Singapore ghost stories
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Ghostly white figures, often female tend to be a common theme in ghost stories. Photography by Anh Q Tran

Everyone loves Singapore ghost stories, right? Here are ours, and they’re 100% true – except, maybe, one.

So we covered some real haunted houses in Singapore and it’s time to get on to the real deal: the juiciest ghost stories. We gathered some eerie encounters, that the team has experienced and it’s only right to share them for some light scares. Take that, Goosebumps! And if you do have a story of your own, tell us!

Moving furniture

I used to work at a museum in Singapore, a few years ago. There was a small space inside one of the exhibitions – it was always pitch dark but had a small table with a few office chairs for us to chill and charge our phones. During one of my shifts in the evening, my colleagues and I were sitting around the table. I was so engrossed in my phone that I didn’t realize they’d left the room. A few minutes later, I heard an office chair rolling (it was as though someone got off the chair). Looked up and before I realised there was no one there, the table started to levitate a teeny bit. I bolted before thinking. Worst part? I left my phone charger in the room and had to go back (not alone of course!) to retrieve it.

So who was in that room?

Never take pictures of altars and offerings... as our Editor-in-Chief learned... Photography: Frank McKenna
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Never take pictures of altars and offerings… Photography: Frank McKenna

No joke: two days into Hungry Ghost month, and while waiting to get the lift up to our apartment, we bumped into our helper, who was getting out of the lift. She looked like she’d seen a ghost when she spotted us. “What are you doing down here?” she yelped: “I just heard you moving around in your study upstairs!” That particular room was where we had funny business going on during Hungry Ghost month a couple of years ago – see if you can spot the story below…

The ‘silver surfer’

I was eight years old when this incident happened in a HDB flat in Yishun. On some nights my family would pull out our mattresses, pillows and blankets and have movie marathons and sleep together in our living room. One night, I woke up in the middle of the night, facing the room doors and saw a white figure (Silver Surfer-looking) speeding/floating from one room to another and it kept doing that. Freaked out and unsure if I had really seen a ghost, I shut my eyes tight and lulled myself back to sleep.

Who is that on the beams?

My mum was Skyping with my sister and her family who was on a holiday in Malaysia. My sister was taking my mum on a house tour of the spacious villa they were staying at. When she showing my mum one of the rooms, my mum caught sight of something on the beams on the ceiling and actually pointed it out to my sister. My sister couldn’t see anything odd on her end and ignored my mum and continued talking. Not wanting to scare my sister, she held her peace. When my sister got back from the trip, my mum explained in detail what she saw. She had seen a creepy dark figure on the beams overlooking the family room. Even stranger was that my sister was ‘disturbed’ in the night by a creepy figure that was on top of her which led her to a sleepless night.

The shower ghost

Is someone out there in the toilet? Photography: Joe deSousa
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Is someone there in the toilet? Photography: Joe deSousa

My friends and I had a staycation in a hotel and nothing strange happened all weekend until the last night. I wanted to have an early night and was about to go to sleep when I heard someone shuffle around in the toilet (I was alone in the room) and then the shower turned on by itself. Immediately, I bolted to my friend’s room downstairs and only returned the next morning to pack my things.

My Grandfather’s Clock

My grandfather gifted us with a grandfather’s clock a long time ago and one of its chimes stopped working about a year ago when my grandfather passed away. But a couple of weeks ago, shortly after my grandfather’s death anniversary, the clock started chiming every quarter of the hour again and no one knows why or how.

(Unwelcome) Bed buddies

I was sleeping at my Aunt’s place and dreamt that an old man was lying on top of me, and I kept wanting to erase that thought out of my head and dream of something else. I woke up and it was morning, and there was this crushing weight on my chest that was getting heavier by the minute. I started panicking and screaming but nobody heard me. I tried making the sign of the cross (I’m Catholic) and I couldn’t move my arms. I said “GO AWAY!” and after a few minutes, the blanket lightened. The best part: THE SAME THING HAPPENED TO MY MOM!

Too many to count…

When we lived in a condo in Tanah Merah our eldest was terrified of his bedroom (not ideal). There was a bathroom between his room and his sister’s and he swore the door used to open all the time by itself (a sliding door) and the bathroom light turn on (his sister was in a cot at the time so not her playing pranks!). He was also convinced he was being watched in there, and would never play in his room even during the daytime, and refuse to go in there at night until we had put a light on and checked for ghosts. When we moved to a new condo the bedroom issues stopped immediately. Creepily, having spoken to other neighbours around the condo, they had similar tales of their kids being petrified by weird noises in the nights and terrible night terrors.

Another scary story happened to a good friend’s father in his brand new condo along East Coast Road. He put washing into his new washing machine, left the building (he had moved in a few days before) and when he came home the washing machine was still running but had turned 180 degrees around in its cubby and was now ‘back to front’. He was convinced someone had broken in and was playing tricks, but CCTV confirmed nobody had come in or out of the building while he was out (and he was the only apartment occupied in that block of the small development at that time). The mystery was never solved!

Another local – but not totally local   story happened to another friend when she was in Bintan. Her husband – a total non-believer – woke up to find a headless man in their bedroom. He jumped out of bed to attack the intruder (my friend saw him too) but when she put the light on, it disappeared. Apparently Bintan is MEGA haunted…

Also, someone saw an old lady ghost in the toilets here at the Honeycombers HQ…

Help us…

Spaces that have not been occupied for long tend to attract the odd wandering spirit or ghost. Photography: Erik Muller
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Spaces that have not been occupied for long tend to attract the odd wandering spirit or ghost. Photography: Erik Muller

This happened to me a few years ago during the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Walking past an altar, I briefly wondered why it had offerings of Yakult, toys, and biscuits on the floor – then remembered that these offerings were meant to appease young spirits. I moved on and never thought about it again. During an afternoon nap on the same day, I had a vivid dream about two kids trailing behind me as I was walking home. “Help us…help us…”, they said in unison, again and again until we arrived at the lift landing below my apartment. I remember telling them, “I can’t help you and I don’t know what you want. Please go home.” They disappeared and I entered the lift alone…or so I thought.

As the lift began its ascent, I could see two ghostly faces staring at me from behind through a reflection on the glass windows. Here’s the thing about these kids. They looked normal, except for one thing: they. had. no. legs. When I finally arrived home, the two stopped abruptly at the door – they couldn’t enter because I had a fengshui bagua mirror (a pentagon-shaped symbol believed to ward off negative energy) hanging at the front. “Let us come in. We have unfinished business. Please help us so we can move on,” they pleaded. At this point, I was frustrated and in exasperation, said, “I CAN’T HELP YOU, LEAVE ME ALONE!” They then disappeared, and that was when I woke up from my nap. Till today, I avoid breaking any Seventh Month superstitions. Just in case.

AND…

Pontianak

There are plenty of ghost stories surrounding my old office, and it had everything you’ll find in an Asian horror flick: long and winding corridors, dimly lit corners, “haunted” toilets… It could get creepy, especially if you’re alone.

I had to pop into the office to run an errand on a Saturday and as I was packing my stuff, I caught a sudden whiff of perfume – a strong, sickly-sweet floral scent, as if there was somebody standing beside me. BUT there was nobody around and the AC was switched off. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I left quickly after that. In Malay urban legends, unexplained floral scents are associated with the presence of a pontianak, or a vampiric female spirit. Was it a supernatural “encounter”? Who knows. It definitely gave me the chills though.

Pontianak outside my window

It was 3 am. I was up doing god knows what. I happened to look out the window (it was slightly ajar). I saw a huge white cloth floating by my window. No, there’s no way that was a bird. It was human sized.

Fast forward. I had dinner in a restaurant which faces the forest in Ubud. I saw the same thing flying from tree to tree. I didn’t tell anyone about it until we left Bali. NEVER EVER ACKNOWLEDGE A GHOST/ STRANGE SMELLS AND SIGHTINGS.

Sleep paralysis… or was it?

This happened to my brother. It was a Saturday morning and my brother came into my room and asked, “Did you wash your feet when you came home last night?” He said that something disturbed him the night before. When he was sleeping, he felt a weight on his body and as his eyes drifted open, he saw a figure with long hair sitting on his body and looking right at him. The next morning he said it might have been a nightmare but he didn’t seem sure either. In a Malay household, it was believed that if you did not wash your feet when you come home, you’re inviting bad spirits into your house with you.

Scary-winkle

If you smell something overpoweringly sweet in the middle of the night... Photography: Charlie Harutaka
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If you smell something overpoweringly sweet in the middle of the night… Photography: Charlie Harutaka

Urban legends (esp in Singapore) have it that when you smell the sweetness of Periwinkle or Frangipani, a nightmare is near (think of it as a Lord Voldy). I’ve never experienced this before, but one night I woke up with a full bladder and ran to the toilet, as you would. I thought I saw something white in the corner of my eye outside of the window. I flushed, and brushed the thought off, as one would do when you’re trying to be brave af (keyword: trying). Went back to bed, and woke up (like I literally shot upright – 90deg and all) at 3am (sharp, according to my clock) due to a strong deodorant-like smell. I thought it was me, so I sniffed my armpits thinking I went overboard with my Nivea roll-on, but nope. I sniffed around the room, but to no avail. So I shouted, “Leave me alone. I ain’t playin’, I will whoop you.” Because in Singapore, being fierce (rather than scary) is the real OG – just ask anyone who’s seen their mum with a cane.

What not to do on Hungry Ghost Month…

Always respect the beliefs of others and keep that camera away! Photography: Chinh Le Duc
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Always respect the beliefs of others and keep that camera away! Photography: Chinh Le Duc

Like a total newb, I was absolutely fascinated by the offerings around Telok Ayer Street on my first Hungry Ghost month in Singapore. And like a total fool, I not only took photos of an offering, but Instagrammed it. I even hashtagged it. Even more stupidly, I did my Instagramming at home, when it was late at night and I was the only person in our apartment still awake. I was sitting on the sofa while I did this, and out of nowhere heard the sound of little bells jingling – as if a cat with bells on its collar was coming from our back door, through the kitchen and down our hallway. We don’t have a cat. And there was nothing there.

For months afterwards the door of a particular room in our apartment would lock from the inside; I’d hear the sound of a ball bouncing in my kids’ room at night (while they were asleep!); whistling when there was nobody there and I’d sometimes feel as if a child was by my side. When I’d look down expecting to see my toddler, there’d be nobody there.

Something at the window

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Photography by Alex Robert via Unsplash

For some reason every time I sleep next to a window (to be specific: closed but with nothing like blinds or curtains covering it), I’ll be plagued by the same bad dream of some creepy thing whispering in my ear intensively. It was especially bad when I was living in an ulu part of Pasir Ris. A friend of my mom came over to our house one day for dinner and while my mom was showing her around the house, she stopped at my room where I was reading on the bed (which was next to the window). “Why did you put your bed next to the window?,” she asked. I thought it was a weird question and said that it was because I liked having the sun in my face in the morning. What she said next was weirder: “But you get nightmares right?” She figured out the answer from the look on my face. She told me to put a side table as a buffer between the bed and window and everything would be fine. Strangely, things started to improve.

When we moved out, I asked my mom about the encounter and what her friend saw. My mom said nonchalantly, “Oh just “things” licking your window.” More recently, at a staycation in a nice boutique hotel in Singapore, I experienced the same thing: my bed was facing a long glass window. I stared at it hard on the 4th time I had woken up from bad dreams and but saw nothing. After getting my husband to lower the blinds, I slept fine!

Left Behind

This happened to a few members of my family. We were on a staycation at a resort in Sentosa and it was late at night. Almost everyone was asleep one-night except for a few nightowls. When my cousin popped by the pantry to get a glass of water, he looked out the window and saw a strange sight on Siloso Beach. It was a ghostly aberration of a man wearing the Japanese army uniform, clutching his rifle and staring in his direction.

Dinner horror

It was a normal evening and as always, I’m having my very late dinner of chicken curry and rice. Everyone went to bed early that night and I was the only one awake at 11pm. The view of my dining room and kitchen were facing the dense vegetation which was pitch black. As soon as I was done with my meal, I brought my plate to the kitchen to wash up. As I was washing up, a strong gush of wind blew in the kitchen window. Dry leaves started flying in the kitchen and I immediately closed the window with my wet hands. I wiped my sweat and continued washing up. As soon as I was done and looked up and saw something white at the corner of my eye. I tried to look through the kitchen window to see if there was anything. And then I saw it again – the white figure at the corner of my eye, this time in the dining room. The hair at the back of my neck began to stand. I ran to the bathroom and slammed the door, hoping it would go away but no! The white figure was still there. Why must it follow me?!

I looked at the mirror and realised that there was a grain of rice on my eyelash. That’s the only ghost story you’ll get from me.

Bonus! 

Mirror Mirror on the wall… 

Eight years ago, my wife and I decided to take a weekend trip to a certain hill station in Malaysia – it’s a popular one. Sure we’ve heard stories but absolutely didn’t think in our wildest dreams that it would happen to us. My wife hates the smell of smoke so we specifically asked for a non-smoking room. The moment I walked into our room, I felt like someone blew cigarette smoke right in my face. It was so strong as if someone was standing in the room and smoking… but there was no one there. Strangely, my wife couldn’t smell anything either. At night, we couldn’t sleep. There was a general uneasiness in the room that we couldn’t explain. Sometime after 3am, my wife woke me up. She saw a pair of eyes and a shadowy figure in the mirror next to my side of the bed. And it was looking down at me sleep. So we packed our bags in a flash and within minutes bolted out the door and checked out. Downstairs there was a Chinese temple… I remembered my mother’s advice and went in to say a prayer. The priest took one look at me and said: “You saw something dirty, something evil!”

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