Lydia C. Lee is still trying to work out what to do with her one wild and precious life. She currently is a haphazard blogger. Read more at holidazeandhellidaze.blogspot.com.au or www.pandoraandmax.blogspot.com
Published September 2nd 2012
Ask anyone my age who spent time in Singapore as a child, and the strongest memories are of Haw Par Villa, the then Tiger Balm Gardens. It was where all children were taken for 'fun' and it was both adored and terrifying at the same time.
I was so excited to go back and take my kids there. I mentioned to a friend the night before that we were headed there and his response was "Ah yes, my mum used to take us every year. The peeled back skin -eee" (grimacing).
Yes, other than the friendly tigers (and a love of Tiger Balm ever since) and Green Spot (only a few of you will remember this one!!), my only other memory is of the depiction of Hell.
The Gardens were set up to give back to the community by the successful Aw brothers. One of the areas of the 'theme park' is the Ten Courts of Hell, which depicts scenes from Chinese legends and promotes good living, by showing the crimes and punishments of those that don't.
My three year old was scared (as I remember being), my 8 year old intrigued and my 11 year old loved it, particularly the punishments for not obeying older siblings ...
It is a garden like no other, and even though it is about 70 years old, it still is a really fun morning out - and the kids enjoyed it as much as all the modern attractions in Singapore. It was definitely the one where we shared the most laughs and the kids were really inspired by all the curious images they saw.
With the 11 year old out growing a lot of things, it was nice to see him want to ring the bell for prosperity, and take in the scenes of tradition and fables.
There is a MRT out the front, or buses, so it is very easy to get to. Entry is free so there is no excuse not to visit. For me, and my kids, it was a must-see in Singapore. In a modern, sleek city, it is great to see something that brought so much joy and tradition to children last century still going today.