If I didn’t post the title “Haw Par Villa”, you will never guess that this is the public toilet in the Haw Par Villa – and it’s free entry!
It’s so clean and no charges for it’s use except for 10cent if you want to have toilet paper. Usually when the public toilet is clean – it means not many visitors or it’s a “paid” toilet where a cleaner is stationed there.
I’m glad that after 70 years (built in 1937), this “attraction” (at least to me) is still around and the entry is free again (though parking charges is $5 per entry but now can park all the way inside besides Hua Song Museum);
This villa was built in 1937 at a cost of probably $1 million by Mr. Aw Boon Haw for his younger brother Boon Par, for helping him to market his medicated ointment Tiger Balm. This is the model of his grand 7 domed shaped villa;
Below is the old photo of the real mansion, but too bad it was destroyed in the war from 1942 to 1945;
So are there any changes since my first visit to the Haw Par Villa in the 70s till now? Of course there were many changes…
It was such a crowd puller in the 60s and 70s as can be seen in the below postcard;
Note that the entrance gate name was “Tiger Balm Garden” in the 60s and the Chinese name “10 Thousand Golden Oil Garden”.
Now in 2007, the crowd is gone;
Understand that the name was changed to “Haw Par Villa” in 1990 and same goes for the Chinese name too.
The most drastic change was in the early 90s when it was converted into a Theme Park named “Dragon World” in 1990 and managed by International Theme Parks, a joint venture between F&N and Times Publishing. You may not notice that it had actually expanded to 3 times it’s original size to include those 2 water rides “a slow boat through the 10 courts of hell” and “a rollercoaster like flume ride through a mountain and down a river”, etc. Many sculptures were relocated or stored in the “graveyard”.
Below shows the Buddha sculpture relocated to the main entrance in 90s;
This was the same Buddha sculpture I had a photo taken with my brother in the 70s, and it was then inside the garden;
And now in 2007, it’s back to it’s original position but with a thick and long “necklace” added and those joss sticks offering boxes placed in front;
Of course in the past when I was young, every sculptures seem like a giant to me, but not now haha. Do you realise that a lot of these sculptures now have these joss sticks offering boxes placed in front of them. I note that the caretaker goes round to offer joss sticks and cigarettes to the sculptures;
When it was converted into a Theme Park in the 90s, the entrance ticket was the highest priced – S$15 or S$16.50?
Though the slow boat ride was one of the main attraction thru the 10 courts of hell then, but we missed out a lot when viewing the sculptures. Below is the slow boat ride thru the 10 courts of hell via the Dragon Mouth;
It’s difficult to view the sculptures in the 10 courts of hell when in the boat ride as we need to turn our head left and right;
See the difference in the above 2 photos of the same 1st Court of Hell! The top photo was view from the boat ride in 90s and the bottom one is now in 2007.
A lot of sculptures were surrounded by water in the 90s to match the Theme Park;
Now, most of the water were drained off and the ground resurfaced;
The amphitheater constructed in the 90s where plays were shown in the Theme Park;
Now it’s gone… and the whole place is much quieter than in the 90s.
This used to be a place where the parents will tell their kids not to be bad or evil, else they will be punished like those shown in the 10 Courts of Hell!
After the trip, I asked kids if they like the place… “No” is the answer and the reason is the same as mine in the past – “scary”! Hopefully, we get to retain this beautiful place as long as possible, else what’s left to us is this 1980 stamp issue on Haw Par Villa;
If you ask me, I hope it will remain forever….