This story and travelogue is my contribution to Angela Nickerson’s Just Go Blogapalooza invitation. Last month I wrote about Twitter after being at BlogWorld 08 in Las Vegas. I had never heard of Twitter before last month. I signed up and started tweeting this month. As a result of Twitter I met Angela and signed on to write a story for her Halloween Blogapalooza party. There are around 30 bloggers participating and you can link to the Blogapalooza stories through Angela’s Just Go blog.
The following travel story took place in Singapore, June 2006.
Changi Beach, Singapore
I am a man of science. Practical applications of food science, labor economics, and education pedagogy have been my studies. Measurements and quantifiable data are my keys to understanding. I now apply my calculations and statistics to hotel rate analysis and discussions of hotel loyalty program value for consumers.
The truth of the matter is I had a paranormal experience a couple of years ago. The paranormal is outside my realm of understanding and all the more reason not to tell my tale. Nothing came to mind when approached to write a story detailing a strange or frightening trip for Angela Nickerson’s Just Go Blogapalooza. I am a good travel planner and my skill and good luck generally prevents strange and scary things from happening to me when traveling.
My wife reminded me of the incident in Singapore two years ago. She wasn’t even there, but she remembers me telling her the story. I keep paranormal thoughts out of my mind. The visitation happened, only once, for a brief moment of time, not too far in the past, and it scared the hell out of me.
I can rationalize the encounter now as an anxious dream after a week living in the humidity and heat of Singapore. The event was irrational to me. The end of the story is true to my original writing made at the time I had the encounter in the Le Meridien Changi Village Hotel. Ghost seekers seem to take interest in photographic orbs as a paranormal activity sign and I have included photos from the Changi Village hotel rooms in this story.
First, before I describe the paranormal event, allow me to indulge in a Singapore travelogue.
Singapore is known to frequent flyer mileage geeks as the farthest place to fly from the USA for the least amount of money when compared to airfare for Australia, Africa, Middle East, or India. Singapore is a Southeast Asian country where English is the national language and widely spoken and the national pastime of hanging out in shopping malls is a familiar cultural practice to Americans.
The mileage distance is 8,444 miles from San Francisco to Singapore. Most people don’t realize how far away Singapore is from the USA. The airline travel is broken up with a stopover in Tokyo after 11 hours of flight time.
Bath Amenity Kit for United Airlines Red Carpet Club, Narita Airport, Tokyo
With a little luck and no flight delay there is generally time in a two hour window for taking a shower in the United Red Carpet Club lounge complete with complimentary bath amenities kit and drinking some glasses of Asahi beer from the automated beer dispenser. You need 50,000 mile elite status for the privilege of complimentary access or flying on a business or first class ticket.
Then, it is back on the plane for another 7 hours flying across the South China Sea, past Vietnam and Cambodia, to the tiny island of Singapore at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in the Indian Ocean.
An early June trip in 2006 provided me with an opportunity to earn United Mileage Plus frequent flyer miles, visit some new luxury hotels, and make my first stays in the Le Meridien brand that had recently been integrated into the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program of Starwood Hotels.
Le Meriden Orchard Road Hotel, Singapore (2006)
This was my sixth trip to Singapore since 2001. And this was the first time I had been in the city for the “Great Singapore Sale,” the biannual “shop til you drop” ritual, advertised as “8 Weeks of Shopping Madness”. Singapore is not your haggle over a few dollars bargaining for colorful silks with the local handicrafts seller under the beach palm tree.
Singapore is to outlet mall shopping what Thailand is to your local flea market. Everything is available in the Singapore ultra-modern malls and it is all on sale in the thousands of stores. Every article is priced and there is almost always some type of discount. Shopping for clothes in Singapore is a delight for me. I am a short man. In Singapore I can buy 29” inseam slacks right off the rack in most department stores.
Pedestrian tunnels allow you to walk a long way under the streets between malls
An American has the feeling you are not in Kansas when you see internet terminals with free access for customers and large-screen plasma TVs showing World Cup soccer at 3am in McDonald’s burger restaurants.
Imagine the largest shopping mall you have ever visited and then project an image of block after block of major shopping malls in high-tech electronic light and music constantly playing from the speakers of another retail shop. Plasma TVs in the shopping mall corridors give directions, display information, and show store promotions and music videos.
McDonald’s had World Cup 06 games on Plasma TV at 3am
The weekend I arrived was “Late Night Shopping”, with extended store hours to 11pm or 1am for most stores at the dozens of major shopping malls. Shopping is the way of life in Singapore. The USA economic gurus wish we could instill the shopping culture present in Singapore society. I wish we could instill the education culture I see so entrenched in Singapore family life.
Singapore Orchard Road, Major Hotel and Shopping District
After a week of shopping madness, hotel tours, and outrageously priced beer to accompany my favored Chinese cuisine I sought a lifestyle of cheap exotic food against a palm tree beach backdrop for my last day in Singapore.
Changi Beach Singapore
I checked into the Le Meridien Changi Village Hotel on the east side of the island adjacent to Singapore’s Changi International Airport. This was my second stay at this luxury hotel near the Changi Airport.
I was upgraded to a suite for the stay on my first night in Singapore and then again for my last night in Singapore. The location of the room for my second stay was Room 301, directly below the fourth floor Room 401 I had stayed in the week before.
Room 401 floor map, Le Meridien Changi Village hotel, Singapore
The Le Meridien Changi Village hotel room had nonlinear features and design. The hotel had style. The immenseness of the drapery, freestanding walls and colorful features of the lobby and dining areas were visually stimulating.
Le Meridien Changi Village Hotel, dining area
The rooftop pool with orchid petals floating on the water was a resort spa vision. The pool view of incoming jets at Changi Airport was sufficiently far as to not be overbearingly noisy.
Le Meridien Changi Village Hotel pool
There is a popular public campground location on Changi beach just across a small bridge from the hotel. I spent the last afternoon of the Singapore trip walking Changi Beach. Families and friends gathered on the beach and relaxed in the campground. Men and boys fished, and the more adventurous outdoor types paddled sea kayaks.
Fishing on Changi Beach, Singapore
Informational signs at various points along the beach showed photos of old Malay villages from the 1930s and 1950s.
I came across a plaque describing a World War II massacre. On the 20th of February, 1942, 66 Chinese males were executed on this stretch of Changi Beach. A two-week campaign to purge the Singapore Chinese population of suspected anti-Japanese civilians resulted in more than 1,000 men and boys being executed on the beaches of Changi and the present-day airport runway region.
After a couple hours on the beach I headed to Changi Village for a take-away dinner which I ate back in the room while watching World Cup soccer. USA-Czech Republic was scheduled to play around 11pm, but a 7am flight had me early in bed and asleep in Room 301, Le Meridien Changi Village.
These pictures keep disappearing from my post.
Large orb in bathroom, Room 401, Le Meridien Changi Village, Singapore
[The rest of this section is presented here as written at the time on June 12, 2006 after my fright in room 301.]
I’ve just had a supernatural experience. It is freaking me out because the feeling shook me out of my pragmatic reality.
I remember looking at the clock and seeing it was 11:00pm. I shut my eyes again to return to sleep in this hotel bed in Changi Village.
Aoife jumped on the bed.
Then I remembered I am here alone, in a hotel room in Singapore.
I thought, “Who is on the bed with me?”
I tried to look and suddenly I felt a weight on me, holding me down, and pressing me into the bed.
I was scared and all my thought was:
“I’ve got the power and you are not going to take me.”
But, I could not move. This weight had my whole body pressed to the bed.
And I kept chanting: “I’ve got the power.”
A pounding on the wall sounded. I took it to be the water pipes rattling, but suddenly I wasn’t so sure.
I tried to turn my head to see what was on the bed and I could not move my head. I tried to use my arms to lift me up and I could not move my body.
And I kept chanting to myself: “I’ve got the power and you are not going to take me.”
Finally I was able to kick my legs up and free myself from the bed. I kicked twice and threw the weight off me.
And I lay there on the bed, in the dark, scared straight.
I knew I had been visited by the spirits. The spirits of the jinns who live in these walls. The spirits of the dead Chinese who were killed by the thousands here in a Japanese massacre across the street over a two-week period in 1942. The spirit of the man I saw somewhere this morning down by Orchard Road in Singapore and then saw again a short while later on the train with me. He had swollen sleepy eyes and I thought, “How can that man possibly have ended up here in this train car with me? Is this Chinese man following me?” He looked too sleepy to even be moving.
I studied his clothing to remember what he looked like in case I saw him somewhere else later. I am in a city of 3 million Chinese and how can I ever recognize the same man twice? He had on loafers with gold buckles and no socks. He was old, 70 or older. His eyes were so puffy.
I got out of bed and grabbed the camera. I took flash pictures of the dark room thinking maybe something was here I might see.
First photo after the encounter in Room 301
Photo of bed after the encounter in Room 301
I turned on a couple of lights and the TV and found new age music playing. The music calmed me.
The clock read 11:10pm. I didn’t think I could go back to sleep. I turned on World Cup football. USA v. Czech Republic.
I caught a 7am flight back to Tokyo the next morning. I haven’t been back to Singapore since.
Changi International Airport, Singapore, World Cup 06 viewing area
Aoife, our cat I had thought jumped on the bed that night in Changi Village, died of skin cancer in May 2007. I was working from our home and I was her hospice care-giver for the final two months of her life. I’d never really been a cat person even though we have had cats most of the 26 years my wife and I have been together. They have always been her pets.
Two days after Aoife died, my wife brought home a little 3-week old tiger-stripe kitten that had been found in the street by one of her 1st grade students. Pim is our first cat who has been more my cat than my wife’s.
Pim the footballer soccer kitty
Pim’s favorite activity is playing soccer across the floor with water bottle caps. He will bat and bounce plastic caps across the house. He has been an agile footballer, nimble with his paws, from his early days. He’ll be a World Cup 2010 cat. The Merlion of Monterey. And now I too am part of the cat world.
Note: Le Meridien Changi Village Hotel rebranded shortly after my June 2006 hotel stay and is no longer part of the Starwood Hotels family.