Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Khmer Antique (高棉古玩)

Cambodia was still a very mysterious place around 2000. During that time, many antique hunters would travel between Thai and Cambodian border to hunt for antiques which would later fetch a premium price in the open market in the Western world. Though antique trade was a lucrative business then, there are hidden dangers. For many places in Cambodia then and even now are buried with tons of landmines yet to be discovered. This make travelling to villages across Cambodia a risky job. Most of the time antique collectors would just hire local motorcyclist as their part-time drivers and guides.

Janet and James is a couple who were one of those pioneer explorers into unchartered regions of Cambodia to collect antiques. Every time the JJ couple returned from their antique hunting trips; they would have something to tell me. Naturally, as avid Indochinese antique traders; they had their fair share of encounters with the supernatural world. The JJ would tell their stories while I helped to remove those ‘bonuses’ from their antiques. Once I even suggest to JJ that they can just sell those items with those spooks intact in eBay as this will certainly fetch a high price. But both Janet and James dislike the idea of staying with those unknown spirits and demanded them to be removed.

Once JJ ventured into a village near the Thai-Cambodia border. The villagers there just had this weird habit to collect those remains of war victims, burnt those remains to ashes and keep the ashes in their house altars. Even the remains of the love ones also being kept within the house compounds. According to the villagers, the reason they worship ghosts is that the ghosts would bring them fortune. Since that village started to worship ghosts, almost all of the households have something to do to earn a living compared to other villages.

So said, Janet and James stayed in the village for one afternoon and they had some great deals in getting some antique Buddha statue and some half-human and Kinkara statues which are half bird like mythical creatures. The JJ couple were extremely pleased as those were the heirloom items of the villagers.

It was already dark when Janet and James returned to their hotel room. After dinner, the JJ couple had nothing better to do but to inspect their antiques and planned for next day’s itinerary. Suddenly Janet thought she heard someone or something was scratching at the window glass producing sharp squeaking noise. The couple turned their attention towards the window but found nothing was there except the curtain started to swing even though there the window was shut tight and no wind blowing.

Slowly disembodied knocking sounds started to be heard all over their room: the four sides, top and on the ground. As the knocking sound increased in intensity, some of the antique statues JJ put on the table started to vibrate and moving about. Janet even claimed to have seen a Kinkara statue winked at her.

Though the JJ are experience antique dealers, they are novice in handling supernatural disturbances. Just before Janet and James were facing with nervous breakdown, the couple rushed out of their room and dared not return until the next morning. They had to take a separate room to spend a night. Lucky for them, an empty room was available and that the couple was homeward bound the next afternoon.

As soon as JJ couple touched down Penang, they immediately dropped by my place and asked me to remove whatever spooks that came along with the antiques. While I was cleansing the antiques, James asked: “Was it that the spirits in the antiques that made noises or was it that the spirits in the room?”

I replied: “It could be either or both. Normally spirits in the room would not have reacted too much without outside provocations. Maybe your antique statues had agitated the spirits in the room resulted in such a commotion.”

I heard Janet and James went off for another trip to Indochina again last month, hopefully they will be alright this time.

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