilia, as you can see from above the original hot springs is no longer. There are now two different ways to use the hot springs, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat which is based on the original site (now a full time resort) and at the Lost World of Tambun where the hot springs are also open for evening sessions from 6pm – 10pm when the air temperature cools down a bit so perhaps that is the best time to appreciate the hot springs.

  28. Mano says:

    Yes, I have been to this place but only once, back in 1971. I recall distinctly to this day the signboards on the side of the pools. On the smaller pool it said,’Lukewarm’ whilst the one on the bigger said, ‘Just Bearable’! Does anyone recall these?

  29. Alex says:

    Hi All,
    This place used to be a Buddhist temple as well (in the cave). Does anyone have any photos/pictures of the place before The Banjaran? Perhaps in the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s up till before The Banjaran? Thanks.

  30. NCK says:

    Hi. I went to the old pools when I was a kid. If I remember correctly, the two pools were of equal size. The division, with a trough that was always filled with splashed over water from the pools, cut right in the middle. The cooler pool was for visitors acclimatizing to the temperature before moving into the hotter pool for the real dip. My skin turned red after the dip.

    I went to the hot spring of the Lost World recently. Sadly, the waters didn’t feel hot enough, although the place was well developed.

  31. NCK says:

    Apology. Perhaps the highest pool was hot enough, but it was too small. My heart beat increased after dipping in that pool.

  32. ika says:

    Hi Hong, We would love to have a copy of the video on DVD for our archive (Comment 11). Would that be possible please.Any progress? These old videos are very important.

  33. SH Ng says:

    In the year 1962, in ACS Ipoh, I had a classmate in Form 1, whose father owned the Tambun Hot Springs. His name is Ng Kok Cheng. I have been trying to reconnect with him everytime I visit Ipoh, without success. Kok Cheng should be about 65 years old now.

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