Bed bugs and bad plumbing are nothing compared to finding an uninvited guest hovering over your bed at night. We ask a few seasoned travellers to share their tale of encounters with things that go bump in the night.
Melissa Wong sank into her bed at a five-star hotel in Kensington, London. It was winter and darkness fell early. The 28-year-old air stewardess with a Middle Eastern airline was exhausted from a 12-hour flight. Sleep overcame her with ease.
Some time in the night, a gentle triing triing of the phone being dialled woke her up. It was the 1990s and the phones were still old-fashioned ones with round dials. Wong groggily picked up the handset. There was only a dial tone. She went back to sleep.
But there came the sound again. Wong opened her eyes sleepily. Panic seized her. For a dark figure was standing silently by the window. A crack of light through the curtains revealed that he was clutching a knife.
Wong leapt out of bed. She banged frantically at a colleague’s door and fell into the room hysterically. Both women made their way to the leading stewardess’ room, where the terrified pair stayed till dawn before heading downstairs.
“The duty manager just dismissed the incident,” recalls Wong.
“Later, a young receptionist told us that a man had committed suicide in the hotel years ago. I wasn’t harmed but that was the last thing you’d want to see in your room in the middle of the night!”
While hotels commonly deny the presence of paranormal patrons, spooky sightings and unexplainable encounters are rife among frequent travellers.
An entire airline crew at one of Tokyo Narita Airport’s hotelslast year was kept awake by what they described as a banshee wailing over the air-conditioner ducts.
“It didn’t surprise us because our rooms were located in the vicinity of a room that had been left with its door opened and a red tape strung across it,” recalls one of the crew members.
Insurance agent Mary-Jo Thomas, 38, felt an eerie sensation upon stepping inside her room at a popular Taipei hotel.
“I can’t explain it, but I just felt a chill,” Mary recalls.
“We’d just come in from a long-haul flight and we were beat. The room was oddly angled. The small window partially faced a courtyard wall so little sunlight penetrated the room. It felt cold and musty. I was tired so I ignored my instincts. Plus my luggage had been sent up.”
Mary slept till 5pm and went out for dinner. She returned at 9pm and watched television. As she leaned back on her pillow against the headrest of the bed, she felt a presence doing likewise by her side. The pillow next to her was conspicuously sunken in.
Mary started breathing fast. But she refused to budge.
“I’d heard that restless spirits visit when we’re drained physically, emotionally or spiritually. Whatever it was, I refused to give in or they’d probably visit me more often! Plus, it didn’t feel sinister. I started swearing as I heard that spirits are turned off by bad language. After 20 minutes, I saw the pillow puffing up again as if the weight that was on it had been lifted.”
Paranormal activities sometimes manifest physically.
Fashion buyer Syarina Yusof, 25, took a nap before dinner after checking in at the same Taipei hotel. She woke up to find her cosmetics scattered all over the dressing table and floor. Perplexed, Syarina recalled a colleague who’d spoken of Taipei’s constant earthquake tremors, and assumed it must have happened while she was asleep.
After dinner, Syarina returned to her room and called it a day. But the stillness of the night was punctuated by a distinctive click of a lipstick tube opening in the dark.
She quickly flicked on the lights. Again, her make-up and skincare were scattered all over the dressing table when she’d earlier lined them up neatly for her morning routine. And she had not felt any tremor. The next morning, a fellow guest said he’d seen a little girl sitting alone in the lobby at midnight, which he’d found odd, as nobody else had seen her.
Syarina’s encounter wasn’t an isolated incident as frequent travellers have related numerous experiences in the same hotel, leading to rumours of the site being a former burial ground. With stories of haunted hotels so rife, it can be difficult to sift fact from fiction, reality from imagination, or urban legends from truth.
Okay now I might freak out whenever I check into a hotel. Nonetheless, these things are unavoidable.