brain farts

Things that Go Bump in the Night

Posted on: February 8, 2006

Anyone who’s ever spent all off five minutes in Asia will tell you that this is a continent steeped in superstition and tales of the supernatural. Baby-stealing ghosts, aliens, fireball-spouting snakes — you name it, we believe it. Unlike in the West, when someone tells a ghost story here, it’s not so much, “What? Hah. Yeah right, like that’d really happen,” it’s more a sense of, “Yes, that reminds me of the time I was fourteen and was held down by a ghost in my sleep and was told that if I didn’t remove my younger brother from his room, another rival ghost in the house was going to kill him.”

That, by the way, apparently happened to my friend’s father many years ago. He didn’t heed the ghost’s warnings, and coincidentally his baby brother was found dead in his crib the next morning.

Obviously, this is a country full of supernatural believers. Which is why, when a professor at my university decided to end it all by jumping from the top floor of the science building last month, I knew that — after it made the evening news, was splashed across the Thai tabloids, and was followed by a copycat student suicide at ABAC the very next day (seriously, this actually happened) — it was only going to be a matter of time before the ghost stories would begin to appear.

It didn’t take long.

The following week, the university held the Buddhist equivalent of a memorial/wake (งานทำบุญ). Students, professors, and members of the admin were invited. Basically, everyone.

Well, here’s the thing…

Guess who also showed up?

Yeah. That’s be the professor.

As in the professor who’d taken the fall the week before.

Of course, this is all based on the word of the group of students who’d been sitting in the last row. Apparently she’d appeared behind them clad in black, head bent, and praying. A handful of professors saw her too, and boy did they make sure to mention it in class the next day.

I know, I know. It all sounds like something from out of a D-list horror flick, but it isn’t. It totally isn’t. Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way.

You see, everyone else fully believed that the teacher had appeared at the wake/งานทำบุญ. No one so much as questioned the veracity of the story. After all, this is Thailand, a country that feeds off of ghost stories and the like. Who cares if it’s real or fake? Thais love a good scare. Why do you think horror flicks do so well here?

As for me, I’ve lived in Thailand long enough to know better than to question such stories. Personally, I’ve never seen or felt a spiritual/ghostly presence my entire life, but that doesn’t mean I scoff and thumb my nose at the idea of spiritual beings. Like most people, I like a good ghost story. I get spooked, but then I forget about it because, well, it’s precisely that — a story. Right?

Well, not exactly.

Here’s the thing: the wake/งานทำบุญ was held in the room I have class in every Wednesday and Friday. Knowing this doesn’t exactly make you want to sashay into class in the early morning, if you know what I mean. But the thing is, I have to. Sashay into class in the early morning, that is. This is because I have to cart my brother to school at the crack-ass of dawn every morning, resulting in me arriving to class an hour earlier than everyone else. So, last week, after dropping my books/junk off in class, I headed for the bathroom to wipe off my shoes since I’d accidentally stepped in a huge puddle on my way up (totally long story not worth getting into now, but the gist of it is that I am seriously the world’s biggest klutz ever).

So there I was, scrubbing down my shoes with soap and water when suddenly, out of nowhere, one of the stall doors slammed shut. With a bang. A very loud, very frightening, very unexpected bang.

I don’t think I ever jumped as far or as high as I did that day. I didn’t scream, though. Honestly, I think I was too scared to. I was shaking pretty badly, though. My knees were totally trembling and because the bang had caught me unawares, I’d accidentally dropped my shoe into the sink, where I’d been running it under the faucet.

Well, right after banging shut, the door swung open again. As in by itself.

I don’t care where you live in the world or whether you believe in ghosts or not, but BATHROOM STALL DOORS DO NOT SWING OPEN BY THEMSELVES.

I’d like to think I’m a brave girl, but if you think I didn’t say to myself, “screw the shoes” and hightail it out of there like a roadrunner high on Speed, then you’re pretty crazy.

Later, when I was in the safety of the bright morning sunshine, I sat down and tried to make sense of what had happened. I mean, as a rational, scientific person, I was certain there had to be a logical explanation. But after looking at it from every possible angle, I realized that I was just grasping at straws because there WASN’T a logical explanation for what had happened.

Here’s why:

1. All the windows in the bathroom had been closed. I remember thinking to myself that it was blazing hot, and that one of the housekeepers should have opened the windows to let in some air. But they hadn’t. So, with the windows closed tight, no gusts of wind could have crept in and blown that door shut.

2. It was the sunniest day of the frigging year. Even if the windows HAD been open, which they hadn’t, there wouldn’t have even BEEN any wind to blow the door shut in the first place.

3. Only one door slammed shut. ONE. Not two, three, or all six, but one. ONE. HAD there been a gust of wind — which there HADN’T, I repeat, there HADN’T — wouldn’t it make sense for at least two or more doors to slam shut? Wind is not selective. It does not go, “Hmm, I think I’ll slam this door shut to scare the bejeezus out of Lynn the World’s Biggest Klutz Ever.” No, wind goes, “What the hell, let’s blow everything over!” Don’t believe me? Ask my cousin, aunt, and uncle who spent a good ten hours last year trying to haul ass out of Houston so they could outrun Hurricane Rita. WIND IS NOT SELECTIVE, PEOPLE.

4. The bathroom was located just down the hall from the dead professor’s office. She’d probably used that bathroom EVERY SINGLE DAY when she was alive. In death, could she have been confused, thinking that she still had a bladder to empty? Or could she have simply wanted to scare the bejeezus out of Lynn the World’s Biggest Klutz Ever?

Well, I guess we’ll never know the answer to that one. What I DO know is that I totally believe in ghosts now. I swear I will never laugh at another ghost story again. Not even Casper. I have SO much sympathy for Casper now, and I’m not just saying that because his human form was played by Devon Sawa, my 7th grade teenybopper crush.

Also, I have decided that I am never going alone to the bathroom in the science building ever again. If no one else is available to accompany me, then I will either suck it up and hold it in, risking the chance of suffering from a urinary bladder infection at age 23, or run to the adjoining engineering or liberal arts buildings to relieve my bladder of its contents. I’d like to think I’m brave, but hello, let’s be realistic — I’m not Xena the Warrior Princess.

So, what about you guys? Have you ever seen/heard/witnessed a living, breathing (figuratively speaking, of course) ghost? If so, do share! I’d love to hear your stories.

~*~
My cousin P’Ju, her husband Phido, my other cousin P’Nuch, and her husband, P’Amorn, all visited from Houston last month. P’Ju and Phido also brought along their daughter, Natalie, who has grown up SO much this past year. I also got to see Charn (he’s not P’Ju’s kid, by the way, but P’Chun’s, but he wasn’t there), who has also grown up SO much since I last saw him. I’m totally convinced Nat and Charn are the cutest kids ever. But you really shouldn’t listen to me because I am totally biased, me being their aunt and all.

Anyway, in classic Thai fashion, we shared 3 pots of steaming suki at MK for dinner. Afterwards, we made a big deal of posing for the camera, again, in classic Thai fashion. What I nearly pulled a rib laughing over is this — what I swear can only be defined as the classic Kiangsoontra/Kiat-Amnuay/Boonyawongvirot/Cheng family photo.

This photo is so exciting; there are so many things happening at once: My aunt’s yelling out to my cousin to turn on the flash; P’Ju and my two uncles are blinking; My dad’s (yes, yes, I know I look like him) off to the edge, practically standing in his own room; Pali’s staring at the wrong camera; and Natalie’s too busy fishing for my uncle’s necktie to even care about the camera. Only Charn looks like he’s got it together. Check out that totally hip wave. He looks like he’s thinking, “Dude, I am so not with them. I am probably adopted. There is no way I could have inherited any form of genetic material from these freaks. No way.”

[But just to show you that we aren’t freaks 24/7, here are some pics of us when we aren’t blinking/standing off in our own room/fishing for neckties.]

But seriously, freaks or not, it’s always nice to meet up with family. We had a similar get-together last year with some — and I say some, because a full-fledged reunion with my dad’s side of the family would entail nearly three hundred people — relatives on my dad’s side of the family, when my cousin P’Tong visited from Pennsylvania with his wife and kids, Joe and Kane. Unfortunately, the photo we took isn’t nearly as exciting as the Kiangsoontra/Boonyawongvirot/Kiat-Amnuay/Cheng one, but it’s a lovely one nonetheless. :)

~*~
Currently Watching: A Moment to Remember, per Pan‘s suggestion. Right now, all I can say is, dude, he so owes me a box of tissues. Sigh. The film was as sad and wonderful (and did I mention sad?) as he said it’d be…and more. In fact, it totally kicked My Sassy Girl, Il Mare, and The Classic out of the ballpark of sappy Korean movies. I can’t even think about the movie without getting all weepy again. (DAMN YOU, PAN!!) Anyway, if you can’t get your hands on the DVD, you can take a look here, where some kind soul has broken the movie down into 13 parts and uploaded it for your viewing pleasure. Oh, and keep the kleenix at hand. Lots of it. Don’t worry though, you can charge Pan for it all later. ;)

Currently Reading: The Catcher in the Rye. I adored this book in high school. But how funny is it that the only thing I can remember about this book is how Mr. Jarrett Lambie used to sit at his desk and twirl his hair while listening to our (what must have been TOTALLY boring, now that I think about it) presentations on Holden and why he wanted to be the catcher in the rye, catching little children as they are about to fall off a cliff. Or whatever. I don’t really remember. Which is why I’m re-reading it. Obviously.

Currently Playing: Blue Suede Shoes by the King. 50’s and 60’s hits will always remind me of my dad. He is the biggest Motown and 60’s rock and roll fan and was forever playing his collection of vinyl records for me when I was a kid. If I had to put together a soundtrack of my childhood, it would be a hodgepodge of tunes by Chuck Berry, the Temptations, Otis Redding, Johnny Cash, the Platters, the Beatles, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Nat King Cole, Billy Joel, Little Richard and of course, his favorite, Elvis Presley. My mom’s contribution to the soundtrack would be anything by the Carpenters, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, the Bee Gees, Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, and…Michael Jackson. Hey, plastic-surgery loving pedophile or not, Thriller is only one of the best albums of all time, ya know.

14 Responses to "Things that Go Bump in the Night"

A new urban legend has sprung up where the ghost of your shoe haunts that bathroom – wnd you know shoes are scarier when they’ve been drowned to death.

They had killer heels too, so they’re definitely nothing to joke about.

Hell hath no fury like a pair of high heels scorned…

;P

Oh man. That blasted bathroom door! I cannot believe one of your profs killed herself. I thought only profs from Cornell killed themselves. Because you only get like, one sunny day in Ithaca, NY, which is why the profs there keep killing themselves. Anyway. HUM— yeah, i wouldnt go to that bathroom again, ever. BUT HEY LYNN do you remember the stoooopit story about “bloody mary” from RIS? Some kids in the 10th grade told me this when I was in 9th grade (just to see how gullible I was, of course). But yeah, in the old RIS campus, a girl called Mary died in one bathroom. RIS was having a sleepover, and for some reason, Mary’s friends locked her in the bathroom, and she died in there. Have you ever heard that one before? AH you know, i think PIYA told me that one. Catcher in the Rye!!! I love that book. I can recite the whole first page for you from memory. And quote various things from it too.

OF COURSE I remember the RIS Bloody Mary story! At least you were a gullible 9th grader, though. That’s completely understandable. See, in 11th grade, when the prom committee and I stayed overnight on the eve of Rose Day (we were sponsoring it that year or something) someone started re-telling that stupid bloody mary story. Suave juniors that we were, we all laughed it off. We weren’t laughing at midnight when the lights started flickering in the computer lab, though!!!! We started freaking out, but then we found out it was just Mr. Yoshi being an ass. Hah. But later, when Ahn, Kenna, Caress, Pam and I (at least I think it was those guys; I have such a bad memory for these things) went to the elementary building to deliver roses, the lights started flickering again…except this time Yoshi was way over at the admin building. It was probably Pete, Paul, John, Sunny, Bing and the rest of the guys being asses, but we were pretty spooked all the same. I mean, seriously, RIS is one scary place at night! You ever hear that rumor about it being built over a Muslim graveyard?

Hey…
EIS had that Bloody Mary story too! And we also had the graveyard rumor…but I think it was Christian.

Anyway..I shouldn’t have read this post by myself, in my bedroom, when it’s all windy outside. >_

Hi Lynn,

I hate chain emails I hate any kind of the chains games, but this blogger game is funny.

The game called “5 Weird Habits”.

People who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits in his or her blog. In the end you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged, and link to their web-journals.

Here is the link to my post today:

http://magnoysamsara.blogspot.com/2006/02/5-bad-habits.html

Now I have to challenge five people and you were one of the chosen ones!

Greetings!

Magnoy

Can’t seem to be able to leave comments on your blog… let’s try again.

I was saying I hve a ghost at home too, no big deal, just scared the shit out of me a couple of times, specially that day it sat on me while I was watching tv…

and I was telling you you should watch the movie Dancing in the dark and try not to cry.

Matador (let’s see if anonymous comments work better)

ohhhhhh Lynn…. revenge is sweet, isn’t it? even if you don’t know you’re getting it at the time. ok lemme explain. it’s about 9p right now. i’m at work, screening a movie. alone. in a dark theater. ALONE. after reading the title of your blog i thought to myself “hey maybe i shouldn’t read this since i’m in a dark theater. alone.” but then i saw you wrote about the bung fai phaya naga, which i had coincidentally been reading about earlier in the day. so, like an idiot, i started to read your blog. and then i started getting to the scary part and thought to myself (again) “probably not a good idea to read this right now considering i’m in a dark theater. ALONE.”

ok, well if you haven’t noticed already i’m not terribly bright. i read your blog, and you can rest assured that the bejeezus – all of it – has been properly scared out of me. there is now no longer any trace of bejeezus anywhere on my person. THANKS.

anyway, i’m glad you enjoyed A Moment to Remember! sorry about the kleenex bill, but you got your revenge! ;) and i notice you linked to my blog… how long has it been since i updated that thing? i guess i kind of abandonded it… oh well. maybe i’ll start it back up… hm… not likely.

so wait… did you just leave your shoes in the sink? or did you grab them before you ran out?

i’ve had a few run-ins with the paranormal kind… but i don’t want to talk about it right now cause i’m in a dark theater. alone. and all trace of bejeezus was scared out of me already. THANKS AGAIN. ;P

I don’t think I place too much worth in the slamming-doors-means-ghosts idea, but I kind of believe that this form isn’t tthe only form of intelligent life around. Not in a religious way, but in the same way that an insect isnt aware of humans, why do we assume we are aware of everything?

Anyway, Uni story. Were I went to uni, the student union / bar / hall was built on a graveyard and not just that, there were still graves around it. Very spooky, I tell you. Especially on Halloween. They’ve moved it now, but it was there for 50 years or so.

We also had a “great” legend about a student who killed himself jumping from the cathedral. On the pavement outside the cathedral, there was a crack in the pavement which is (supposedly) where his teeth embedded themselves as he hit…

Urg.

:)

Nice family shots.
I love a good ghost story. Hopefully it wasn’t too scary for you.
I have none I fear but wish I did. Growing up we went camping a lot and would spend many an evening telling ghost stories. It was a ton of fun.
If I saw a ghost it would prove there was some sort of an afterlife which would make me happy as long as the ghost left me alone.

Interesting you mention the ghosts and superstitions. My buddy I went to Thailand with a couple of years ago has been buying some land lately as he recently married a Thai girl and the market in SE Asia is probably the best in the world right now. He’s looking for a nice “haunted” house he can buy for cheap and perhaps resell it.

Bennida: Wouldn’t it be funny if there were a Bloody Mary story at every international school in Bangkok?

Magnoy: Ah, thanks for the tag.

Matador: You are a brave man if all you have to say is “no big deal” when a ghost almost sits on you! And thanks for the movie recommendation!

Pan: Aw, revenge is sweet indeed. ;D And no, I didn’t leave my shoe in the sink! I at least had enough sense to grab it before running out. The housekeeper thought I was crazy, though, running out of the bathroom with only one shoe on. But when I explained to her what had happened, she just gave this knowing nod and went, “Ah, yeah, that happened to me yesterday morning, too.” Another reason to never use that bathroom again!

Him: “On the pavement outside the cathedral, there was a crack in the pavement which is (supposedly) where his teeth embedded themselves as he hit…” James: Yeah, I totally agree. Ghosts who don’t intentionally spook you are cool. And you should be glad you don’t have a personal ghost story!!

that’s one freaky ghost story! never had ANYTHING like that happen to me before (and hopefully never will!). the scariest part is you still had enough wits to analyze the situation from every possible angle …

…and still can’t find ANY LOGIC EXPLANATION!

A prof killed herself at the Agriculture Building at University of Saskatchewan. It was a new building, big and wonderfully open-aired, and after she killed herself there, they glassed in many (or even all) of the available jumpoff points, if I remember correctly. But the dormitories would be the place to go ghost-hunting: there were generally one or two suicide attempts each semester in there, and a few successes. Or, if a bad death buys an afterlife, there’s the vent shaft in one of the old buildings, maybe the Engineering building, where some poor kid was stuck during a hazing ritual, and never got out alive. But oddly enough, I never heard one report of a ghost on campus. Not one!

I’ve never seen a ghost myself, and though Lime swears that she saw one in high school, or swore to it once late at night, I actually don’t believe in them. Now, I can’t say I can offer you a rational explanation for your experience, but there must be one. For example, the ventilation in the room may not depend on an open window, or perhaps… aw, I don’t know. All I *do* know is that I personally hold to the idea that unexplainable phenomena aren’t by their nature unexplainable, it’s just our limited knowledge and ability to perceive that makes them so. Which doesn’t 100% discount the possibility of ghosts, I suppose, but I’m pretty skeptical. I do find the claim “It was Brownian motion” to be a bit stupid, too, though, I’m afraid. So I can’t offer you an explanation, but I betcha I’d be willing to go into that bathroom with a tape recorder and videocam and so on.

Anyway, I have heard many a ghost story in my days; stories about families whose basement would ring out with loud, mournful organ music every night at the same time, though the orgn had been moved out of the house and sold off when they first moved in; or the house in which the TV always turned itself on every day at the same time, and always changed the channel to Oprah by itself. There’s the story of the Old Farmhand who died in the country house of a woman I once knew, and who was reported to later have been heard making his way to the old trunk in the parents’ bedroom the night that they were packed and ready to move: finally, the parents believed in his presence, after years of teasing the kids for their claims of hearing footsteps in the night. (He may have climbed into the trunk, but the footsteps were never again heard at the new home, so he didn’t move with the family.)

But the story I remember best was my told to me by my Professor of Music Theory, Naida. She said that as a girl, living out in the countryside, she had been playing Ouija with a friend. I can’t remember whether or not she didn’t really believe in Ouija, but I do think she said she considered it basically a pastime or game until one day, when the “contact” she had with a friend (she never did it alone) was with a little girl who claimed to have drowned in a slough (a pool of standing water) not far away.

“If you’re really there,” Naida said, “give us a sign.”

That was when the TV shut off.

Naida and her friend were pretty freaked out. This was before the age of remote controls, and she claims it wasn’t a power-outage, or even a brownout, because all the other electronic items in the room stayed on. Nothing wrong with the TV. She turned the TV on again and asked for another sign.

It shut off again.

And that was the end of her Ouija-as-entertainment phase.

I had a chance to go on this short research trip with a bunch of classmates and I did my paper on this superstitious things. Turn out that these things are ways to keep people in order in older times… ways to prevent people from doing bad deeds… or that sort of things. It’s amazing how much of this still remains nowaday. I think it plays a very powerful part in shaping this country and other asian countries as a whole.

About jumping off a building… emm I was actually in the real situation. Though I didn’t get to see the man bouncing up from the floor after hitting the ground… I was him when he was twitching and trying to move around. I was horrified and I cried without even knowing it. Turned out that he jumped coz his ex was seeing someone new… and this happened right behind my faculty. I just dun get it why anyone want to copy someone else by jumping off a freaking tall building… at least if ur gonna kill yourself, u should be at least original.–>

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