Hell on earth

A quirky sort of hell on earth, that is. And one that could bring on plenty of giggles.

Work may be picking up speed now as we slip into the second half of 2013, but nothing will stop me from bringing my team out for a little bit of fun. So we packed up and left office at 4.30pm, and headed right to a theme park that has stood still in the passing of time and amid Singapore’s rapid infrastructure development.

Haw Par Villa is a sprawling ground on Pasir Panjang Road in the west, filled with numerous statues that depict ancient Chinese folklore and attempt to educate visitors on traditional values such as filial piety as well as religion.

The most popular attraction here is the Ten Courts of Hell, withfrightful statues that demonstrate the various forms of eternal punishment meted out to sinful people. This is probably the Chinese version of Dante’s Inferno. Funny how people from vastly different cultures and different parts of the world all have the same concept of hell and afterlife punishment.

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The last time I set foot in Haw Par Villa was 25 years ago – when I was only eight – and I still remember how terrified I was with the Ten Courts of Hell.

The attraction is just a little less frightful today. It still is pretty dark inside, with just enough spotlights to accentuate the horror of the statues, some showing abusers of parents being mashed up in a stone grinder or cheats being dismembered.

After emerging from hell, the rest of the theme park is pretty light-hearted.

Allow me to bring your attention to this particular statue.

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For visitors who cannot read the Mandarin captions at the foot of this display, kinky play probably comes to mind. And Lord, forgive the poor child who has to bear witness to such obscene on-goings!

A colleague told me that a Japanese travelogue on Singapore had a lot to laugh about over these statues.

But really, this display is extolling the virtue of filial piety – the young woman is offering to breast-feed her starving mother-in-law.

There are plenty more interesting statues in Haw Par Villa, and you can make plenty of humourous photos. Entrance is free.

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