Sunday, April 15, 2012

More Singapore: Birds and Chinese Hell (Part 2 of 2)

Link to Part 1

I forgot to mention it in Part 1, but we went snow tubing one morning (Husband wanted to, who was I to say no?). It was a ridiculous little experience in an indoor area that smelled of diesel fuel and tires with one medium-sized hill and an area with Things to Climb On. Like an animatronic polar bear, a T-Rex in a saddle (not to scale), a foam igloo, a non-functioning cable car, and Santa's Cabin complete with Christmas Tree. Sadly, photos were prohibited.

Jurong Bird Park
Now we follow our intrepid heroes to the Jurong Bird Park. It’s a nice place!
Arches made of trees and potted orchids.

A lot of the experience just doesn’t translate to stills and video clips, but if you’re ever in Singapore, it’s a fun day trip. Assuming you like birds.

Just inside the ticket gate is a building shaped like an old wooden ship; that's where the penguins live.


Around the corner were the owls living in near darkness (I'd show you photos but they were all black), down the road was the flamingo and stork enclosures.


Here and there are Crowned Pigeons. They look like regular run-of-the-mill pigeons wearing party hats, except that they are the size of turkeys.


Some birds I’ve never seen before include this pheasant with little blue iridescent spots...


...and a Bleeding Heart Dove that literally looks like its heart is bleeding through its chest.


There was a lory enclosure where you can buy cups of whatever kind of dietary juice they consume (I would say "lory juice" but that just sounds wrong) and walk around while they argue amongst themselves about who gets to sit on the hand or shoulder and drink from the Cup of Deliciousness.
(For bird nerds, these are my best guesses: 0:01 black-capped lory, 0:05 green-naped lorikeets, 0:17 rainbow lorikeets, 0:46 chattering lory, 1:13 squirt!, 1:38 black-capped lory)

They didn’t want to land on me because my shirt didn’t have sleeves, but they nearly had the bird version of fisticuffs over Husband’s shoulder real estate. Then they got to the bottom of the cup with the pulp, it started getting stuck on their beaks.

Fun fact: parrots will often wipe their beak on their perch to get rid of goo, unless they're inconsiderate little jerks. Then they shake their heads with enthusiasm.
Husband ended up with a face full of lorry food. I was a little more amused than he was.

On the way out, he noticed these two finches having a grand old time jumping on a twig.


One of the larger areas in the park is an enormous indoor atrium. Lovely walking paths meandering around, culminating at the waterfall. We didn't see a lot of birds, but it was a very nice stroll.






Haw Par Villa
I don’t know what “haw par” translates to, but I think it means “delightfully grotesque”. It’s a park of brightly painted statues depicting Chinese mythology.
A semi-naked woman riding a green tiger greets you from the train station.

This is the entrance sign. It doesn't get any less visually crazy after this.

Oh, and the whole thing was started by the family responsible for Tiger Balm. This was the guy's actual car in the 1930s.
Not a good getaway car.

So you're walking along, minding your own business, and walk by this:
No explanation provided. It's just there.

 Then, around the corner, is what appears to be a war between rabbits, rats, and guinea pigs.
Again, no explanation.


The part that we wanted to make sure we got to before the park closed was the Ten Courts of Hell. When you die, you pass by the guardians Horse Face and Ox Head.


The righteous go straight to reincarnation, sinners are judged according to their sins and sentenced to a myriad of punishments for their crimes. The judgements are rendered by one of ten Yama Kings, each in their own court.



The guards out front were about person-sized, but inside it's all small dioramas.
It's kind of like Disneyland with more blood and physical torture.
I know a handful of people that feel like this is a pretty accurate representation of the actual Disney theme parks.


Chinese Hell is oddly specific.

Those who inflict physical injury, conmen, and robbers get thrown into a volcanic pit.
Hell Ogre with Mardi Gras face paint is a bonus.

Corruption and stealing/gambling gets you frozen into a block of ice.

Prostitution gets you thrown into a pool of blood and drowned. I'm not clear on why it has to be blood, or where all that blood comes from, but there you have it.

Drug addicts/traffickers, tomb robbers, and those who urge people into crime and social unrest get tied to a red hot copper pillar and grilled.
I guess copper is the best metal for sinner grilling, although to be honest I would have expected cast iron.

Cheating, cursing, and abducting others gets you thrown into a tree of knives.
(Because bad language is just as serious as kidnapping.)

Misuse of books, possession of porn, breaking written rules, and wasting food gets your body sawn into two.
(Woah, woah, woah! One: what constitutes a misuse of a book? Are we talking dog-earing pages or burning sacred texts? Two: only written rules? Three: holy crap, wasting food gets taken very seriously here!)


There were dozens of others, but I have a lot more park to cover before you guys get bored.

After the sinners are done getting sawn, grilled, ground into paste, drowned, and/or thrown into all manner of pointy objects or whatever, they get to go visit Men Po, an old lady that gives them magic tea of forgetfulness.



Having atoned for their sins, they finally go through the Wheel of Reincarnation. There's also a measure of judgement here, because the past life would determine if the soul came back as a human or an animal, into a life of comfort or suffering.


Outside the Hell cave, there is no lack of strange and interesting (and almost completey unexplained) images.

Like this one. There's so much going on here! Giant, surprised crickets kissing isn't the weirdest part of it (although it does have an uncomfortable, forced feel to the affection). They seem to be being taunted and threatened by a variety of animals in clothing. Normally elephants and rats wouldn't be the same size, but apparently they are when they wear vests and tennis shoes.
Oh, and two of those angry mob animals have firearms. Because being animals in clothing and being part of an angry mob isn't scary enough.

This has a couple dozen little scenes, but I'm not sure if any of them are related. (Click image for full size)

Orange Pajamas defeats Boogeyman?

Lion and Elephant are next-door neighbors? Like Frog and Toad, maybe.

Wandering farther, there are four-foot-tall owls that are very surprised.
...one of them may have just swallowed a porcupine.

The sumo wrestler is peculiar for two reasons other than the fact that he did not have an opponent. One is because sumo is Japanese in origin, not Chinese. The other is the pose – it suggests he stuck the landing after a difficult gymnastic routine.
The sea lions think this is hilarious.

This looks like Garuda, a lesser god in the Hindu pantheon, but it might also be a version of a Tengu. The mythology gets a little fuzzy in this part of the world.
Either way, I wouldn't mess with him. He's riding what I think is a tortoise with fangs and handlebars, which in turn is hugging a small dragon.
All three of them have Crazy Eyes.

The whole park is almost peaceful if you don't get too close to any of the exhibits.


Money toads!


A, um, dude about to stab a luck dragon? Noooooooo!


Monkeys! Wearing clothes, at a bar?
Actually, this might be another dramatic battle. It's kind of hard to tell.

Elf Giraffe vs. Water Buffalo Dog with a giant ant as the referee?
Are there records of Salvador Dali going to China that far back? It kind of looks like his style.

And now for something completely different.
Okay, not completely. Still animals wearing people clothes, but nobody seems angry this time.
Except maybe the dude on the phone.


Here is where I wished aloud for the umpteenth time that there were more explanations.
Duck Man: What is happening to my face?! WHY DOES THE SUN BURN?!
Chicken Woman: Oh, no! You're a vampire! Get back in the shadows before you die (again)!
Creepy Shadow Bird-Person: Chicken Woman, come here quickly! We need to fix your botched breast implants! 

Happy, creepy, and also unexplained.


Of course tortoises and frogs wear hats and ride ostriches, what else would you expect them to do?


I think this is sort of a Wall of Parables. It's nearly as long as a city block, and each scene has a plaque of some explanation.

They are mostly tales of caution and morality, being rewarded for being kind to others, suffering for being selfish, the usual stuff.


The English version of the explanation didn't really cover everything, though, just a basic plot. So I'm not entirely sure if Fishman and Frog are going to eat Softshell Turtle and Man-Sized Crab or are giving them a ride somewhere.

This one is about a guy that sees a turtle at the market, being sold as food, and he felt bad for it so he bought it and set it free in the wild. Fast forward, and he's on a ship that wrecks and everyone dies horribly. Except the one guy, because he was saved by the turtle.
I'm pretty sure the lesson here is "don't eat turtles".

Separate from the Wall of Parables was an incredibly elaborate rendition of a legend whose title I can't remember. Well, there were a few of them, but this is the one that I took the best pictures of, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

It's about sisters and some magic scissors or something, I can't remember. It may have also been about revenge.


The detail is pretty impressive.



I wish I were more up on my Chinese mythology, this is obviously a good story!




The last couple things we saw before we left were random huge faces...
Creepy!

...and the wall of dragons.





A couple miscellaneous things outside Haw Par Villa

We didn't eat here, but we decided this was the most clever name for a tapas restaurant we've ever seen.

Dusk on the canal. Time for some Singapore Slings!


Next episode: Hong Kong!

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