As is the nature of man’s folly, you often agree to something without real understanding of what you’re getting into. A great example is my new friend’s “favourite theme park”, Haw Par Villa.
So, brief introduction: The park originated from two brothers who owned the Tiger Balm business (same one you can still find in shops). They moved to Singapore in the earlier part of the 1900’s and wanted to bring with them the Chinese values and ideologies that were their heritage. The park still stands as a collection of statues & dioramas which depict Chinese folklore, mythology, history, etc.
Alighting at Haw Par Villa station on the circle (yellow) line, the journey there is quite convenient and easy to navigate. Straight out the exit you pretty much walk directly into the main gate. Little did I know that a place where parents take their kids, might not always be so kid-friendly in the conventional sense.
During our anti-clockwise route through the park we saw a myriad of characters, depictions and so forth. The two main pieces which stuck with me are as follows:
10 Courts of Hell
Be it 7 layers, 10 courts, or N-number (where is the product of your sin divided by your likeness to a bearded saint), hell is depicted forever and always as a place you’d rather not visit. At the door two large statues depicting the guards of hell welcomed us and inside we saw our first scene, that of the judge who sentences you to your relevant court.
As per the depictions & descriptions, not listening to your elders could potentially get you disemboweled, or maybe that was the one where they cut your arms and legs of? No, I know, rapists get boiled alive in oil and if you don’t listen to your elders you get sawed in half lengthwise. It may be I am confusing lenders with ‘exorbitantly unreasonable rates’ with the rapists though, but one or both them also has to watch their friends or relatives being tortured to death.
You get the idea (and if you don’t, I promise the little sculpture men will leave nothing to your imagination).
Monkey King, Pigsy, Sand Man and the Monk
The second story which struck me was that of a venerable monk, who had to retrieve certain special Buddhist scrolls. He was helped along by 3 disciples, one of which I believe might be either a sand demon or his horse, depending the version of the story you read.
Monkey King is as kingly as ever, straight out of the animated stories I’ve seen him in – with his long staff and serious expression. They describe his value for the group in scouting due to flying on clouds, but apparently he also causes a lot of fights and made some bigger kings/gods angry.
The Sand Demon / horse (Depending story version and where you hear it from), seems to be involved, but I didn’t really connect with him. Partly due to struggling to find him originally I suppose.
Pigsy, the black sheep whom I believe is actually the victim of this entire story. Pigsy used to be doing his thing in heaven, guarding or playing harps and such, but was cast out due to allegedly lusting after the maidens in heaven. So I did some investigating, and sure enough there was Pigsy (ugly-looking guy with an elephant-pig type head) doing some oogling over at the maidens in the bathing area. But, upon having completed our time in the park I can confidently say that ALL these maiden-y ladies are doing is either (1) bathing, (2) seducing or (3) generally lying around naked in some scene or another. I therefore hold that Pigsy was unjustly cast out due to the non-value adding nature of these maidens’ activities, which they also mostly conduct in the nude.
It was also at this point I was warned not to sound like I condone rape, so we rather left the story there and went on to take a photo with an older lady poison testing the breast milk of a younger lady…
All in all the park was indeed an experience, one that I feel should be age-rated to some degree, but well worth a few minutes to investigate. I definitely look forward to hearing the feedback from others whom may go in the future.
This is part of my A to Z Challenge 2016, click the button at the bottom of the site for more information if you like.