Continuing on the blazing trail of our Chinese heritage, we visit a unique, otherworldly landmark known as the Haw Par Villa (aka Tiger Balm Gardens). The Haw Par Villa was opened by the Aw Brothers, whose family created the Tiger Balm ointment (used to cure headaches, muscle aches etc). It is internationally reputed, such that even UK pharmaceutical shops like Boots stock them! Fun Fact: Damian loves to use Tiger Balm (but we’re not sponsored in any way HAHA).
The Haw Par Villa was the former residence of the Aw brothers, who opened their gardens to the public in the 1930s. The grounds consists of statutes of various workmanship depicting Chinese folklore and mythologies; ancient tales such as Journey to the West and Romance of the Three Kingdoms are illustrated in dioramas (as you can see later)! The most remarkable of them is the Ten Courts of Hell, portraying Hell in a gruesome fashion.
Major renovations have been undertaken since the Singapore Tourism Board took over Haw Paw Villa in the 1980s. Nowadays, entry is free but the landmark remains a notable cultural site with many interesting tales of Chinese folklore. Let the journey begin!
Instead of following the recommended route, we immediately headed straight to the Ten Courts of Hell. The attraction seemed to have changed in the sense that Sandra recalled, during her primary school days, sitting through a boat ride, seeing the ‘punishments’ from afar. Now, one can simply saunter through the attraction and get up close and personal with the exhibitions.
Viewer discretion: Many of the dioramas depict the process of being in Hell quite gruesomely, so we chose not to upload any specific image of them. Nevertheless, we think it would be quite an experience going there!
Before leaving the park, we decided to try our hand at using the Splitzer with our Lomo’Instant Camera:
Finally, we did try our hand with the Holga lenses using the Canon DSLR! Here are some of our favourite pictures:
Overall, our trip to Haw Par Villa was really quite educational! We learnt so much about Chinese folklore, Singapore’s history pre and post- WWII and about an eccentric but wealthy family who continues to amass their legacy till this day!
Haw Par Villa will undoubtedly remain as a fond memory for many Singaporeans. In fact, the Straits Times have recently reported that Haw Par Villa is due for another makeover soon! We are excited to see what other changes the park would undergo… but for now, let us treasure our national heritage landmarks and we definitely recommend visiting Haw Par Villa!
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