For decades, Tiger Balm Gardens in Hong Kong was a top tourist attraction. My mom went there in 1962 on her first trip to the colony, but I didn’t get around to it until Christmas 1996.
I still remember this outing quite clearly. My parents were visiting me for their winter break, but my dad had left a little early to get back to work. So on Christmas Day, my mom suggested going to Tiger Balm Gardens. I’d never been and was game.
It covered part of a hill in Wanchai and was originally built in the 1930s as the private residence of Tiger Balm tycoon Aw Boon Haw. By the early 1950s, it was opened to the public and was one of Hong Kong’s first theme parks.
At one point a couple decades after my mom saw the gardens, amusement rides replaced the Chinese mythical statues. But by the time I went there with my mom, the rides were gone and the statues were back.
I remember the statues more worn down than what I see in most of these photos. And I remember my mom telling me that the gardens had seen better days. (Another thing I vividly remember is going to a nearby Filipino restaurant for lunch and ordering a delicious squid dish, complete with its black ink.)
Eight years after we visited Tiger Balm Gardens, they were demolished for a housing development.