Oct292008

Haunted Hotel or Singapore Changi Madness?

Little Pim and Littler PumpkinThis 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.

Singapore, Changi Beach sign

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. 

Tokyo Narita Red Carpet Club bath amenity kit

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. 

Singapore, Le Meridien Orchard Road Hotel

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. 

Singapore Pedestrian tunnel

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.

Singapore McDonald\'s 24-hour Burger Restaurant with Plasma TV

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 Shopping and Hotel District

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.  

 Singapore Changi Beach

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.

Le Meridien Changi Village Hotel, floor map Room 401

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 dining room, Singapore

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 pool

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 Changi Beach Singapore

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.

 

 

 

 Room 401 bed orbs, Le Meridien Changi Village June 2006A multitude of orbs around the bed in Room 401

These pictures keep disappearing from my post.

Room 401 Le Meridien Changi Village Singapore

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. 

Room 301 Le Meridien Changi Village, Singapore

First photo after the encounter in Room 301

singapore-lm-changi-bed-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 AIrport Singapore World Cup 2006

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 soccer Kitty

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. 

Le Meridien Changi Village pool flowers

Note: Le Meridien Changi Village Hotel rebranded shortly after my June 2006 hotel stay and is no longer part of the Starwood Hotels family.

 

 

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

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Comments

  1. Please don’t be scared of Singapore. It is an absolutely lovely place.

    I tried to watch a Singapore horror film last month and ghosts seem to be a strong cultural presence in the city.

    There is also this website “Singapore Paranormal Investigators” I came across last week when thinking about writing this piece.

    http://www.spi.com.sg/haunted/index.htm

  2. Wow. Very weird and without question scary! I am fascinated with Chinese culture and knew almost nothing of Singapore until this reading. Thanks for the info behind the experience.

    I will be back to read.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I agree fewer weird people encounters seem to come with age.

  3. Beautiful pictures!
    I’d be so scared, I wouldn’t go back either.
    Though it sounds like an amazing place to visit (when spirits aren’t pinning you to your bed!)

  4. When I state I have not been back to Singapore since the 2006 event, the reason is due almost entirely to the higher cost of airline tickets, and not to any reluctance to revisit the lovely island of Singapore.

    I am in desperate need of new clothes.

  5. Hi. im singaporean living in east changi near the hotel . Yes. changi is said to be a haunted place with many encounters . I have the sleeping experience at home , however, mine is due a phenomenon called sleep paralysis . Its when your body entered REM wave sleep and get “disconnected” from the brain . If you’re woken in the middle of REM wave sleep , you probaly would not be able to move your body. its a scary experience as you can still see and hear. Many illusional sighting and hearing is reported . Do check it out online, your description matches the phenomenon.

    I am someone who is able to see paranoma since primary 6 ( it only started then and became less common) i have personal experience of seeing British troops marching when i went to changi village for dinner .

    hotels all over the world are the most haunted places tho . i experienced a unrest soul turning on lights switch in Redang , Malaysia . and roof floating in china . however , no harm have been done .

    i have been living in Changi since i was born . i would say it one of the most pastoral areas in Singapore 😀

  6. Well honestly I don’t think ghosts are that scary but maybe the spirit didn’t want you there and was just upset that he was desturbed or maybe you just sat on him and shwished him!!!

  7. I am an American who has lived in Singapore for two years and really enjoyed it. Singapore is a very spiritual place, where you can encounter spirits. I had an internship at hotel on Orchard Road which was full of spirits, although I never saw one multiple co-workers and a few guests have seen them. However, what you experienced is most likely not a spirit on you. What you were subject to was sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is closely related to the paralysis that occurs as a natural part of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Sleep paralysis occurs when the brain awakes from a REM state, but the body paralysis persists. This leaves the person fully conscious, but unable to move. The paralysis can last from several seconds to several minutes “after which the individual may experience panic symptoms and the realization that the distorted perceptions were false.” People tend to experience this more when their sleep schedule is messed up, as I have when traveling from the US to Singapore.

  8. dear all !

    in fact all countries around the world more or less have this type of thing(s) “paranormal”,
    it’s usually everywhere regardless of country you go.
    it’s just your “luck” that you encountered !
    do not paint Singapore as a “scary” place to visit ! don’t tell me that your own country do not have such “supernatural paranormal” things ?

  9. This is just a story of a bizarre night I experienced in Singapore. The story involved only me in the physical world and is not meant to reflect on the people of Singapore.

    I love Singapore and I think it is one of the least scary places in the world to visit.

    As far as my local area goes.
    A local business in my home town of Monterey runs a ghost walk service. The history of Monterey is rather scary and I recommend the ghost tour of Monterey as a good historical tour of the older adobe sites in the city.

    Monterey has a bloody history as does much of California with the decimation of the indigenous people, the conquest of Mexican California by the USA, and the extermination of Chinese communities throughout western towns in bloody ethnic cleansing riots during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    We certainly have our ghosts in California.

  10. hi dave from england i visted changi village hotel in sept/october 2007 i also felt like lead one night but i put alot down to over tiredness with jet lag and being intrested in aircraft me and my friend were up at 5 every morning for ten days and 2 many late nights i would live there now if i didnt have a daughter its the most relaxing and freindly place i have been to in my life singapore never felt out of place lovely people and hope to revisit in 2010 the lead weight not put me of lol

  11. After a half-dozen trips to Singapore where i always stayed downtown, the village quality of Changi Village was a pleasant and different face of Singapore. I enjoyed the time I spent there outside of the busy city.

    Wathcing the airplanes is a blast at that location. The Changi Village rooftop swimming pool was the best pool experience I had that trip.

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