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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Apr 8, 2013

First Visit to Haw Par Villa

Same Place. Same Person. Different Times. Different Memories.

Same Place:  Haw Par Villa, Singapore

Same Person:  James Seah (aka Thimbuktu)

Different Times:  1978 to 2013 (Then and Now)

The stoned sculptures in Haw Par Villa which appear on the photos  are the same ones.  Some had probably been relocated to other sections of the Garden, repaired in some spots, repainted for maintanance over the decades.

Would anyone care to remember the sculptors, creators of each sculpture and know who they were?  They may not be created by renowned sculptors, but the masterpieces of work in their every right.  These sculptures and creation brought joy and memories to many generations.  To them we pay tribute and appreciate their heritage sculpture at Haw Par Villa.

Singapore memories to share at the Singapore Memory Portal here .

The juxtaposed photos taken at the same spots posted on this nostalgia blog thirty-five years ago.

Please join me on a "virtual time machine trip" which everyone could have fun to share on the Singapore Memory Portal to walk down memory lane with everyone, every place.

This set of photos were taken on April 7, 2013 as I passed by Pasir Panjang Road in SBS Bus No. 200 after attending a People's Association (PA) training course at the National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI) at South Buona Vista Road, Singapore.

I decided to alight from the bus to capture a few snapshots of Haw Par Villa before the sky gets dark.

The bus-stop opposite Haw Par Villa
The bus-stop on the side of Haw Par Villa
The sculpture of the snake to represent the "Year of the Snake" in 2013

Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Garden) in Singapore was built by the Aw family (Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par) and opened in 1937.  They were created to promote the Tiger Balm products produced by the family.

Haw Par Villa, originally known as the Tiger Balm Gardens, is a Chinese mythological theme park in Singapore that is home to some of the freakiest and demented statues ever. The park contains over 1,000 statues and 150 giant dioramas depicting scenes from Chinese folklore, legends, history and illustrations of various aspects of Confucianism.
An old photo of the filial piety sculpture taken in 1950.  Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore

The sculpture of a woman breast-feeding her aged mother-in-law to show filial piety  
( "二十四孝" in Chinese)
There were more families and friends in groups to the Garden later in the afternoon.  Tour coaches of travel agencies and organised tour groups would have more visitors in the earlier of the day.

Memories of my first visit to Haw Par Villa

My first visit to Haw Par Villa at Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore was during my Primary 5 school holiday at Delta Primary School in 1960 where I was staying at Bukit Ho Swee kampong.

An unforgettable first experience fifty-three years ago ...

The best selective childhood memories to walk down memory lane none other than myself.  Not better, but different.  A recollection of Haw Par Villa to share on this blog is a challenge for my memory test, really.

I did not keep personal diaries during my young days.  Facebook was unheard of  and  no posts with text, photos or YouTube video clips which modern days parents today do it on a daily basis for their kids.  Its a new generation with latest IT and internet technology.

In primary school, I have heard so much about Haw Par Villa from a few privileged classmates with parents who bring them for outing during the school holidays.  They relate their stories with excitement and glints in their eyes and stuff which we haven't heard about the place.  Many of our Bukit Ho Swee classmates have not been to Haw Par Villa.

My parents were too busy to struggle and earn a livelihood during those early times.  "Family quality time" for most kampong folks were unheard of.  The community centers long ago did not have so many community events and activities available for the young and old in the kampong to learn, participate and enjoy. 

I was a "suaku" from the kampong and Singapore was a big, big world with many places of interest I have not visited.

Here's an untold story from my childhood memory bank to share on this blog.

During 1960, my second sister's former Singapore Steam Laundry colleague Mary Sim kindly agreed to offer me English Language tuition free of charge.

Every Sunday morning for one or two hours every week, I would practise English spelling and dictation earnestly at home and Mary would mark my exercise books.  The textbook used was "First Aid in English"  to learn English grammar.  I was grilled to spell as many English words and the English passages for dictation from the textbook progressively.   Repeated exercises to correct the mistakes I made.

Just before the school final examinations, Mary increased the weekly tuition sessions and assigned me more English homework to do.

One day before the exams,  Mary told me that she would give me a reward if I had good results for the exams.  However, she did not say what reward to give me as an incentive and encouragement.

As a child in the 1960s and children of  every generation, we need inspirations and encouragements from the adults, parents and elders.

After the exams and before the results was released, I wanted to tell Mary what rewards to get if I had obtained good results as she had mentioned.

I was too shy to speak to her about it or to send her a note.  In those days, there was no SMS for texting on smartphones or Facebook for communication ...

So I was wondering what was the best way to convey her something which she will take note to read my message.

As Mary still continue my English tuition lessons after the exam, I had to bring the textbook to her to indicate the words and dictation passages to indicate on the assignment for my homework.

One day when I met Mary to attend her tuition lesson, I wrote on the first page of the book in pencil:

"I hope to go to Haw Par Villa if I pass my exams".  The page was folded at a corner so that Mary will notice.

Shyly, I noticed that Mary had read my message.  She gave me a smile and said; "You must have good exam results then can go to Haw Par Villa.  Otherwise, we will not go."

I studied hard for the Primary Five final exams in 1960 and obtained good results to show to Mary.

I was so happy to receive the promised reward from Mary and during the school holidays,  I had my first visit to Haw Par Villa where Mary drove her car together with my second sister and her other lady Havelock Road neighbour and her younger brother Ah Kiat.

My gratitude to Mary Sim, my English Language tuition teacher to benefit my schooldays education, knowledge and rewarding me the first visit to Haw Par Villa with happy childhood memories.



Blogger Lam Chun See said...

The generosity of Mary has remained in your memory for many decades. So touching.

April 8, 2013 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you very much for your blog. With all gratefulness to Ms. Mary Sim :)

Your story and the pictures you posted refreshed my mind. I was there in 1998. Had several rolls of pictures developed. I loved them all. But, sad to say, my photo albums were destroyed by the flood when Typhoon Frank passed by my place in the Philippines.

February 29, 2016 at 11:19 PM  

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