When I read Singapore had an abandoned theme park I went a little crazy with excitement! Turns out it's more neglected than abandoned but no worries as Haw Par Villa is still complete and utter rad-ness, abandoned or not! A quick run down...Haw Par Villa was opened by the Tiger Balm brothers, Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par in 1937 back then they called it Tiger Balm gardens, it was eventually bought by the Singapore government in 1988 who re-named it, charged entrance fees and lost a whole lot of money! Fast forward today and according to locals it's not the place it once was, it's now free entry but because it's no longer receiving the same maintenance or love it gets the abandoned title.
Here's what I found... Ben and I rocked up on a Thursday when the gates opened at 9am, it was raining and apart from a few other peeps and some grounds keepers the place was deserted. Yay for us, we took off our shoes, jumped around in the puddles and went exploring this amazing place! Now when people say abandoned they don't usually say "opening hours" or "ground keepers" so to me this place was alive and pumping! An hour or so later, the rains had eased and there was a whole bunch of other people and tour guides. I'm sure it's quite a different place to when it first opened but I felt the peeling paint only added to the creepy charm! On another plus the train station is metres away so it's super easy for anyone to get there :)
So what is Haw Par Villa about, well firstly when you arrive you are instantly meet with huge structures, crazy details, colours and lots and lots of statues - I may have let out a little squeal of delight! As you start venturing around you start picking up on a creepy vibe - those whacky Tiger Balm bros thought it was a good idea to make a moral teaching Disneyland! (my words now their's :p) The park displays diorama's from Chinese mythology and seems to cover a lot of folklore tales. Ben is amazing and read all the accompanying signs and I just wandered and listen to Ben tell me the most interesting tales :)
You can see above the entrance to the famous "ten courts of hell" which I'd previously read, had been a boat ride with the whole outside structure in the shape of a dragon!!! Despite the lack of a dragon or boats, the ten courts of hell, is home to some serious messed up dioramas, when people talk about the whacky-ness of haw par and the appropriate-ness of this place for kids they are usually referring to all the little dioramas inside! I'm going to save all the little figurines for another post because I kind of went photo mad and even then I can't post all the pictures because some are seriously just too gruesome!
Happy tiger outside! Well happier than what's happening to all those little figurines inside :p
The lotus pond was my favourite!
I got giddy just looking at all the colours in the park!
Told you I was in love with that pond!
Me with the Tiger Balm Mascot and laughing Buddha!
This bit really was abandoned...sssh, I believe they used to have the shows here, back when the park charged an admission fee.
The park also plays homage to different countries, unfortunately I felt Australia's representation was the most boring, I swear the only part of the park not colourful :p
Playing in puddles :) Ben and I seem to often find ourselves on rainy holidays I've learnt to maintain the attitude that you can have just as much fun in the rain!
I wonder if this too was for the hungry ghosts?
What's behind the red door? Mmm, not much :p lol
Okay stay tuned for another Haw Par Post!