By Kiana Koh
No, seriously. Haw Par Villa is home to tons of creepy, gory statues and wax figures that educate visitors about Chinese culture.
Haw Par Villa, or better known as the Tiger Balm Garden in its heyday, was built way back in 1937. It was built by Burmese-Chinese brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, whose main intentions were to allow the public to learn more about traditional Chinese folklore, legends and teachings.
A fun fact before we move on: Did you know that brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par were the developers of the brand Tiger Balm liniment? (Yes, THE famous Tiger Balm ointment that helps to relieve and soothe your muscles and aches)
Haw Par Villa was dubbed the creepiest theme park in Singapore, and as all human beings are, I was curious about the place. I decided to go there and explore with my boyfriend Travis, just to see if it was as scary as people claimed it to be. (Note: All photos in this article were taken by Travis!)
When we first reached the park, we were greeted with huge painted boulders, rocks and the wordings that screamed Haw Par Villa.
As we entered, we realised it was uphill so remember to wear a pair of comfortable shoes as you will be walking and climbing a fair bit. Before we visited Haw Par Villa, we both knew that there was one famous exhibition called the ‘Ten Courts of Hell’. However, we had to pass by several other wax figures first we could get there.
Here’s just a little example of how big the statues are!
The picture of the woman breastfeeding the older woman, signifies filial piety.Here are more pictures of the place to give you an idea of what it is like in there!
The words on this rock seen translates to: “The sea of bitterness has no bounds, turn back and you will find shore.”
So as you can see from the pictures, those were only the tip of the iceberg. As we headed in deeper, we came across a few signs that pointed us in the direction of the famous Haw Par Villa attraction, the Ten Courts of Hell. The Ten Courts of Hell basically describes the punishment that every sinner will face depending on their sins.
When we reached the entrance of the Ten Courts of Hell, we were greeted by two animal-human like creatures. One is a horse and one is a cow, which are said to be the messengers of Hell in the Chinese culture.
The first Court of Hell is where King Qinguang holds trial and all the prisoners are judged based on the deeds they had done in their past life. Simply put, this is where they determine the ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Those with virtuous conduct or whose good deeds outweighed their sins, will be led to cross the Golden or the Silver bridge respectively.
The second Court of Hell is where all the punishment begins.
Some punishments include being thrown into a volcanic pit, having your heart dugout, pounded by a stone mallet, having your body sawed in half and body dismemberment. These are just some of the really gruesome punishments involved. So without further ado, let’s bring out the pictures and let them do the talking! Fair warning though, the pictures are VERY graphic and viewer discretion is advised!
This is the ‘Viewing Home Tower’, where all the evil-doers are allowed to see how people, mostly their family, relatives and friends are suffering because of their sins and wrongdoings.
Here are some of the punishers who will be carrying out the tortures.
This is the last Court of Hell, where all the prisoners would receive their verdicts which is what they will be reincarnated into the next life.
Before the prisoners go on their way to be reincarnated, they will have to take a cup of tea from this old lady in the picture which will aide them in forgetting everything.
Overall, I felt that the Ten Courts of Hell is quite an interesting exhibition and pretty much every Singaporean has been here at least once in their life. With our busy lifestyles these days we seldom stop to think about our choices and reflect on them and I guess this serves as a reminder for all of us to be kind to one another and to also remember that whatever we do has a consequence.
A great big thanks to Travis for all the pictures ☺