Have you heard about, or read, The Shining – the famous novel about a hotel that possessed one of its occupants? A movie was made based on the book, too. Since it’s Halloween, let me share stories of my own “hauntings” at some hotels I’ve stayed in.

From a different era

Many years ago, when my husband and I travelled to an island resort in Thailand, we stayed in a hotel in town. I had stayed there before but, this time, I was given a room in a newly refurbished wing.

All was well until we turned in. After my shower, I switched off the lights and went to bed. My husband was already asleep.

The next minute, the lights came on again! Thinking perhaps something was wrong with the switch, I got out of bed and turned it off again.

The second I had gotten into bed, the lights came back on again! This happened a few times, and to be honest, I was more annoyed than afraid … because I just wanted to sleep. The next day was going to be another long day of work.

By this time, my hubby had woken up, wondering what was going on. When I explained, he muttered that it might be an electrical problem.


We opened the room door and checked the fuse box close by, but nothing seemed awry.

We decided to go back to sleep. Seconds later, the lights came back on and started flickering … on and off, on and off, and finally, on.

Shocked, both of us jumped up. We decided to go to the reception and ask to change rooms.

It was the wee hours of the morning and only one person was on duty. He appeared surprised at our request, and then panicky when we told him what had happened.

We settled on having our luggage brought to a new room and went to sleep.

str2_ahb_ghost2_xx10.PDFTossing and turning, I fell into a fitful sleep. In a state of being half asleep and half awake, I had the strangest dream, if it could be called a dream. In the dream I was still in bed but in the earlier room with the flickering lights. Yet, it seemed different. The earlier room was modern, air-conditioned … but now, I could hear the whirring sound of a ceiling fan and see the silhouette of the fan blades as they cast moving shadows on the wall. It seemed to be early in the morning just after sunrise because I heard a rooster crowing in the distance.

The walls were not repainted. The lighting was different. It appeared to be the same room, but in a different time.

I could hear someone singing softly. There was a lady with her back to me. She was dressed in some kind of sarong but like from a different era, and singing softly to her baby, whom she was cradling in her arms. It sounded like a lullaby, but in an unfamiliar language. It didn’t sound like Thai.

Instead of being afraid, I felt a strange fascination. Before I could get up, I heard the laughter of a child – a little boy. There was the sound of marbles rolling on the ground. He laughed again. There was a lamp hanging nearby, connected to a switch. He pulled on the switch and the lamp went off. He then pulled on the switch and it went on. He kept doing this again and again, until the lady scolded him.

All of a sudden, there was the sound of gurgling, rushing waters. Everything became a blur and there was silence.

When I “woke” up, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Was it a vision from the past or a different dimension, or just a dream? The strangest thing was I wasn’t even sure if I was afraid.

It just wants to play, maybe

Sometime ago, when I travelled with a bunch of friends to a hill station in Perak, we stayed at an old bungalow.

The rooms in the bungalow were huge and I had to share a room with two other girls. There was a bunk bed at the corner, with a double bed next to it. One of my friends took the double bed and I slept in the upper bunk while the other friend took the lower bunk.

All of us turned in and the night passed by uneventfully.

In the early hours of the morning, when it was still dark outside, I opened my eyes and in the darkness, I could make out a figure sitting on the railing at the foot of my bed. I sensed “someone” – or “something” – was watching me as I slept.

str2_ahb_ghost3_xx10.PDFThe figure was too small to be a human, yet I wasn’t sure what it was. From the outline, it didn’t look like a monkey or any other animal I’d seen before. Since I was tired, I turned towards the wall and tried to go back to sleep.

Then, I felt as if that being was pulling my hair. I huddled up more tightly but still felt it tugging at my hair.

Annoyed, I almost yelled out: “Go away! I want to sleep!” But instead, I swiped at it with the back of my hand, without bothering to turn my head. There was a loud “piak” sound as my hand hit something but when I turned around, I saw nothing there. Both my friends were still in their beds, asleep. The door was locked and there was no way anyone else could have gotten into the room.

When I told my friends what had happened the next morning, my two roommates looked horrified and asked why I hadn’t woken them up. But I didn’t see any reason to, since after I had “slapped” it, it had disappeared.

One of the guys teased: “Oh, if it pulled your hair, it must have wanted to play. But you slapped it, so it ran away!”

Have you experienced any strange occurrences when travelling? If you have any true stories of encounters of the ghostly kind during your travels, do share them with us. Write in to star2travel@thestar.com.my.