Haw Par Villa’s heyday has undeniably passed, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a visit. Especially since refurbishment plans have been announced – descend into the weird and wonderful world of Chinese mythology and moral tales before it undergoes its facelift to include fine dining and a museum on successful Asian businesses.
The History of Haw Par Villa
Opened to the public in 1937, Haw Par Villa was built by Aw Boon Haw – one of the famed Tiger Balm siblings – as a present to his brother. The gardens and their sculptures were open to the public, and drew at least a million visitors a year at the peak of its popularity. The uncanny sculptures, tableaux and dioramas are drawn from Chinese mythology, folk tales and morality stories, some more obscure than others. While some are easily identifiable, others are a bit more perplexing. Here are some of the strangest sights at the only park of its kind in the world. Drop by to experience the uncanniness in person.
1) Severed heads
On the way to the infamous 10 Courts of Hell, be greeted by the sight of severed heads on this rock.
2) Bunnies and rats waging war
… Yeah, we’ve no idea what this is about either.
3) Sinners in a lava pit
One of the infamous levels of Hell. Other highlights include freezing, having body parts hacked off and more.
4) Story of the Eight Immortals
You know the place is a doozy when something with half-humans-half-sea-creatures seems normal. This diorama, for example, shows the legendary Eight Immortals battling the forces of the Dragon King of the East Sea.
5) The Tale of Madam White Snake
This, believe it or not, depicts a scene from a love story between a white snake spirit and a human man. Here, the snake spirit is battling the antagonist of the story, a terrapin spirit.
6) Domestic quarrels
Not everything at the park is of a supernatural nature. More mundane scenes such as very public domestic quarrels are portrayed too.
7) Anthropomorphic animals… Watching crickets?
Many of the tableaux just get stranger and stranger. We’d like to know what’s going on here too. Hopefully, the revamp will include more explanatory plaques for the sculptures.
8) A young woman breastfeeding an old woman
9) Lecherous pigs
11) Bare-breasted mermaids
12) Giant gorillas
13) A purple koala and other assorted marsupials
There you have it, 13 strange things to see at Haw Par Villa. There's plenty more where these came from, and it's well worth a visit. Located just outside of the Har Par Villa MRT Station (CC25) on the Circle Line, admission is free!