Penang, the Pearl of the Orient is known to many as the famed melting pot of varieties crowded on this little island off the coast of the Peninsular Malaysia; from its culture to the attractions, history and of course, food. Images of the local delicacies would come floating into the mind when the name Penang is uttered to any local Malaysian. In fact, this developing island is so popular that the increasing crowds which flock to the island during long weekends whenever there is a public holiday or even any weekend for that matter, and school holidays is a testament to the fact that Penang maintains its reputation as one of the hottest tourist spot in the country.
The state has a long history; like most of the famous places in the world and is also one of the historical states which is evident with the many relics in the form of the pre-war shophouses, mansions and architecture nestling amidst the modern commercial buildings in the heart of the town. It is interesting really, to see how the mixed development co-exists on this island.
Beneath all the interesting facade, the historical state also has its own share of mysteries and secrets from the past that still lurks in parallel with the rapid development.
Penang has its own share in the haunts and spooks which earned a few spots in the list of being home to haunted places in Malaysia/Asia and even the world.
Surprised? The sunny beaches and windy hills is actually hiding some spooks?
Not quite, but there is a fair share of the stories and a few places which many have related their experiences on this island thus promoting this places to be of...erm, an attraction for the spooks hunters.
Now, as I have stated many times in my blog, I am NOT a ghost hunter nor a paranormal investigator. I write to share the interesting stories I have heard with my readers and I do not, in any way, promote or encourage anyone to experience it for themselves.
No, please do not take any risk to meddle with the other world; which is unknown and I believe that certain boundaries are to be respected.
This article came to my inspiration following a few stories I read and heard lately, and also a conversation which came around to the places which I know of as being spooky on this island and thus, as usual, I did my little research and reading to compile a list and to shed a little on the background or based on what I have heard.
Disclaimer: This is based on what I know or heard, and may only be an opinion. Do not take these as facts.
So, here goes, the list of the places believed to be haunted/spooky in Penang:
1. Penang War Museum (Batu Maung)
- The heavily tree lined road heading into the museum and the quiet surroundings; not to mention the isolated feeling seems to transport one back to the days of the WWII and it is just right, as this was believed to be the site where the British built the fort to defend against the Japanese attacks back then in the 1930s. Due to the Japanese invasion in the 1941; where the Japanese took the British by surprise when they arrived on bicycle to conquer Malaya by land instead of by sea as the British had expected, this site was then believed to be an execution site where massacre killings had taken place.
This place, is also popular as a tourist attraction and for education purposes as it showcases the events of the WWII. Besides, there is also a night tour and an overnight dormitory stay/camp available (though I am not sure whether this was for the educational purpose or for the experience?)
After dark, sightings of Japanese soldiers apparition was witnessed by some of the locals/guards on duty.
Many tourists flock to this place for its educational and historical value/experience on the WWII in Penang, and the War Museum has earned compliments from her visitors.
Haunted or not, it is not my say, but it has been featured by various documentaries including National Geographic and it tops the list as the most haunted place in Malaysia.
It is also known as Bukit Hantu or Ghost Hill to the locals; but it is not a common term to refer to this place. Perhaps the older generation?
I personally have only been there once, but I didn't enter the museum as I just felt the place was too quiet when we arrived at the premises and I just decided to leave.
While it may seem as if this place is haunted, the past beginnings of the place has left much for the younger generation to learn more about the WWII period and the Japanese invasion then occupation in Malaya through the exhibits on display here and also the visits to the dungeons and chambers. The museum also offers dormitory or overnight camp stays to experience the natural surrounding of the then living environment of the soldiers who fought for our country - maybe not for the faint hearted nor the urbanized souls especially with the reputation of the place.
2. Hundred Years Mansion (Relau)
- Another popular spot known for its hauntings throughout the whole of Penang island and in fact even internationally, may I add as various filming crew from other countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan have made it here to conduct their own paranormal investigations and detecting any unworldly activities after the earthly hours. Aimed to capture any form of interesting hint that may suggest some spiritual forces at work, these teams are bent on producing an enticing documentary production on the spooks around the world. Some of them did not leave this place disappointed, as there were cases of possessions and even arising discomfort as one lingers around this place after the sun has set.
Word has it that this place was so haunted that even the neighbouring temples or shrines built surrounding the location were unable to control the restless spirits.
While it may also raise eyebrows that the location of this haunted and abandoned mansion was apparently next to a public park and also residential areas (there are houses and condominiums nearby), it was said that demolition works have been carried out previously but to no avail as somehow the workers would meet with mishaps or the machineries would break down upon reaching the mansion thus discontinuing all the work.
The stories which surround this mansion is that there were deaths in the mansion, and one famous version was that of a couple or a young boy believed to have drowned to their deaths in the indoor swimming pool built in that mansion. (Back then, this was a first of its kind for a swimming pool to be built indoors).
Many local residents in the area reported cries and sounds coming from the direction of the mansion at night; particularly during the 7th month of the Lunar Calendar (which coincides with the Hungry Ghost Festival month).
As such and due to the eerie atmosphere and reputation of this place, most of the locals would avoid this place after dark.
3. Junction Near Union School
- Notoriously famous for the busy traffic flow and also this being a famous deadly junction, it is one that many Penangites would look out for especially when driving through this famous road at night. It is not a road which many can avoid as this is the main spinal road linking to Georgetown and the famous Batu Ferringhi or affluent Pulau Tikus area. It could appear funny to you how a busy junction like this (it is a huge T-junction, mind you) which witnesses heavy traffic flow throughout the day; especially during peak hours could also sport a spooky reputation of being a deadly junction. It just simply did not make sense, I am sure, but mention the name of this junction and I am sure most Penangites would tell you solemnly, to be careful when driving past this place particularly past midnight.
Fatal accidents have been known to occur over the years and the road has claimed so many lives that even installing the surveillance/speed cameras at the four corners did not help. There are also traffic lights at these junctions, and yet accidents happen, you wonder?
Well, most of the theories link to a particular huge and shady tree located at this junction. (If you drive past this road, you will notice many huge trees anyway, but there is just this one particular tree which just sends a certain shiver down your spine. You could tell when you see it). The tree looks enormous; perhaps from its age and also it has sprouted thick layers of leaves thus making it an extremely shady tree.
It was said that many deaths occur at the foot of this tree; where most cars would end up knocking into the tree. Some of the survivors of the accidents (though rare) have shared their own experiences; that they would see a school girl beckoning to them from the tree or sometimes, it would be a school girl running across the road. To avoid them, somehow they ended up running into the tree; which to them, initially was an empty space when they manoeuvred their car towards the direction. Weird?
There was another case where there was this teacher/student from that particular school, who walked out of the school gate and crossed the road towards the tree. When she was conscious, she mentioned that she saw someone beckoning to her to from outside the classroom.
I have personally saw a luxury sports cars all spangled up at, you guessed it right, the foot of the tree.
Spooky? Either way, please be very careful when you drive past this road especially past midnight or even when there are not a lot of cars around.
Either for the tree or to motivate you to behave better while driving here, speed cameras have been installed and the minute you drive past the red light, get ready to say Cheese as you are about to receive a big fat summon, and oh yes, the cameras are functioning, properly.
4. Vale of Tempe
- If there is a deadly junction, this is a deadly road known to many locals.
Originally built as an access road to a reservoir, this is a rather winding road with sharp bends and without street lights. To add to the danger of the road, there are no surrounding barriers at the side of the road and cars driving recklessly could lose their balance or control off the edge of the road and plunge into the deep ravine down there.
Due to the high number of accidents occurring on this road, it is no wonder the road earned its nickname and reputation.
The famous haunting associated with this road is that of a young girl who was believed to have died there; and various versions have stemmed from this rumor (as with most rumors).
One said that her death was caused by a policeman (for whatever reason), and therefore it is said that the female ghost preys on policemen; and the local policemen would never dare to drive along this road for fear of bumping into her.
Another was that she died in an accident and then she continues to haunt drivers along that road by appearing. It seemed that many reported of seeing her in white and long hair, and because she appears at the side of the road, many tried to avoid her by swerving their car and thus ending up driving off the cliff to their own deaths.
The road today is heavy with traffic with the local residents commuting and some even using this as an alternative route, I am not sure if there are still stories from this place.
5. Shih Chung Branch School
This is another famous location for paranormal investigation and filming; from local film makers to the famous Hong Kong/Taiwan's supernatural documentary which flew in to document their own experiences in this long abandoned and rather rundown school located near Lebuh Farquhar.
While most schools were already said to be haunted (just like hospitals), this particular school was turned into a military administrative building for the Japanese during their occupation period back then during the WWII days. Like most other Japanese sites, there were perhaps also captives brought back who were then abused or tortured to their deaths. It was said there were hauntings of Japanese soldiers roaming the building, and even though the building was not entirely covered, the sight of the building is enough to send the chill down one's spine even as one drives past the school.
I have seen the documentary where the hosts did experienced some unexplained incidents while seated there on site, and some even end up in hysteria.
Spooky, and not one to question this, I leave this to the mystery files.
Today, the abandoned land is used as an open parking space for the tour buses and also some cars.
6. Haunted Bungalow
After so many series of unfortunate deaths and assassinations, it is no wonder the bungalow of the island's once glorious car dealer tycoon was reputed to be haunted. It was said that the spirits of the murdered sons were still lingering in the bungalow; still restless due to their untimely deaths. I have decided not to publish the name to protect the privacy, but most locals would know
There are also rumors that the house itself was built at a wrong location; and that from the point of feng shui, the bad flow of qi led to the deaths of its owners and sons. The bungalow was located near a junction; which in the study of feng shui is not optimistic to the flow of fortune and also to the longevity of life. Perhaps that explained the sudden windfall in fortune suffered by the sons following the tycoon's death or the deaths which occurred in the family?
7. Haunted Hotel in Penang
This is a rather famous hotel which many have reported of it being haunted, but with the claims from the hotel that it is not the case (and understandably so), I do not want to publish the name of the hotel as it could do more harm than good. Tourists who are ignorant to these rumors would continue to stay at peace and enjoy their vacation in Penang, while the hotel could also enjoy their business.
While I do not want to mention the name of the hotel, I think there are quite a number who have heard of the stories in this hotel especially the locals. The hotel was rumoured to have seen its past residents of British and Japanese soldiers along the halls and some of the floors of the hotel were also said to be closed for occupancy.
As mentioned, these were only mere rumours and not to be taken as facts as I am only collecting this based on stories shared by friends and people in my network. They offer rather large rooms and comfortable suites suitable for families or large groups of people. As it is still in operation today, it would be best to take these as it is; rumours.
8. Penang Bridge
This is perhaps a little forgotten by the younger generation, but not by the earlier generation as I remember hearing stories of this iconic landmark being such a spooky place especially past midnight.
While it gained its title as the third longest bridge in Southeast Asia at one point due to the long running distance of the bridge, this also became the breeding ground for many local illegal racing activities past midnight on the bridge. Perhaps it was these reckless driving or illegal racing which led to many fatal accidents, the bridge has seen its share of spooky incidents in its early days as well.
From heads floating beside the cars and figures seen jumping off the bridge, many drivers have reported such spooky encounters of their own when they drive on the bridge at the unearthly hours past midnight and into the wee hours before dawn. In fact, many has been told not to look at the side or rear mirror when driving alone in the dead hours of the night.
The bridge had claimed many lives; from fatal car accidents to suicide cases (people jump to their deaths from the middle point of the bridge).
Most would drive with caution on this bridge; though rates of accidents have not seen an increase but accidents still occur. Hopefully this spooky trend will not follow suit on the new second bridge.
9. Pearl Hill
One that is not that famously known to many, but yet has also attracted international ghost busters to investigate on the paranormal phenomenons here; this is one of the many quiet and almost forgotten neighbourhood. Nestled in a serene area, the hill overlooks the scattered structures forming the busy streets of the island. There is this particular area where there is an abandoned bungalow or building where hauntings were said to take place and locals would avoid this place at all costs. It was said that the site was so infamous for its hauntings due to the brutal killings which took place during the Japanese occupation in WWII days. Many innocents lost their lives and the place was haunted by ghosts of this past; from the victims to the soldiers who caused their deaths. Some could even see headless figures (it was said that the Japanese practise beheading/decapitating the heads of the suspected criminals or wrongdoers).
The paranormal investigators have also had their own share of fearsome experiences as I remembered seeing one of the hosts from the Hong Kong documentary being possessed and then went into hysterics and had to be calmed by the medium.
With all the hauntings, this was also formerly known as the Ghost Hill of Penang - due to its deserted and bloody past.
The above is a list of the spooky places more prominently known among the locals and have been passed by words of whispers. As I have mentioned before, most places are haunted by the shadows of the past for without the past, there would be no present.
Perhaps it is interesting to understand the past and history of each place before jumping to conclusion, but do not take any crazy risks of spending a night in places reputed to be haunted just to prove your courage...not a wise idea.
Do let me know if you have heard of any other places in Penang with its share of spook rumours...