Haw Par Villa

Ok, so we went to Singapore a few months back, but I’ve been holding onto these photos from Haw Par Villa, desperate to find some time to post them. And, I guess, maternity leave is a good time for that!

Haw Par Villa is a weird kind of park, created by the inventors of Tiger Balm. It shows scenes from Ancient Chinese legends and historical stories, as well as downright scary stuff. It’s well-worth a visit, and when we went, entry was free!

The highlight was the ‘Ten Courts of Hell’, depicting all sorts of crazy punishments for particular wrongdoings. On the day that we were there, the main demographic of visitors to the park were parents with young children, casually wandering through the courts of hell quite calmly. While grossed-out interjections popped out of my mouth, the young children didn’t seemed scared at all. Am I just sensitive? Would you take your children through here? I’ll let you decide…

I guess this should have been signs of things to come…

Conmen, robbers or inflictors of physical injury were thrown in the volcanic pit.

Prostitutes were thrown into a pool of blood and drowned.

If you escaped from prison, disrespected your elders or showed ungratefulness, your heart was cut out.

For cheating, cursing or abducting others… knife treatment!

If you misused books, possessed pornographic material, broke written rules and regulations or wasted food, you were sawn in two.

For a lack of filial obedience, causing trouble for parents of family members and cheating during exams, your intestines and organs were pulled out.

For neglecting the old and the young, you were crushed under a boulder.

I guess it might deter your kids from a life of crime, but what would they think of these:

Looking for more pics??? Check them out here at Asia Obscura!

Fake Disneyland/Copyright Infringement Park/石景山游乐园 Shijingshan youleyuan

On another Asiaobscura adventure, we jumped on Line 1 subway to the far west of Beijing. Bajiao subway station is almost the last stop, which means enduring a loooong trip on the busiest subway line in Beijing! But we stuck in there and after only a short walk from the subway station, we found ourselves at Shijingshan Amusement Park.

For those of you confused by the title of this blog, this amusement park is famous for blatantly copying Disneyland, as well as a number of other famous children’s brands. I think the photos will speak for themselves.

It’s great value for money. The entrance ticket is only about 30 yuan ($5) and you pay per ride. The little kiddy rides vary from 5-15yuan. And the bigger things up to 50yuan. I would suggest bringing food though, as there were only pitiful ice-creams and stale popcorn. But if you brought a picnic – it would be extra awesome!

However, don’t bring any butterflies. They’re banned.

The rollercoaster to nowhere. We weren’t quite sure what was going on with this one.

These kids were having a great time. Bouncing up and down and around and around.

It’s one of those parks where you have to take your own safety into your hands. You kinda weigh up the pros and cons before attempting any of the rides.

Clearly only this one guy was brave enough to attempt this one.

We weren’t brave enough for this ride.

For that reason, we mainly stuck to haunted houses. We tried all the haunted houses and they were weird. Weird. You either walked through or rode through on a train and were presented with a series of puppets and dolls which had light sensors and sometimes moved – there were all sorts of scenes.

The worst one was pitch black. And it wasn’t scary for the puppets, it was scary because we couldn’t see! We traipsed through hand-in-hand, not knowing what was around the corner.

There was definitely a theme of musicians in the haunted houses. Are drummers that scary???

This is the copied Disney castle. I’ve never been, but I’ve heard it’s identical!

This one I couldn’t quite work out. It’s a rabbit, dreaming of a hamburger, that’s trying to eat itself, which has a live fish and noodles in it.

And, happy rabbits all shoot guns, right?

Fancy a ride in a vegetable or fruit?

The boys braved this one. It was like the Gravitron, but without a roof. It span around and around, holding the boys into their seats. Kinda. In a dangerous way. There were a few bumps and bruises after this. But the loud disco music made up for it!

All in all, it was a fun day. I only wish I had photos of the massive water boat fight ride. Picture 8 of us wearing plastic ponchos that were too small for us, piled into two boats firing water pistols at each other. Gold.

Find more photos from this trip on the Asiaobscura website.

Have a look at my photos from an abandoned amusement park in Beijing.

Wonderland (Abandoned) Amusement Park

A few weeks ago, an intriguing write-up in Time Out magazine caught my eye. It appeared to be a castle in countryside Beijing. Castles are definitely not a common theme around here, so we decided to investigate further. The land for 沃德兰 (wo-de-lan) amusement park was purchased back in 1998 and it was supposed to become Asia’s largest amusement park. As land prices increased with the upcoming Olympics and pressure mounted from pre-existing parks, the project was abandoned and only the skeleton of the park exists today.

Andy, Michelle, Zac and I hired a Beijing cabbie for the day. At first he seemed pretty cool, but he started to have a bit of a stress attack as we got further out of the city. We’d printed off Baidu and Google maps and we assured him that we knew where we were going, which changed to “oh, we’ve been there before – don’t worry”. This, of course, is only a problem if the maps are wrong. Guess what??

We found exotic “Pine Valley” out in Changping. It appeared to be a luxury riding and golf course.

We ended up in a massive queue of trucks down a horrible under-construction-‘road’ when we realised there was no way we were in the right place. Breaking the news to cabbie that we were in the wrong place didn’t go down so well, until we offered some more cash – then we were set.

So, we started asking the locals questions. Asking people who’ve grown up with an abandoned amusement park around them, doesn’t translate so well. Most people just said there weren’t any amusement parks around. Finally, Andy noticed some castle-esque points in the distance. We made our way back to the freeway and found the correct exit this time.

Wandering in the back way.

We approached the blue turrets from the side, stationary flags atop. We found ourselves in a massive field with an eerie cement tower and the frame of a gigantic pavilion.

The staircase to nowhere.

Some veggies growing in the allotment.

The skeleton pavilion.

At least someone is making use of it.

The looming castle in the tilled field.

The castle dungeon.

Need some tree seedlings, anyone? A great place for advertising.

“Strictly no entry into the tower. Enter at your own risk.”

Old newspapers lining the walls of a small booth next to the massive castle. Perhaps a security guard’s box, a potential snack shop or the first souvenir store.

Piles of old baskets around the back of the castle.

Crops in the field

The car was a mystery until Zac climbed into the castle and found a girl having a professional photo shoot inside.

The surrounds of the castle were littered with odds and ends.

Enter at your own risk.

The gardening ladies employed to keep the front looking respectable.

I feel that the above photo sums up China beautifully. Andy wandered into an open door and met a bunch of old women playing cards in the dim light. After shouting at him that he shouldn’t be there they slowly drifted out and began their gardening duties. I suspect just because we were there. The front hedges and the carpark are maintained beautifully. It’s all about appearances.

Creativity in door construction.

Window reflections

Relics of the previous construction work. 

Abandoned air-conditioning units.

Prince Charming won’t be exiting through this door.

(Have a look at my photos from a fake disneyland in Beijing)