Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Spooks and nooks in Malaysia

Have you ever passed by a place and just feel the shivers down your back? Or have you ever walked into a room or house and you just know something is not right and that you want to get out of that place as soon as possible?
I am sure that at some point or another, we have experienced that; believer or not, and to those who believe, it could be a possible case of haunting, or just something inexplicably paranormal is at work.
Surrounded by religious beliefs, myths, legends and superstitions, it is hard to escape from the realm of the unknown; of what lurks beyond our own dimension, space and into the other reality which we often call as the other world. We have heard of stories from people who have experienced them; encounters, dreams/nightmares, and even physical contact with the spooky kind in the forms of demonic possession and poltergeist activities. It is the ultimate question and mystery for the curious minds; skeptics and believers alike. It was with this question that led me to start this series to compile stories of such in my own country; and perhaps from where I am familiar with. Like many others, I have heard of many stories from different accounts and of course, of places with a reputable haunting. Every place has its story; as with the Chinese saying, "the trees will not sway if there is no accompanying wind"

I have therefore scoured and done a bit of research to share a few places which were believed to be haunted; by several accounts and even eyewitnesses' stories. Perhaps haunted would be too definite of a word, but there is something mysterious and inexplicable that even the most logical of the scientific mind would not be able to explain. The following is a list which I have gathered; but I do not testify nor do I confirm that they are indeed haunted. However, mysterious happenings and sightings have been spotted and there have been several paranormal investigations which took place. In fact, there were even crew from abroad who travelled to perform their own investigation and filming to produce the documentary at these locations. Believe it or not, it is entirely up to you....

1. Karak Highway
This notorious highway which is commonly used as a route to Genting Highlands; was originally erected in the 1970s to connect to the Karak town in Pahang, thus earning its name. Many stories have been associated with this highway; including the infamous yellow Volkswagen which appears without a driver and caused many fatal accidents when drivers on the highway encounter this vehicle in the middle of the night. There was also a rumor that there is an old lady walking down the road in the middle of the night or a young boy. It is said that the highway was constructed over the burial ground of the aborigines thus leading to the disruption of the spirits. Please refer to my article on this infamous highway here

2. Genting Highlands
You could see that I was heading here with the start of Karak Highway as the first location. This famous tourist spot in Asia due to its cool breeze and location on hilltop; is also home to one of Asia's earliest casinos and also a large amusement park to attract visitors from abroad and local. As it is located all the way at the top, the road leading to this was carefully constructed across the mountains; and cutting into the forests as well thus resulting in a winding and rather steep gradient way heading to the famous Genting Highland Resort. Perhaps it was due to the nature of the roads, and also the heavy mist/fog which envelopes the area especially after the rain, there have been many reported fatal bus accidents which slipped and plunged into the gaping ravines. (Most of the tourists or even locals travel on tour buses to frequent the casinos). Then there were the suicide cases at the casinos; following gamblers who lost their fortune at the gambling table and decided to take their own lives by jumping off the buildings. Perhaps it was all these lost souls which led to the many reported sightings or even eerie encounters by visitors; especially those who stayed overnight. There are so many places which have been rumored to be haunted; one of the older serviced apartments was said to even have an entire floor sealed to the public, a hotel, etc. With the number of stories, it is no wonder this is rumored to be haunted.

3. Pudu Jail
The judgment place for many wrongdoers, convicts and dangerous criminals where they met with their ends here, it is no wonder the prison can make it to the list, just as many prisons around the world. The prison has been converted into a museum and has recently been closed to make way for modern development. Its past history is much to tell; from its original location being a Chinese cemetery to a mass count of prisoner deaths due to cholera outbreaks back in the 1895 era, the prison has seen many forms of deaths in the execution of the lethal punishment for its residents. From hanging to caning, the prison has housed even the toughest of criminals.

4. Penang War Museum
One from the Pearl of the Orient; actually this was probably one of the most prolific of them all as it was ranked as one of the top 10 spookiest places in Asia by the National Geographic. Located in Batu Maung, this place was amazingly eerie with the hidden secrets left untold in the whispering isolated structures and trees around. Featured and visited by various paranormal investigators, this was believed to be another of the execution sites during the Japanese occupation in WWII; despite its original purpose as the defense fort built by the British to fend against the Japanese attacks back then. Sightings of Japanese soldiers have been reported at night. Currently one of the top attractions in Penang due to its educational value, the War Museum even offers night tours and dormitory camps for one to experience the pre-war days. I will run another feature article on this.

5. Kellie's Castle
This is another famous location which has stirred the curious interest of many from abroad and many paranormal investigation teams have made it here to experience for themselves the reported phenomenon. The castle was originally built out of love and honor for his wife by William Kellie Smith, it was left abandoned and the Smiths never get to stay in it. It seems that the troubles started during the construction of the castle; where the workers were plagued with the deadly flu virus (Spanish flu) which claimed their lives. Construction never seemed to complete and as the Smiths' fortune also seemed to suffer a downfall, the castle was sold to a British company; Harrisons and Crosfeld. Residents who lived nearby have reported of seeing apparitions of what were believed to be Mr and Mrs Smith walking around in the castle. Some even heard sounds coming from the evidently empty castle. The reported sightings have attracted many documentaries to be filmed whereby the crew tried to detect the paranormal presence and even make contact with the spirits. The locals in the neighbouring area definitely believe it to be very much haunted and tend to stay away when darkness falls.

6.Victoria Institution
Another place believed to be one of the Japanese bases; and an execution site during the Japanese Occupation period in WWII. The school grounds were believed to be the place where the defeated British soldiers were held prisoners and were tortured to their deaths. There were many reported stories from this institution famous for educating the children of the affluent society in the country; which includes sightings of Japanese or British soldiers, sounds of chains, hysteria and even possessions of the students in the classrooms.

7.St Michael's Institution
Similarly, this is also a school which was originally built by a group of Catholic missionaries back in the year 1912, later turned into a torture chamber during the WWII. The Japanese used the beautifully constructed school building as its secret police headquarters where captives were brutally tortured to their deaths. Secret tunnels and passages run along the institution. There were sightings of Japanese soldiers but the most famous of all was that of a headless Brother sitting down in a black robe with prayer beads (rosary?) in his hand seen in the chapel; supposedly located on the 4th floor of the building. I know of people who have attended school here but they went through their school years just fine. Anyway, I believe the Brother meant no harm as he was just sitting there fulfilling his daily conversation with God.

8. Tambun Inn/Tambun in Perak
This area was reputed to be haunted by the spirit of an old woman who was sighted to be walking by the side of the road at night. The Inn was also famous for poltergeist activities where lights were turned on and off by themselves and sounds could be heard.

9. Penang Bridge
Yup, you will be surprised that Penang adds another to the list and none other than the icon of the island itself. This remarkable structure which once held the third longest bridge in Southeast Asia also had its own share of scares and fatal accidents which occurred. Besides its setting as one of the landmarks and linking the traffic flow between the island to the mainland, the bridge was also reputed to be used for illegal racing at night at one point of time due to the long stretch of straight road. At the same time, many have attempted suicides here and there have even been reported cases of death due to suicides where the victims took their lives by jumping off the bridge. Fatal accidents have also occurred on the bridge; usually in the middle of the night - possibly due to the drivers exceeding the speed limit when driving freely at odd hours. Perhaps it was due to the high number of deaths or the unfortunate deaths which led to lost souls, there have been reported sightings of apparitions. Those who survived the car accidents on the bridge even reported that they saw someone beckoning to them by the side of the bridge. Myth or truth, it is still better to be safe than sorry and drivers are urged to drive carefully and observe the speed limit on the bridge. If the stories are not motivation enough, please take note that there are surveillance and speed cameras installed on the bridge. Yes, you are being watched...

10. Tanjung Tuan/Rachado Bay (Negeri Sembilan/Melaka)
This campsite stands witness to many horror stories; of encounters by the campers - sightings and even physical encounters. The site had seen its glory in 1606 where the Portuguese fleet meets the Dutch's East India Company in a naval confrontation along the coastal lines. The site is reputed to be still haunted by the ghosts of the past; as campers have reported creepy encounters while on site. I believe there was also a lighthouse nearby this area; monitoring the coast which was also reputed to be haunted? I will do more research to see if I can find out more on this place...
Though there are no limit to the list or number of places to be covered in this article, I have decided to stick to 10 at the moment; and perhaps there is another I could add - a site of tragedy, Highland Towers.
One block of condominium collapsed on one fateful day in 1994; taking with it 48 lives (reported). Following the collapse of the first block, the other two blocks on condominiums were ordered to be evacuated as it was no longer safe to live in. The horrific incident took Malaysians by shock which turned to rage as many questioned as to how this incident could even occur with modern engineering. It was a tragedy which saddened many, and now the site was left abandoned though there are still houses located in the once affluent neighborhood. Sounds have been reported; where some have said they have heard of wailings and cries. The location has also attracted again the paranormal investigators and in fact, a locally made movie has recently been released with the same title. (Again, I will also do a separate feature write up on this to share more on the incident and the stories associated). With the many reported and probably an unknown count of unreported deaths, it is no wonder this site could be also reputed for its hauntings.

The list is not the end of it all; as I believe there are many more places which were not mentioned and I decided to only feature these few which were commonly found and with a stronger reputation. It is not that I am promoting people to stay away from these areas; or to tarnish the reputation of these places as I believe in each of its historical value which ought to be honored and cherished. It is a rumor that they are haunted, and no one knows for sure, but my stand again; do not ever meddle with the spirits or the unknown. Leave them at that; the unknown. It would be best to let them roam freely and enjoy their eternal rest/peace. Every place has its past; and possibly her own ghosts as well. No place is free without a past; otherwise it would never be valued as a tourist attraction. The stories behind each building and person are unique to their own identities and should be treated with respect....

To be continued...

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