I have fond memories of the theme park Haw Par Villa from my childhood. There used to be a kampung (village) right behind the theme park where my aunt and her family lived. My family would visit sometimes especially when my late grandmother was staying with her. We would make our way through the park first because there was a side entrance from it that led to the village.
I took my Swiss tourist friend for a walk there for a couple of hours before we headed to Harbour Front. There is now an MRT station there since 2011, named after it and located right beside the entrance of the park.
It’s a bit run down, but there obviously is still effort at restoration. Most of the paint on the statues look fresh, or at least still looks good, and we could see some ongoing restoration works there. But it still looks like considerable work needs to be done to polish it up better, especially water features like ponds, and the signs explaining the stories, many of which are faded. Remarkably, entrance is still free. I’d rather there be a nominal fee (like Sentosa Island’s S$1 entrance fee if you walk there instead of taking the monorail) if it could help with better maintenance, or at least the relevant park authorities contribute the funds and manpower for this.
Whatever it is, I hope it’ll always be around because it’s part of our country’s heritage. Even if it’s not profitable, it should be maintained well as it’s a historical venue, like a museum. And museums are never profitable, right? But we always still have museums because they are a necessity, to preserve our history, or at least the history as written by the writers or whatever.
The park was built in 1937 by the Burmese-Chinese brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, the developers of Tiger Balm, as a venue for teaching traditional Chinese values. That’s before World War 2, and pretty old at least in terms of the young age of our nation.
Me, I just like it a lot because I find it so fascinating and unique. An entire park made up of artistic statues, and not only that, but they tell stories of legends and folklore.
Day 41 of ‘100 Happy Days‘.
Happy meter: nostalgic