Sunday, 8 November 2009

More Tiger Balm Gardens

Here's a few postcards from the 1960s featuring Tiger Balm Gardens. It's been knocked around a bit so probably doesn't look quite like this anymore! The first picture features the lovely ornate entrance to the garden. In the 1960s, this had the words, 'Tiger Balm Garden' written on it though, in later years, this was changed to 'Haw Par Villa'. Above the writing was a brightly painted tiger. As you walked up to the gate, you could see the sea on your left but, with land reclamation, the water is now much further away. I think on the right of this picture was where the gorilla statues stood. Every visitor to the gardens probably had their photo taken there!
The second photo shows the bottom entrance. The park seems very busy and most of the people are Chinese and I can only spot one Western visitor. There's a stall selling cold Coca-Cola on the right hand side of the picture and the stall on the left seems to be selling fruit. The third photo shows a temple in the middle of the park. There's a statue of a Buddha on top. I remember playing inside this pagoda when I was small and my dad filmed this on his cine camera. I'll add
the movie later. The bridge on the left of the picture was above where all the animal statues were and these included a giant frog, a turtle, a hippo and a walrus. We loved playing on them when we were kids, even though there were signs saying, 'Keep Out!' The final picture shows my favourite statues in the park, the gorillas. The statues here have barbed wire in front of them, not to keep the gorillas in, but to keep the visitors (probably English ones!) off the exhibits! This deadly barbed wire was later replaced with a fence. In the background is the Buddha statue that appears in the previous picture and what looks like a statue of a toucan. The gardens had several different areas. I remember there was an Antipodean part featuring kangaroo and emu statues and other areas that incorporated Chinese legends, history, folklore and mythology. There were also statues of Confucius, reindeer, rhinos, zebras and many other brightly painted animals.
 Also, there were giant Buddhas and the notorious Ten Courts of Hell which was not for the squeamish! I think there was a warning outside. I don't think children were let in anyway and I never bothered with this part of the park even when I went back in 1990. When I returned in 1990, the gorilla statues had disappeared, there was a huge dragon ride and a statue of a tiger driving a car. It seemed to have lost a lot of its appeal since the 1960s and almost didn't seem like the same place. It's recently been refurbished but I don't suppose it'll ever quite be the same as the place I have such fond memories of.

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