I have always wanted to re-visit one of Singapore's historical attractions (or at least it used to be), but I had been putting off the plan due to my never-ending procrastination.
Yes, the place is none other than...
Haw Par Villa (虎豹别墅)
(Picture credits to www.SPI.com.sg)
I am pretty sure most Singaporeans - even if you haven't been there- would have heard of this place. If you've not, I am sure your parents or grandparents will be glad to tell you about it. (Yes, ask them!)
Remember the splash rides that take you on a journey to the 10 Courts of Hell - an experience that would never fail to send a chill down your spine?
Remember the life-like statues that have a story to tell?
Remember the costume rental shop that you could rent all kinds of Dynasty-looking costumes from and have your photo taken?
Those were the days!
With thanks to my close bud, Marie's suggestion for a meetup - We settled on a trip to Haw Par Villa. Gosh, I did certainly look forward to it! I have been soooo curious to know what has happened since news had it that the place has been under plans of being demolished. (Or did I remember wrongly?)
I am always saddened by the fact that people are always commenting how "scary" the place is, and how it SHOULD be torn down cos' nobody frequents there anymore.
But come on... It's a piece of Singapore's history!
Can you imagine how glorious Haw Par Villa used to be back in those days? Just the thought of it busting with crowd and little children squealing in delight as they ran around the place is enough to put a sad smile on my face.
After some "researching" using my Googling skills, here's a nostalgic photo I found - Something that will forever be frozen in that moment as depicted in the photo:
Crowded, wasn't it?
It was a pity I wasn't born during that era, I guess. How I wish I could be part of that historical moment and witness the happier days of Haw Par Villa.
(That is why photographs are so important. It showcases a transition of time!)
With the new implementation of Circle line, travelling to HPV is so much more faster and convenient. Can you imagine that - I used to dread travelling there due to the inaccessibility via trains? I had to take the bus to get there and the journey would take me around 1 hour or more. It was crazy, especially for a person who is suffering from motion-sickness like me.)
So yes, I love the Circle Line! (It only took me around 30 minutes or less to get there now, much to my delight!)
Back to 2012 - I finally alighted at the "Haw Par Villa" station:
(I was actually surprised that there were INDEED quite a number of visitors there. It was most unexpected as I thought that nobody would go there anymore. There were even tour buses parked! Is Haw Par Villa coming back to "life" again? *prays hard*)
Now follow me as I take you on a short trip with me through the photos I captured:
The long route that marks the beginning of the journey:
Look! What's that on top?
When you reach the red gates, you'll be bound to spot a sign that tells you to beware of the Guard Dog:
Not sure if it is meant to be a scare tactic or there really is one. I wouldn't want to find out though. Lol:
Some of the sculptures and statues seemed to have been repainted as they look pretty new!
I am sure attempts have been made to maintain its glory:
That's before Jia Jia and Kai Kai were even born! LOL
A close-up of the one of the pandas:
The Opium War Hero, Lin Zhe Xu.
2 Sumos advertising for Tiger Balm products?
I was fascinated by the statue version of the Tiger Balm products, so I went closer to take a look:
So cute, ain't they? Haha. :) Solid!
The 12 zodiacs:
Do you spot anything familiar?
Well, if you don't... Here's another:
Although I do not know the meaning of it (Statue of Liberty appearing in a Dynasty-themed place), but I still find it a fascinating sight. It has not changed one bit since the last time I was here!
The famous Fu Lu Shou:
Visitors were actually throwing their coins in here for blessings/well-wishes!
Look at the greenery of the pond! It still looks epic, doesn't it? :)
The colorful benches that look sooo inviting:
Another part of the vicinity:
A beautiful place for photography, especially for themed shoots!
Anyone wanna shoot me in my Ge Ge outfit? ;) Hahaha
This particular statue is quite hidden. Marie spotted it and told me, which I then took a photo. Pigs!
Going further up:
See the giraffes?
Featuring a shot of my adorable buddy, Marie! (Yes, I think she looks great in here!)
Artistic not?? LOL
Marie suggested this shot- So here I am - touching the Buddy's tummy like a typical tourist and hoping for some good luck:
Marie engrossed in reading the text explaining the story behind it:
I realized that there were quite a number of joss sticks being offered in certain areas, such as this. Does anyone know the reason why??
The workmanship is fantastic. Everything seems so detailed:
A huge shelter that can shield you from the rain:
One of my favorite parts of the area. Using the word "Beautiful" is an understatement.
The pond even looks clean!
More close-up shots:
(I actually witnessed 1 bangala posing with the mermaid statue by lying on top of it =_= I believe the photo would turn out looking wrong. LOL)
The Goddess of Mercy:
I love the red circle door!
One of the more "modern-looking" statues:
Old school much?!?!
Another beautiful area again:
I totally LOVE. LOVE. LOVE this view! It is a pity that the top area is inaccessible already. :(
It would be such a breathtaking view to take a photo from there!
Check out the water:
Surprise- There are still tortoises alive and swimming in there! I wonder what do they feed on for survival?
The cafeteria that I initially thought would still be operating. Sadly enough, it seemed to have been closed down for some time already. According to Marie, this place was still in operations 2 years ago.
Everything still looks fine though, with many stuff that are still intact - such as the cash registers, basins, etc.
Look at the power points:
Looking beneath the shutters:
Here's a small treat for you if you have managed to survive reading my entry so far:
(LOL LOL! Can you believe that?! I actually took this photo in Haw Par Villa around 10 years ago. The costume was rented from the now-defunct rental store there. )
Yeah yeah. Laugh all you want!
The famous vehicle that has always been a part of Haw Par Villa:
A pleasant surprise! LOOK! A huge influx of crowd!
Can you believe that I am taking it in 2012?!~
We went to explore the 10 Courts of Hell as well, but I didn't take any photos at all.
Unfortunately, it seemed to be a refurbished version instead of the ones that we remembered from the older days.
Remember the "dragon head" that is ever-so-iconic?
It is no longer there anymore. What's left is a grey cave in place where the dragon once stood. Kinda' sad just by looking at it:
To this :
Can any kind soul tell me what has happened to this poor dragon and the reason behind why it has to be removed?
(I did a little Google research and some had said it was removed due to "Fengshui" issues. Not sure how accurate is the source though.)
Marie treated me to Crystal Jade @ Holland Village after the Haw Par Villa trip for my birthday (Awww!):
She recommended the dumplings and sweet-and-sour noodles. The tastes were simply perfect.
(Gosh, my stomach are grumbling just by looking at this photo! =_=)
My happy friend! :D
And she surprised me with this beautiful birthday gift - BAD 25 album. Gosh. A new favorite adding on to my small collection! I love you!
Thanks so much for the splendid day spent, my dear friend!
The friendship we share is incredible - And I only have one person to thank.
Yes, Michael Jackson! ;-)