Ah yes Haw Par Villa. The kitschiest, morbidest, super-wierd theme park in Singapore. Admission is free, the park went downhill when some tourism board took over and charged a fee - glad they learnt their lesson. The park is now rather derelict ever since the admission fees killed visitor numbers and people just forgot about it over the years.
I remembered it was always crowded back in the 1980s and there was this huge dragon you could go into (never went as a kid but all my friends did). The park is now slightly deserted, stuck in time, obsolete in our hyper modern society. Well the new Circle MRT line opened earlier this month, I heard visitor numbers jumped three-fold but it is still pleasantly uncrowded.
The train station (Haw Par Villa) is right beside the park. Remember to bring your umbrellas and wear as comfortably as possible, it's really quite warm even on a cloudy day. Lots of walking. Prepare to sweat. There are no food stalls there, just drink vending machines so bring your own!
The park, also known as Tiger Balm Gardens, opened by the 2 brothers Aw Boon Haw (Haw means Tiger) and Aw Boon Par (Par means Leopard) who started the Tiger Balm company. Consisting mainly of sculpture, it features chinese folklore, mythology, Buddhism, some retro-inspired diorama and teaches various aspects of Confucianism and moral values. The key attraction is the 'Ten Courts of Hell' tunnel where there are very gorey depictions of punishment in chinese hell.
|Cute tiger mascots promoting Tiger balm ointment. Algae is a nice touch.
|The phrase roughly means 'sea of misery has no cliff, turning back is the shore'. This is to remind people to repent of their misdeeds... or else.
|Entrance to hell. This used to be the mouth of the huge dragon where boat rides would go through. It's very warm and stuffy in there even on a rainy day. It also smells of stale perspiration.
|Pounded by a stone mallet. If you tax dodge, refuse to pay rent or commit business fraud... lol
|Aah sawn into half!
|Aah sawn in half... in the other direction!
|Ok what's this. So this rich lady is feeding this poor old woman (mother-in-law) and not her baby (not shown).
|One of the larger diorama sculpture
|Giant Guan Yu aka Guan Gong. Creepy smirk.
|Algae filled disused water fountain. Surreal the way I like it.
|Stream now stagnant.
|The miniature houses now just ponds and homes to fishies, remnant of the once water-filled park.
|There used to be a boat ride around the park and now just concrete. I heard the villa had a family swimmimg pool which they added mermaids. These were it. The original art deco villa, see here and here was damaged during WWII and was torn down.
This is just a fraction of the stuff there but my post is getting too long so I shall end here.
I am going to Taiwan on Sunday (with my mom... on our own), so will be documenting my trip details there on my next blog posts!