Thursday 15 October 2009

Tiger Balm Gardens

Many people will recognise this photo from my 'Memories of Singapore and Malaya' book. Just the other day, my dad was looking at this photo and said, 'I've never understood what you were doing with your arms in that picture!' Of course, I remember it being taken, with my parents 127 Kodak Brownie, and the reason my arms were like that is because I was pretending to be the gorilla behind me! I used to love our visits to Tiger Balm Gardens back in the 1960s. I think the gorilla statue was somewhere near the beginning of the park. In those days, I remember the park being right beside the sea but nowadays, with all the land reclamation, the sea is far in the distance. My favourite statues in the park were all the huge animals and although there were signs telling eveyone to keep off, I have to admit that we climbed all over them. It seemed a fantastic place when I was a kid. My brother still talks about it and remembers the hideous statues that were contained in a room within the gardens that were for adults only. I never saw them but I do remember him sneaking in. I went back to the park in 1990. It didn't quite seem the same and a lot of it had changed. It was meant to be bigger but somehow seemed a lot smaller than I remembered. I've heard that since I last visited, it has been closed and is now restored back to how it was in the 1960s. I saw a recent photo of the gorilla and he appears to have a smile on his face!


  1. THe kids and I were driving along Pasir Panjang just this weekend.. and my son caught a glimpse of Tiger Balm Gardens (yes. it's still there) and asked me what it was all about. If I can get organized, I'll head over take a few snapshots for you!

  2. Hari, I wish I could be there with you. I'd love to see some photos of Tiger Balm Gardens as it is now, thanks. I'll post them in the blog. Do you ever take your kids there? It used to be very popular when I was a kid. It had changed quite a bit when I went back in 1990 though.

  3. Derek, this was one of my favourite places and indeed on my return to Singapore in 2006 was one of the first places I went back to! The gardens at that time were partially closed and most of what was opened showing bad signs of wear and tear, although the infamous Ten Courts of Hell, one of the best bits, were ok due to the fact they are under cover. I last heard that the place is to be done up and reopened having previously been condemed to closure.
    I have yet to find a place to rival it, the Singaporeans would be crazy to let it die....