Haw Par Villa Horrors

In my ever-expanding quest to “do Singapore differently” (a quest which I will continue to re-name in every post), I ended up in some gardens run by the Haw Par Tiger Balm-inventing family. Way back when, I wrote a post about tiger-themed things in Singapore, but definitely didn’t realize I was only cat-scratching the surface of this family’s tiger obsession (and general insanity) at that point. While I looked into the gardens a little bit before showing up, most of the reviews on tripadvisor were focused on the insanity of the park being free, not the insanity of the park itself. Normally, free things in Singapore are a be-all, end-all event (people lined up overnight for a free egg McMuffin at McDonalds. In Canada, Subway – which is way more awesome than MickyDees – did the same thing, and I was able to stroll in for a free breakfast sandwich without encountering any line-up whatsoever)!

(Oh yeah, I’m talking about Haw Par Villa, not food – another Singaporean complaint on tripadvisor was the lack of on-site restaurants), ANYWAYS, the minute you walk in the park, you’re greeted with a detailed, and frankly rather terrifying statue of a tiger. While this should have set the tone for the rest of the experience, I instead brushed it off as having an unfortunate design, shuddered a little, then continued on my way.

RAAAWR tiger, you don't scare me!

RAAAWR tiger, you don’t scare me!

The garden used to circle a mod house, which one Haw Par brother gave to the other as a gift (just for his birthday, no big deal). They were to be open to the public and told a series of stories that were meant to teach Singaporean children right from wrong and were to (also) be a gift of knowledge to the city (I don’t know about you, but as the brother, I’d feel kind of awkward having people romping around my yard all the time).

While, in theory, teaching people about life is generally a good thing, lessons can get kind of distorted when they’re coming from someone who drives a tiger-car around town on a regular basis:

Didn't even need Xzibit to pimp his ride!

Didn’t even need Xzibit to pimp his ride!

In addition, its hard not to seem at least a bit disturbing when the main lesson you’re trying to teach (to children, remember) is about the Buddhist Legend of the 10 Courts of Hell. Now, I have nothing against Buddhism, I just think that the Haw Pars could have picked another, um, less graphic scene to depict than this one:

Not even there yet, and small animals are already dying..!

Not even there yet, and small animals are already dying..!

In the first court, you're judged by King Qinguang, who decides if you were good enough in your life to skip over the next 9 courts (hint: you want this to happen)

In the first court, you’re judged by King Qinguang, who decides if you were good enough in your life to skip over the next 9 courts (hint: you want this to happen)

If he decides you were kind of a jerk, you have to endure things like getting stabbed

If he decides you were kind of a jerk, you have to endure things like getting stabbed

...or having your body sawed in half

…or having your body sawed in half

After barely making it out of the courts alive, I was let out near the entrance to a small pond, where even the turtles were cowering under a bridge in fear.

IMG_8361

Smart turtles, hiding from the terrors!

Moving on, the majority of the remaining gardens featured the tales of Tripitaka, Pigsy (a man with a pig’s head), Monkey God and Sandy (a sand demon). They embarked on a courageous adventure to obtain Buddhist scriptures and face their personal demons to obtain Budhahood. Their journey is complicated in that many of the entities they encounter believe that Tripitaka’s holy flesh will grant them immortality and as such, they are seduced by sexy spider women and have to fight off a small fire-demon child. Altogether, it’s a pretty awesomely action-packed story – and I’m not just saying that because it’s less terrifying than the 10 courts of hell!

He must have been pretty strong-willed to resist women THAT sexy..

He must have been pretty strong-willed to resist women THAT sexy..

Monkey God to the rescue!

Monkey God to the rescue!

As much as I loved Tripitaka’s tale, after that point the excessively bright coloured statues, along with the excessively hot Singaporean sun, were both starting to wear on me, and all I could bring myself to notice were the increasingly scaring facial expressions of the statues.

Even the pandas are terrifying!!

Even the pandas are terrifying!!

So porn in Singapore is completely unacceptable, but THIS is okay..!?

So porn in Singapore is completely unacceptable, but THIS is okay..!?

Yeeeeeeeerg!

Yeeeeeeeerg!

Bleeeeeerg!

Bleeeeeerg!

Schmeeeeeeerg!

Schmeeeeeeerg!

Finally, I made it to the exit, where comparatively non-frightening Tiger Balm-holding tigers stood. At that point I realised the park is just a big marketing ploy to make tiger balm look happy and non-threatening, and also that the Haw Par brothers were most likely on a LOT of hard drugs.

I was actually scared at how not-scary these statues looked after everything else..!

I was actually scared at how not-scary these statues looked after everything else..!

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4 thoughts on “Haw Par Villa Horrors

  1. hahah great post I love Haw Par Villa it’s kind of awesome in it’s horriblness lol ( I think I just made that word up) sad to see that you’ve left Singapore (yes, I know I’m a little late on the uptake) ;) I hope you are well and enjoying your new adventures!

    • Haha! Even if you’ve just made up horribleness, I think I might have to add it to my vocabulary!

      Singapore was amazing, and I definitely miss it, but the Canadian mountains seem to keep drawing me back!

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