31 March 2020

A true Malaysian ghost story

Most of us who are born - more so bred - in Asia will tell you how hard it is to completely detach ourselves from the supernatural.  In a culture where the belief in ghosts and ghouls is as prevalent as it is deep-rooted, any unusual incident that cannot be scientifically or plausibly explained is almost always attributed to the paranormal, regardless of faith or piety.

I was born into a reasonably well-read, church-going Malaysian family - so when it came to strange occurrences, goosebumps and all else in-between, my father would always tell us to first seek a rational explanation.  While, more often than not, his stance would prove prudent, there have similarly been a handful of strange events that were as inexplicable as they were curious.

Take, for instance, this particular incident which, to this day, I struggle to explain with any perceptible degree of rationale or logic.  In fact, memories of it continue to disturb me.  The story I'm about to tell you is true.  It happened.  To me.  

AUGUST 1995.  I was a young banker on assignment together with a colleague (let's just call him "Mr T") in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.  We had finished work late that evening and checked into our hotel at about 10:00 p.m.

Despite our advance reservation, however, the hotel could only offer us a double room instead of the twin-share we'd asked for.  Whilst we realised we'd have to share a bed, we were too sapped to offer any protest.  Furthermore, our early flight home was less than ten hours away and this was the only room they had left that was unoccupied.  Or was it really?

3:15 A.M.  I was woken by a sound reminiscent of someone sobbing.  The tone - faint and low-pitched but unmistakably feminine - was sorrowful.  Mournful even.  It wasn't particularly loud, neither was it a whimper - but it was hair-raising.  More disturbingly, it came from within the room.  For the first time in my life, I was truly spooked.

"Do you hear it?", Mr T suddenly asked, startling me;  I'd thought I was the only one hearing things.  Too unnerved to say anything, I could only muster a swift, tentative swipe at his hips in acknowledgement.

"The lights!", he barked.  In a flash, we'd switched on both bedside lamps and were sitting rigidly with our backs against the creaky headboard - shaken.  There was no apparition; only the voice.  "Is she in the room?", I asked.  Ashen, Mr T nodded, confirming my fear that this wasn't mere imagination.

There was the sound of weeping
from within the bathroom as well
That's when things took a really ghoulish turn.  The weeping, which at first seemed to emanate from the end of the bed, was now emerging from within the bathroom.

Its source then came back to within the room and, just as abruptly, shifted back again to the bathroom.  In rapid, short bursts, the griefful crying transposed back and forth between the end of the bed and the bathroom - now noticeably louder and more melancholic.

Despite the strong air-conditioning, I was perspiring profusely and could feel sweat streaming down my ears and neck.  My chest and back were damp as I found myself audibly reciting The Lord's Prayer.

Unabated, the wailing went on and on - all the time growing more desolate and intense until it came to an ear-splitting, spine-chilling crescendo.

"Surely the entire floor can hear it!", I shouted - but the crying had become so loud and anguished it was clear Mr T didn't hear me.  By then, I was hyperventilating as a quick glance at my unmoving colleague told me he too was paralysed with fear.  We felt helpless; there was nothing we could do but live out the terror.

Then after what felt like an eternity, the crying began to gradually weaken - first from soft weeping to a sob to a snivel.  And then, silence; it had gone.  Both Mr T and I were so shaken we couldn't move.  We didn't dare move.  The radio clock beside me read 3:32 a.m.  The episode had lasted fifteen minutes.

When we finally gathered the courage to get out of bed, there was only one thing on our minds.  We quickly packed our bags, checked out of the hotel and headed for the airport - three and a half hours early.

We didn't say a word of the incident to the young, deadpan receptionist.  Neither did he volunteer the minutest gesture of curiosity as to why we weren't even going to wait for our pre-booked airport shuttle.  Somehow we guessed he knew.

Twenty five years on, Mr T and I still revisit our harrowing experience from time to time.  Was it a ghost?  Some poor, tortured soul in the next room?  A sick prank perhaps?  I guess we'll never know for sure but suffice to say we staunchly believe the experience was un-natural.  After all, we are both full-blooded Asians.

Do you believe in ghosts or in the occult?  Have you ever encountered any strange occurence(s) which you simply fail to explain?  Do share below. 


  1. Well done Vincent. Yes, t's hard to explain for a non ghost believer like me though the sweating was an autonomic reaction to fear. Good ditty.

  2. Nice story you have share. The ghost story has been developed as a short story format, within genre fiction.

  3. Nice story. You may like these really scary ghost stories from India:

    1. Here are some more ghost stories:

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