TERRIFYING TIGER BALM & OTHER ADVENTURES // Singapore

Finally, the second day of holidays. I promise from now on I will tone down the photos (spoiler: I probably won’t).

Despite our best intentions we admittedly did not have an extensive plan regarding what sights to see in Singapore. Not to mention, we clocked up over 24kms of walking on our first day and saw far more than we anticipated! As such, a morning research session over a hipster coffee (at the criminal price of $5 AUD plus taxes) was required. Somehow, I stumbled upon Haw Par Villa.

After a stressful morning trying to hunt down a sim card, we eventually jumped on the metro and alighted at Haw Par Villa station. The park was located directly out the front of the metro.

What is Haw Par Villa? Loosely, it is described as a ‘theme park’, though it is more educational, with a focus on Chinese mythology. The park was built in 1937 by the wealthy family who created Tiger Balm ointment – see below for some subtle/terrifying product placement.

The park was popular in its early years for school trips, but has since been taken over by the Singapore Tourism Board. It is free to enter to park and explore.

The most well known sight to see at the park is the Ten Courts of Hell – you can see the entrance above, and the interior below. Essentially, it graphically depicts the punishment an individual will receive in the after life for crimes and sins committed. And I mean graphically – if you look closely at the below photo you can probably make out some people drowning in vats of oil and being impaled on trees. Seriously, leave the kids outside!

The remainder of the park was an odd mix of colourful temples and large displays depicting stories from Chinese folklore. There was even a random section which featured Australian animals.

After fulfilling all our wildest nightmares at Haw Par Villa we jumped back on the metro and headed to the Botanic Gardens stations. Our morning research session had revealed a hawker market was nearby, so we made a quick stop for some delicious satay lunch.

The Botanic Gardens were beautiful and expansive. It was getting fairly hot by this point, so we were more than happy to find a place in the shade and rest.

Chris: “You are probably getting so sunburnt, we should just stay in the shade.”

Me: “I must see everything.”

Once we made it through the park we somehow navigated Singapore Uber and went back to our hotel for a much needed rest under the air conditioner. We reemerged in the evening the check out the famed Orchard Road. Neither of us are big shoppers, so we quickly left and wandered back towards Chinatown for dinner.

After having experienced a couple of hawker halls by now, we were feeling like seasoned professionals and game enough to try the hawker hall at the Chinatown Complex. As expected, it was absolutely delicious and a million times cheaper than any meal you would have in a restaurant.

I was eager to see the city at night, so we walked back towards Marina Bay.

You can get some great views of the city from the top of the Marina Bay Shoppes. We spent awhile up here just taking it in and escaping from the hordes of tourists heading towards the light show at the Gardens.

All in all, it was another wonderful day exploring Singapore. I think we clocked up another 20+km of walking, so we were sleeping well.

But that is all for Singapore for now – as it was onwards to Indonesia!

– Reanna

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