Monday, July 23, 2012

Singapore - Haw Par Villa (The Tiger Balm Gardens)

This place was originally called "Tiger Balm Gardens" because it was built by brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, the owner of the famous tiger balm. The brothers were known as Tiger Balm Kings in Yangon, Myanmar until they moved their business in Singapore. Actually, it was their father who invented the most famous and so-called cure-all cream or paste in the world.

Eventually, the Singapore Tourism Board took over the gardens and renamed it Haw Par Villa. The park is open for public and tourists for free.

I consider this place as one of the off beaten paths in Singapore and I bet most of you will not waste your time visiting this place since there are countless tourist spots in Singapore that will be on top of your list or itinerary. Even myself, my feet brought me here due to my ardent intention to kill time while wandering in Singapore during my monthly vacation since I have visited and seen most of Singapore's popular places.

Actually, I got lost when I tried to visit this place by bus so I didn't bother wasting my time anymore on my consecutive visits to Singapore. However, on my last visit to Singapore, I learned that the MRT's Circle Line has been opened and making it more convenient to visit How Par Villa. I took the opportunity and visited the weirdest theme park in Singapore, if I may say so.

As an ordinary tourist or visitor, you would be amazed due to more than 1000 thousands statues and more than 150 dioramas that depict different Chinese folklore, legends, values and Buddhist beliefs. Many statues were life-size while others were even bigger. Because of this, the whole park can be considered as sculpture park.

What initially catch my curiosity were the famous 10 courts of hell exhibit. This exhibit dramatizes the different punishments meted out to the soul of the sinners before they would be reincarnated. On the other hand, the good and virtuous will be led through golden and silver bridges until they reach paradise.

Trust me, the dioramas in this exhibit were gory and horrible thus it should be rated as restricted for kids since the utmost violence being depicted here can only be seen in hell, so to speak. I read stories on the web that some kids had nightmares after visiting this place.



There is a museum inside the park. I didn't bother visiting it because of the entrance fee. Further, I didn't remember seeing food vendors inside the park but you would find a few vending machines. I would advise that you bring an umbrella or hat to protect you from sun because there is very minimal sun shade or shelter inside the park. Insect or mosquito repellent would be an added protection.


the Tiger Car
main road near the entrance

newly built diorama
inside the ten courts of hell

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