CASE OF “MARBLES DROPPING”

Contributed by:
Singapore Paranormal Investigators – Paranormal Investigation Unit (PIU)

 

 

 

You may not or yet to experience this. But I’m pretty sure majority had heard this “Marbles Dropping” case.  In Singapore, this usually occurs for those living in HDB (Housing Development Board) flats. Very common on this sunny island.  In some cases, other apartments like condos or even hotels had such occurrences. But mostly came from HDBs, where the residents claimed that they have heard marble sounds coming from the ceiling. Sometimes sounded like coins dropping. It can last for days, weeks, even months. And in some few cases, even sounded like a hammer knocking repeatedly or the shifting of furnitures.

 

Some had claimed it to be a paranormal issue, where they believed it could be spirits of children playing marbles or coins. This happens when they knew or find out that there’s no one living above them. But quite often this marbles dropping sounds could be attributed to real playful children playing with marbles. Even say so, what if there’s no one above them, especially when the unit is vacant?

 

 

This mystery has been going on for years and had affected many HDB residents for as long as anyone can remember. Ask anyone. Chances are most of them will told you or share with you their experience, that they do recall hearing those marbles. Till now, there seems to have no logical explanation behind this natural occurrence.

 

This occurrence usually was heard during the wee hours in the morning. Sometimes it can be heard during the day. But daytime is quite rare. Take note here, its usually occurs somewhere after midnight. Mostly people heard it anytime from 0100 – 0400hrs.  On the dot of 0000hrs seems rare.

 

 

 

 

 

As phenomenon it may seem. But what happened if the noise is not directly on top of your unit but the other top level? If so you may want to ask the neighbour living next door whether do they heard any noise coming from above them. So it may not be necessarily above you, but can also be from the upper levels or lower levels. Due to the noise level, no doubt you can still hear it if it is loud enough.

Just to share as an example, we received an email from this person, saying that his unit which he had rented out to a family had been experience this noises. So bad that the noise even cause their 6 month old child to cry every time the noise was heard. According to the informant, this has been going on for a month. 

Sometimes, as describe by his tenant, the sounds were like coins dropping and hammer knocking. The family thought the neighbour above them was responsible for causing the nuisance. However, the neighbour denied making those noises. Both HDB and Town Council were informed in this matter. But action is yet to be taken.

 

*The informant’s name and where the tenant resides were not to be disclosed as we respect their rights and privacy.

Thought the informant did hear such stories whereby people claimed that the sounds were made by spirits of children playing marbles, he did not want to come to a conclusion where this got something to do with paranormal. He did not want to scare his tenant about this. So he request for our assistance, to see if there’s any logical explanations behind all this.

Therefore the SPI – PIU began to seek any possible answers online. Even for us, we will not jump straightaway whereby this incident is just another paranormal issue which is nothing new, and what most people had claimed it might be. Cause a few of us had experience this before.

Step by step as the team slowly research. We soon learned that the noises usually occurs when the HDB flats were old. Either it be marbles or coins dropping. And in turn, the piping network which runs within will age gradually, and might even turn faulty. And speaking of old, it was said that marble dropping was known to be very common to old age HDB flat during midnight. You don’t hear it during daytime. To top it up, these are the list of possible explanations that we had dig out from sources and those who have experience this and might know something about it.

 

 

 

1) When water flow is shut off suddenly, the change in pressure rattles the pipes, which may sound like marbles dropping after distortion through walls.


2) Marble sound may due to expansion and contraction whereby the contractors leave little ball bearings inside the floor in between the stories. So during expand and contract, the little metals balls start jumping and moving due to air circulation. And this is necessary so as to prevent cracks.

3) Some pre-fabricated floors used in HDB flats have an embedded high-strength steel cable which can give off creaking sounds (may sounded like marbles dropping) when they contract.

4) The pipes of some air-con units make popping sounds. These sounds resemble marbles dropping when they travel through the pipe embedded in walls. Another possibility is that in some old fridges, the compressor makes this noise which can be heard clearly only at wee hours when it’s quiet.

 

5) This may also occur due to the weather when its at night. If the sounds only happen when it is cold or when there’s a sudden drop in temperature, then it probably is the building materials (walls and framework) contracting and expanding with the weather. Even new buildings can do this. Steam pipes and water pipes can make some popping noises with the weather changes.

 

6) At the stroke of midnight, the water tank at the roof of the HDB will send a gush of water down the water pipes to flush the pipes of particles. For older HDB pipes as the pipes are old, there tends to be a few particles in them and get flushed down, causing it to hit the wall of the pipes thus causing the marble dropping noise.

 

7) Apparently water sounds gets distorted as they pass through pipes and it sounds like falling marbles. Odd but the most plausible.

 

8) Engineers had placed marble-liked things into the water pipe while they build to ensure the smooth flow of the water. So sometimes when you do hear it, its most probably due to them. Perhaps we hear them more at night due to the silence associated.

 

Then what about the hammering noise? These are as far as we had dig out.

 

1 ) Water hammering in PUB water supply pipes caused by prolonged period of no water activity in the water pipes. This causes air volume/pressure to built up in the pipe. When water is re-introduced into the piping system, pockets of air bubbles are formed as the water rushes in to replace the air.

2 ) Soapy water bubbles bursting in sanitary pipes. This usually occurs at night when the pipes are not so often used, and there is a sudden release of soapy water flowing down the pipes. This usually occurs when the higher floor units flushes down sufficient quantity of soap water. A similar bubbly situation would also occur when are already plenty of soapy water at the base of the piping system due to many residents bathing at the same time.
 
3) Each sanitary pipe stack has vents at the roof top to allow air to escape out. Thus the agitation of the soapy solution will cause bubbles to form and the resulting air pockets bursting will sound like “Pock! Pock! Pock!” echoing in the pipes, sounding like marbles as the bubbles ‘break’ on the surface of the water. Usually marbles sounds of this sort will be only singular sound of 1 marble (means only sound like 1 marble dropping) is heard.

One of us even inquiry with some of the piping contractors to see if there are more possible explanations than what we had dig out. Surprisingly most of them explain some of the things that we had research about. Ours and theirs tallies.

 
Are we close to conclude it? But then again, could the sounds of marbles dropping on the floor be really due to playful children? Or something else altogether? And you know what they are, as what many people claimed it might be.
 
Even with the most possible explanations, it still lies a mystery. Apparently there was never, at the present moment of time, to justify of what might have been the actual cause. This is something that most of us will be pondering for ages….
 
 
Written by: Mohd Ariffin
Chief of Paranormal Investigation Unit

 

BOTTLES TREE WORSHIP

Written by SPI team, edited by John Kwok, PhD candidate, History researcher

[pictures will be included soon]   

“Sacred” Trees in Singapore

In 2007, a road accident involving a roadside African Mahogany tree at Jurong in Singapore was published in the local press. The focus however, was not the tragedy of the accident, but the tree after its bark was stripped off as a result of the accident and revealed what looked like the head of two monkeys. Local Singaporeans interpreted it to mean a deity living in the tree. Dubbed the Monkey Tree, it inspired local cults to worship at the tree for good fortune, especially praying for winning lottery numbers. Devotees left offerings at the tree and the crowds of people to gather to make them often resulted in human and traffic congestion, much to the displeasure of the residents neighbourhood.

The Monkey Tree was popular in Singapore, but it was by no means a unique phenomena. SPI has discovered that another tree in Singapore, while not as popular as the Monkey Tree, featured evidence of tree worship. This tree was located in the heart of Singapore’s CBD at the junction of Kepple Road and Anson. It was not difficult to spot this tree for it stands at a busy junction.

Of the many trees that line the Tanjong Pagar Complex, this one in particularly, near some office buildings and a hawker centre, was donned with dozens of water bottles hung from its branches. SPI agents made some enquiry from passers-by and office workers nearby. Surprisingly, most did not pay much attention to it or failed to notice the strangely decorated tree entirely. Indeed, it begs the question, why was this tree decorated in such a manner?

Observations

Each water bottle was connected to another by a long strip of orange coloured string. Each pair of bottles was hung from branches on the tree and was neatly spaced out; they were not clustered in one bunch. Each bottle was also filled and capped with a clear liquid, believed to be water. There were 32 bottles altogether – strung into 16 pairs. The conditions of the bottles suggest that they were all put up at the same time; there were uniform levels of corrosion on them.

Furthermore, from physical examinations of the bottles, it appeared that they were recently strung up and hung on the tree. Further indications came from the contents of the bottles; the liquid was clear and showed only minute traces of contamination by pollution and weathering. This indicates that the bottles were all hung at one effort, possibly even by the same person or organisation. However, when empty bottles and string were found tucked and hidden away behind the tree, it suggests that more bottles would be progressively added to it, possibly in stages.

In addition to the hanging bottles were several decorated bottles placed near the tree. One in particularly featured detailed flower patterns and made to resemble a lantern. Another, in contrast, also resembled a lantern but was crudely made with plastic rings cut from mineral water bottles and joined together. At the foot of the tree was a strange object made from metal wire. The wire was skilfully woven into a circular object with the ends left sticking up, resembling a pair of pointed horns. A red make-shift tassel was attached to each end of the horns. In front of this strange object were burnt joss sticks stuck on the ground.

There were also traces of joss papers and evidence that a large scale type of offering ritual had been performed at the tree. It reminds one of the offerings made to spirits during the Hungry Ghost festival. It is likely that the wire-framed object was representative of a tree deity or powerful spirit. But while tree worshipping or the making of offerings to spirits at nature objects is commonly performed in Singapore, the main feature of the tree, the practice of hanging filled bottles on a tree is not.

The Investigation

The bottles, filled liquid and hanging from the branches of the tree, reminds some SPI agents of the famous Wishing Tree in Hong Kong. Kenny recalled during a previous case that took him to visit the Wishing Tree in Hong Kong years ago:

The minute we alighted from our vehicle, crowds of aunties rushed up to me asking to buy their joss-sticks. They thought that we wanted to see the Wishing Tree and to toss on it a pair of oranges, tied together by a long red string, for good luck. We quickly and successfully avoided them and instead made our way directly to a make-shift counter set up near a large joss-stick urn.

A devotee at the counter quoted me several categories of prices for their iconic wish-making oranges that come with a stack of joss papers for burning as offerings. The prices reflected the types of wishes one would like to make i.e. individual blessings, family blessings or blessings for success in business. Each type of blessing commands a different price. And they did not come cheap. Blessings start at HKD88 and could climb to HKD1388. I was astonished that a pair of oranges and a small stack of joss papers could command such prices and wondered if I could bring my own offerings. After all, it’s the same kind of offering we are making to the same tree.

It is unfortunate that making a wish or requests for blessings have been turned into well-oiled money making scheme at the Wishing Tree. Elsewhere, making wishes were accompanied by a simple gesture of tossing a coin into a well or fountain. Fortunately, however, recently I have heard that the Hong Kong Wishing Tree is now better regulated with the emphasis on preserving it as a unique local cultural tradition.

When Kenny saw the filled bottles hanging from the tree in Singapore, he immediately drew parallels with the Wishing Tree in Hong Kong.

1. Evidence of burnt offerings at the foot of the tree reinforces the notion that this tree is recognised as auspicious or special like the Wishing Tree or the Monkey Tree mentioned earlier.

2. Oranges are regarded as symbolic representations of wealth, prosperity and good fortune. These are also popular wishes made by believers at the Wishing Tree. There is also a popular belief at the Wishing Tree that the higher the throw and the higher the orange is caught on the tree branches, one’s wishes would be better heard by spirits and the greater possibility that that one’s wishes would be fulfilled.

Singaporeans may have also adopted the tradition of tossing auspicious items on an auspicious tree. Instead of tossing a pair of oranges strung by a long red string up the tree for good luck, local Singaporeans toss instead bottles of water. A former SPI Cultural specialist believes that these bottles were a symbolic representation of a vessel that hold the dreams and wishes of one making the offering. However, there is a more plausible explanation that stem from the symbol of the oranges in Hong Kong; water in local Chinese culture represents wealth and fortune.

The person or organisation who hung the bottles on the tree in Singapore was very likely mimicking practices from the popular and famous Wishing Tree in Hong Kong. The Money Tree in Hong Kong proved very popular in terms of tourism dollars and the bottle tree in Singapore could be an attempt to reproduce similar results in Singapore.

The Consequence

However, the creators of the bottle tree in Singapore may not be aware that their activities have broken the law on littering in Singapore. According to the Environmental Public Health Act, it is an offense to litter at any public place or public street. The items left on and around the tree can be interpreted as litter. Littering as an offence in Singapore carries a maximum fine of S$1,000 for the first offence and S$2,000 for a subsequent offence. The offence may be compounded for S$150 if it is a first offense – the offender must attend a 15 minute briefing on how littering can harm the environment. In 1992, the EPH (Corrective Work Order) (CWO) Regulations was passed, under which litterers may be required to clean up a public place. As from Feb. 2, 1996, the power to arrest those who litter was extended to operators of public vehicles. In 1999, the number of hours which a person may be required to work under a CWO was increased from 3 hours to a maximum of 12 hours, but not exceeding 3 hours per day.

Will the creators of the bottle tree in Singapore return and continue what they started? Or have they realised the gravity of their activities in terms of breaking the law? SPI will keep you updated with these strange hanging bottles.

Tree worship is a cultural belief that worshippers will receive blessings from spirits. Such spirits may directly reside in trees or through the tree they can be communicated in other realms. The spirits can reward worshippers of material requests such as winning lotteries or other wealth. Sometimes the tree spirits can give protection, for example healing illness or safety in transportation.

Tree worship is a matter of worshipping physical objects that is deemed nothing but superstition in skeptics’ eyes. Chinese religious folk beliefs are full of such magical stuffs. In ancient times, when indigenous people did not understand science, plus the fear from the natural environments around them, they placed huge respects on things that are larger than life or relate to their daily survival, such as thunder, rain, moon, sun, mountains, trees etc. Such respects became the primitive elements of shamanism and animism for hoping of some supernatural power would protect them against threats and dangers, that later evolved into a cultural practice. They worshiped most if not all natural substances from stone idols to biological plants and animals (ox, tiger, monkey, snake gods), often in admiration of their physical strengths.

Such physical strengths that appear greater than that of human which might be not understood (or explained) scientifically, were imagined to carry supernatural powers by our ancestors in the old days.

Finding Clues on the Bukit Batok Rape cum Murder

 

 

 

A young lady while jogging in Bukit Badok Reserve Park was gang raped, scorned and she died on the eve of Valentine’s Day 2001. At the opening of Hungry Ghost Festival (12:00am, Lunar 14 July), SPI revisited the original murder scene and investigated using both psychic methods and scientific equipment, hoping to solve the rape cum murder mystery. We encountered a vengeful ‘ring-tone’ ghost that revealed a stunning clue about the possible identity of the rapist.

Ghost Hand Prints on My Back


Fake or genuine?

Lately it has been a large number of spam emails circulating around our community, with a title “Avoid Siloso beach, Sentosa – Singapore”. Have you also received one or two? It looks like one of those friendly advisory mails that warn us a piece of danger, with real life experiences (bad and scary of course), right from our trustable next door neighbours. Without fail, it tries to tell us a paranormal incident, or more precisely, a sign of mischievous ghosts who tried to murder a girl. It encourages people by using a scary story to heed the advice.

This is the exact version of the circulation email:

On 4 July 09 -my Wife friend’s daughter went to siloso beach to frolick in the sun and sea and returned home with not just the sports bra tanline but a set of child’s handprints and one more on the shoulder, a bigger hand.If you look carefully in the first photo, you’ll see the really long nails on the bigger hand. So they went to the Chinese temple and checked and apparently a child-ghost tried to push her into the water but didnt work…so the adult-ghost tried on her right shoulder, didn’t work as well..turns out that, as Buddhists, the god they were praying to at home was protecting her.

Freaky.. I guess this explains the one-drowning-incident-a-year problem at Siloso beach?

Avoid deep waters or late nights there if you can.



Photos attached along with the circulated spam email

The story is telling that two ghosts tried to push the girl into the water, in an attempt of drowning her. In doing this, the two ghosts, one big and one small, left their handprints on the girl’s body. It is claimed to be evidenced by the mysterious handprints left on her shoulders as shown in the photos.

SPI doubt that whether they are really handprints made by the ghosts. If that is real, this then is a true case of paranormal happening – ghosts left behind physical traces of murder.

The story continued by glorifying the power of Buddhist blessing that defeated the ghosts’ attempt of murder. Then it moved on to an allegation that explains the infamous yearly drowning at Siloso beach. At the end it gave a benevolent advice to avoid deep waters or late nights where scary ghosts are implied to roam about. As you can see in this story, by a self-righteous belief, they attributed the ghosts who tried to kill the girl and the protection by the Buddha as a convincing fact. The only visible hard evidences however are the handprints and may be the fact that the girl didn’t die.

So did the ghosts make the handprints? Impressive they do certainly look, as if resembling shapes of human hand and finger. What actually and physically caused the handprints, if not by the ghosts? Putting the superstitions aside, SPI probes rationally into the handprints mystery for the truth.

SPI Analysis

Theory 1: The handprints are suntan of some shades

This canopy theory suggests that something of shapes of hands covered parts of her body during the suntan. The shades can be possibly tree leaves or even patterns of some cloths such as Hawaiian design garments. The girl may fall asleep during her suntan, and unknowingly such canopy was just right above her. The canopy that cast the shadow on her skin may well resemble fingers and hands. For example, palm tree leaves do look like claws or hands with long fingers.

The same theory can extend to possibilities that her friends may have played prank on her, giving her some surprise suntan shapes by holding her shoulders for some period of time. Or possibly may be some maple leaves fell on her shoulders, giving her the handprint-like suntan marks.


Tree leaves that may leave suntan marks on the girl’s body
Design patterns on the cloth may have cast the handprints
Examples of tan lines resulted by covering of swim wear

This theory suffers a main flaw that the outline of the sunburn marks are quite distinctive. That means if there were some canopy covered partially her body, it would be quite close to her skin. So unlikely tall trees can result in such marks with clear outlines. Also, as we all know, the sun moved. If the girl remained stationary under the canopy, the angle of the shade projection from a tree would change.This theory may not sufficiently explain the handprint marks, though it may be a first impression that came to many minds.

Theory 2: Uneven sunscreen oil

Examining closely on the ghostly handprints, they do not look like exactly handprints. Think out of the box. Initially by the story most people would have been misled to perceive that they are handprints. Only some of the photos whereby certain angle from above the corner of the shoulder, and by covering part of her shoulder from below with her shirt, give rise to visions of handprints. This is an illusion. As shown in the photos below, the illusion is caused by the position of the shirt the girl was wearing. The edge of the shirt marks the boundary of the handprints making them look like the wrist lines. The green lines mark the shape of a hand with the fingers. The red lines in the photo complete the shape of a hand, by resembling the wrist, the ending boundary of the hand.


The edge of the shirt when being pulled down to certain position, outlines visually the wrist (red lines)
That is how and why the prints look like ‘hand’ prints.

Now the shirt is pulled further down, and viewed from direct back. Do the prints still look like handprints? Not anymore.
They look more like Bart Simpson headprints (!!)

Now look carefully on the other photos especially those that offer a full and direct view of the her back. The sunburn concentrates on her top shoulder, with edge of some zigzag patterns. Some of the zigzag patterns were said to be the handprints. When you look closer, especially in the third photo above, the handprints are actually two long areas that start from the edge of the shoulder and extend all the way down on her back. Ghost hands? Not really. They more look like Bart Simpson’s head though.Just to further reinforce the fact that they are not handprints, below we show some suntan marks of handprints. The handprints are of course deliberately created by placing a hand on the skin during the suntan. Compare the photos yourself with those so-called handprints created by pulling up the shirt to create the illusion.


Real handprints by suntan, for comparison
Naturally, the next question is that whether this kind of patterns are normal or really, paranormal. We can safely rename those falsified handprints to ‘Bart Simpson headprints’ (BSH in short) by now. Below shows a photo of BSH which is one of the common suntan patterns resulted by improper sunscreen oil applying. Followed by that photo is a collection of photos as evidences of uneven suntan oil applications. Well, it is in fact very normal for all of us. This is nothing unusual at all, by applying suntan lotion or oil inappropriately, to result uneven marks on body.

Suntan that resembles Bart Simpson’s head due to uneven sunscreen oil coverage – normal phenomenon


Other examples of uneven coverage of sunscreen oil

Now, the big question is, what could possibly cause this kind of Bart Simpson’s head suntan prints?SPI Yuiiko narrates her experience last year which left her with more or less the same type of BSH prints on her back. Yuiiko explained “BSH print is nothing but result of uneven coverage of sunscreen oil applying. I got it before in one of the swimming and tanning sessions in a swimming pool. My husband who applied the oil on my body, didn’t cover evenly the whole skin area. He rubbed the oil on the back, limbs, etc, but forgot to apply the oil evenly over my shoulder. The top edge of the BSH mark is the oil from his fingers, therefore it has the zigzagging shape. They are just finger marks. The BSH print I used to have is same as that on the girl in the rumour.”


Yuiiko having her suntan session

ReenactmentIn order to further reinforce that the so-called ghost handprints are merely normal suntan, we tried to demonstrate how the Bart Simpson head shape suntan can be created. It is reenacted by using face mask cream and applying it on skin in a shot of up-down action, without rubbing the cream on skin thoroughly.


Bart Simpson head patterns recreated by using face mask cream
1. Ghost handprint created by rolling up the shirt to approximately the ‘wrist’ position – illusion created
2 – 4. When cream is only on fingers, distinctive straight lines are made

In the above photos, there are essentially two experiments. The first is to recreate the Bart Simpson head patterns on the back. It is made simply by first rubbing the cream on the hands, and then glided the hands vertically down in one shot from shoulders to the lower back. The patterns give a somewhat zigzag at the top resembling the fingers. Now if the full BSH pattern is covered up to the wriest position, it could look like a handprint (as in the ghostly rumoured photo).The second experiment, we only applied the cream on the fingers, without rubbing full on the hand palms, and then print them directly on the skin. We have several simple lines instead of a wedge of BSH pattern. What does it mean?

It means that in the ghostly handprint photos, whoever applied the uneven sunscreen oil on the girl’s back, had rubbed the oil on his/her palms. But perhaps hastily, he/she roughly just rubbed one or few shots over the girl’s back. Obviously, her shoulder was not thoroughly rubbed, leaving the finger marks on. In this section we explained how the Bart Simpson head patterns were made by first rubbing the cream on hand palms and just rubbed down from the shoulder in one or few shots. It is just an illusion by pulling up the cloth to cover the rest and to expose only the top part that resembles a handprint.

What a hoax

What actually happened in the whole incident? If the reader will indulge me, I shall outline a board scenario for what happened, and venture some theories on what the hand prints are.

First of all, the EXIF information is detected missing from the photos under question. EXIF is a metadata tag that is like a fingerprint that tells information about camera used, aperture, shutter speed and ISO information etc. If the story is true, why bother to go into technical length and remove the EXIF information? We find it suspicious. Was it something somebody is trying to hide?


Under our inspection program, the EXIF information were totally removed from that set of photos. Why hide if no guilt?

Just as a speculation, the girl might have unknowingly made those strange marks on her skin. Well, not exactly strange. The suntan marks look like handprints only when viewed from an angle above the shoulder with the cloth covering the lower part. The girl went to have a suntan on one fine day. It is likely that somebody else, e.g. her friend, who applied the sunscreen lotion on her, did a lousy job. From the suntan line, the girl should be wearing a “Y” belt sport bra. Because of the “Y” shaped belt, the bare shoulder blades (trapezius) look visually prominent. So intuitively, one would prioritize rubbing most of the lotion on the shoulder blade areas. The shoulders top were somehow ignored. That was how it was filled with finger marks but not evenly covered with sunscreen lotion. The suntan went on, the girl may not have noticed the uneven sunscreen coverage because the oil was soon absorbed into the skin.Probably only when she got home, she felt the sensation of skin burn and examined how bad the burn was. That was why she took these photos. Out of such set of photos, there are few photos with the special angles and collar positions that reveal the interesting shapes of handprints. However it is not known who made up the story and circulated the photos. Taken a sentence from the story “my Wife friend’s daughter went to siloso beach…”, it seems the girl was not the original poster, if that sentence is true. Perhaps somebody snatched the photos and created the hoax out of them.

If anybody has any information about the photos, or you are the owners of the photos, please contact SPI (info@spi.com.sg).


1-3. It is not uncommon that some people did not apply the sunscreen lotion unevenly and thoroughly.
As such, as shown in the photos, it is possible to create suntan lines that resemble ‘handprints’
4. When the sunscreen oil was absorbed into the skin, it became invisible and usually the swimmer would not have noticed it easily.

Conclusion
The handprints are not ghostly but natural phenomenon as a result of sunscreen lotion was not being properly applied. The collar of the shirt and the angle of camera shot gave an illusion that the prints are of hands. Actually they are shapes of Bart Simpson’s head when viewed at a perpendicular angle. The story is a lame rumour that conveniently made use the strange shape of handprints, called them ghost hands that tried to push the girl into the sea. The story went on to tell the benefit of being a devoted worshiper of a religion and hence got protected. From time to time, there are always similar rumours, for instance, somebody escaped death from a car accident, and his jade amulet was broken into halves as if the jade took upon the death on the owner’s behalf.It was condemned in STOMP that a liar out there was just trying to promote a religion. It is just another lame hoax that embeds within a superstitious propaganda for glorifying a supernatural power. By the Chinese cultural belief, ghost is an intangible and dark being that is very afraid of sunlight. Ghost can’t even substain for a slightest moment by exposing under a scorching sun. It would be more of the ghost killing itself than killing the girl by pushing her into water under a bright hot sun (!!). The last sentence warns people to stay away from deep water. It is not the deep water that kills. It is the ignorant people who are illuded into fallacies, disregard the truth and underestimate the risks.

To the SPI, it is another case closed.

Devil’s Jetty

View of Haunted Jetty in early morning

Written by SPI Agent Koolad
This is a report written from my personal encounters and other witnesses’ of a dangerous (both spiritually and physically) place at ECP. Coincidently a number of strange incidents happened, thereby the place is reputedly haunted. May it be paranormal or not, I hope this report would instigate some ripple effects to making it a safer place for anglers and visitors who hang out there.

Location is situated at St Patrick’s canal, behind Marine Terrace. Commonly known to fishermen as “Four Pipes”. At the jetty you can breath some fresh air, catch a good view of where a blue sky and sea merged at a horizon. It is simply relaxing to stroll along the sandy beach. Best of all, there are plenty of fish to catch. It seems like a serene getaway paradise from the busy urban life. Little anybody would know about its dark side. Read on, the following horror but factual incidents that took place right there, will thrill you.

 



The following pictures are taken at a rare -0.02 tide.

 

The true physical dangers of the platform(jetty) for tides above 2.8m would flood the platform causing moss and algae to thrive. Slippery without any barriers or railings to prevent falling into the rock filled seabed.

 

Left over pilings are still in the seabed, as you can see.

 

View of the right side.

 

View of the left side. As I was seabed surveying, I’ve noticed something on the left seabed that looks similar to a Taoist instrument “ba gua” (Chinese Feng Shui symbol). I didn’t take any photo of it as this pictures were meant to be for fishing. The suspected “ba gua” is in a pentagon shape, red in colour that’s all i’ve seen for the rest is under a huge rock and the only time to see it again is to wait for another -0.02 tide, usually at around 6am. Was the “ba gua” related to some haunting or exorcism at the site? Or just that somebody disposed what supposed to be a sacred item at sea, literatelly letting it return to nature?

In a separate incident, a stone “ba gua” was picked up by chance in a similar sea bed at low tide. This time, it is in a form of stone seal, diameter of about the size of a human palm. Probably it is carved or pressed on a piece of concrete. The mystery is not only how on earth it ended up in a sea shore, but what exactly that thing is and what it was used for.

 


Different angles of the mysterious ba gua stone


1-3 Comparing with the size of an one dollar coin; 4. The fresh look of the ba gua stone when it was first discovered from the shore


Scary Incidents

In the recent months May and June 09, it has already claimed 2 lives due to drowning cases at the site of the jetty.

The following is an eyewitness account: On 15th June 09, a lady was spotted walking down the beach and suddenly turned hysterical, running into the sea looking like trying to drown herself. Luckily there were two helpful guys who saw the commotion and pulled her outta the sea in time.

I wasn’t at the scene of that incident as reported but told by witnesses (one whom is reliable doesn’t talk “crap”), so I couldn’t describe much about the lady. This is how the lady was described: Eyes were noted rolled back, only whites were seen. Mouthful filled with sand and harsh English vulgarities spitting outta of her at the top of her voice. The English vulgarities are utterance of a series of common 4-letter words “f*ck” and other insulting adjectives, behaving like a demon not humanly. Strength of a superhuman for a Chinese lady. Shortly after the police and paramedics were called in. Psychotic torment, ghostly possession or on drugs?


Happening in the scene

Sand was even thrown inside the policeman’s shirt for trying to restrain her, shortly after the police managed to cuff her and brought her back.

When I have first heard of this incident from witnesses who have seen what happened moments ago, my first thought was just another depressed soul going for suicide. It made me think twice however when they carried on the description – the details of how superhuman she was with a demonic behaviour like it’s trying to kill the human and not the average suidcial “I wanna die”, and the way the “demon” was taunting the cops even fooled them. (just like how you see in the movies, it’s not insanity but rather another “thing” controlling her). The woman’s behaviour is almost the same of other incidents nearby.. probably 300m away. The last suicide i’ve heard is at bedok jetty but not at the 4pipes here.

Talking about depressed souls, I have not seen/noticed any depressed individual there, for most would be further down nearer to McDonald’s restaurant where they can sit around. As far as I know, the likely causes of the drownings here are mostly accidents due to slippery grounds, not suicides. And that relates to another spooky instance which I am going to tell next.



Snapshots from movies of how a possessed woman looks like. The look must be dramatized when compared to real-life cases

In the first incident, I did not get to have a close look at the possessed woman. But almost at the same place, I have my personal encounter of interacting of a phantom woman that freaked me out.

One night I was fishing alone and a young lady wearing shirt skirt walked up to me, saying nothing but just stared at me… At first I was at loss for words because that place is in total darkness. She was quite near me from where she was passing. She left shortly after a while saying “very slippery” in Mandarin with a heavy China accent. She probably was saying to herself. Out of kindness, I advised her to watch her steps. Strangely she didn’t respond to me when I told her to be careful. With just my head turn in a nick of second, she “vanished” out of sight.
I thought to myself, the woman was probably curious of me fishing here. So she approached me. She didn’t feel right because of the slippery rocks, she might have decided not to proceed and walked off without replying me after I told her to be careful. It just happened too quickly. How can a normal human disappeared suddenly out of sight in such a huge open space? A moment ago she was still gingerly navigating herself out of the rocks.

My skeptic mind kicks in, thinking that it may be normal that human would look ‘disappearing away’ when visibility is at low, to the extent of few meters. Was that lady a ghost or human? That place is well known to be frequent by beach strollers/couples in addition to fishermen. The place is very dark for the nearest lights are about 50~80meters away.

To me the place is a paradise for fishermen. But most anglers would prefer to stay away at night because of the terrain is too dangerous physically. Hearsays of spooks cast fear on people that makes fishing activities more risky. By my personal gut feel, nothing spooky nor depressing was at the beach, but I sensed a strong spooky feeling at the pedestrian bridge which is at the back of the canal aboutt 150~200m away. Next I will tell more.


SPI Yuiiko helps reenacting the girl who walked in skirt at night
She was trying to test the walking speed at which a human may appear ‘out of sight’ in darkness
There however, seems to be an orb following her…


As the orb is enlarged, do you percieve the orb resembles a smiling human face or just a bunch of random pixels?


The pedestrian bridge behind has stories of woman laughters or babies cries heard


The canal where possession took place before

This is the last paranormal incident I talk of in this report around the area. As shown in the photo below, the pedestrian bridge behind has stories of woman laughters or babies cries heard that come out of nowhere. Does this incident sure sound familiar? As I myself have encountered decades ago (refer to:http://spi.com.sg/haunted/east_coast The Grim Side of East Coast Park) and it happened within a 300m range apart of each other. This is a third reported known incident with similar kind of possessions that took place. Common factors are noted: During the mid year (month of June), victims eyes rolled back only whites are seen, superhuman strength for females, clear harsh english vulgarities. Is this the work of some demons who dwell around this place? Or a pure coincidence of psychotic problems that went wrong at those places? The truth is out there…

The Mystery of Bukit Timah Tomb and Hungry Ghost Howls

What are the secrets of the caves in Bukit Timah Hill?


1. First cave; 2. Second cave; 3. Third cave; 4. SPI discovered a mysterious tomb in Bukit Timah

Written by John Kwok, PhD candidate, History researcher

The Mystery

A thick mystery has canopied SPI for some years. It all started from a posting made at SPI forum in year 2004. Further speculations related to hungry ghost haunting, by other postings added on to the thickness of the mystery. It goes by the original post that tells a personal experience of a forum user that he supposes in Bukit Timah Nature Park there are two caves (actually there are three) which were used as torture chambers by the Japanese, hence spooky and haunted.

First cave, second cave, third cave, they are about 50 meters apart

Here is the original post:

UserHK
Posted: Wed May 26, 2004 3:36 pm
I went to Bt Timah hill at last Saturday with some small primary school boys. (I had to accompany them and lead the way) During their rest time, I went to explore the cave path with a teacher and i found two caves. The teacher said that it was one of the torture chambers used by the Japanese during the world war II. I tried to look inside and i saw water dripping there. It was quite spooky inside there too

Based on the gruesome concept of “torture chambers” which implies horrendous death took place, the caves became reputably haunted. Following up this idea of killing place, some vivid details of haunting were toted up in our forum and public writing into SPI mailbox.


1 & 2. Torture cave in Baigonguan, China. The cave was used to be air-raid shelter.
Later it was converted to a prison that used to torture political prisoners. More info here.
3 & 4. Artist impressions of people being tortured during the war

To sum up, hearsay has it that during hungry ghost month every year, one can surely encounter paranormal at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR). The descriptions of haunting go like this: “when walk near the caves, you can hear ghost howling. They are the cries from the souls of the victims wronged to die during the Japanese cruel torture. Not only you can hear the howl, you can see their faint apparitions flashing around when you peep deep enough into the dark cave like an endless pitch.”

Scary as it sounds. There is more of it. The rumour says near the caves, there is a mass burial grave that belongs to the victims killed in the tortures. Many dead bodies were conveniently dumped into such a big hole, and covered with thin soil at each round of killing. This is said to be a military secret during the WW2 which not many people know. No offering was given because it wasn’t known by many. So the poor souls howl and cry, most fiercely especially during Lunar Seventh Month. That is the only period of time hell gates open and they can come out to mourn for their return of justice.


Photos of the first cave, taken at three different angles


When zoomed into the very end of the cave, a ghostly face appeared in the pitch darkness.
Is the face just a manifestation of random rock patterns or a supernatural sign? You’d be the judge
If you look carefully, you’d see the left eye is weeping, and the expression is bearing in grief
The four photos are again taken at different angles.

Another related paranormal incident to the caves and mass burial is at the Bukit Timah quarry. In the 70’s and earlier, the quarry was still filled with water collected from the hill, ideal for swimming. It was known as a popular public swimming place as some elders might still remember.

It served as a swimming pool until several drowning cases happened. Lately the quarry was sealed off from entry for safety reasons, let alone swimming in it. The deaths were attributed to the water ghosts in the water who so-called “looking for substitutes of their death” for their chance of reincarnation.

During Hungry Ghost month, it was such an Old Wives’ Tales that swimming is tabooed especially in the Bukit Timah Quarry. Well, the ghosts were also rumoured to be those victims murdered during WW2 at BTNR. The ghosts would pull the legs of the swimmers and made them drown at the water quarry.

So in summary, the haunting by the hearsay is listed as below:

  • Caves were used as torture chambers by the Japanese soldiers
  • Many killings occurred but the dead were not given a proper burial
  • A mass burial grave was made somewhere near the cave, but was forgotten
  • Ghosts did not receive proper offerings; the unrest souls are out to haunt the living
  • One haunting is at the cave proximity, where vengeful ghost crying can be heard and dark apparitions can be seen
  • The other haunting is connected to the Bukit Timah Quarry that is a stone throw away; the forgotten ghosts since cannot receive proper care of religious rituals they pulled the legs of the swimmers, each man killed the ghosts receive a chance to reincarnation.
  • The ghost of the drown swimmer in turn, would have to kill another swimmer to reincarnate. Such is a vicious cycle.

In order to solve this thick mystery, we untangle it by breaking down the research tasks:

What are those caves? What were they used for? Was it really being used as torture chambers? Are ghosts really in there? What actually caused the swimmers to die? What are those crying moans and what are those flashing dark apparitions in the cave? (Assume that the cries and sightings were really perceived by the story tellers, and they were not exaggerating).

The investigation

SPI team recently checked out the caves, as well as interviewed a passerby at BTNR. Starting from the Cave path, follows a winding forest path Tiup Tiup Hut trail, one of the longer and less popular routes to the summit. We found three caves, at about 50 meters apart. The caves run very deep, man-built, about 2 meters wide and 2 meters tall.


SPI set out to investigate Bukit Timah Hill


After trekking for half an hour, we found the caves but locked up with heavy metal gates


Close up views of the metal gates


Graffiti on the wall. What are these words? (Close up here) Vendalism or clues to the reasons of the metal gates?


He said here is haunted by many spirits?

On that day when we investigated the caves, we crossed path with a roughly 50’s years man who was wearing a plain vest and shorts. This man told us that the place is very haunted, full of spirits. But to him, the spirits are pitiful entities by his Buddhist religion. He told us he frequently went there for the purpose of reciting prayers to them. We tried to ask further about what spirits and where the spirits are. He gave us a short reply “they are everywhere here” and left swiftly.


A religious man was chanting mantras aloud in the midst of the forest, to the so-called wandering souls around the area


SPI agent had a short conversion with him


SPI bumped into a religious man who believes many spirits are in the forest. At the same time, he also mentioned that this place is called “” which literately means a small bridge over moving water. It is said to be a sacred place with strong and ubiquitous energies. The running water that forms a little stream is claimed to have healing power. We saw a couple came moments ago with water pals to carry away the water. They immersed their bodies under the stream, getting wet head over heels. Cooling as it surely is, how real might the healing power be?

To run an instant experiment, Kenny soaked his fresh wound on the arm that was accidently sratched during the forest exploration just now. Besides it washed the dirts away from the wound, no miraculous healing effect was observed yet. In order to have a more objective assessment, we collected a bottle of water sample to be sent for laboratory water quality tests. Is it really a supernatural elixir of life or just plain H2O with may be some extra mineral contents? SPI rationally verifies.


A holy place in the forest as perceived by some people, filled with spiritual energy.
It is however just a part of the old water catchment facility;
In the first photo, did you notice there is an orb some distance off from the bridge?
A scary face can be seen when it is enlarged.


Collected a bottle of water sample for analysis

Ghost pull your legs at Bukit Timah Quarry

On another occasion, we investigated the Bukit Timah quarry. The water level was about waist deep; but the rock formation on the sea bed filled with many pits. In other words, the bottom of the water quarry was not flat. One may accidentally step on the deep pits, either sink straight in or trapped in the soft mud. The mud is like a big suction to the swimmer’s foot. With panic and acute fear set in, the more the swimmer struggled the more he sank with the quick-sand effect.


Bukit Timah Water Quarry – rumours said ghost will pull legs of swimmers


View of the quarry from atop

Anyway, this is not verified as we can never take a risk of putting a human experiment at the water quarry. But from the photo records of Bukit Timah quarry in the early days, we got to know that the rock formation on the bottom is full of very ragged granites.

SPI discovered a strange solitary tomb


SPI team is climbing up a slope just before they discovered the tomb.
Along the way, in three consecutive photos, an orb is observed.
It is not known whether it is the same orb all the way. Close up shots are here: orb 1, orb 2, orb 3


A solitary Chinese tomb is discovered by surprise. It is facing East direction.


1. This is the Empresses stone tablet behind the main tomb, kind of coarsely built;
2. Some plastic bag debris remained there – possibly somebody came before long time ago;
3 & 4. Is this tomb the landmark to the treasure cave? We continued the search around the proximity


SPI found several other stone markers nearby too, with red paint on



There is an incredible discovery when we were investigating the caves. From the direction where the wind howls into the cave, we observed a steep slope. A strange impulse motivated us to risk climbing down the slope.

After a challenging climb, we were stunned of what we saw – a Chinese tomb was standing at the alcove of the slope. It was never known in any written document that BTNP ever was used to be a cemetery. It is an enigma why there was such a tomb.

The analysis and the debunks

Pertaining to the mysteries listed below, we analysed our findings by rationally reasoning:

Debunking Mystery 1: Ghosts haunting at the caves and the quarry?

As for the haunting of the quarry, SPI by an on-site investigation, found that the bottom of quarry was not made flat, but full of ditches and lose sands. Quarries are so dangerous to swim in because there are different layers in the bottom. There could be boulders in places, or drop off sharply in other places. The pitfalls plus the fear by the hungry ghosts are the culprits responsible for many deaths.


The bottom of a quarry which is full of dangerous ragged rocks before water filled in

The ghostly cry and apparition sightings at the caves could be due to the echo of the wind blowing into the cave and the appearance of the wild animals in the nature reserve respectively.

Quoting from Npark, BTNR indeed has a variety of wild animals not very commonly known to the public:

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has been untouched for almost the past 180 years. The 163-hectare reserve retains one of the largest tracts of primary rainforest left in Singapore.

“The forest is also home to more than 500 species of animals, including butterflies. Keen observers may spot the Common Treeshrew (Tupaia glis), the Flying Lemur (Cynocephalus variegatus) and with just a bit of luck, the nocturnal Pangolin or Ant-eater Manis javanica).”

Other animals that are common there includes:
– Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis)
– Plantain Squirrel (Callosciurus notatus)
– mildly venomous Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina)
– Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)
– Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga sipahaja)
– etc…


Yes, they like to howl


Their squeaking screams can be very scary when they are out of sight


For example, as an experiment here, can you see what the dark apparition is in the photo?
If you click on the thumb image above you will see a dark shadow;
But if the photo is brightened up, clearly the apparition is not a spook.
So lighting condition plays a large part in those so-called ghost sightings.

Furthermore the section of path along the Path Trail and the Tiup Tiup Trail is densely forested. The canopy of tall trees shades off most of the sunlight making the area eerily dark even during daytime. So it is very likely that those dark apparitions being spotted are merely birds and wild animals in the jungle. Bats could have lived inside the caves too.

Debunking Mystery 2: What are the caves used for, torture chambers?

No record ever found in Singapore, caves were used as torture chambers. It was just rumoured from hearsay at SPI forum. Common sense can tell that it is not justifiable to built three caves with deep tunnels, just for torturing people. The sizes of the tunnel that measures no larger than 2 x 2 meters wouldn�t make a good space for torturing. Also, why not just conveniently tied up the victims on a tree for tortures in an open space? Many places in a jungle can be used for torturing, such as those jungles at Burma when many POWs were tortured in the Death of Railway.

The effort for digging into solid granite for three cave tunnels seems to serve a better purpose. A brief search on the internet yields some preliminary results of mentioning that the caves were used for storing supplies and ammunitions during the Japanese occupation by the Japanese army. The same was told to SPI by making inquiries to the information help desk at BTNR too.


Lets examine the structure of the cave, especially the flooring.
There seem to be some broken fragements of slates on the ground.
Does this imply it used to have a solid ground over which heavy items (on wheels) can easily be transported?


1. The cave is somehow shaped like a funnel with a wide space at the front;
You can see that the side walls are almost vertically flat;
2. In one of the cave, there is a strange light somewhere in the middle; See enlarged;
Does it mean there may be an opening somewhere over the top of the cave tunnel?
3 & 4. To verify this, SPI climbed up over the cave and did some carpet search.


This makes sense because an underground shelter provided by the cave tunnel is an ideal shock-resistant storage place for ammunition. The usage of these cave tunnels were generally believed in this way, although a bunker would a preferred choice. However, upon consultation of Dr John Kwok, a lecturer from an Australian University, as well as our SPI Advisor, John found some records of oral interview (accession number 002849) at Singapore National Archive that indicate otherwise. The caves were not likely built for storing supply and ammunition, but TREASURES by referencing to the records. And the tomb discovered by SPI is the “key” to the secret treasures!

According to a Japanese WW2 veteran, whose name was HIGASHIURA Yoshifumi, there were 3 caves that were dug by the Japanese soldiers in the forest of Singapore, believed to safe-keep Singapore’s artifacts and treasures. The interviewee was one of them who dug the caves.

He also said that near the caves would be “a stone marker with red words” when being asked on how to find the caves. We suppose there was no prominent landmark or special feature that can identify the location of the caves, so that the Chinese “tomb” that has a front stone slab with red words was taken as the key position marker.

Here is the synopsis of the oral interview record by Higashiura Yoshifumi at National Archive:

Interviewee ordered to dig three caves in forest of Singapore. Believed caves were meant to safe-keep Singapore’s artifacts and treasures. Described the structure of the tunnels. Interviewee believed that treasures were kept within. Described the location of the tunnels.

This is John’s observation. The National Archive interviewer was asking him where the caves are. He replied vaguely… like “100 meters further deeper in the jungle and go around the hill. Go to your right, when you find the marker with red words, the caves are there.”

Each cave was described to be at least seven to eight meters deep. They were dug sometime in 1944. The tone of the interviewer was like pressing him for information. On one hand it sounds like the ramblings of an old man. On the other hand, he sounded very sure about those tunnels.

So quite clearly, if the Japanese veteran was telling the truth – the caves are built by the Japanese to hide the treasures and artifacts of Singapore. Those treasures probably were looted during the Japanese occupation time. How true and believable this account can be? By referring to the legend of Yamashita Gold in Philippines, many similar caves were dug for storing loots of treasures.


Illustrative photos that resemble how treasure caves look like

Why then the Japanese needed those cave tunnels to store the treasures? Wouldn’t it be better if can get them transported directly back to Japan during the occupation? Well, by 1943 the Japanese were no longer in control of the seas… It doesn’t make sense to bring in something that valuable here when you know it’s going to be lost to the Americans anyway. It however could be a good contingency plan that they temporarily hide the treasure in a very secret place (like the three caves with relative unnoticeable entrances in a thick jungle) with only the tomb being the marker “key”.

And coincidentally, the caves were dug in year 1944 that was about a year later when the Japanese realized that they no longer can take the sea route safely to send home the treasure. Hence the contingency plan of burring the treasures in a secret location took place, in the hope of recovering them when the war was over in the future.

Chronologically it goes like this:
End of 1941, the Chinese tomb was erected
1942, Japan invaded Singapore, probably looted certain amount of treasures
1943, Japan started to lose power in sea to the Americans, sea transportation of treasure may not be feasible anymore
1944, Japanese army dug the caves for hiding the treasures

Subsequently, by the old Japanese soldier’s account, the tomb was the “key” to the caves.

Debunking Mystery 3: Why a Chinese tomb was found at BTNR?

It seems like the tomb fits the description of a marker with red words in the account of oral interview at National Archive. In this case, the tomb may be established with a significant reason – as a marker to the treasure cave, if it is not a coincidence that it happened to be there.

Observing around, there are no other tombs around implying that the area was not meant to be a cemetery. Compared to the famous “Water Tomb” at McRitchie Reservoir which was believed to be built because of the Feng Shui environment facing the water, the tomb at BTNR is just a simple tomb without any Feng Shui resemblance.

Furthermore, the tomb at BTNR looks quite “make-shift” as if it was built in a hurry. You can see the inscription of the BTNR tomb tablet was quite sketchy too, but the words are in red-paint.

Perhaps this solitary tomb was deliberately erected there as a marker telling the position of the secret caves. If so, this must be a clever idea as tombs are common objects which people would not pay much attention about (except may be SPI : ) and to the traditional Chinese concept, people would leave tombs alone out of respect.

This is just a speculation anyway. However, the year when the tomb was established might give some clue: 30th year of Taiwan national calendar, 29 December. Converting to western calendar, that was the end of year 1941. That was the year even before the Japanese aggression army set foot in Singapore.

Therefore, the tomb shouldn’t be erected by the Japanese as a disguise of a position marker. It is nevertheless possible that the Japanese might have discovered this tomb in 1944, and conveniently used it as a position marker to dig the caves. The tomb, as well as the caves, are facing direct East as found by SPI.

So why the tomb was located there which later made use by the Japanese army to dig caves and hid treasures?

It is still a mystery.

Perhaps you can help us to unlock the mystery…


Inscription that dictates the details

Close-up of the words which are clearly shown on the tomb – Do you know who this Madam Hsu is? We would like to hear from you to complete this mystery.