As a person that has been dubbed a “resident horror expert” there is not a lot that scares me when it comes to horror, Halloween or the supernatural.
Granted I’m not the best with skinless muscles being on display, and I am absolutely terrified of leeches, but there isn’t a lot that makes me jump.
But I’m pretty sure I went into the bowels of Hell for about 5 minutes and it was the scariest place I have ever been.
The entrance to Hell is a very little known place called the Unicorn Palace – sounds terrifying already, right? – in the Suoi Tien theme park just outside Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Suoi Tien is the world’s first and only Buddhist theme park and it’s one of the strangest and wackiest places I have ever been. My friend I was travelling to Vietnam with suggested we go because of its general off-beatness, and with lack of anything else to do I agreed.
For the world’s first Buddhist theme park it was as weird as it sounded. There were roller coasters and water parks, including a wave pool and slides, hidden amongst giant statues of Buddha and other legends of the Buddhist religion. There was a Harry Potter themed haunted house which I’m pretty sure wasn’t licenced and also some tentacle thing came out in the darkness and brushed my face and disappeared again forever. It was weird. All the rides are situated in giant buildings shaped like dragons, phoenixes and unicorns, and inside the building you either walked or floated past frankly terrifying animatronic displays that depicted different legends in Vietnamese and Buddhist culture.
Everything was in Vietnamese so I had no idea what was going on. Suddenly mannequins were worshipping a totem pole that looked like it was made of human nipples and a giant gorilla with balls tried to jump ship onto the little boat we were on. Everything was so weird I really shouldn’t have been surprised that the Unicorn Palace didn’t have a single unicorn in it.
It sounded magical, and it looked magical. The building was actually shaped like a unicorn and was coloured in rainbows. I was expecting fluffy pink clouds but as we bought our tickets what we actually got was two Vietnamese ladies who were too scared to go into the Unicorn Palace alone. Legit, they held onto my arm the entire way and somehow I led a duo of non-English speaking women through the gates of Hell like some confused Joan of Arc.
It should have been the first sign.
Photo by Time Travel Turtle
Going into the Unicorn Palace we descended the stairs into the dungeon where angry Vietnamese recordings were screamed at us. We then spent the next 5 minutes walking past cages and cages of animatronic mannequins being disembowelled, boiled in soup, dismembered, cut literally in half, and turned into moving skeletons. Mannequins jumped out at us from coffins, making the little Vietnamese women clinging to my biceps scream.
It was only after we exited this strange place and did a little research that we discovered that the Unicorn Palace doesn’t have any unicorns in it at all and actually depicts the 18 levels of Hell as foretold in Buddhist religions. Why this is in a unicorn palace no one can tell me, but it’s safe to say now that I have unhealthy trust issues when it comes to this seemingly mythical creature. If anyone can shed any further light on this phenomenon I would greatly appreciate to be further educated in this.
I’m pretty sure now that the Devil walks among us, and that he got here via the Unicorn Palace.
*Cover photo courtesy of Suoi Tien Theme Park