Welcome to Singapore's most baffling tourist attraction

Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction

Remember the haunted-hayride depths of Daoist Hell? Well, that was a cakewalk compared to Singapore's Haw Par Villa. At this unique bemusement park, you can tour the annals of Chinese mythology, such as the 10 Courts of Chinese Hell.

Haw Par Villa — which is also known as Tiger Balm Park — was built in 1937 by Tiger Balm magnates Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par. After the park was damaged in World War II, Boon Haw's nephew began adding statues of various beings from Chinese mythology.

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The 10 Courts of Hell attraction grew to be the park's most famous addition. Explains Singapore Paranormal Investigators:

If tourist sights had a ratings system, the 10 Courts of Hell at Haw Par Villa would be rated R. While you don't expect hell to be a happy place, this version of the netherworld is a slaughterhouse of dismemberment and disembowelment. It is also, strangely enough, a popular family attraction [...] The courts, which judge a person's past life before he or she is reincarnated, are thought to be derived from an Indian Buddhist legend that spread to China during the Tang Dynasty. Each court is presided over by a yama, or emperor, who determines the punishment or reward for those brought before him.

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Here's a sampling of Haw Par Villa's many statues. If some forlorn sap is getting tortured in a photo, it's from the infamous Hell exhibit. The park also includes some NSFW-worthy statues, such as this sea creature evolving into a topless woman and the lady who's breast-feeding an old man (while a semi-deranged child gleefully watches).

Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
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Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
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Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
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Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
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Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
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Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction

To make matters even creepier, unused statues would be abandoned in the woods behind Haw Par Villa. The Singpore Paranormal Investigators website has a good gallery of the hidden statuary and industrial ruin that abutted the park.

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Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
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Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction
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Illustration for article titled Welcome to Singapores most baffling tourist attraction

PS: On a related note, about a decade ago I visited a somewhat similar mythological hellhouse in Changhua City, Taiwan (outside of the giant Buddha statue). Do any of our dear readers know this place?

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[Via Metafilter, Jazno, Singapore Paranormal Investigators, and Cory Doctorow.]

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DISCUSSION

I lived in Changhua City for a year ... right behind the giant Buddha statue on Bagwha (sic) mountain. I used to hike all around that temple and statue, but never, ever, did i stumble upon any sort of hellhouse like this...

So, your telling me there was a hellhouse in my backyard all that time? I missed out :(

I did find a giant wooden penis in Kaoshung though. no joke. I have pics