Thursday, February 19, 2015

An interesting tour: Cultured Leopard, Rising Tiger: Finding Your Tao in Haw Par Villa

I have always enjoyed attending tours under The Original Singapore Walks series by one of my favourite local tour providers, Journeys. When I could find some time out from my work schedule in the month of Jan 2015, I decided it would be a wonderful idea to attend one of the new tours, i.e. Cultured Leopard, Rising Tiger: Finding Your Tao in Haw Par Villa. I have had a good time at the tour and was pleased with it.

Back in March 2014, thanks to the invitation of Singapore Tourism Board, I have had the pleasure to attend the Reliving Haw Par Villa event. Reliving Haw Par Villa included a free guided tour of the Haw Par Villa which was intended to be special preview to one of the latest tours in The Original Singapore Walks series, i.e. Cultured Leopard, Rising Tiger: Finding Your Tao in Haw Par Villa.

I will strongly recommend Cultured Leopard, Rising Tiger: Finding Your Tao in Haw Par Villa to anyone, especially non-Chinese, who would like to have a well-researched guided tour of Haw Par Villa to make their visit more enriching and entertaining.

Diorama of the story of Mdm White Snake.

As for the Chinese, I think it would have been more apt to attend a guided tour that was conducted preferably in Mandarin because many of the anecdotes from Chinese folklore would simply sound so much closer to heart if they were presented in Mandarin as the language medium. I suppose I am biased? I prefer to hear the story of Mdm White Snake and many others being related to me in Mandarin. Not that there was anything essential that was lost in translation, I simply prefer to listen to Chinese folklore being told to me in Mandarin medium.

The tour's meeting point was at Haw Par Villa MRT station, outside Exit A. The opening of the Circle Line has made it so much easier to travel to Haw Par Villa!

At the start of the tour, all of us visitors were pleasantly greeting welcomed by a structure that reminded us of a glimpse of the history of Haw Par Villa. Aw Boon Par had built this mansion - Haw Par Villa - as a gift to his brother, Aw Boon Par. The villa was demolished in 1946, I learnt.

The legend of Su Qin. It teaches one 'never to give up hope despite failures'.

Having said earlier, that I prefer listen to Chinese folklore and mythologies in Mandarin, during the tour, I was particularly more interested in the history of Haw Par Villa and how the Aw brothers built their business empire with the household ointment, Tiger Balm.

One of the Archways. The Yi Cui Archway.

The Haw Par Villa can be considered a rather fascinating dream-like place. As I stepped into Haw Par Villa, I was greeting with sculptures of tigers, leopards and many other large-than-life creatures. Then, there were familiar and not-so-familiar characters from Chinese legends and folk tales that awaited me as I toured the Haw Par Villa with the rest of the tour-group.

The Eight Immortals.

A tour about the Haw Par Villa reminded me of the virtues that were considered desirable to the Chinese.  The sculptures in Haw Par Villa seemed to be vehicles to educate the masses of virtues such as filial piety, diligence, generosity, humility and more.

In the background, the signature pond.

I was particularly intrigued by the signature pond and the remains of the foundations of the mansion that had once stood within Haw Par Villa. Do go for this tour under The Original Singapore Walks series to find out more.

During the tour, I realized that there are a few peaceful spots in Haw Par Villa where one can enjoy a quiet reading time or a peaceful moment of reflection. The cost of the tour aside, admission to Haw Par Villa is free at least for now.

There were many interesting sights and dioramas awaiting us all at the Haw Par Villa. No wonder there are visitors who can visit Haw Par Villa for countless number of times and still love returning to Haw Par Villa. Each visit, one could enjoy a different perspective and experience.

A reminder of a time when Haw Par Villa was reopened as a theme park
called 'Dragon World' by International Theme Parks.

The tour ended at the Ten Courts of Hell section of the Haw Par Villa. This section speaks about the Chinese concepts of purgatory and reincarnation. Probably the message that was embedded for all visitors was to do the right thing and the reward is to stay out of Hell?

For anyone new to Haw Par Villa, or simply wants to have a guided tour about the Haw Par Villa, this tour, i.e. Cultured Leopard, Rising Tiger: Finding Your Tao in Haw Par Villa, is a tour that I would recommend.

Cultured Leopard, Rising Tiger:
Finding Your Tao in Haw Par Villa

Every Friday, 9.30 a.m. - 12.00 noon
Meeting point: Haw Par Villa MRT station, outside Exit A (262 Pasir Panjang Road)
For more details, please visit:

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