Oct 28 2011
It’s no secret that Singapore is a haunted city – there’s a month-long festival devoted to feeding hungry ghosts. Of course, it’s not the gleaming shopping malls and skyscrapers that many Singapore residents consider to be haunted, it’s the old and forgotten places in the city’s outer reaches. These sights are here year-round, but this Halloween weekend seems like the perfect time to grab a map and check out Singapore’s spookiest places.
Singapore’s most notoriously haunted spot is Old Changi Hospital. Located on a hilltop in East Singapore, this was the city’s top hospital until it was attacked by Japanese troops during the Battle of Singapore in 1942. The troops slaughtered everyone inside then used it for military operations. After WW2 ended it reverted to a public hospital, but was quickly abandoned after claims it was haunted by the ghosts of tortured POWs. Old Changi Hospital still stands, but is boarded up and surrounded by “No trespassing” signs. You can find boastful blog postings from Singapore teens who have sneaked inside and a horror movie was made about it in 2010 called “Haunted Changi”.
Another eerily abandoned building is Punggol Kampong House. Located in the northeastern part of the city, Punggol is an up-and-coming development and the farms and traditional houses that occupied the area until the early 1990s have been razed to make way for high-rise apartments. That is, except for one sole house surrounded by barbed wire that stands alone in an empty field. Rumours abound about why this particular building was spared from the demolition – like the bulldozer operator dropped dead when he approached it – but I learned the real reason on a tour with the Asia Paranormal Investigators: the house has been granted conservation status and will eventually be restored.
You can’t waste space when your country is barely 800 square kilometers, which is why Bukit Brown Cemetery is such an anomaly. Though it officially closed in the 1970s, this Chinese cemetery still occupies a large piece of prime real estate and the gate remains open. Most of the graves are overgrown and crumbling with age (the oldest dates back to 1883) and the presence of weekend joggers only adds to the surreal feeling. There are plans to develop Bukit Brown into a residential neighbourhood – the MRT station is already in place – so visit while you still can! Check out the Jeffery & Flora: Life in Singapore blog for photos.
Though I didn’t sense anything spooky on my visit, many older Singaporeans who remember the atrocities of the past believe St John’s Island is haunted. Considering this island served as a quarantine centre then a prison for political detainees, there’s no doubt that many people have died here. If you explore past the island’s sandy beaches and picnic grounds, you’ll find an abandoned house and a life-size chess board. There are some gruesome stories that, during the Japanese occupation, sadistic generals played using POWs as chess pieces and would behead the losers. If you’re serious about ghost-hunting, you can spend the night at the campground.
For an attraction that’s spooky even in broad daylight, head to Haw Par Villa. Also known as Tiger Balm Gardens, the creators of the namesake ointment spent their fortune bringing bizarre and violent scenes from Chinese mythology to life. Spend S$1 to enter the “10 Courts of Hell” to see the dioramas illustrating punishments for various sins – if you disrespect your elders you get your heart cut out, while cursing gets you thrown on the tree of knives. The fact that the statues are chipped and faded from age adds to the creepiness.
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