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An Unquiet Place: Terrors in The Lion City


Every culture that has settled in Singapore has brought tales from the “Great Unknown.” The Malay people brought the “pontianak,” a vampiric ghost that disembowels its prey. The Chinese brought the Hungry Ghost Festival. For the entire seventh month of the Chinese calendar, it is said spirits roam the earth freely and certain precepts must be followed. Even militant colonies, during World War II, spurred on a few ghost stories of their own. Read on to discover the city still haunted by restless souls—refusing to be forgotten and silenced. Safety first: When hunting for spirits, always be prepared for an encounter and always cleanse yourself after. Wash the soles of your shoes before leaving the haunted site; stomp your feet three times while pointing towards the sky; or, brush white sage over your body while praying. You don’t want any spirits to latch onto you.

Updated a year ago

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Old Changi Hospital

Singapore, Singapore • Recommendation • 5 June 2018

Anguished screams and shadow people drift in the long-emptied halls of Singapore’s most haunted spot, Old Changi Hospital. During World War II, Japanese troops invaded and occupied the city. The Kempeitai (Japanese military police) converted the hospital to a prison camp where they allegedly detained and tortured 50,000 people. A small room in Old Changi is said to have heavy chains on the walls and traces of a torture device. Whatever you do, keep with the group. The hospital’s most troubled areas (like the mortuary and operating theater) have long been demolished, but the personal encounters haven’t stopped. On some occasions, a person will be drawn to break away, thinking they are following a friend. If they’re lucky, the person will be discovered just a little disoriented while a few visitors were never found again.

24 Halton Road, Singapore

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Changi Beach Park

Singapore, Singapore • Recommendation • 5 June 2018

Just a 10-minute drive away from the abandoned hospital, Changi Beach Park seems like a completely different scene. Families camp out, exercisers jog, and some people even fish in the waters. The only physical trace of anything off is a plaque remembering the Sook Ching massacre of World War II. Sook Ching literally means a “cleansing purge.” The Japanese Imperial Army eliminated any hostile threats at various points of the city, killing thousands as they went. Changi Beach saw the death of 66 Chinese civilians by firing squad. People have reported feeling like they were being watched. They’ve gone home with mysterious scars, and they’ve heard wailing women and seen headless ghosts. There’s definitely more than meets the eye at this seaside paradise.

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Tekong Island

Pulau Tekong

Singapore, Singapore • Recommendation • 5 June 2018

The secretive Tekong Island has inspired countless stories. Every local knows someone with their own tale of what goes on in Tekong: shaking bunk beds, rattling cupboards, and echoing disembodied voices are just the tip of the iceberg. Access to the island is highly restricted to civilians. Singapore Army Units conduct their various training programs here, drafting young men to the National Service. Once, a young recruit strayed away from his platoon during a route march. He was found the next morning, disemboweled with a knife jutting out of his stomach. The items from his pack and his intestines were arranged neatly on the ground. After the incident, the young man’s bed would shake violently, throwing off any new recruits that were assigned to that bunk. Sometimes, they would wake up with scratches and blood stains. Finally, an exorcist was consulted and the young man’s spirit moved on… or did it?

Singapore Outlying Islands

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Saint John's Island

Singapore, Singapore • Recommendation • 5 June 2018

History weighs heavy on the idyllic Saint John’s Island. Blue waters wash against the shore, but it cannot wash away the troubling deaths that occurred through the years. The island was once a quarantine station and burial ground for people with cholera and leprosy. In-bound ships were screened at the island for disease. In the Second World War, the Japanese set up a penal settlement on the island for political prisoners and gangsters. Explore Saint John’s and find the settlement’s human-sized chess board. Legend has it that Japanese guards played chess with the prisoners as their chess pieces. They gambled away the lives of their pawns, beheading any human chess piece that was defeated. Vacationers have reported encountering screams, flying heads, and ghostly caresses during their stay.

Singapore Outlying Islands

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Pasir Ris Town Park

Singapore, Singapore • Recommendation • 5 June 2018

Pasir Ris Town Park shows its more ominous side as soon as night falls. Sinister laughter joins the chorus of bird songs at Pasir Ris Bird-Watching Tower, also known as “Suicide Tower.” Our first four haunted places teach us that war brings horrifying death, even off the battlefield, but it’s at times of peace that unexpected violence jolts us most. Story goes, a boy fell from the three-storey tower after coming face-to-face with a ghoul. Whether he was possessed to jump or pushed, we will never know for sure. Catch shadowy figures in many trees in the area favored by the “pontianak.” The vampiric ghosts are known to gravitate toward the mangrove swamp in the park; sometimes, even bold enough to show its face.

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Amber Beacon Tower

Singapore, Singapore • Recommendation • 5 June 2018

The yellow tower at East Coast Park is another viewing deck that has earned a bad rep. A couple was out for a stroll one night, ascending Amber Beacon Tower, when they were assaulted. The young man was stabbed in the back, while his lovely date was wounded at the neck. He survived, but she didn’t. More than 20 years later, the perpetrators still haven’t been caught and no answers have come from the young man who lived. Park-goers tell of a female figure who lurks in the area of Amber Beacon, and some even hear the echoes of stray cries for help.

920 East Coast Parkway, Singapore

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Former Nee Soon Rubber Estate

Singapore, Singapore • Recommendation • 5 June 2018

We’ve mentioned the “pontianak” quite a few times, so it’s time to get to know her. The residents of Sembawang around the former Nee Soon Rubber Estate are quite familiar with this spirit. Groves of rubber trees used to grow in the Nee Soon Rubber Estate, attracting the violent vampires to the neighborhood. Now, flats have replaced the trees, but the spirits remain. They even make appearances on the balcony of residents’ homes at times. The “pontianak” is the restless spirit of a woman who died in childbirth. She has long black hair, red eyes, and a bloodied dress of white. They’re mostly known to prey on men, digging out their organs to feed on. Keep an ear out for a baby’s cries—faint means she’s nearby, loud means she’s far away. A sharp nose will also help, the “pontianak” brings a whiff of frangipani flowers with her.

Sembawang, Singapore

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Haw Par Villa

Singapore, Singapore • Recommendation • 5 June 2018

The Ten Courts of Hell display at Haw Par Villa theme park should be enough to send chills down your spine, but there’s more. Screams have reportedly been heard from the diorama exhibit after hours. This has fed the rumors that the place comes to life at night, in the literal sense. Actual human bodies are believed to be hidden under some statues. Ultimately, Haw Par Villa is said to be an actual gate to hell, answering for all the disturbing gossip. It was built as the Tiger Balm Garden, a cultural park built by the Tiger Balm moguls Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par. Chinese mythology, folklore, and history is highlighted in each attraction. It seems they’ve done such a great job with the Ten Courts of Hell that it has taken on a life of its own.


262 Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore

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Block 99 Bedok North Avenue 4

Singapore, Singapore • Recommendation • 5 June 2018

Bedok is known as a ghost town infested with restless ghouls. Wailing is heard at night, near the The Bedok Reservoir, and even the bravest of runners have felt a pull toward the water. Bedok’s most infamous haunting in a flat on Block 99. When a faithful wife discovered her husband’s infidelity, she jumped. She took her son with her, plunging from the 25th floor to their gruesome death. Her widowed husband tried to move on with his life, starting a new family with his mistress. No one would buy the cursed apartment, so they stayed. Cupboards would rattle and the man’s second son would complain of being bullied by his “older brother.” The spirit of the man’s ex-wife would not be appeased. In a horrible twist of fate, the young boy climbed up the window and jumped. To this day, there are no buyers for the cursed apartment on Block 99.

Block 99 Bedok North Avenue 4, Singapore

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Block 12 Lorong 7 Toa Payoh

Singapore, Singapore • Recommendation • 5 June 2018

We end on Singapore’s most macabre crime: the Toa Payoh ritual murders. Adrian Lim was a self-proclaimed medium who preyed on vulnerable women through spiritual rituals. In 1981, Adrian Lim abducted, sexually violated, and murdered a nine-year old girl and a 10-year old boy. He performed rituals, drinking his victims’ blood and offering it to the Hindu goddess Kali (the Goddess of Death, associated with sexuality and violence). When authorities seized Lim’s apartment, they found various religious artifacts like crucifixes and Hindu and Taoist idols smeared with blood. Locals all over the city were horrified, tuning into any news of the case. Every time it is remembered today, the Toa Payoh ritual murders still bring a fresh sense of horror.

Block 12 Lorong 7 Toa Payoh, Singapore

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