Friday, January 20, 2017

Paper Manikins (纸扎公仔)


The 15th day of 7th month in lunar calendar is termed as the Chinese ‘Ghost Month’ which is a misnomer of Chinese Buddhist Ullambana (盂兰盆). During this time, Buddhist monks would make elaborate food offerings and recite prayers to the three gems for the deliverance of those suffering sentient beings. Originally this is a Buddhist specific event, Taoists somehow adapted this event and made it theirs with their own form of stories. Gradually, the 7th month became the Chinese ‘Ghost Month’ where hungry ghosts roam the human world for one whole month. As time goes by, many taboos and ghost stories related to Ghost Month are being told and retold over the time until today.

Below is a story told by a Malay ‘makcik’ (aunty) selling ‘pisang goreng’ (deep fried banana) in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

As we all know, Penang is a ‘holy’ place for religious activities with Bukit Mertajam being the main focal point. If you don’t believe me, then take a tour to Bukit Mertajam and you would be surprised what you can find. Now, coming back to the story proper…

Mak Ngah is a Malay hawker selling deep fried foods in Bukit Mertajam market just opposite to a Taoist temple. She opened her business throughout the years even during the lunar 7th month. Of course, as a Muslim; Mak Ngah is not interested in the Ghost Month matters.

Having said so, during one of those ghost months a few years ago, the temple opposite Mak Ngah’s food stall was having a ceremony to pacify those hungry ghosts. Many food stuffs and paper manikins of green and red colours were brought to site for the occasion. As usual, ceremonies meant for the ghosts are only held at night. So, the place became somehow hectic when night fell then.

Unlike other festivals, festival for ghosts is not a popular event for human beings. Consequently, there were only a few turn outs living the ceremony to a handful Taoists. Unfortunately speaking, Mak Ngah was oblivious of this as she thought many people would attend to the ceremony and patronised her ‘pisang goreng’. It was really to her disappointment at first to find not many people in around the temple after dark.

As there were not so many customers, Mak Ngah started to observe the activities in the temple. Then, she saw many people in green and red moved around in the temple following the master Taoist. Per Mak Ngah, the red ones were all young ladies while the green ones were young men. These folks had only one thing in common: they all had two red big spots on their cheeks.

After the weird red-green folks danced for a while, they came out of the temple and walked towards Mak Ngah’s stall. Mak Ngah was very happy as she thought there came her first business of the evening.

As expected, Mak Ngah sold all her ‘pisang goreng’ and other foods in a jiffy. When asked for the money, one of the young men pointed his finger at an elderly man in the temple meaning to get the money from him. Since Mak Ngah knew the old man well, she nodded and waited until the old man came out. Those weird looking folks returned to the temple leaving Mak Ngah waiting at her stall for her payment.

Just as when Mak Ngah had run out of her patient, then around 9pm; the old man known as Uncle Sam came out.

Mak Ngah quickly approached Uncle Sam and greeted him: “Hey, Ah Pek! Your people owed me $50 for the pisang goreng just now. They asked me to get the money from you!”

Staring at Mak Ngah stunted, Uncle Sam replied: “What pisang goreng!? And what my people!? There were only four old Taoists chanting and walking inside the temple tonight!”

Feeling disbelieved and as she thought this Uncle Sam wanted to find an excuse to wriggle his way off, Mak Ngah started to describe the odd looking young men and ladies. Then suddenly, Uncle Sam started to realise that what Mak Ngah said referred to those green and red paper manikins burnt to the spirits as servants and maids!

Still unconvinced, Uncle Sam told Mak Ngah to wait as he need to return to the temple for the money.

After Uncle Sam was in the temple, he went to the furnace where the paper manikins were burnt.

To his surprised, Uncle Sam found many charred and half burnt deep fried bananas in the furnace!

Half-an-hour later, Uncle Sam returned to Mak Ngah with pale face. He said:

“Mak Ngah, kau dah nampak hantu!!”

(Mak Ngah, you had seen ghosts!!)

Mak Ngah told me her story when I visited her stall to buy her ‘pisang goreng’. Jokingly she asked:

“Lu orang ka? Hantu ka?”

(Are you human or ghost?)

So I said: “Orang ka? Hantu Ka? I nak pisang goreng $2!” (Whether or not I am a ghost, I want $2 of fried banana!)

Haunted House Relatively Speaking (因人而异的鬼屋)


I devoted many years to study magical and spiritual matters and I used to look for haunted houses to get myself exposed. So happened that a friend of mine, Sandy runs some hostels in JB and I rented one of her said to be the most haunted building which situated just within walking distance of JB-Singapore custom. It was a terrace house consisted of 3 rooms and I only need one hence I rented the rest of the two rooms to a Chinese couple from KL and an Indian gentleman from Ipoh.

My room was situated in front of the house while the Indian gentleman stayed in the middle, and the Chinese couple stayed at the back facing the common toilet. The Chinese couple took the master bedroom since they had more things with them. I have no problems so long as they pay their rental on time.

After staying for a month or so, the Indian gentleman complaint to me that he was being hag-ridden at least once every week. Then when his girlfriend came to visit him for a few days, she felt tremendous headache but when she was escorted outside of the house; this lady’s headache suddenly disappeared. Needless to say, this Indian lady had to cut short her visit and returned to Ipoh. Another month later, the Indian gentleman moved out without citing anymore reasons. I thought perhaps the spirits didn’t like the guy for some reasons.

A Buddhist friend, Mike who put up with me for a few days while he attended a Buddhist dharma talk after the Indian gentleman moved out only managed to stay for one night. He knocked on my door in the middle of the night and when I opened the door, Mike only said: “It was too horrible! Just too horrible!” After that, Mike requested that he was to sleep with me in my room. I didn’t like to sleep side by side with any guy. So, I let Mike sleep in my room and I slept in the vacated room.

Of course, I wasn’t disturbed by spirits but some mosquitos; and slept soundly throughout the night.

Perhaps Mike was lacking the ‘yang energy’ (阳气) as he looked quite thin and pale. According to Mike, he could see and hear ghosts. Hence my guess was that Mike was already possessed by a few ghosts and because things of same character attract each other, no wonder the ghosts in the house were attracted to Mike and absorbed his energy. Since Mike was not strong enough to resist those advancing ghosts, he just had to flee instinctively speaking.

The couple that stayed at the back didn’t complain of ‘seeing ghosts’ or ‘hearing voices’. But the husband always suffered from severe stomach pain. His stomach pain was so severe that he could at times became unconscious and soak in cold sweat. This person looked thin and pale; and he was always gloomy. I was pretty sure too, this guy was also showing the symptoms of spirit disturbances as well even though he had claimed to be a disbeliever of spooks. His wife was also suffering from cancerous sickness too and I suspected that might be the doing of spirits too. Sadly, the couple suddenly quarrelled over very trivial matter one night and the next day they told me that they were filing for a divorce.

A month later, the Chinese couple moved out too. Although I couldn’t be sure if both cases were caused by ghosts, I decided not to rent out the house until the end of my contract with Sandy; for I hate to put other people’s life in jeopardy.  

So it is proven that different people would have different experiences with a haunted house. The Buddhists call this ‘hetupratyaya’ or ‘cause and effect’ (缘分). It is precisely that someone has done something in the past that he/she is destined to be affected by the ghosts; good or bad. If you believe in Buddhist teachings so said. A more scientific explanation is that if a person’s brain frequency is high, then he/she is not likely to be disturbed by ghosts that have lower frequencies. There are many ways to increase a person’s frequency. Amongst others, exercise and recite mantras are just some of them.

However, if you have never seen ghosts, that doesn’t mean that you are not affected by them. Believe it or not!


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mind Your Manners (非礼勿视)


Sometimes it is not so good to comment on a dead body even though it seemed lifeless. We have seen examples of people facing problems by just commenting on a tombstone, now here is another story about someone commented on a dead pretty lady and got himself into some problems…

Albert works as a morgue attendant in a hospital in Penang. He stays in Relau and he travels to work on his old scooter through the Paya Terubung Road every day to work. He told me once he was troubled by the restless spirit of a lady for many years before gotten rid of it.

The ordeal begun when the corpse of a lady was sent to the morgue for post-mortem. The lady was reported to have died in a freak accident in the mid of Paya Terubung Road last night. Albert was tasked to prepare for the autopsy and as he was positioning the corpse onto the autopsy table, he looked at the corpse and murmured: “What a pity! Such a beautiful lady wasted. I would die for a lady as pretty as this…”

Because of the last-minute autopsy arrangement, Albert was needed to work overtime and when he finally knocked off; it was already 2am. Though extremely sleepy, Albert managed to stay awake after drinking a mug of hot coffee. After making sure he was up to the homeward travel, Albert hopped onto his old scooter and headed home.

A few minutes after Albert entered the Paya Terubung Road, he saw a car parked at roadside. The front of the was seriously dented as if it had met with an accident. A pretty lady was standing beside the car and she looked helpless. Albert is a person who cannot see a pretty lady suffering and he stopped his scooter and asked: “Mam, this is not a place for you to stay alone. Can I help?”

The lady in distressed replied: “Thank you for your kindness. I am Lucy. My car accidentally rammed into a tree and I need a lift to my home in Relau…”

Without thinking twice, Albert responded: “I am Albert and glad to help! If you don’t mind, please hopped onto my backseat and grab tight!”

Lucy immediately hopped onto the scooter and grabbed hold of Albert tightly.

After making sure of Lucy has secured herself at the back, Albert zoomed off the place.

As Albert was scootering, Lucy asked: “You are so kind, Albert! I would like to be your wife if I am still alive…”

At this point, Albert sensed Lucy’s sweet voice suddenly turned into inhumane shrieking pitch. This sudden stimulation made Albert think of something else and a face came into his mind. It was the face of the dead pretty lady in the morgue! And then a disembodied voice echoed in his ear: “I will stay with you until the end of your life… He! He! He!”

In a state of panic and extreme sleepy, Albert lost control of his scooter and rammed into a drain beside the road.

Now it was Albert’s turn to be hospitalised. Although Albert kept his life, the restless pretty soul continued to haunt him ever since until I gave him a rice-stalk-manikin and asked him to tell the lady ghost that the manikin is a replacement body of Albert; and it shall accompany the ghost until she was reincarnated.

Believe it or not, since the simple ritual; Albert has not met the ghost ever since. So, it is best just to practise Confucius’s 3 basic principles: ‘see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ when facing with a corpse or else…

The Rolling Ghost (滚蛋鬼)


I am not sure what is the real difference amongst ‘hantu pocong’ (pocong ghost), ‘hantu bungkus’ (package ghost) and hantu golek’ (rolling ghost) as their appearance look almost the same. My learnt Malay friend told me that the ‘hantu bungkus’ is hollow inside compared to ‘hantu pocong’, while the ‘hantu golek’ rolls in a horizontal motion but ‘hantu pocong’ jumps vertically. To me, they are all ‘hantu’ for sure and these Malaysian ghosts like to chase after night travellers for sure too!

Faizal said he had once a close encounter with ‘hantu golek’ after attending a night prayer in a mosque not far from his house but in order to reach the mosque, Faizal must pass through a piece of rubber plantation. It was a Friday night just after the Isyak prayer, the worshippers continued to recite Yasin so as to accumulate more merits on Friday night. After the Yasin prayer, the sky started to drizzle and Faizal had to wait until the rain stopped before getting on his bicycle. By the time Faizal started to head home, it was almost midnight.

The surrounding was gloomy and wet. The only audible sounds were that of the frogs and crickets. The only light source was Faizal’s not so bright bicycle headlamp. So, with extra precautions; Faizal peddled his bicycle carefully on the muddy red soil returning path which was full of big and small water pockets. Since the path was very slippery, a small carelessness would make the bicycle overturned. Luckily, Faizal was a seasoned cyclist and even that he found difficulties in negotiating that extremely harsh surface of the pavement.

When Faizal was approaching the rubber plantation, he really struggled to get his bicycle under control as the surrounding was not only slippery, it was also extremely dark. Added to Faizal’s burden was that he suddenly felt there was an additional weight being loaded on the back of his bicycle as if someone suddenly hopped on to it. At this point, Faizal still think that feeling was caused by his bicycle tyres deeply wedged into that sticky and slimy red soil. So, he quickly jumped down from his bicycle and inspected the tyres. Strange but true that none of the tyres was jammed inside mud pools.

After making sure that his bicycle was not trapped, he immediately hopped onto his bicycle and headed home. Faizal’s didn’t go very far before he felt the mysterious weight had returned. Again, he stopped and inspected his tyres but nothing was found. This time, Faizal started to feel a little uneasy and goose bumps started to developed all over his body. Faizal started to think of ghosts and cold sweat started to wet his shirt. Perhaps some supernatural stuffs were waiting ahead of him he thought.

There was nothing Faizal could do but continue to hop onto his bicycle and cycling forward. Suddenly, he heard someone was calling his name: “Faizal! Faizal!” At first Faizal thought it was someone he knew calling him. So, he quickly turned his back but found he was all alone in the pitched dark rubber plantation. Faizal started to remember his late granny’s advice: “don’t look back” at night as there are bound to be many ghosts wandering at night. Just as when Faizal was pondering still, he heard his name was being called once more: “Faizal! Faizal!”

This time, Faizal dared not look behind. He quickly jumped onto his bicycle and cycled as hard as he could in the hope to get out from the cursed rubber plantation.

Just as Faizal was peddling hard, he suddenly heard the noise of something rolling at high speed at him. Instinctively, he turned his head and saw a white package that resembles a corpse in white funeral shroud rolling towards him. Faizal yelled out: “OMG! It is the notorious hantu golek!!”

Seeing the hantu golek was fast approaching, Faizal tried to peddle his bicycle harder but the old bicycle could only move thus fast. In a split of a second, Faizal sensed the back seat of his bicycle suddenly being jerked as if some heavy load just landed at his back thus producing a loud bump.

This sudden addition of extra load caused Faizal to lose control and his handle swayed left and right rigorously and finally he and his bicycle crushed into a muddy ditch beside the pathway. With a mouthful of mud, Faizal crawled out from the ditch and saw the ‘hantu golek’ was in the middle of the pathway. Its location was very close to the place Faizal rammed into the ditch.

At this point, Faizal could have a closer encounter with the hantu golek. According to Faizal, the creature has a pair of shinning red eyes, it has a mouthful of sharp teeth and also very long and sharp finger nails. As recalled by Faizal, that hantu golek was as if ready to jump onto him and made the kill. He was so scared that he felt like peeing in his pants. All of a sudden, a gust of strength came from nowhere caused Faizal to dart out from the ditch and ran as fast as he could until he reached his house while calling the God’s name.

Faizal only dared to venture back to the place to retrieve his bicycle the next morning. His bicycle was still in the ditch together with his songkok (hat) and slippers too. To his surprised, Faizal also found a piece of broken old tombstone beside his bicycle. Perhaps the owner of the old tomb was angry at Faizal for breaking its tombstone? Faizal could only have guessed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Restless Parents (不休息的双亲)


The belief of dead souls returning to their love ones for a short visit is not the proprietary of Chinese alone. My Malay friends believe that during some special occasions, the dead would also return to their love ones after their death. However, most Malays think that only those ones who practised black magic would return to haunt the livings.

My friend Saiful told me a true story happened to his distance cousin, Ali who stayed in Batu Pahat, Johor a few years ago.

One evening, Ali’s parents told him that they wanted to travel to Muar to attend a colleague’s wedding ceremony. Ali was asked to stay alone in the house as he still need to go to school the next morning. His father assured that they would return home early the next morning. So, theoretically speaking, Ali would be able to see his parents when he woke up in the morning.

After making sure that everything was in order, Ali bid his parents goodbye and stayed in the living room to watch TV programmes. About 10pm, Ali’s mother called home to check on him and after some short conversations and his mother asked him to retire early. Added his mother that they would return home perhaps slightly past midnight, and they had brought some foods from the weeding for Ali to enjoy in the morning.

At first, Ali decided to wait for his parents in the living room but after lying in the couch for some time, he suddenly felt cold and a sense of restlessness. Such feeling made Ali retired to his bedroom as he thought that would be a better place to wait for his parents.

Not too long after Ali went into his bedroom, he heard noises of car engine entered the car porch followed by someone opening the main door. Ali figured that must be his mom and dad returning from the friend’s wedding ceremony. Without going out to investigate, Ali continued to sleep in his bed. A moment later, two figures entered his room and Ali looked at them; and they were his parents alright. They stood beside Ali’s bed for quite a long while without saying anything.

Feeling strange, Ali asked: “Mom, dad! Don’t you feel tired travelling all night? Do you want to return to your room which is more comfortable than just standing?”

His parents just shook their heads but remained there silently. Though feeling very strange, Ali gradually felt into slumber and he was awakened by a series of harsh banging on the main door.

Ali immediately jumped out from his bed and rushed to open the door. At that time, his parents were not in his room anymore. Upon opening the door, Ali saw a police officer informing that his mom and dad had died in a freak accident on their way home during the night.

Still disbelieved, Ali frantically searched his house but he could not find any traces of his parents… except some packets of foods left on the dining tables and some blood-stained footprints.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Do Not Look Back (别往后看)


My old Malay friend Pak Haji would always advise me not to look at my back when I am cycling along that stretch of oil palm plantation road at night in Padang Rengas. He said: “Jang pandang belakang!” or “don’t look back!”

I didn’t believe Pak Haji until one night outing with him…

It was a cloudy night, I followed Pak Haji to visit Saiful who was recuperating from a recent motorcycle accident. This gentleman stayed in a house situated in the middle of an oil palm plantation. Since normal route to Saiful’s place was quite long, Pak Haji decided to take a short cut to reduce the traveling time by half. However, this shortcut was normally shy away by other village folks as it was renowned to be haunted by a langsuir (female vampire).

Since I wasn’t too familiar with the kampong route at night, I parked my car at Pak Haji’s place and hitchhiked on his Honda 70 backseat. Our trip from Pak Haji’s house to Saiful’s place was relatively smooth and peaceful. We arrived at Saiful’s place around 8pm and after some short conversations, Saiful appeared to be in pain. Pak Haji offered to massage Saiful so as to lessen his pain and the healing session lasted until 11:30pm. It was my opportunity to learn Pak Haji’s heirloom massaging skills. So, I just sat quietly to observe what Pak Haji has done. Perhaps I can ask Pak Haji on the details later.

Before we headed home, Pak Haji specifically cautioned me “don’t look back” when we were passing through the oil palm plantation. I wasn’t very convinced but I nodded my head indicating I understood. After making sure everything was in order, Pak Haji started his Honda 70 and I hopped onto the backseat.

All went well until the motorcycle was passing an abandoned half collapsed old hut. Suddenly I smelled a type of very fragrant scent of champak. The scent was so strong that it made me felt a little dizzy each time I inhaled. Soon after that I saw a very pretty lady in white sat on the stairway of the old hut combing her hair gracefully. All of a suddenly, this lady gave me a glance with her soul catching eyes; followed by a flying kiss and waving of her hand at me.

I was attracted by the beauty of the lady and automatically fixed my eyes at her. Pak Haji’s bike soon zoomed past the lady but I was too enchanted by her beauty that I kept turning my head to look at the lady. All of a sudden, the pretty lady in white darted towards me like a speeding bullet and her pleasant appearance turned ugly. This sudden change in appearance has caused me to startle and leaned forward. The abrupt swift of weight caused Pak Haji’s bike to sway left and right. Luckily, Pak Haji was a seasoned biker and he quickly stabilised his bike handle. Otherwise both of us had already ended up in a ditch by the roadside. Strangely, Pak Haji didn’t even turn his head to look at me. He continued to take the helm and went forward.

I could swear that during the journey passing through the oil palm plantation, the lady in white was as if in hot pursue with her audible eerie shrieks echoing beside my ears. At one time, I could feel burning sensations of sharp nails scratching at my back. Due to curiosity, I again turned my head and saw the lady in white was following closely at Pak Haji’s bike with her bony yet sharp finger nails stretching towards my back. Every time the creature was about to catch hold of me, Pak Haji would suddenly step on the gas and sped off.

Just as we entered main road exiting the oil palm plantation, Pak Haji suddenly stopped the bike and turned his bead towards me and said: “Didn’t I tell you NOT TO LOOK BACK? You nearly caused the langsuir to catch hold of us both!!”

When we were finally returned to my home, I felt my back in scorching pain. So, I took off my T-shirt and from the reflection of the mirror; I saw five bloody scratching marks on my back. I wasn’t sure what caused the scratching marks. Perhaps they were the ‘love marks’ of the langsuir (vampire)…

Monday, January 2, 2017

Midnight Chick Hunting (午夜猎女记)


One of those unwritten hobbies for young and old male bachelors working in Ipoh Light Industrial Estate in those days was ‘midnight chick hunting’. There were a few food processing, textile and machine part manufacturing factories around the area that hired many young ladies from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, India, Myanmar and Bangladesh just to name a few nationalities as factory workers other than the locals. Naturally, these pretty foreign ladies became the ‘prey’ for those hungry partner-seeking males as these foreign ladies were more friendly than those arrogant and demanding local ladies. Many of my fellow colleagues at that time married either Indonesian or Philippine ladies as their wives, one of them is Mr. Khor.

Before Khor got his Indonesian wife, he has some fair share of supernatural encounter during his midnight chick hunting exercises.

The best time for chick hunting as the name implies was during midnight because this was the time when those afternoon shift factory workers knocked off for the day. Although many factories provided bus services, many those foreigners had to walk back to their hostels in the midst of the night. So, this situation has indeed opened a door to those midnight chick hunters to get their preys.

At that time, Khor was an avid chick hunter and I occasionally joined him for a session or two.

One night, right after our afternoon shift work; we parked our bikes near the exit of the industrial estate waiting for potential targets. Khor and I were chatting on our bikes while eyeing for those female workers to come out from their factories. As we waited, I suddenly felt an urge to release myself. So, I excused myself and ran to the back of a banyan tree and peed there.

After the relief, I slowly walked back to my bike and saw Khor was already hooked onto a long-haired lady worker apparently to be alone. I heard Khor asked: “Where are you going missy?”

The lady replied: “Returning from my work.”

And then both started to chat and laughed quite amicably. I thought how lucky Khor was by gotten his pray only after a short wait. Perhaps if I didn’t leave my bike to answer the call of the nature, I could also get another chick too. So, after observing the newly met couple for a while with sense of sour grapes; I started my engine and turned my mike to head home.

All of a sudden, I felt a sense of chillness and goose bumps. Instinctively, I looked at my bike’s rear mirror and I didn’t believe what I saw: Khor was still Khor alright, but the lady who talked to Khor didn’t look like the lady I saw a few seconds ago, she became a long-haired creature with a pair of red eyes from the reflection of my mirror! I got a shock and accidentally stepped on my gas. Consequently, my bike made a S-curve and my bike nearly rammed into a drainage beside the road.

The commotion attracted Khor’s attention and he shouted: “Hey, Liew! Are you overexcited and jealous to see this pretty lady I just knew? Ha! Ha! Ha!”

After I subsequently stabilised my bike, I turned by head and to my surprised; the lady beside Khor remained as beautiful as before. But when I relook at my rear mirror, what I stall was still a hideous long-hair creature with a pair of red eyes!

Now, with extremely fright and uneasiness, I yelled to Khor: “Go home, Khor! Go home!”

Apparently, Khor didn’t heed my call and I just stepped on the gas and sped off the place leaving Khor behind with whatever the creature might be.

Khor didn’t report for duty the next morning. Then later in the afternoon, my boss asked me to do overtime taking over some of Khor’s jobs as Khor has met with a car accident last night and he was not fit for duty for at least two weeks.

No one really knows what happened to Khor that night with the new found ‘lady’… Khor didn’t want to say and I could probably have guessed.