Through a series of events and activities The Board commemorates 50 years of tourism development and promotion in Singapore. The program involves three phases: Reminisce, Rediscover and Celebrate.
One part of Tourism50 is e.g. Project Postcard. A series of nostalgic postcards has been designed by a local artist and they are for grabs at ZoCard racks. There is a contest connected to the cards with cool prizes. Read more about it here.
|One of the Tourism50 Project Postcard cards.|
Last sunday I was invited as a blogger to a whole day program at Haw Par Villa, my favorite place in Singapore!!!
The day was part of the Tourism50 Reminisce Phase and will be repeated on march 22 and 23, so you can still catch it!
Let me tell you a bit more about the program on those dates:
There will be free guided tours of Haw Par Villa, talks, cultural performances, nostalgic-themed food and a vintage flea market. Admission is free. How cool is that?!
As said, I went there yesterday.
Along with around 15 to 20 other bloggers and photographers we started the day with a guided tour by the Original Singapore Walks (Journeys Pte Ltd).
We received a name badge, a tote bag with an umbrella and a fan, a brochure ‘Cultured Leopard, Rising Tiger’ and ‘Reliving Haw Par Villa’. We even received lunch coupons.
We were all very impressed by how well all was organized.
Shirley from STB did a great job!
For the duration of the tour we received headsets, so that we could hear our guide really well.
|Geraldine from Singapore Walks is a very entertaining tour guide.|
|A few of the other bloggers and photographers that participated in the walk.|
Now I visit Haw Par Villa at least once per year. I wrote about my visits here, here, here, and here. I am just fascinated by the place since I first set foot in it and try to get my hands on as much information as I can.
|One of the entrance gates. With tiger;-).|
|How can you not love this? A fantasy world, with life-sized sculptures, gaudy colors, fake rocks.|
|The dioramas and sculptures are related to mythology, religion, moral and values.|
Still I learned some new things from this tour, especially personal information about the characters of the brothers.
|There is so much going on in each diorama.|
|I learned that in chinese the word for chicken is also used for a prostitute. So here a prostitute is luring in a rooster/man.|
|Memorial for the parents of the brothers.|
The guide was awesome; she brought it so entertaining and knowledgable! Hats of to Geraldine from Singapore Walks.
|The tiger-car is just awesome.|
Towards the end of the one hour tour it started drizzling. Soon that turned into heavy rains.
Can you believe it? After more then two months of draught, it starts pouring rain right when a fantastic day is organized for Haw Par Villa! Too bad:-(.
Because for the first time, I saw heeps of people at Haw Par Villa. The place so deserves a bigger audience and appreciation!!!
|See? More people then I ever saw there.|
Why do I love Haw Par Villa aka Tiger Balm Garden so much?
That same question was asked by the reporter from MyPaper, who interviewed me yesterday.
Well, I am an art lover and I particularly love outsider art. I am fascinated by unusual, quirky places. HPV, to me, is all that and much more. The story of the Aw brothers, their Tiger Balm emporium and this residence, gardens and park they created is very interesting and intriguing. In all honesty I have to say that the desolation of the place adds to its magic. Every time I visited the park, I was practically alone there. It felt as if I had stepped into a huge magical world and had it all for myself. No entrance fee, no guards, no other visitors. Just me and hundreds of dioramas, sculptures, colors and stories. A mysterious, forgotten place. I felt myself wandering through an undiscovered treasury park.
Ofcourse HPV is not undiscovered at all. On the contrary: it has been quite popular, but fell in disgrace and is nowadays forgotten, neglected and unappreciated.
Sharing my love for it with locals usually gives the following responses:
- oh, does that still exist?
- why on earth do you like that place? It is not cool at all. I was forced to go there as a child and the 10 courts of hell just gave me nightmares.
|Yes, there is no denying: the 10 courts of hell are super scary.|
|The punishments are gruesome and flat out torture.|
|Not a fun place to be, for all those sinners.|
|I am not scared by it, but then again I was not brought here as a small child.|
Anyway, back to last sunday:
My friend, photographer S., and I had a delicious beef burger, using some of our coupons, after which we left for a coffee in a dry place outside the park. We hoped that the rain would stop, so that we could go back to Tiger Balm Gardens and watch e.g. the puppet show, listen to some talks and buy retro toys at the Flea Market. I was also looking forward to getting to know the other bloggers and photographers a bit better.
Unfortunately the rain had no intention of lessening, so we gave up. Luckily there are more occasions to come, so be sure to catch one of them! I know I will!
Have you ever visited Haw Par Villa? Do you like the park?