Psychedelic Chinese Myths
Singapore sightseeing at Haw Par Villa is weird, to say the least.
The brothers who invented Tiger Balm must have spent too much time in the laboratory whiffing their concoction, because when they went home, they seem to have added one colorful, freaky, outrageous statue after another to their villa garden on the hill.
The Haw Par Villa is one serious must-see on the Singapore sightseeing tour and if you like Chinese mythology, even more so.
Now, first of all, don't expect a villa. It used to be there, but was torn down many years ago, unlike the garden.
Maybe garden isn't actually the right word for this gem of Singapore sightseeing.
The hill is virtually covered from top to bottom with statues, pagodas, scenes from ancient Chinese stories, animals, stages of hell, oversize masks, replicas of temples and anything else that can in any form or fashion be described as somehow belonging to the world of Chinese culture and myths.
Gods, Goats and Gore
There is a newly-opened MRT station right next to the Haw Par Villa, so access is very simple.
You can also park right at the foot of the garden and then walk up into the grounds. Already at the entrance, you are greeted by a riot of colors and statues depicting scenes and tigers, what else?
The path takes you up into the first myths and stories, and if you want your first taste of hell, take a right to the 10 Courts of hell, where sinners are tortured, strung, sliced, diced, flayed, halved, quartered, and otherwise judged for their sins before the relentless gods.
You may not want to take the young kids there - it really is expressive, to say the least.
Just follow your nose and enjoy this Singapore sightseeing experience of a different kind.
The whole place has an ever so slightly run-down atmosphere, but admittedly, some works are in progress with painstaking paintwork being done on a few statues.
As you head to the top of the hill, you will also encounter big memorial pillars constructed to the memory of the Haw Par brothers' family - they really wanted to show the world something, I guess.
The brothers had a somewhat flamboyant side to them, for all their hard-nose business acumen.
They took a German-made NSU and outfitted it with a tiger head.
Imagine walking down a Singapore street back in the days and getting 'roared' off the lane by the car behind you - the horn had been adapted to sound like a tiger.
Haw Par Villa is open daily from 9 am - 7 pm.
Try to come when the light is low - it gives some nice effects to the place.
Singapore sightseeing - Haw Par Villa
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