Monday, 6 July 2015

Tiger Balm Gardens of the Past

50 years ago, as a child of 2 year old, my family, one of her younger sisters, old neighbour friends would brought up tell tales about Tiger Balm Garden (now Haw Par Villa) vacations year after year till we were old enough to be able to go on our own with friends. It was indeed a family's affair to be gathering at Tiger Balm Garden. The Tiger Balm Gardens aka Haw Par Villa is an oriental theme park located off Pasir Panjang Road.
It's sad to see Haw Par Villa is but a shadow of it's past glory when there was a ride and the tunnel was actually a dragon head in the 1990s. You may read my blog here and a photo here.
Tiger Balm Garden in 1960s
So much changing over the years, many incidents happened at Tiger Balm Garden during those days when there were lots of theme parks back then. Most children would love to climb onto the animatronic characters of animals to pose a photo just like me and my younger brother and my mum's long time friend's children.
Theme Park@TigerBalmGarden in 1960s
What was it looked like back in the 1950s at Tiger Balm Garden, the Theme Park was where many children would like to see the spectacular sculptures all over the garden. From the beginning, stories, history, and folklore were integral to the design of Aw Boon Haw's Singapore gardens. His days began and ended with stories. Each morning, he walked the gardens with his craftsmen, recounting the stories and legends he wanted replicated; each evening, he settled in his favourite chair next to the radio to listen to Li Da Sha's Guangdong stories. The legends, epic tales, and religious stories never ceased to entertain him. He knew the details of each and could visualize them coming to life as he related them to his craftsmen. He saw himself as simply a transmitter of knowledge, someone whose task it was to clarify and pass on that which came before.
Animatronic cartoon - King Kong
In the early 1950s, at that time before superhero cartoons and animatronic theme parks, the lively scenes Aw Boon Haw created were a thrilling entertainment. The photo was my late father-in-law with his grand-daughter (3 year old) taken in 1970s.
Both my late parents-in-law and one of his eldest sisters worked at Eng Aun Tong building located at 87-89 Neil Road in the year 1950s-1990s till the bosses faced problems in their business. My late father-in-law worked as a packer in the packing department while my late mother-in-law and my eldest sister-in-law worked at the medical "powder" department where they used a "fine" paper to fold after they putted some medical powder on it. She told me that it tasted like "sour bitter" and was excellent in curing sickness and running nose as well as stomachache and headache. She mentioned that this powder was once sold in the old shops in the past and now it is no longer available in 1990s. My hubby was just a kid in primary school running around the factory where his late parents and his eldest sister worked.
Tiger Balm Brochure (printed by Tiger Press,SG)
This brochure that I keep it safe inside the box that full of Tiger Balm items that his late parents and his eldest sister had worked through the decades.
Eng Aun Tong's small diary in 1960s
This small diary of Eng Aun Tong was given to the employees every once a year and was printed by Tiger Press, Singapore and there was also printed Spore Emergency telephones list in detail in small diary. In early years, emergency telephones lists were only 3 to 5 digits numbers. An example one of the telephones number of Rediffusion - tel.: 25011, to book a oversea radio - tel.: 908 and so on.
Mini Tiger Balm ointment (Plastic wrapped) 1990s
Back in olden days, these mini Tiger Balm ointment in cap with plastic wrapped cover fold (now use paper wrapped cover fold). This can be found in old Chinese stalls at Chinatown areas.
Tiger Balm Coin Pouch
I believe that this coin pouch which most of you never see before and older generations might remember what the pouch looked like at that time. This pouch can be used for mini Tiger Balm ointments to be put inside and placed in the handbag for emergency use. 
My hubby was young at that time and would often come to the Tiger Balm factory where his parents and eldest sister worked. Everyone in the factory loved to stroke his hair wherever he walked by, I was told by my hubby. At that time, his family was too poor and couldn't afford to employ a maid, there was no one at home as both his elder sister studied and his eldest brother was at work in "Tobacco" company.
Shares' Receipt issued in 1969
This receipt was issued in 1969 by Haw Par Brothers International Ltd for the payment of application of Shares my late father-in-law bought for $1000/- when he was working at that time.
SATA Card in 1971
This SATA X-ray card was given to my father-in-law by his employer Eng Aun Tong of Medical Hall (Tiger Balm) for a "free" check-up that most employees were given under insurance schemes.
Tiger Balm Garden in 1970s
This photo is taken in the year 1970s where two of my little nieces and others stood at the "three" Tiger Balm sculptures and now the sculptures had shifted to other locations within Tiger Balm garden in 1990s.
Spanish Corner 1964: American dancers
There was a Spanish Corner 1964 where the scenes were as American dancer was at this particular spot for the locals and tourists from around the worlds if local residents wouldn't afford to travel on holidays to watch the dancers. Photo of my late mother-in-law and her grand-daughter in 1970s.
Chinese Pavilion and sculptures
Whimsical pavilions are sprinkled throughout the garden. Traditionally, pavilions provided shaded, much air spaces for contemplating the natural setting, gathering  the places for outdoor tea-corner and conversation, and visual points of reference within the rocky landscape. The roof of the Chinese pavilion is its most distinctive feature--it is designed to look like a giant parasol floating in air. Aw Boon Haw's pavilions mirror the design of the Villa with their circular roofs.
My younger brother and Me (1960s)
My younger brother and I stood on the structure pathway in 1960s at Tiger Balm Garden in awe as if we were smiling but I looked down at something. It was a hot sunny day back then.
My younger Bro & My auntie in 1960s
My younger brother (about 2 year old) and my mum's younger sister who owns a shop at Tanglin Halt and lives there in the 1960s till present, was at the Tiger Balm Garden in 1960s. Behind them was the sculpture as clearly seen - 4.5m Maori Tiki (a ferocious kind) with two kiwis at the New Zealand corner. My mum said we were so afraid of taking a photo with it so as it could be best to take a photo just behind us. So did my younger brother and my auntie stood from where it was in 1960s.
Me and animatronic Giraffe(1970s)
Sat on the animatronic Giraffe as if it was galloping along the garden, the children would love those animatronic theme park that looked alive in the mini zoo that was once had in Hong Kong.
The Thai dancer 1970s
We usually used to climb over the fence, to pose a photo shot of the Thai dancer for better photo. So did my younger brother and daughter of my mum's old friend. And it was not difficult as the fence is very low in height at that time. The fence was installed to prevent visitors and tourists to come close to the unique sculptures for the pose.
18 Gates of Hell at open space 1980s
Plaques found at almost every step of the way while exploring all the fascinating and unique sculptures. Early years, the 18 Gates of Hell was actually displayed outside the park on the other side of the hill top as far as I could remember before it shifted to the Dragon's belly. It looked so terrific to the children whoever brought them to this place.
So much more that my families, my childhood friends, my hubby and I took lots of photos since 1960s till now. I just added some of the older photos instead of posting more of it that I could rather not to.
Till to this day, I still pass by whenever I take a train or a bus. Memories of the place is like travelling back to the past from where we stood as a child. It could be nice to go back in time.

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