Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Haw Par Villa of its Glory

Since I had written in my previous blog here in July 2015 and would think of another after I learned of its makeover by the recent news. The photos that I visited as adults in 1980s with my childhood friends, my classmates and with my family when I was toddler/kid in  early 1960s-1970s would put into use to share to the readers. But not all the photos that I posted.
Panoramic view of Haw Par Villa
News reported that Singapore Tourism Board (STB) on Friday (Aug 21) appointed travel company "Journeys" to operate and manage Haw Par Villa, with the three-year contract starting from Aug 1. Journeys said they will organise more in-park tours, ramping it up from the current once a week to up to five daily. It will also have learning journey trips for school children. Well, It's good to see the outcome of the processing of the guided tours and learning experience for the school children to know of the historical past.
Photo 1990s: Dragon World
In the past years in 1990s, there was a Dragon World with water ride where the Dragon Head was seen on top of the hill exposed to public on the road to attraction to the visitors, foreigners and tourists alike to come forward to visit the most spectacular theme park. Until then the Dragon World was crushing down in 2004. It was indeed sorry sight to see the most spectacular of the once Dragon World with water ride splashing out in its mouth, disappearing in sight.
HPV near the Main entrance in 2012
It was taken in 2012 outside the entrance facing the sculpture as you can see a small laughing Buddha on top without amber prayer beads, The tiger sculpture and Dragon Head used to be on each side and were nowhere in sight.
Close up of Buddha statue
I learned that Haw Par Villa will set another facelift or makeover to restore to its former glory. Haw Par Villa's sculptures have been taken care by painter Mr Teo Veoh Seng, age 81 who works for decades till now despite of his old age and he is not intend to retire as long as he is still healthy and fit to work.
Me stood outside Dragon Head (Dragon World)
In 1980s -1990s, Dragon World had attracted attention to the visitors, foeigners and tourists alike from all over the world to come to visit and mostly crowded in weekends. But my hubby and I went on weekdays instead as we chose the appropriate date that was not fall on holidays as there were not much crowded. And it was till the theme park was slowly declining where lack of entertainment was a let down and only some of the shops sold gifts and souvenirs for keepsake or memento. Behind me, stood a Dragon Head but there was a tiger sculpture (hidden from view) just beside facing the Dragon Head.
Me@Haw Par Villa in 1990s
Har Paw Villa entrance in 2012
Now you have read my blog on how Tiger Balm Gardens looked like in the past especially the theme parks where many kids like me would love to take a photo of each cartoon characters and the original position of the animatronic sculptures everywhere. I would remember all the cartoon characters at Tiger Balm Gardens (now known as Haw Par Villa) in early 1960s when I look into my old photos in my albums to recall my memory as a toddler till now. It's been 5 decades as if I turn back the clock.
Haw Par Villa Mansion 1940
There was once a mansion named "Har Par VIlla" located on the hill top in Pasir Panjang and built in around 1937 by Aw Boon Haw for his brother Boon Par , surrounded by unique gardens depicting Chinese mythology.
Photo 1960s: Tiger Balm Gardens
Haw Par Villa was known as Tiger Balm Gardens (above). Boon Par died in Burma in 1944 while Boon Haw died in 1954 at the age of 72 from a heart attack on his way to Hong Kong following a major operation in Boston. Boon Par's son, Aw Cheng Chye, assumed control of the family business. The photo (above taken in early 1960s) was the entrance to the Haw Par Villa mansion (hidden from view) on a hill as the plaque (without two mini tigers on each side) indicated the two brothers names (Aw Boon Par & Aw Boon Haw) inscribed on it on the left of the first arch "Haw Par Villa" as seen above picture when it was open to the public at that time after it was built in 1937. The second arch indicated "Tiger Balm Garden" as seen background far left further down the path.
Behind me stood was once a mansion
In 1986, I stood and posed outside the fence that was once a mansion that was demolished years ago after it was opened to public
Aw Hoe Memorial
The Memorial of Mr Aw Hoe, one of the four shortest memorials was dedicated to him, the eldest son of Aw Boon Haw who was supposed to take over his business and fortunes. However, Aw Hoe fell out from his father and did not continue the legacy of Tiger Balm. He came to Singapore and showed his marketing skills inherited from his father and pioneered the use of airplanes to transport the English paper, Singapore Standard, and also "Chin Siew" the Chinese version newspaper, to reach the masses across the parts of Malay Peninsula. Do as the readers would have never failed to have their newspapers during breakfast while other publications arrived during teatime. Mr Aw Hoe passed away in Thailand in year 1951.
Ten Courts of Hell - Ox-head & Horse-face
The sculpture of "Ox-head" and "Horse-face" are guards or escorts of the Nether World (Ten Courts of Hell). They are ferocious and stern executors. According to publication entitled "Popular God of China" - "Ox-head"is a hell soldier and "Horse-face"is Lousha a wicked ghost who acts as guard man at the Gate of Hell with a steel spear and ivory stick to face the punishment given by the Yamas or Emperor of Hell. So the design of both sculptures is to guard the Gate of Hell based on legendary of Chinese tradition beliefs. There was once small river that passed through the once Dragon World and now it was sealed up with the cement sand after it was makeover later that year and into the cave-like shape in the winter countries.
1st Court of Hell Yama: King Qinguang
This is the 1st Court of Hell where you have entered from entrance of Ten Courts of Hell, it stands at the corner of the entrance where King QinGuang (Qin Guang Wang) of 1st Court of Hell Yama conducts preliminary trails and each prisoner is judged according to his deeds in his past life. The "good" are distinguished from the "Ă«vil" and the King recommends appropriate reward or punishment. Punishment is then carried out in the various courts.
Golden and Silver Bridge
Those with virtuous conduct in their past life will be led over the "Golden Bridge" to reach paradise. For those whose past good deeds outweigh crimes committed will be sent to the "Silver Bridge" (above taken in 2012) to reach paradise. And for those who were evil doers in their past life will be sent to repent before the "Mirror of Retribution" and then taken to a subsequent Court of Hell to be punished.
Evil doers are punished at other court Yama
I recall that there is a book called "Journeys To The Underworld" (Chinese - "Diyu Youji") is a free distribution book. The book was the result of the Deity Jigong bringing the Soul of the person name Mr Yang Sheng, a leading planchette handler of Sheng Xian Tang from Taiwan, to visit the Hades (Hell) on instruction of the Jade Emperor Yu Huang Da Tian Zun. The book is also indicated of the 1st Tribunal and Conversation between QinGuang Wang and Deity Jigong & the soul of Yang Sheng. Hades also known as Hell that is similar to the Prison in Singapore where the evil doers will be punished but in hell they are worst than in prison. Do a good deed before it's too late. It's like a karma for all people no matter who you are.
Hua Song Museum
There is a museum called "Hua Song Museum" which is provided for students and teachers and is for guided tour only. Hua Song (means - In praise of the Chinese), is a museum that brings to life the rich heritage that overseas Chinese around the world to share. Hua Song housed within the area, has since closed down in 2012 as a result of losses when I visited in year 2012.
Aw Boon Haw Memorial
The Memorial of Aw Boon Haw (1882-1954) is one of the second tallest of the four memorials built in memory of the highly spirited entrepreneur and older brother Aw Boon Haw (means "Gentle Tiger") was a street fighter and caused his parents worry of his growing years. He was sent to China by his father after beating his teacher in Burma, but he came back to take care at his father's medical business together with Aw Boon Par. With his excellent skills and foresight soon brought him great fortune especially the tiger ointment which found its way into 70 countries. He was generous man and share his wealth with the poor and funded schools, supported the Nationalist China in the war effort against the Japanese. Boon Haw also donated to the hospitals, temples and even disaster relief efforts. Haw Par Villa was his brainchild and gift to society. In 1954, he died in Hawaii.
Tiger Head vehicle in 2012
The vehicle with "Tiger head" was driven by Mr Aw Boon Haw. He also created an entertainment park to teach and preserve Chinese values. The park's has a collection of over 1,000 statues and 150 giant tableaux cantered around Chinese folklore, legends, history, and Confucian ideology.
Me & Theme Park in 1990s
There are many theme parks'sculptures locate everywhere and most sculptures are located at different places can be seen in my previous photo here. I stood at the different pose (above) taken in early 1990s as you can see the ostriches (background) were nowhere in sight and are moved to other locations close to King Kong sculptures and other animals sculptures (Kangaroos, frogs, turtles, etc). But there is no Giraffe or American Dancer sculptures as they are no longer exists.
Ostrich
One of the Ostrich sculptures as shown above in 2012, in its back sits a toad/frog sculpture as I couldn't make it out of the shape.
Cartoon tiger with Tiger Balm ointment
The 3 cute mini tigers sculptures were once located near "Fu Luo Shou" sculpures (Hidden view) as seen in my photo here and are relocated in 1990s, separated at each side and repainted it again.
My classmate Nancy & I on the leopard sculpture in 1986
Two of distinguished leopards rested on the each side of the pavement, on top of the staircase close to Dome (background) where my classmate and I (sitting) posed with a leopard sculpture taken in year 1986 and both leopards sit on the same location when I revisited again latest in 2012.
Roar of the tiger
Some tiger sculptures are also located in other places near King Kong sculpures. The front entrance you may see tiger sculpture on top of the shelter. I recall that there was a Dragon World was seen outside the main entrance in early 1990-2000 and it was eventually shut down in 2001 and Dragon head were removed in 2004. Luckily, I took lots of photos in 1990s with Dragon World and Dragon Head before it changed to Cave shape in late 2005 or later.
Me & Laughing Buddha in 1986
A huge "Laughing Buddha" stands on top of slope hill where the Pagoda locates. In early years, a "Laughing Buddha" wore no "Amber Prayer Beads" round his neck at the original position (pic above taken in 1986) in the first place as long as I could remember. Its colour had worn out and faded away in the long run depending on the weather conditions in Singapore.
Repainted of Buddha
In the recent years after the news spread, the Laughing Buddha relocated near the Pagoda on far right behind the Buddha statue and repainted again in early 2012 with its "Amber Prayer Beads" round his neck.
My niece & elephant sculpture in 1970s
Among the sculptures, I remember the elephant sculpture stood beside the row of the sculptures (above pic) where my niece stood taken in 1970s when she was four year-old. The sculptures are remained the same location as the elephant sculpture would be the same and it has since repainted.
Me & the Gong taken in 1990s
There was a "Gong" at one of the three storey houses (as below) near the two arches along the footpath up the slope. Vintage Chinese Dragon Style Rosewood Drum Percussion was the one I used the wooden stick to hit the Drum.
Two Archways
These two archways to where visitors would enter on different paths leading to the Chinese sculptures on each row along the footpath. The Laughing Buddha statute is clearly seen on the right. Some smaller statues tucked in various cave-like nooks, also called tableaus, are more focused on delivering messages. It is so unique. Also the Virtues and Vices Tableau towards the end of the park.
Close up - Tiger head
Do you notice the head of the tiger is on top of one of the arches on the far left? I believe that it would be one of the "small" tiger sculptures that I sat on as a kid in 1970s which was nowhere in sight when I revisited again in 2012.
Three storey house
I went there in 2012 and couldn't find the "Gong" to where I was in year 1990s or it would be relocated to other house somewhere nearby. It has a clue which house is based on the photo in 1990s that the window of the house was that of other design. Whenever you visit to Haw Par Villa, you will find those old styles among the houses if you are lucky.
Thai Dancer and Dragon sculpture
One of the sculptures, a Thai Dancer which was located at the former position at that time, was fenced up and now it's open to the public, to pose and snap away in the open space at different location.
Photo 1990s: Me & Zhu Bajie
There was a Piggy sculpture known as "Zhu Bajie", formerly known screen movie "Journeys To The West" was originally held the title Marshal Canopy, commander-in-chief of 80,000 Heavenly Navy Soldiers. He was later banished, however, for misbehaviour. At a party organized for all the significant figures in Heaven, Bajie saw the Goddess of the Moon (Chang e) for the first time and was captivated by her beauty. Following a drunken attempt to get close to her, she reported this to the Jade Emperor and thus he was banished to Earth. Zhu Bajie was sentenced to a thousand lives where each life would end in a love tragedy. In some retellings of the story, his banishment is linked to Sun Wukong's downfall. In any case, he was exiled from Heaven and sent to be reincarnated on Earth, where by mishap he fell into a pig well and was reborn as a man-eating pig-monster known as the "strong-manned pig".
Madam White Snake in 2012
Beside this, there are Sun WuKong, Sha Wu Jing and Tang San Zang (Monk Xuan Zang). And also the Eight Immortals and Madam White Snake. This story tells of the importance and power of filial piety. Years passed, Madam gave birth to a boy named Meng Jiao. When the baby was a month old, Fa Hai returned and captured Madam White Snake and cast her into an enchanted Pagoda in Hangzhou's Western Lake this time. From there, the keeper of the Heavens sentenced her to imprisonment for the loss of thousands of inbocent lives while rescuing her husband. Soon after Meng Jiao grew up to be clever, diligent and filial. He immediately went to the Pagoda after he learnt about his mother's imprisonment and prayed his hardest for mercy. He is seen here with the traditional flag bearers and musicians to help him as he prayed to reach heaven. True enough, the Heavens was touched by his sincerity and destroyed the Pagoda to flee Madam White Snake. She ran forward to embrace her son with tears of joy streaming down her face.
Photo 2012: Dragon sculpture
Zhu Bajie in 2012
This "Zhu Bajie" was where I posed for a photo in 1990s in a original position and it could have been relocated along with Dragon sculpture (above) taken in the 2012.
Tiger God
Have you seen the tiger god (above taken in 2012) that is hidden away from, when you passed by where the "Tiger Head" vehicle is located. I prayed to tiger god for safety and protection before proceeded my journey to the park. I believe the caretaker or the staffs who is charge of  the park, would have to pray before the gate closes. It is believe that the tiger god has been here for decades.
Fu, Lu and Shou
And there are three Taoist deity statues at the park - Fu (God of Good Luck and Happiness), Lu (God of Wealth) and Shou (God of Longevity). I have a photo of these three 20" deities at my mum's place. She still keeps these three 20" Antique Chinese Fu Lu Shou Hand Painted Porcelain Figurines at her home for more 2 decades till now.
A large Bell
Besides these, there is a large scale, you’ll see a bell you can only ring ONCE for prosperity, wealth and longevity.
Lin ZeXu, a true patriot
When you enter the entrance, you will notice the life-size statue of Lin ZeXu, a patriot and opium war hero. How Lin Zexu reflects the Aw brother’s nationalistic spirit? He was born in Fuzhou, China, was awarded Jinshi degree in 1811, the highest grade in Imperial examinations. In 1839, he wrote a memo with carefully written advice based on Confucian principles of humanity to British Queen Victoria, urging her to end the opium trade. However it never reached her and it was published in the papers instead. He helped China to prepare for the battles with the British and they ended up defeated despite of hint warning from him. He was being framed, subsequently demoted and exiled but was eventually reinstated as he was a man of talent and continued to serve the country.
Old Tiger Balm Garden Bench
The number of statues and tableaux at the park, it is impossible to see everything in one visit, especially if you need to read the stories to understand the significance. It will also be tiring since many of the exhibits are open-air with limited shade. Bring an umbrella in case of rain or for shade. Look out the old Tiger Balm Garden bench that has been here for decades and the words came off but still visible easily seen if you look closely.
"Hu" Tiger
Haw Par Villa could have been preserved in its rich heritage and historical past, bring back to its original glory especially the Dragon World. Let's hope it will become as a 'UNESCO' World Heritage site. This significance of the three brothers: (Boon Leng (Dragon), Boon Par (Leopard) and Boon Haw (Tiger) sculptures be built to honour in its heritage site as the park are full of these animals sculptures perched on each spot to relive the memory of Haw Par Villa.
Do visit the park for as long as you can. It opens from 9am to 7pm daily. Haw Par Villa is located at 262 Pasir Panjang Road and nearest Mrt - Haw Par Villa.

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