Saturday, April 02, 2016

I have MOVED to

Hi everyone,

   Thanks for following my blog all these years.

I would like to announce that I have already moved to my new domain; which will host ALL my blogs on one site where I will blog about all sorts of topics.

Thank you for reading and sharing your comments with me, and I look forward to keep in touch and to welcome you to my new site :)

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See you there!~


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Monday, November 11, 2013

Spooks in Penang

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...

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...