Woody Lodge

Woody Lodge

1. The freaky wall with graffiti at the front of Woody Lodge; 2. The back view of Woody Lodge that looks like a prison
3. A giant old tree under which stand three divine altars housing over dozens of Chinese deities; 4. Kampong Lorong Buang Kok

Mourning from the Living Ghosts

There used to be some theories about ghost haunting and mental patients. Why insane people become insane? This doesn’t sound like a very rational question, but, think further. The word insane from a dictionary would mean mental disorder, and from a thesaurus you will find alike meanings of crazy, fanatical, obsessive, zealous, fervent. It is all about how one’s mind being diverted from reality to another realm.

A mentally ill person may be physically perfect fit. But his mind is being distorted. Some may be memory-lost forgetting who he is; some may imagine himself as being another person; some may carry himself in strange behaviour not like his normal self; some would live in his own imaginative world – his own fantasy. Usually mental patients have one or more of these symptoms.

Scientifically abnormal psychology studies about how and why people become mentally distorted. Distortion usually would come after some impacts that are logically explainable, such as experiencing an ordeal, a great shock or a physical brain damage, etc. There are however other kinds of ‘impacts’ that are of spiritual. One who practices black-magic will become obsessed in witch-craft, the power, the wonders from which really fantasize him. His parents and teachers may say, you will become crazy one day. Yes, that is the kind of ‘impact’ which drives him insane one day when he goes on.

The above example is a voluntary way of becoming insane. A person chooses to let his mind be influenced. Another kind of obsession may come by forcibly. Possession, it is. Something from external enters his body and grabs his soul. This may be through unknowingly one of his senses – seeing, hearing, feeling and thinking. As we all know that human takes mind over body. We do what our brain tells us to do. What if some external force takes over the control? You are possessed, and will do or say things other people perceive as crazy.

Sadly speaking, among many mentally sick patients especially those incurable ones could be due to paranormal. The external forces are too stubborn not to go away; the possession or the obsession is too strong from which the patient cannot wake up. They would then act and behave no different from a living ghost.

For many years in Singapore, those mentally ill patients are rejected and isolated from our society for obvious reasons. The Woodbridge Institute of Mental Health (better known as IMH) is set up near Hougang to cater for those patients. Along Buangkok Link, just next to IMH there is a Sun Love Home, Pelangi Home and Woody Lodge that used to be home for the old folks. Until recently, Woody Lodge was a home for the mentally infirm. Many apparently lived there until they died, and, because it is believed that the souls of the mad remain earth-bound after death, the area is rumoured to be haunted.

Nowadays, Woody Lodge is somewhat vacant. But if you walk near it at night, you will always hear one or two ear piercing screams from inside, possibly from the incurable mental patients. Are they screams from the living ghosts or living patients who can see ghosts? It is a very scary experience.

Killer Lilly Pond
(Source: Hearsay from a local kampong resident)

At about 300 meters away from Woody Lodge situated Kampong Lorong Buang Kok. The year was 1979, two children mysteriously went missing near the lily pond after school. They were last seen walking towards the pond by their classmates. Madam Teng who was a widow and a mother of the two missing kids was very sad upon hearing the news. On the same day she went to the pond in the evening and the nearby forest for a desperate search, hopefully would find back her two kids. Just like the two missing kids, Madam Teng never return home. The neighbors on the next morning discovered her white dress in the pond. But, similar to the previous missing case of the two children, no body was found.

The whole village was very frightened over this strange incident as the news spread. Nobody dared to walk near the pond anymore. One day, however, three polytechnic students went to the pond for sightseeing. They gathered at the edge of the pond happily chattering till very late. One of the them with her feet dipping in the water. Suddenly she felt something was pulling her legs into the water. Her other two friends tried grapping her out. They struggled for quite some time before she was saved out of the water. On her leg, they saw a horrible wound with five long bleeding scratches. What more horrible is, as described by the girl who fell into the pond, there was a mid-age lady in white joining the rescue and together the lady helped pulling her up side by side with her two friends. The two friends just looked at each other speechless in tremendous fear.

This weird incident was then made known to the villagers. They all suspected it was due to some dirty thing and Madam Teng’s spirit in the pond. On a chosen auspicious day, the villagers sealed up the pond.

But weird happenings didn’t stop after the pond was sealed. Many villagers claimed that they saw Madam Teng’s spirit wandering in the forest after sunset. She seemed to be lost, moving swiftly and aimlessly from tree to tree. And she always wore a long white dress and her hairs were always wet, according to those witnesses who had glimpses of Madam Teng’s spirit.

The entrance to the kampong was a path leading through the forest. Nobody dared to go out at night as this had scared the whole village. The haunting of Madam Teng became more and more fierce. Children at night would suddenly cry out of nothing; the parents were all very afraid. Some children were old enough to speak said that they saw a white dress lady with wet hair suddenly appeared beside them and asked them where was her home. Some children who had not seen the spirit but encountered it in a way of feeling a light breath on their neck, and hearing whispers of Madam Teng asking ‘Where am I? Where is my home?’

The haunting had become quite serious. One night after a village meeting, the villagers decided to hold a ritual by a inviting a powerful dengkee from Ipoh. The dengkee after inspecting the whole area, speculated that one of the three ‘parts’ of Madam Teng’s soul was missing, possibly she lost it when she was going through some extreme frightening. (In Chinese belief, our human soul is comprised of three parts so to be complete – that was very hard to explain). But nobody knows what Madam Teng had encountered and why she lost one part of her soul, not even the dengkee himself. The dengkee said those without a complete soul would not be able to go to another realm after life, because the soul was incomplete. And the soul may not be able to come home for it was not conscious about the direction to go home. In other words, the incomplete soul will become earth-bound, usually at around the place where she died. The villagers felt that it was a mistake to seal off the pond too early. But it was too late.

The villagers became more afraid than ever because Madam Teng’s soul now had no senses, it and would blindly move around and frightened the kids. They pleaded the dengkee to do something about it. After thinking for many hours, the dengkee had an idea. He performed a ritual in front of Madam Teng’s house for seven consecutive nights and suggested getting a virgin who was born in the year of Snake or Horse draw a portrait of Madam Teng on the front door. Hence when the spirit happened to see the painting of her own, she would be reminded that was her home. A villager even suggested to paint a Madam Teng’s dream home on the wall as well. Madam Teng was in fact planning to purchase a condominium with her husband and move out from the kampong, when her husband who was a rich merchant to come back from Taiwan for good. Unfortunately her husband died just last year in a car accident and Madam Teng’s dream had not been realized.

After the ritual was finished and the paintings were drawn, no more sighting of the Madam Teng’s spirit was reported. Nowadays, a sofa donated by the neighbour was still placed outside Madam Teng’s house. It was meant to let Madam Teng rest on should she find her home. This kind-hearted neighour would even offer a bowl of rice with three joss-sticks inserted on top every night until she passed away only recently.

Today this urban legend had almost forgotten; only remembered by some elderly. And of course the house of Madam Teng, the sofa and the paintings on the door, are all deserted in a secluded kampong. The pond had been sealed long time ago. Very few people would know that there once existed a pond, and the paranormal things happened there before.

Where is Madam Teng’s incomplete spirit today? Did she go home already or to the other world? What happened to her two kids? What is weird about the lily pond? Perhaps only God knows the answers…

Pictorial Tour

1. Along the road leading up to Woody Lodge you will see three make-shift altars. They house a wide range of Chinese deities.
2. This is the first altar situated at the bend of Lorong Buangkok. At the altar, there is a bottle of numbered dice.
Many superstitious taxi drivers come to this altar to pray for 4D. This area is infamous for its spiritual ‘chi’ according to the drivers
3. At a junction of Buangkok Link, it shows a sign post “Sun Love House”. You will know Woody Lodge is nearby
4. It is fenced in by concrete walls topped off with rolls of barbed wire, probably to deter the denizens it once housed from escaping

1. This is the Sun Love Home that has metal framed windows and enclosed design. Those who entered may not ever come out anymore
2. On top of the front door has a big sign ‘Sun Love’ and a portrait of Sai Baba whose love and compassion encompasses
3. Inside the compound, there are numerous quarantine rooms for the dangerous infirmed, that makes the whole place like a prison
4. A mental patient starring at us coldly behind the iron bars. We wonder if he would be able to return to the outside world again

1 & 2. The security here is quite tight as you can see that metal fences and gates with barbed wires prevents anyone here from escaping
3. At a secluded corner beside Sun Love house we found a small altar. We were told that there are many altars here because of haunting
4. The god of warrior idol is already quite blemished. Look, on the wall behind there seemed to have a twisted skull image.
This perhaps is more obvious when it was taken in night vision mode – see here.

1. Further up the Lorong Buangkok, you will be welcomed by a giant tree. It is one of the first old huge trees flanked along the road
2. Behind the huge tree, here is another altar; here is another view. 3 & 4. it is well organized with rows of idol deities inside.
Sunkist oranges and strong teh are offered along with joss-sticks in front of the altar. See picture.

1-3. Round the corner, this is the other side of the Sun Love House, formerly Woody Lodge.
You can see the graffiti on the stained walls plus the old trees and tall lallang give a very spooky view; here is another view.
4. This notice is found at the old entrance of Woody Lodge. The elderly home is now moved to Palengi Village just next to IMH
What left here is changed to Sun Love Home that is for the incurable mental patients that may have to be detained here till they die

1. Not all the graffiti at Woody Lodge are eerie though; this is a lovely piece of drawing donated by the kind efforts of NTU students
Click here for a close-up.
2 & 3. Kind-hearted people would still come and offer gifts to the patients in the Sun Love Home
4. In Sun Love Home there is a chapel called St Luke’s Church. Hopefully the patients after they die will be received on God’s hands
‘May God bless the unfortunate souls who do not have the intellectual ability to know Christ but would still have the salvation. Amen’

At the end of the road, when you make a U-turn from Sun Love House, you will encounter three altars of different sizes placed at a tree
This whole place is pitch-dark at night. You will see spooky candle lights flicking, very eerie atmosphere
If you are down at luck, wardens from Sun Love House may catch your shoulder from behind at night, suspecting you were an escapee
They won’t listen to you even you said you are PM Goh or from Lee’s family, because many patients inside said the same thing
Of course they won’t buy your true confession even you said you just happen to pass by, or come here to take a look..
The fact is, nobody sane will come here at night

Come view them alive (1) (2) (3) (4)

Come view them alive (1) (2) (3) (4)

Come view them alive (1) (2) (3) (4)

Inside the three altars you will find an almost complete range of Chinese idol deities.
In one of our Ghoulish Trails, a participant said that after touching an idol it followed him home! And he fell sick for a whole week.
So you are warned: Click enlarge the above photos absolutely at your own risk!

Adjunct to Lorong Buangkok is a ruin site of an old kampong. The perimeter however had been blocked up.
According to an informant, some tens years ago, he used to makan and it was quite developed with coffee shop and so on.
That was when Woody Lodge was still operating as an elderly home. However, the whole lot of residence evacuated due to two rumors
One is malaria broke out from that area and the government just sealed it up; The other one is more scary..
Residents there got possessed at night one by one. Many had become mentally retarded just like those in Sun Love House
The scary part is, coincidentally the possession case came after some patient at Sun Love House passed away!
The whole kampong just got freaked out and moved away. So if you want to explore there, watch out for deadly virus and spirits

However Kampong Lorong Buang Kok stands still today. This kampong used to be filmed by TCS8 for their TV show “Spring has come”
Everything is well preserved as it was in the 1950s. You can still see kampong chickens freely running around here

SPI interviewed a local resident who lives in this kampong for her whole life
It was hoped that she can lead us to find the original site of the haunted lily pond
Disappointingly the pond is gone long ago, now there left only a paddle of water

1. We lately found the house that is believed to be Madam Teng’s
2. According to the Killer Lilly Pond legend, Madam Teng’s front door has a painting of her own face and her dream home
3. This is a close up of Madam Teng’s portrait. Here is another closer-up. And an ultimate close-up.
Dare you click here for a very ghostly view of Madam Teng; you will see a drawing grid behind her head (Warning: It is very horrible)
If you print it out & paste it on a wall in your bedroom, her spirit may find its way to your house then! (Just joking, please don’t do it)
When you stare at the picture long enough, you will see her face slowly turn to you.. then you know her spirit has come
4. The sofa is believed to be donated by a kind neighbour; a bowl of rice with joss-sticks would be placed on it, for Madam Teng’s soul

The Top 10 Singapore Mythical Stones – Part 1

Singapore is geologically gifted with bountiful granite resources. There are many strangely shaped nature rocks scattered around. Perhaps as a matter of cultural practices, many such rocks do get mystified by the belief of Animism – life can be empowered into physical objects like natural woods and stones. This belief has escalated and become wide-spread to the extent of worship and fear of the sacredness of certain objects that people submit their faith to. Urban legends, interesting stories, rumours that sprung up from these stone objects mystified their histories and backgrounds. Mythical stones contain more than just their material composite of silicon. Each one carries a long history and rich stories, and witnesses changes perhaps from the beginning of time till today. SPI invites you to investigate into the amazing legends of these mythical stones, while at the same time trying to rationalize them with a sober mind through a process of factual research.


Singapore Stone

The Greatest Historical Mystery of Singapore
What is the original shape of the stone?
Where did the stone come from?
What secret is written on the stone?
>> Check out this urban legend with SPI
>> I have something to follow up


Labrador Obelisk

What is the purpose of the Labrador Obelisk?
How does it relate to the Dalhousie Obelisk?
Is there any secret hidden behind this obelisk?
Who has built it? Why was it there?
>> Check out this urban legend with SPI
>> I have something to follow up


Loyang Oracle Stone (a.k.a  4D Stone)

Where is that magical oracle stone?
Where does the power come from?
What can you ask to reveal from the stone?

>> Check out this urban legend with SPI
>> I have something to follow up


Bukit Timah Meditation Rock

Why Kramat that has nobody buried inside?
An ancient Holy Man is said to be  immortalized
after he touched the magic water and
meditated on this special meditation rock.
Is this a fact or fiction? SPI investigates…
>> Check out this urban legend with SPI
>> I have something to follow up


McRitchie Cryptic Headstones

What are this pair of strange headstones found behind the Lim Bo Seng tomb in McRitchie Reservoir? Nobody can decipher the cryptic words on them, can you?
>> Check out this urban legend with SPI
>> I have something to follow up


3-Headed Menhir

What is this eerie 3-Headed Menhir doing along the road side of a cemetery jungle? What is the use of this Menhir?
>> Check out this urban legend with SPI
>> I have something to follow up


Water Statues

How come these idol statues were placed in the water? Some believe they were for the sea ghosts, some guess it is a part of a ritual.
>> Check out this urban legend with SPI
>> I have something to follow up


Ubin Magic Granite

Why a huge granite rock ended up in the backyard of a shrine? How did this rock become an icon of worship?
>> Check out this urban legend with SPI
>> I have something to follow up


German Girl’s Rock of Destiny

An interesting tale of how a German Girl died more than 80 years ago, became a Chinese deity in Pulau Ubin. Who is the German Girl? What does this rock tell about this local legend?
>> Check out this urban legend with SPI
>> I have something to follow up


Sejahat Holy Rock

A compelling legend has it that an Acehnese general who led 10,000 warriors fought with the Portugese; the whole army was killed till the last man. The General petrified into a rock.
>> Check out this urban legend with SPI
>> I have something to follow up

Well, up to here, many people would ask where is Part 2 of this amazing documentary of Singapore Mythical Stones? We are still in progress in documenting another ten findings, exclusively in Singapore. You are invited to be a part of this ever-going effort in unearthing all these interesting lost legends in Singapore. If you know of any mythical places, rocks, story, urban legends, no matter how ridiculous it may sound, big or small, you are very much welcome to tell us about. SPI is an open platform for sharing and preserving knowledge together. Thank you.

SPI Investigates Old Fort Motor Factory & Bukit Chandu


The 14th and 15th of February each year mark one of the most significant days in Singapore, not just because of the Valentine’s Day season, but also because these are the days in 1942 which led to the fall of Singapore. The same days which led to what is known as one of the world’s greatest war-disasters. The same reasons why Singapore is dubbed the most haunted place in Asia.

To commemorate the Total Defense Day, the Singapore Paranormal Investigators (SPI) was invited by the National Archives of Singapore to conduct a demonstration and an experiment at the two significant venues: “Reflections at Bukit Chandu” and “Memories at Old Ford Factory”.

On 14th February 1942, after intensive attacks and bombardment from the invading Japanese troops, the Malay Regiment in defense retreated to Bukit Chandu, where they made their final stand. Many lives were lost and many died a violent death as a result of the violent battle. It is believed by many that vengeful spirits of the Japanese and Malay soldiers still return to this very site to resume the fateful battle; what is known to many as the “residual haunting”.

On the following day after the decisive battle at Bukit Chandu, 15th February 1942, the defending British troops in Singapore surrendered unconditionally to the invading Japanese troops. The signing of the surrender treaty took place in the boardroom of the Ford Motor Factory (now known as the Old Ford Factory). It marked the beginning of the 3 years and 8 months of the dreadful Japanese Occupation in Singapore.

During the Japanese Occupation, the Ford Motor Factory became a Japanese facility for assembling military vehicles for the occupying Japanese troops. The same factory is also believed to have become a suicide ground for many Japanese soldiers and officers who chose to end their lives the “samurai” way during their surrender, and hence were left the spirits lingering in the premises.

SPI Investigates

Rumours were that the subsequently abandoned Ford Motor Factory became well-known as one of the most haunted spots in Singapore and many had witnessed paranormal activities. SPI investigated the abandoned Ford Motor Factory several years before it was renovated, and the investigators had spooky encounters themselves.

Upon invitation, SPI returned to Bukit Chandu and the Old Ford Factory to conduct investigations. The plan was to set up simple Japanese offerings, as accurate as possible to actual Japanese traditions, and to detect any changes to the offerings over a period of time.

Besides Japanese Sakae (or wine), food and pastry which were included in the offerings, candles and incense were also lighted over the area, forming a “path” for the lingering spirits to the offerings.

Samples of the offerings before and after were collected. The samples were then tested for anomalies using professional laboratory equipment.

SPI investigators reported that for both days, there were no obvious changes to the offerings except what seems like a slight change in the acidity of the offered Japanese Sakae. Volunteers who tasted the samples reported that the offered Japanese Sakae produced a slight odour compared to the un-offered sample. The samples of the offered sushi also tasted sour when compared to the un-offered sample. Is this evidence of food being consumed by spirits? Or is this a result of food being exposed in air for merely 2 hours?

Remote observation and recording equipment, on top of the large arsenal of gadgets and high-tech equipment assembled and modified by the SPI gadget team, were also placed in carefully planned and selected locations of the two investigated venues: The 2nd level corridor of Bukit Chandu and the infamous Boardroom of the Old Ford Factory.

Recordings at the Bukit Chandu did not reveal any anomalies. However, at the Old Ford Factory, a portion of the recordings revealed that the wireless signals were somewhat being distorted by unknown sources, despite being left untouched and undisturbed. At almost the same time, an SPI investigator who was at the vicinity of the boardroom, noticed a fluctuation in the readings from the Electro-Magnetic Field (EMF) meter.

It was the same kind of distortion which had led to the failure of the video-signal transmitter during a similar investigation a few months ago at another proclaimed haunted spot in Telok Blangah. The equipment were later checked and confirmed to be in perfect working order. Then what had caused these disturbances? Did entities manifesting from the boardroom produced the electro-magnetic forces that caused the distortion in the video signals?

The Mysteries & Memories Of Tanjong Rhu

The Mysteries & Memories Of Tanjong Rhu

“Did You Know” mysteries include: 1. The Tanjong Katong Fort was used to be an unknown U-Shaped concrete in the old days
2. A fountain is built on a popular triad meeting place; 3. A strange rock is said to relate to bloody killing and resembles a tomb
4. A mysterious death case whereas a boy’s body was “slotted” at a narrow drain right in front of a police quarter

Where Tanjong Rhu got its name from?

Located at the southern tip of the Singapore mainland, lies the quiet & peaceful but mysterious Tanjong Rhu. A well known place in the past as one of the earliest seaside entertainment centre during the 60s, but is almost forgotten by many from the current generation now. Why is this place known as Tanjong Rhu? Not many people; including the older generation, know exactly where this name derived from. Many could only know the word ¡¥Tanjong¡¦ means ¡¥seaside¡¦ in Malay, but what about the word Rhu?

Finally we came to know of a senior Malay friend who used to spent his early childhood past times there, his name is Ali, aged 50. Ali have explained to us that the word Rhu was the Malay name of a kind of tree, which were very commonly seen along this stretch of land during the early days. He further explained that this tree resembled very much like the look of a huge Christmas tree. Well, this certainly reminds me of how Changi got the name from it¡¦s the magnificent Changi tree of course.

1. A sketch of Katong park in the old days where it was a coconut plantation; 2. The Katong Park today;
3 & 4. SPI investigators leading and narrating the interesting historical fact bits on Tanjong Rhu

1 & 2. This platform used to be a popular performance stage in the old days; now it is more of a decor in the park;
3. SPI was checking out the boundary of the reclaimed land. It was a water front across this drain
4. Now with the road expansion, the land was created and the swimming facility was gone
But between the highway and the drain is a little buffer area, now used as a space for dog exercise called Dog Run Area.

Katong Park in its heydays

Our first stop of the day was at the famous Katong Park. This is certainly one of the oldest park in Singapore, and along the main walkway in the park, historical pictures and write-outs have been placed for visitors to understand more about the glorious history of this area. It was remembered very well that this park used to be packed with people during most weekends in the past. The main attraction was certainly the beach which was located right in front of the park. Together with a big entertainment stage, ample rest shelters, children playground, a cafeteria and a big fenced up safe swimming zone at the beach. Today, the park was a drastic difference as before, it¡¦s now quiet, peaceful and almost forgotten. The abovementioned facilities in the park were demolished since after the land reclamation has taken place. And now a secret which not many people came to know about this park¡K¡K

1. The water front used to be a swimming club; 2. The two warehouse like buildings are WW2 Japanese factories

Fort Tanjong Katong

During the 18th century, the British have in fact built a fort here, and named as Fort Tanjong Katong. And did you know that some remains of this fort can still be seen in the park? To find it, simply look for the park¡¦s only public toilet located at the inward most of the park, and you will find the fort remains within the small square barricade painted in green. Click here to read more about the fate of Fort Tanjong Katong.

Apart from this Fort Tanjong Katong, there was also an almost tragic happening that occurred here just nearby the former Ambassador Hotel in 1963 whereby there were 3 sabotaged bombing by an Indonesian terrorist group; however there¡¦s no casualty occurrence. And now another secret here about this hotel¡K. (Photo about the news). This hotel was previously one of the popular beach hotels in this area during the 60s. However, ever since the land reclamation taken place and subsequently closing down of the beach, business has dropped. And it have changed its name from Ambassador Hotel to Duke Hotel, and then to Katong Park Hotel (a budget hotel) before it finally closed down and demolished.

1. Artist impression of the Fort Tanjong Katong. Here is a photo with more information.
2. An anatomy of the details of the fort; 3. The cross-sectional view

SPI was checking out the old fort. Now the fort was re-buried again, only recently. It is sad that it could not be seen anymore
Notice the tree in the first picture? It has a dumped pile of ruins possibly from the excavation of the old fort or elsewhere

1. You can still find pieces of rusted iron ruins as historical artifacts as dump under this tree. Close up here.
2 – 4. These chunks have a mix of types of bricks and material, all cemented as a big chunk. Close up here.

From burning ground to army base

Apart from this Katong Park which is a historical landmark of this area, there is another landmark here which is much older than the park. It¡¦s the Singapore Swimming Club, which was located just down the Tanjong Rhu Road. This club was initiated by a group of European young beach swimmers, and was officially formed in 1894. It started off with a simple small attap hut by the sea, and progressively upgraded to a first class premium private facility today.

Besides the Singapore Swimming Club, is the Waterside Condominium. Long before the construction of this condo took place, this area was an abandoned piece of land with extreme thick vegetations and I always remembered small scale bush fire was quite a common happening during hot weather. However, the old timers would surely remember this was the place where you could see many ruins & remains from the World War 2 British army. I remember some of these include a couple of tall and long warehouses, bunker shelters, a 7 storey high observation tower and some ruins from the British Army residences. I recalled my experience about discovering the old and soiled British Army uniforms inside one of the biggest bunker shelter here during one of my young days exploration here.

1. Observation tower that used to guard along Tanjong Rhu seaside.
2. In the past before archeological excavation, residents already noticed existence of the strange U-shaped concrete structure
3 & 4. Information about the War Years

Kampong Arang the charcoal village

Our journey now cut into a smaller road named as Kampong Arang Road, which is located directly opposite the Main Entrance of the Singapore Swimming Club. An innocent-looking small road you may say, however, did you know that during the 60s and 70s, this road was almost as busy as can be? During these years, there were many small and some big scale industries here, all were taking the advantage that this spot was a designated loading and unloading port for small vessels.

The name Kampong Arang refers to charcoal village or small town. Yes, this area was a popular charcoal trading area in the past whereby seagoing import / export as well as packaging of charcoals to places like Thailand and Indonesia were carried out here. Besides the charcoal trading, other industries include small scale ship-buildings / repairs / engineering can be found here.

1 & 2. In the old days, one can see piles of charcoal piling up on the river shore; 3 & 4. The charcoal factories as in 1986

1. A hand-drew hand that shows the interesting spots around the place;
2 & 3. Kampong Arang, it was a charcoal village in the past. The river was used as a canal to shuttle the goods. Now it is totally changed
Rumor said it used to have one huge fire broke out overnight. Many were caught in the sleep and burned to death.
4. Sampan Place, it used to a factory making Sampan. Now it is completely urbanized

Black Panther spirit

And did you know that there used to have a small shop here which manufactured coffins? Now a secret here which not many people know about it¡K¡K During the 70s, there was an island-wide hunt for a black panther who was escaped from the zoo, and this animal was finally caught here! Can you imagine the distance which this panther escaped from Mandai Zoo to Tanjong Rhu. However, the story doesn¡¦t end here. Not long after the animal was captured, there were sighting as claimed by some people that they saw the Black Panther spirit at the nearby casuarinas trees. Rumors started to spread, but not much people willing to believe what they heard. The mysterious big black cat indeed, but the fate of this Black Panther was not known today.

This is a resemblance of the black panther that broke free from the zoo. Some myth of black panther can be found here.

This is the place where the block panther used to hide when it was escaped from the zoo.
Can you spot the two spirit trees? One of them is said to have sighting of the black panther spirits lurking around.

Haunted primary school?

In no more than 50 metres from the casuarinas trees, one will never miss another mysterious looking area with broken down facilities lying inside the premise compound, overgrown vegetations, deserted, un-maintained basketball courts and the sign placed at the gate showing Singapore Christian Conference Centre. This was the former site of Tanjong Rhu Primary School in the 60s to 80s until the school was closed down. During the early days, this school was popularly rumored as the ¡§haunted¡¨ Tanjong Rhu Primary School; especially at the dental clinic located at the ground floor. Well, the look of the school compound now somehow fits the rumor. We went there to view the other side of the school compound backyard by detouring into the housing estate area. Eerie looking banyan trees and a cracked-walled caretaker house were seen from here.

1. This premise used to be the former Tanjong Rhu Primary School in the 60’s and 80’s.
The primary school was infamously rumoured to be a ‘haunted’ school in the past
2. The haunting hotspot was at the dental clinic at the ground floor. 3. You can see an abandoned basket ball playground over the fence
4. Now the location is for Singapore Christian Conference Center; by the almighty name of the Lord Jesus, no demon can reside around

The backyard of Christian Conference Center. In the old days, this eerie looking land used to a hot-bed for ghost stories
You could easily imagine altars were placed under the so-called spirit tree, with a yellow cloth wrapped around
Now the place is cleared away from any superstitious ritual item; so gone are the fear and ghost stories instilled by the demons

In the last two photos you can see what might used to be a shrine packed with idols for worship. Now, the shrine is cleared and cleaned.

A missing Block 13

Talking about this housing estate here, if you would have been observant enough, you might be asking¡K¡¨Hey, I noted the blocks here are from Block 1 to 14, but where is the Block 13?¡¨ Well, dear readers, there was indeed a Block 13 around, but that was during before it was demolished during the 80s for upgrading reason. Could it be just a coincidence that this block 13 was chosen to be demolished for the construction of a residential resting open space and a multi storey car-park, or could it be some ¡§other¡¨ reasons? Well, no one seems to bother about this doubt in the past.

1. Notice that this HDB estate has Block 13 missing; 2 – 3. This is Block 12 and Block 14 respectively
4. Then where is Block 13? It used to situated in the center of this open ground but demolished during an upgrade in the 1980’s
A block was rather named to be 14A than 13.

This is the original site of Block 13, now converted to a recreation area.
Is it a coincidence that this block chosen to be vanished for the addition of a leisure park or for its “inauspicious” nature of the no. 13?
You can find the original site of Block 13 is now replaced with some special designed structures:
Such as circular structures (Photos 1 to 3), a large fake red door (Photos 2 & 3),
many of metal poles that may be unnecessary for their practical use but look like gigantic pins pinning to the ground (Photos 2 – 4),
and last but not the least, the shape of the lamp poles that resembles the weapon of the God of Warrior (Photo 1)

At a first glance the design of this recreation area looks completely normal. We are not here to confirm anything certainly unusual;
It could just be a normal design of HDB flats and it is a pure coincidence that Block 13 was chosen to be demolished due to its location;
We leave it to the symbolotists and cryptanalysts out there to decipher any secret meaning underneath (if any).
E.g. If you look carefully at this photo, there seems to be some words on the washout area of the wall.
Please contact SPI if you believe you have found something strange or theories and facts that disprove otherwise.

A weird death position

From Block 13, we went over to Block 1 where I started to tell our guest about a mysterious police case happened at this location during the mid 70s. A young boy was suspected murdered and his body was found dumped in a ¡§slot-in¡¨ position in a small narrow drain just next to this block 1 on one early morning. Now, the interesting thing about this case was that no one know who is this boy and where did he come from. The most questionable query was Block 1 was in fact a designated living quarter for the police, and who would have been brave enough to commit such a crime at the ¡§doorway¡¨ of the police living territory?

At the nearby Geylang River, SPI proceeded to investigate that there used to be a causeway with a tide gate control house located in the midway across this river in the past. It was recalled there were night market or ¡§Pasar Malam¡¨ held here every weekends. But during the weekdays, the causeway was extremely quiet, dark and eerie in the night. However during the major clean-up exercise by the Authority in the mid 80s, this causeway together with the tide gate control house was demolished.

1. Block 1, this building is used to be a police living quarter in the old days. A weird death case just happened meters outside this quarter
2 – 4. A boy died in a strange “slot-in” position in a small drain. Some speculate it was a demonstration to challenge the police authority
Until today, nobody knows how exactly the boy died and ended up lying sideway stuck in a narrow drain

1. This is our modern-day drain that is much wider and bigger.
In the old days, narrow drain could have very confined gap just to fit in the body of a young boy
2 – 4. The investigators continued to check out the strange remains at the Geyland River

A strange rock

Our next stop was in fact at the hawker centre of the estate, and no, we are not going for our drinks there. We are there to view one of the strangest item found here; a standing rock. As far as I can recall, this rock was never meant to be found there in the early days, but it was somehow mounted right in the middle of these eating place after a major renovation of this market and hawker centre. Our photo-taking session too caught some curious people patronizing the hawker centre at that point of time. One friendly old man came along for a brief chat with us; he said that the location of this area was previously a cemetery! He further reiterated many people mentioned that this rock resembled like a tombstone, and an open space at the 2nd level of this hawker centre also resembled the look of a typical funeral parlour. Well, during the days of childhood days, it was heard that about the hawker centre was a former cemetery, but this has not been verified yet. The only thing that can be confirmed was the location of this standing rock was used to be a chicken slaughtering place in the market, and also recalled seeing chicken blood flowing along with the drain water every morning. In fact, on an old street directory map, the location used to be a community center.

This is the strange rock called in Jalan Batu market and cooked food centre (Batu means rock in Malay)
It has some history and mystery behind this rock. Firstly it used to have an original inscription but got covered by cement.
Secondly this rock was said to stand in a blood-bathed slaughtering market and its shape resembles a tombstone.
Therefore, even nowadays it is only a decor, it never meant to stand above ground for its blood-related history and tomb-like outlook
You can see that the design for this rock is a concept of submerging it in water.
Blue tiles and blue color eating tables, and mosaic pictures of marine creatures are surrounding the rock.
Conceptually the atmosphere helps washing off the blood and assuring it never arise above ground to become a tombstone
After all, it could be a pure coincidence for everything

1. It was said this rock to be sacred and people offered joss incense to the rock;
2. The fact is, these are spikes installed for fending off birds
3 & 4. On the upper level, it was said that the shop lots near the rock resembles a funeral parlour. But we think it could be a superstition.

Gangsters hangout

Just barely in front of the hawker centre was a well renovated small park with an overhead fountain. This place was certainly one of the favourite haunt for many youngsters during my younger days, as there was a community centre, basketball court and a roller skating rink here. However there was a little secret about this area as well¡K.. For it was also the favourite gathering ground for the gangsters. They met and gathered here almost every evening after 7p.m. till 11p.m. I recalled seeing them dressed up in black tucked out long sleeves shirts with white pants during festive seasons like Chinese New Year. Our secret way of living in harmony with them was in fact simply just ignore them, pretending they were ¡§invisible¡¨. When you stare at them, you will be in big trouble.

1. Before this fountain was built, this “agora” was frequented by many assembly of gangsters here;
The design of the fountain artwork was like three arms holding each other.
Some speculated it meant to be a symbol of peace among the three major secret society in the past of Singapore
2. However, the history indicates that factually it was just an upgrade project in 2002, unveiled by the ex-PM Goh Chok Tong
3.  These HDB flats in the old days can overlook the common ground at which gangsters meet and hang around
4. Some old physicians still remain; they were said to be patronized a lot by the gangster who injured in their fighting.
It is however a rumour of many injuries in the fights of the triad.
By the memories of the old residents, the physicians cooked their own herb remedies.
Some of them have family receipts that were quite effective.

Wonderland and the stone lion

Just before we ended out Tanjong Rhu trip, we took a quick turn into the the Kallang Park area where I have also shown the guests that there was a theme park here in the early 70s; known as The Wonderland. The first roller coaster in Singapore was in fact built in this park. Due to poor business after a renovation, the park was finally closed down in the 80s. Other significant past landmarks here includes a pair of majestic-looking stone lions which were relocated here from the Nicoll Highway during the 70s. However, these pairs of lions were later relocated again to Changi Airport, and finally now laid at the current SAFTI compound observation tower entrance area. The other one which most people have forgotten was the gigantic fountain which was built here in the 60s, but have been demolished as well to give way to the construction of the National Stadium compound in the 70s. However, the picture of this fountain was used as the badge icon of the Singapore Boys Scout.

1. This carpark next to Kallang Stadium was said to be the original site of the Wonderland theme park;
2. The location of the stone lion statue that once stood
3. At the entrance of  the Nicole Highway, a pair of Lion statues were placed; 4. An identical design of the Lion statue

Still Road Grand Hotel cut half

We have came to an end of the Tanjong Rhu exploration trip, however we have too take the opportunity to do a short visit to some of the nearby interesting structures as well; like the Still Road Grand Hotel which was ¡§cut¡¨ into half for the purpose of constructing the Still Road in the past, the ¡§peep¡¨ into the famous Chung Cheng High School pond which have been a talking topic in our forum, the abandoned section of the semi-detached houses along Still Road which was left incomplete for unknown reason. Our journey have finally ended after a quick view of the famous abandoned Katong Bakery red building and of course the irresistible legendary Katong laksa.

1 & 2. The Old Grand Hotel in Still Road was cut into two halves;
one side that still preserves the original structure is reputable to be a haunted house given its run-down appearance;
the other side is an operating hotel now under construction
3 & 4. This semi-detached house cluster got its side lot incomplete for some unknown reasons

The Tragic Past of Galang Camp

The Tragic Past of
Galang Camp

1. Very depilated camp house; 2. Medical facility; 3. Abandoned hospital;
4. Haunted camp house from which ghost cries were said to be heard. SPI investigated and the results will be featured in another article.

1. Bridging to another section of the town where there are town hall and churches; 2. A broken swing in front of a school;
3 & 4. These two photos were taken in sequence. The later one that with a red circle has a bluish apparition captured!
It cannot be due to dirty lens because there is no other photo in this set of over a thousand has this paranormal image.

Galang – The Island of Both Hope and Hell

Galang Island rests quietly in the calm sea, indistinguishable from thousands of other green Indonesian islands near the Equator south of Singapore. But for tens of thousands of Vietnamese “boat people,” the United Nations refugee camp on this island represented a single, thin ray of hope. For most of those who boarded small, rickety boats to escape Vietnam after the war in search of new and happier lives, Galang will not be what they hoped to find.

Laying a thick trail of oily diesel smoke low across the glassy sea, the noisy boat violates nature’s tranquility as it slices toward the wooden dock on this tiny, emerald isle. One would never suspect this forested point of land protruding unassumingly from the warm ocean was be home, at any one time, to nearly 20,000 desperate people who had no idea what their futures would hold. They risked everything in the belief that their new lives, or the lives they hoped to live someday in another country, would prove better than those they left behind.

The people who arrived on Galang already passed a difficult test. They rolled the dice on a dangerous ocean voyage and won. Many others lost that gamble. Pirates troll the seas in search of easy prey, and often find it. Many Vietnamese were robbed, killed or raped shortly after they gathered their meager possessions and set off in the cloak of darkness in search of freedom and opportunity. A small shrine on the island pays tribute to three women who, after suffering the humiliation of rape during their journey, took their own lives.

Statistics from United Nation shows that 850,000 refugees have settled in foreign nations, equal to that number are 850,000 victims, eternally resting along their journey to find freedom and happiness. There are many bitter tales to tell, on how the courage and faith brought the survivors to better living environment. At the same times, many forgotten souls who are the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends of the fortunate survivors, cannot make it, but rested in the remote forests or deep in the ocean bed.

This article means to pay tribute to the courageous souls, and not let this tragic history of humanity be forgotten.

The whole camp is so huge; got many interesting clusters of abandoned houses and structures, free to explore and roam around

There is a famous Buddhist temple in the camp. What strange is, the name is called “The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam”

How Galang Camp Came About

The Vietnamese refugee camp on Galang Island in Riau province of Batam, Indonesia, have many bitter tales to tell of the tragedy that befell countless victims of the conflict between two opposing ideologies at the peak of the Cold War.

More than 250,000 boat people who made the perilous trip to escape the war between communist North Vietnam, and first France, and then America in South Vietnam, may have arrived on this island as refugees. They left their country in wooden boats. Hundreds of refugees were packed like sardines in boats capable of carrying only around a dozen passengers. The first Vietnamese boat, carrying 24 refugees, reached West Bunguran in the Riau Islands on May 22, 1975. The refugees used as a guide the flames from an oilfield in Udang. They staked their lives to come to Galang, braving the huge waves of the South China Sea.

More and more refugees arrived that numbered as many as 250,000, housed in a number of different places: Air Baja, Tanjung Unggat and East Bintan. In 1979, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) took the responsibility of caring the refuggee and decided, after reaching an agreement with the Indonesian government, to setup a refugee camp on an 80-hectare site on Galang island. From then on, Galang Camp was born.

1 – 3. This is the UNHCR office where the screening of the refugees was carried out – now of course is abandoned
It was said that outside this building many Vietnamese killed themselves when their fate was cast to be return home or on exile
This is an interesting graffiti of a woman-like officer wearing a cap. Can anyone understand the meaning of the scribbled words?

The office building ruin that once determined the fates of many Vietnamese refugees, now is haunted by memories of sadness

Situation Turned Bitter

With the funding given by UNHCR and other foreign humanitarian organizations, life was in order in Galang Camp until the number of refugees far exceeded the initial estimated number. Initially Galang was established at the end of the Vietnam war and built to house only a quarter of the population living there.

At that point, the United States had accepted 82,060. In 1991, Canada became home to 13,516 people, followed by Australia’s acceptance of 6,470. Other countries had not stretched their arms as widely. Japan accepted only 113 people. Spain, Italy, Argentina and Ireland took fewer than 20 each. Meanwhile, scores of people continued to arrive from the open sea on overloaded vessels. An additional 50 were being born in the camp each month.

The hardship for Galang refugees intensified as many nations strengthened their resolve not to accept any more boat people. Often, the overloaded boats arriving in countries throughout southeast Asia were simply pushed back out to sea.

The camp staff and U.N. workers had a very difficult job, beyond providing meager shelter, rations and minimal health care. They were to determine which of those people arriving would quality for refugee status and possible resettlement in other countries. In a way, they were burdened by the grave decision making of assigning life and death to them, literally. Under a small open-air shelter, the serious business of casting fates was being conducted. Each person was interviewed when arrived, soon determining whether an applicant’s qualifications for resettlement could be met – whether the individual was to be ‘screened in’ or ‘screened out.’

Those unable to prove themselves political refugees under United Nations definition – or with no close relatives in other countries to sponsor them – faced a bleak future. Some eventually returned to Vietnam, some remained for years in the camp, hoping against hope to someday be “saved.” That crucial decision made all the difference for tens of thousands of people. With the passage of time since the war, increasing numbers of applicants were found to be economic migrants, technically not refugees, and therefore they did not qualify for resettlement in the United States. The interview sometimes lasted more than an hour. Eighty percent of the time, in 1991, the decision rendered was unfavorable.

1. This is our SPI informant and tour guide who furnished us with valuable information; On the wall are the refugee photos
2. The gruesome workflow chart that depicts how the screening process was done – with outcome that is either screening in or out
3 & 4. Some religious objects that used to be the personal belongings of the Vietnamese people.
Most of them were brought along from Vietnam, survived the tough sea journey.
One may then ask if they meant so much to them, why did the items end up here in the mini-museum? The answer is simple and sad.

The Dark Moments in the Camp

Besides the future was doomed for most boat people in the camp, life was never easy, especially for the women. It was reported on the newspaper called South China Morning Post, June 6, 1993, titled “Terrorised in the Camp of Shame” how tormenting life was in Galang camp. The story goes like this:

Twelve years ago, Ton, his sister and brother risked their lives to flee Vietnam in a small, overcrowded and leaky boat, reaching what  they thought was safety after five harrowing days at sea. But the nightmare was only beginning.

For more than three months, Ton spent sleepless nights in the notorious Galang first asylum camp in northern Indonesia clutching his beautiful younger sister in terror. “I used to go to sleep hugging my sister, otherwise the Indonesian guards would pick her up and put her back three hours later,” Ton said, his face alive with emotion.

Based on interviews with former inmates of Galang, the Sunday Morning Post has pieced together a shocking and continuing story of widespread bribery, brutal beatings and sexual assault. Inmates identified one senior guard who abused women sexually and brutally beat men.

In the newspaper report, it was said that UNHCR representatives were instructed not to stay overnight in the camp. But it is at night when almost all the atrocities happen. “If you are beautiful then you are in trouble,” said Jin Ching Danh, 30. Women being raped and men got beaten up became a thing of common in the camp.

Click here for the full story of “Terrorised in the Camp of Shame”.

Over the years, at least 12 Galang inmates who had been screened out as economic migrants have tried to commit suicide. More trouble could lie ahead as the country winds down its refugee determination process and inmates realise they have no hope of resettling abroad.

1. Living quarters of the guards and the guards and UNHCR personnel.
2. This particular living quarter and office are for the senior officers.
The front entrance has a pair of mythical Balinese designed monument that is said to be able to ward off spirits.
In the whole camp, only this building compound would have that protection monument.
3. Photos of the Vietnamese refugees in Galang Camp
4. On the window of this office guard house, there seems to be some mysterious light. Is it apparition or reflection? View the enlarged.

Becoming a Living Hell

In 1994, tension rose to a peak among the Vietnamese refugees as the UNHCR was unable to guarantee their future. Many refugees went on hunger strike. They demanded clear decisions on what was going to happen to them: whether they qualified as refugees and which countries they would be sent to.

Click here for the full story of “Hunger Strike in Galang”.

Many refugees were disappointed at the results of the screening that was carried out to determine whether they qualified as refugees. This was crucial to deciding whether they would be sent to third countries or whether they would be deported back to Vietnam.

Many of them failed to qualify as refugees. One of the reasons, according to the UNHCR, was that some of them had criminal records back in Vietnam. The thought of going back to Vietnam, however, caused great distress among the boat people.

Click here for the full story of “Indonesia Vows “Boat People” Move Despite Protest”.

Eventually the horror of suicide began in Galang Camp.

On September 2, 1996, the tragic mass suicide ensued. The UNHCR decided to close down the refugee camp and deported the remaining refugees to Vietnam as no third countries were willing to accept them. More cases of suicide were listed below.

Third countries, particularly the United States, the third main choice after Canada and Australia, were selective in accepting Vietnamese refugees. One of the main requirements was that they must have certain skills, and be clever and rich. This is a ridiculous criteria for considering the torn-out refugees in the camp who were mostly common folks.

There are 503 graves of Vietnamese boat people here and most of these people committed suicide because they refused to be deported back to Vietnam. Anybody can feel their sadness. They shouted in despair and many of them cut their own throats just like slaughtering chickens.

This is the mysterious Body Tree. Rumour has it that bodies were found hanging from the tree every morning from the suicide
SPI investigated and found that the tree trunks are too vertical, inaccessible, lack of strong side branch for hanging purposes

1. The shrine housed under the tree has two portions: one is a Buddha, the other is a “Water god”.
The boat people who survived a dangerous sea journey would naturally counted the blessings of protection from the god of the sea
2. Incense urn that is decorated with sea-shells. It is supposed that material used are readily found from the nearby seashores
3. The tree shrines. In the centre there is a stone monument with Vietnamese writing inscribed on.
That is a very essential clue in solving the mystery.
SPI thanks a Vietnamese friend Mr. Luong from USA who used to live in Galang Camp.
Mr Luong helped SPI translated the words and provided information that solved this Body Tree mystery.
4. SPI continues the investigation. A full report detailing this mystery and its factual debunk will be published soon on SPI website.

Tragic Suicide in Galang Camp

Life broke down after much tremors happened in the camp. The Vietnamese people, though brave and courageous who left their homes and explored new life aboard, they were human after all. The stress of losing their close family members, relatives, friends and hope, led some of them to destruction. Murder and suicide attempts were as high as the number of rapes. Suffering in such a living hell, plus the rejection from the screening process that shattered their hope of survival, pushed these poor people further into fire.

The following lists several suicide cases chronologically which are only a tip of the iceberg; many other tragedies would have gone unreported.

  • The most tragic was in 1985 when young Tinhnhan Loai was raped by seven compatriots. She committed suicide. In her memory, the UNHCR built a Humanity Statue at that location.

  • On August 30, 1991, Trịnh Kim Hương, 28, burned herself alive after being denied refugee status in Galang camp.

  • On April 12, 1992, Nguyễn Văn Quang, a corporal in the First Airborne Battalion of South Vietnam, hanged himself in Galang camp, after his refugee status was denied and his appeal rejected. He left behind a widow and three young orphans.

  • On August 27, 1992, Trịnh Anh Huy, 20, committed self-immolation in front of UNHCR¡¦s office in Galang Camp. It was said that his last words before he killed himself was like this: ¡¥The lawyer¡¦s statement during screening had me live in terror. It pushes me closer and closer to death.¡¦

  • On April 26, 1994, Phạm Văn Châu, a Vietnamese veteran, burned himself alive in Galang Camp. He died two days later.
    Click here for the full story of “Vietnamese Dies After Self-immolation Protest”.

  • On May 20, 1994 Lê Xuân Thọ, 28, slashed his stomach and set himself afire. He died of severe burns.

  • On September 2, 1996, the final date of the return of the remaining 5,000 refugees back to their home country-since there were no more governments willing to offer asylum-the suicide attempts reached their peak. Many were too scared to return to their homeland and chose to end their lives instead. Suicide victims therefore dominate the 503 graves (three of them were Cambodian nationals).¡¨

More than 6,000 boat people, however, were forced to return because they were not considered victims of political or religious persecution. Out of these 6,000, the number of people who killed themselves was kept in low profile, hence was not exactly known.

A tour guide called Mohammad Yono said approximate hundreds of refugees committed suicide by hanging themselves or throwing themselves into ravines after they were denied refugee status and faced forced repatriation.

“This place is haunted. Many ethnic Chinese have come here to get inspiration on lottery numbers from the spirits,” he said, pointing to a ravine where refugees were said to have killed themselves. Another rumour told by another local of Batam says that there existed one large burial hole, in which corpses of suicide were just dumped. Their names and deaths may not even been recorded officially.

1. SPI investigates the Galang cemetery; 2. The tombs are unique, for example, this one has a female figurine
The face of the stone statue is even blushing in pink, making the figurine came to live. 3 & 4. Assorted tombs

1. This tomb has an unique inscription, featuring Galang, and an icon of a boat
2. This is the famous memorial plague that commemorates about a million of boat people who perished in sea. See the close up
3 & 4. The cemetery is built on a hill slope

Beyond The Cemetery – Resting Places for the Freedom Seekers

Nevertheless, on a hilly slope there is a cemetery known commonly as Camp 3, in addition to Camp 1 and Camp 2. The tombs house the deceased of recorded death in the camp.

The cemetery at the refugee camp in Galang is a reminder of the struggle of Vietnamese refugees who fled their country after the fall of Saigon. Many of them died of starvation or accidents during their long and perilous sea trips on dilapidated and overcrowded boats.

Few tombs at the cemetery bear names of the deceased, but many are of small children. A memorial plaque in front of the graveyard says: “Dedicated to the People Who Died in the Sea on the Way to Freedom.”

This memorial plague is one of the mass entombments for half a million to one million boat people who perished at sea. Religious leaders of various religions have returned to those islands to pray for the soul of the dead. You can see elaborate incense urns were placed in front of the memorial monument.

Click here for the full story of “Praying for Souls”.

This memorial monument is the one of the largest number of deceased being commemorated. It comes possibly after those for the Jewish people victims of the Holocaust, and those for Armenians who were massacred in World War I.

There are however other kinds of makeshift graves less well-kept and recognizable than the Camp 3 cemetery. They are the mass graves that were dug for hundreds of bodies all from the same boat, their drifting wreckage was pulled to shore but everyone in it had long ago drawn their last breath. For hygienic reason, no one searched through the cadavers to at least identify them and get their name engraved on the tombstone.

These unnamed deceased, despite the makeshift burial on the islands, were lucky because they, at least, were allowed a resting place. Hundreds of thousands others lost their life in the South China Sea, they died in pain, in despair, in wretchedness, unknown, without a grave. In their dying moment, they still tried to look up the sky for God, for Buddha, they still tried to say their prayers, unfalteringly, to Quan-Yin, to the Virgin Mary. They died without a decent burial. The ocean was a gigantic mass grave for them.

1. Hell money papers are scattered everywhere.
Given the new condition of the paper notes, a ritual should have been performed here not long ago.
2. This is one of the many children tombs; 3. Perhaps carving a 3-D stone image of the deceased is a Vietnamese culture
4. A pair of Christian tombs

1 & 2. This special tomb pair is barricaded out – an icon of boat is craved on the fence; 3 & 4. Tombs of different religions

1. At the back of the cemetery, there is a strange stone structure – a white bell. This bell has special religious significance to calm the spirits
3 – 4. You can observe in this cemetery, almost every tomb has an unique shape. No two tombs are of the same design.

The Controversial Monument

Many monuments that commemorates Vietnamese boat people are erected on the island. There is one, nevertheless, controversial. In June 2005, a large stone plague erected by former Vietnamese refugees at their one-time camp on Galang was removed. The removal stirred up much emotional disturbance to the Vietnamese communities especially those who had a sentimental attachment to the life in Galang Camp.

The monument was dismantled at the request of the Vietnamese president on the grounds that it was offensive to Vietnam. The Vietnamese government took the view that the wording on the plaque denigrated the dignity of Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the 3 x 1 meter tall concrete frame in which of the stone plaque was embedded is still standing. The marble tiles at the base have been removed, however.

The wording read as follows:

In commemoration of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people who perished on the way to freedom (1975-1996). Though they died of hunger or thirst, or being raped, or exhaustion or any other causes, we pray that they may now enjoy lasting peace. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. – OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE COMMUNITIES 2005.

The reverse side of the plaque read:

In appreciation of the efforts of UNHCR, the Red Cross and the Indonesian Red Crescent Society and other world relief organizations, the Indonesian government and people, as well as all countries of first asylum and resettlement. We also express our gratitude to the thousands of individuals who worked hard in helping the Vietnamese refugees. – OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE COMMUNITIES 2005.

SPI has located the stone monument at the Galang Camp as shown in the photos. The centre piece that once carried the controversial inscribed wording was chiseled off.

Click here for the full story of “Vietnam boat people’s plaque torn down”.

1. The controversial stone monument with reference to a human height; 2. The front view; 3. The close up
4. The back view which you can see that it used to have an old plague chiseled off, and now got cemented back.

The Impact After Visiting the Camp

After visiting the Galang Camp that is haunted by so much tragic memories, one would ponder the lives of the thousands of people who felt driven to literally cast their fates to the wind, not knowing whether Galang Camp will be their first stop on the road to freedom, or their last.

The refugees who survived, all have relatives, or someone that they know, vanished in the South sea. Many boats capsized, many other drifted aimlessly until food and water ran out. How many died of hunger, of thirst, or found themselves lost somewhere in the myriad of archipelagos in the vast ocean? How many were slaughtered by pirates?

Many of the boat people who survived believe they were reborn after such a trip. That’s why this place is a second birth place because it gave birth to their second life, life with freedom and dignity. But that is only of a minority. Sadly, many people who could not make it perished at sea and at this very Galang Camp.

Galang Camp will be forever engraved in the history of mankind as a powerful testament to the force of humanity, where the innocent victims of a most cruel tyranny finally were offered solace in the caring hands of the world community.

Like all of us, these boat people were once our companions in the common human quest for freedom, for human decency. Unlike all of us, they were unlucky. We cannot forget them, we cannot forsake them for the second time to oblivion, we cannot let them become just a number, a statistic in the pages of history. For these deceased boat people did exist.

Click here for a life testimony of a Vietnamese man who lived in Galang Camp.
Click here for a life testimony from an article called “Sad stories from Galang and Bidong – Come Hell or High Water” (PDF file of size 151Kb)

Currently SPI is organizing educational tours from Singapore to Galang Camp. The objective to teach the young Singaporeans about life is not always of luxury. There are many heart-touching lessons to learn, many provisions in modern world now we shall not take for granted.

1. The camp now has a number of authentic wooden boats that were used by the Vietnamese to flee for freedom
2 & 3. The boat has two decks. Total of more than 200 refugees were cramped in this boat
4. The back view of the boat, showing a little propeller


Pictorial Tour

1. SPI chartered a modern and comfortable speed boat, cruising all the way to Batam
2. Stop by a modern bridge that is quite of a misfit in the rustic Batam nature environment
3. The first stop is at a Quan Yin Temple that is the oldest in Galang. It has been renovated recently
4. Behind this tall Quan Yin statue, on the altar there are over hundreds of smaller Quan Yin statues. Kind of amazing..

1.Second stop is the Galang Camp cemetery; 2. First time SPI investigates a Vietnamese cemetery;
3. What is Yellowbie and AK47 discussing about? 4. The team moves on by an air-cond mini coach

Have fun checking out the authentic antique fishing boats that were used by the refugees

1. Is this a tomb or .. water pumping facility? 2. The trees kena vandalised – Ouch it hurts; 3. Eerie church
4. What captivated Shi Hui so much until Douglas walked pass she didn’t notice?
Catch up the next SPI article on the in-depth Galang Camp investigation

1. At the end of the investigation, this is the most long-waited moment – Sumptuous Makan at a Kelong Restaurant – very delicious food
2. Redstone poised like pulling some seafood out from the water
3. Fresh coconut, the best thirst quencher. Yes, each of us consumed at least two sweet Batam coconuts
4. Meaty and live crabs, cooked in different ways like Pepper, Sambal, Black bean, dished out in front of us on the dining table

1 – 3. Beautiful serene view of the Kelong and the river. Notice the sun-drying sponges on the left?
4. The food was too delicious until nobody remember to take photos! Everybody was indulged in enjoying the seafood lunch

What is a ghost?

What is a ghost?

What is a ghost?  This is a common question pertaining to the Paranormal.  Our definition of a ghost is the spirit of a departed person who has not yet entered onto another “Higher Plane” of existence after Death.  The spirit remains earthbound.  Every living thing has a spirit.  When something dies the spirit simply has no use to stay inside a body which will no longer function so it leaves.  Most spirits pass onto these “Higher Planes” such as Heaven or even Hell but others remain here.  There are many reasons for their staying.  Some are afraid to pass on or are in denial of their very Deaths.  Others have unfinished business while others may not even be aware that they’re dead.  There are many other reasons why the spirit may not leave this world (whether it be because of personal reasons or otherwise) but they can be helped onto “Higher Planes” through using psychics and other methods which are of religious and we don’t want to elaborate.

Theories on ghosts

Throughout time man has tried to define and understand his own Mortality by believing in Ghosts and the Hereafter.  Skeptics and Believers alike are eager to create new theories either proving or disproving ghosts so in this write-up we will take a quick look at some of the theories trying to explain the mystery of ghosts.  This write-up will take a quick look at the usual Beliefs on ghosts on the viewpoint of Believers and Skeptics alike.

Those who believe in ghosts believe they are the spirits of departed persons who remain on this Earth and have not yet passed onto the “Other Side” for some unknown reason(s).  We SPI are trying to prove this theory and find out the truth behind.

Skeptics like to believe that spirits are simply figments of madmen and overactive imaginations.  It is easy to accept this theory but the problem in accepting this theory is why is there so much photographic and other evidence as well as first-hand accounts of encounters with ghosts.  Mass hysteria throughout the Ages?  Not likely.  Some already witnessed ghosts first-hand themselves and this is by no means uncommon.  One out of 10 Singaporeans have claimed to have had an encounter with ghosts at least once in their lifetime and one out of 4 Singaporeans believe in ghosts.   Not to mention all of the other experiences happening to millions, if not billions, of other people around the world.  Certainly it is totally and utterly impossible to refute all of these claims as lies, hoaxes, and overactive imaginations.  Yes, some of the cases are but we are still left with an overwhelming amount of evidence in favor of the afterlife.  The Bible and the Quran and most World Religions support the ideology of “Life After Death”.  As the old saying goes, “Truth is always stranger than fiction”.  That is certainly the case here.  It may seem more rational to believe we simply disappear after we die but science is showing quite the contrary so what may seem rational is not always the Truth!

In short, if we want everlasting hope of the Afterlife then let us believe in ghosts!  The evidence is there but we sometimes just don’t want to accept it simply because most people do not like the thought of death.  Most people may even strictly put science and ghosts in opposite positions – to allow us choose either one of the two, and no in-between.  There is no exact science.  Things that cannot be explained by now doesn’t mean they will never be explained in the future.  Those who advocate and bestow science is everything that we can see and touch materially would have less chances to move beyond.  We believe, only with an open mind we will learn.

So are there ghosts?

There are, however, many theories to explain the thousands upon thousands of documented experiences that people around the world have had since the beginning of recorded history. Ghosts and hauntings seem to be a relatively common part of the human experience. And there appear to be several types of ghosts or hauntings, and more than one theory may be needed to explain them all.

Dead people

The traditional view of ghosts is that they are the spirits of dead people that for some reason are “stuck” between this plane of existence and the next, often as a result of some tragedy or trauma. Many ghost hunters and psychics believe that such earth-bound spirits don’t know they are dead. Veteran ghost hunter Hans Holzer says, “A ghost is a human being who has passed out of the physical body, usually in a traumatic state and is not aware usually of his true condition. We are all spirits encased in a physical body. At the time of passing, our spirit body continues into the next dimension. A ghost, on the other hand, due to trauma, is stuck in our physical world and needs to be released to go on.”

Ghosts exist in a kind of limbo in which they haunt the scenes of their deaths or locations that were pleasant to them in life. Very often, these types of ghosts are able to interact with the living. They are, on some level, aware of the living and react to being seen on the occasions that they materialize. Some psychics claim to be able to communicate with them. And when they do, they often try to help these spirits to understand that they are dead and to move on to the next stage of their existence.

Residual Hauntings or Recordings

Some ghosts appear to be mere recordings on the environment in which they once existed. A civil war soldier is seen on repeated occasions staring out a window at a house where he once stood guard. A dead child’s laughter is heard echoing in a hallway where she often played. There are even cases of ghost cars and trains that can still be heard and sometimes seen, even though they are long gone. These types of ghosts do not interact with or seem to be aware of the living. Their appearance and actions are always the same. They are like spirit-level recordings – residual energies – that replay over and over again.

“A traumatic moment in time leaves an indelible impression on the building or area,” says Strange Nation in “What Is a Ghost?,” “replaying itself for eternity. This could be anything from a ‘glimpse of the past’ – a recreation of some traumatic or emotion-laden event – to footsteps up and down a hallway.”

What causes these recordings to be made and how and why they are played back is a mystery. “How and why past events are recorded and replayed repetitiously is not understood,” writes Lauren Forcella. “Whatever the actual mechanism, it apparently possesses longevity as the encore performances of a haunting can continue for decades or longer. Generally, the haunting is a fragment or portion of an actual event.”


These kinds of ghosts may be the most common. These spirits usually appear shortly after their deaths to people close to them. They are aware of their deaths and can interact with the living. They most often bring messages of comfort to their loved ones, to say that they are well and happy, and not to grieve for them. These ghosts appear briefly and usually only once. It is as if they intentionally return with their messages for the express purpose of helping the living cope with their loss.

“This category commonly involves one-time visits to someone with whom the apparition has close emotional ties,” says Lauren Forcella at Paranormal Investigations, who calls these ghosts “crisis apparitions.” “Though the encounter usually seems to be a type of farewell, sometimes important and useful information is relayed to the ‘viewer.’ Though dying is the most common crisis, other life-threatening situations can also trigger apparitional visits.”


This type of haunting is the most feared by people because it has the greatest ability to affect our physical world. Poltergeists are blamed for unexplained noises, such as wall-banging, rapping, footsteps and even music. They take our possessions and hide them, only to return them later. They turn on faucets, slam doors, turn lights on and off, and flush toilets. They throw things across rooms. They have been known to pull on people’s clothing or hair. The malevolent ones even slap and scratch the living. It is because of these sometimes “mean-spirited” manifestations that poltergeists are considered by some investigators to be demonic in nature.

Other investigators, however, believe that poltergeist activity is not caused by ghosts at all, but by certain living people under stress. “During a poltergeist experience,” writes Lauren Forcella, “the agent, in an attempt to relieve emotional stress, unknowingly causes the physical disturbances using mental forces. The mental mechanism that allows the poltergeist agent to unconsciously cause these physical disturbances is called psychokinesis.”


The skeptics’ point of view – if they are willing to admit there is anything to haunting experiences at all – is that they are all in our minds, or are products of our own minds. Ghosts, they say, are psychological phenomena: we see them because we expect to or want to see them. A grieving widow sees her dead husband because she needs to; she needs the comfort of knowing that he is alright and happy in the next world. Her mind produces the experience to help itself cope with the stress of the loss. Since we know so little about the power and capacity of our own minds, it’s possible that they can even produce physical manifestations, such as apparitions and noises – projections that even others may be able to see and hear. But they are not “real” in any sense, say the skeptics, just the conjuring of powerful imaginations.

Are there such things as ghosts? The phenomena of ghosts and hauntings are very real experiences. It is their true cause and nature that is the ongoing mystery.