Haw Par Villa

6/12/11

Doesn't this remind you of the creepy Stephen King movie "Maximum Overdrive?"
Creepy, right? What's creepier is that theses faces are taller than I am.
Haw Par Villa is one of those places in Singapore you should go visit soon before it is torn down and replaced by expensive condominiums or another shiny mall. Built in 1937 by the brothers who ran the Tiger Balm brand, Haw Par Villa is a gaudy sculpture park based on Chinese folklore, mythology and Confucianist ideology. In the 1990's, it was turned into an amusement park and called Dragon World. The amusement park was turned over to the Singapore Tourism Board in 2001 because it wasn't attracting the visitors (and money) it needed to stay open.

I found this great post with old photos of Haw Par Villa and Dragon World. It used to be possible to ride a boat through the Ten Gates of Hell exhibit, but now the waterways have all been paved. The Ten Gates of Hell was the highlight of my trip to Haw Par Villa. The entrance used to be a very large dragon's mouth, but there's no trace of it anymore. This link has a photo of the former dragon's mouth, as well as an explanation of the Ten Gates of Hell.

There are hundreds of statues all over the park, each contributing to some type of "don't let this happen to you" story or moralist tale. It's a truly unique place that you have to check out yourself to get the full WTF experience. Although not exactly abandoned, it felt like I was trespassing through a boarded up theme park. Haw Par Villa is a creepy place. 

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10 comments:

  1. Didn't realize I used the word "creepy" so much, but it's a great word to describe this place.

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  2. When I was a kid I was obsessed with the dragon and EVERY DAY after kindergarten my grandma would HAVE to drive me past Haw Par Villa so that I could gape at it. I'm born in the year of the Dragon so I guess I was feeling some sort of identification with my zodiac which was the biggest and most badass of the zodiac animals in Haw Par Villa.

    Then my mother took me on the boat through the dragon to see the 10 Gates of Hell and I was quite traumatised.

    It's kind of sad that the dragon is gone now. :(

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  3. wow, what a unique place. what type of animal is that with the gun?

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  4. I love those photos! What a fun place that Haw Par Villa, creepy r not. Too bad I didn't know it was there when I was in Singapore with my young daughter (some time ago now) but then I wonder if it might give kids nightmares.

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  5. @Kirsten that's such a great story. I wish I could have seen the dragon this time.

    @Jill I think they were supposed to be monkeys. They're so weird looking!

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  6. I haaaated HPV even as a kid! Hahaha... I agree - it IS a creepy place!

    Voted for ya, all the best! ;)

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  7. @Miss Footloose, yes it scares the kids but one tourist (I can't remember who) also remarked that this is probably how Chinese parents keep their kids well-behaved, because it really scares the bejesus out of you. I mean, 1 level of hell for every naughty (stealing, lying, cheating, etc.)? AHHHHHHH!!!

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  8. Great post, Flora. Can't wait to see it for myself!

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  9. I loved our excursion to HPV. I really want to go back again!

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  10. Oh man, Haw Par Villa is one of my favorite places in Singapore. IT'S SO WEIRD! I want to have a Halloween party there! We did a post about it awhile back. As I'm sure you noticed, it was hard to take photos in the darkness of the Ten Levels of Hell part. We gave it a shot anyway (http://cbsingapore.blogspot.com/2009/10/haw-par-villa.html). So glad you posted about this. I want lots of people to go there so it stays open for ever and ever.

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