We visited Har Par Villa this weekend. This is a free park created by the family that makes Tiger Balm. I had seen Tiger Balm in the States, some of the guys in my running group would use it on their knees to help with the pain. I had no idea it started here in Singapore.
The park is frankly, a gem of weirdness. I never saw or read anything about it in the guidebooks, it was only thru an article in TimeOut Singapore that I found out about it and I’m glad I did.
Here’s the official recap:
Haw Par Villa (Chinese: 虎豹別墅) is a Chinese mythological theme park in Singapore, located along Pasir Panjang Road.
The park contains over 1,000 statues and 150 giant dioramas depicting scenes from Chinese folklore, legends, history and illustrations of various aspects of Confucianism. The attractions include statues of the Laughing Buddha and the Goddess of Mercy, as well as dioramas of scenes from Journey to the West. The most well-known attraction is the Ten Courts of Hell, with gruesome depictions of hell in Chinese mythology, all set in a 60 meter-long trail of a Dragon.
It’s a very large open air park, completely free and full of crazy statutes, teaching stories and moral lessons of Chinese culture to visitors. Luckily there are signs in English as well so you know what’s going on.
Now, about the disturbing part…..The Ten Courts of Hell…..oh.my.god. It’s like some sort of sacred straight method of teaching. They fully depict all the terrible things that will happen if you are bad in each of the Ten Courts. There were: People being sawed in half, people drowning in rivers of blood, stabbed with knives, crushed under a stone, burned alive, disemboweled, and other tortures, all depicted in ceramic statue form for your viewing pleasure. The statues are about 24-36″ high each, and they get into some detail at times. I’ll put those pictures in a separate post for next time, I’ll warn you in advance, they are a bit bloody and graphic…..
But aside from that, there is a lot of other really nice, quirky, scenes in the park and the overall impression was a good one. I would go back to see a little more, there have some many statues and stories, that as you look in one direction, you miss something in the other.