27 October, 2017

Haw Par Villa

I've been off work this week for October break and we've had a staycation with mixed weather, and quite a bit on with child #3 leaving home on Tuesday for university.  On my to do list was to visit Haw Par Villa (aka Tiger Balm gardens).

 A colleague had shown me fabulous photos he took there a few years ago with peeling statues and I've been keen ever since to take along a camera.  I didn't really know what to expect, but we braved the intermittent rain and went anyway.

It's very difficult to explain what it is, except perhaps, a folly. Built by the brothers of Tiger Balm fame, it tells Chinese moral and folk law stories most of which are unfamiliar to me, and therefore unaccessible - although I did recognise the Monkey god stories from watching Monkey as a child.  It has a cavern showing the 10 stages of hell, and some modern and ancient stories.

On the iPad again!

lost her head

but lovely shoes


I find it incredible that this place cost $1million to build back in 1937, and reading up about it, it looks like millions has been sunk into it since then.  There is no cover charge and it looks like many of the statues are being repainted (although seeing under the peeling layers of ones that haven't been renovated yet, I do wonder how sympathetic the restoration is).  I'm amazed that it has lasted so long!

Some of the dioramas are so random, and some of the faces of the animals do make it difficult to tell what they are! Although, apparently Haw and Par were the names of the brothers and mean tiger and leopard, so there's lots of those around.

I loved, however, all the people dressed as or part animal.

 My favourite part was the old section that hasn't (yet, maybe?) been restored.  I love the more muted tones and seeing that under the layers of paint there was even glass on some of the animals.  I think most of the statues are made with concrete, but it's really hard to find out all that kind of information about it.

 I think this guy dying under the weight of the Nippon paint tin says it all....

The verdict: Definitely worth a visit.  Only a minute or so from Haw Par Villa MRT station, and free to get in.  We were probably there for at least an hour and you kind of meander and climb up a hill as you go.  It was hot and humid and we were well and truly done by the end of it, but I'm sure there's areas we missed.  A great place for taking photos, even if you don't take them of the statues.

Oh, and LOADS of turtles...