Many travellers use tripadvisor as their first point of research whereas i have a different take by preferring google map where i can conveniently plan for activities within walking distance from the hotel i booked.
That's how i managed to spot an attraction that's of personal interest to me; the ghost museum in Penang. My curiosity was obviously piqued and it was classified under "must-do" on my pre-trip itinerary.
Disclaimer - for thrill seekers, this ghost museum would likely disappoint you as you don't get staff members masquerading as "hantu" for the sake of making you pee in your pants. Instead, the objective was "educational" with information on legendary ghosts / monsters / evil beings around the world.
Nevertheless, the acceptance of horror depends on individuals (for example, i am totally okay with bloody, gory scenes) and to absolve themselves from any responsibility, the operator had put up a "enter at your own risk" sigh with details.
Bought our tickets at RM 28 per adult; for Malaysians with Mycard, there's a discount and you only need to pay RM 18. I shall share the rate card at the end of this post.
Waiting for our turn to enter; to prevent a situation where there were too many persons crowding a specific section, visitors were allowed at staggered intervals.
Fake snake by the way. For real snakes, you may wish to check out the snake temple that's near to the Penang International Airport - as the name suggests, live snakes freely roam inside the religious abode.
Our turn now - I am going breaking this up into their respective category as there were 7 listed in the guide map; Malay, China, Egypt, Pirate, Dracula, Japan and Halloween.
Upon entering, i did notice something on the ceiling and for local Singaporean / Malaysian, i guess we all know what it is; the oil man. Orang Minyak (油鬼仔) is actually human and stories of them stealing from homes and raping young girls were common in Singapore before the 90s when some of us were still living in the village.
Explanation in English, Chinese and Malay can be found on the information plaque that's serviced by a small LED light to allow us the ease of reading in the dark environment. Do note that the English translation can be quite bad; just note the main points.
Potianak - another infamous entity in the Malaya peninsular that's the vengeful incarnation of a pregnant lady who died in labour. They were said to be beautiful and will seduce men at night.
The scene (in typical kampong environment) was actually very well decorated and i thought it might even be good enough for a professional tv production! The above was a lame representation to showcase a toyol (a child fetus) used by black magic practitioners to steal money / aid in gambling.
Don't know what this is but it's definitely a faceless ghost; maybe she had to make up in order to add the mouth, nose, eyes and ears. Thought this would be more Japan than Malaya.
A gory setting awaited us!
Langsuir - i think many people get confused with this and the potianak since both were the result of childbirth that went bad. However, the langsuir was not known for their beauty and in the kampong, families with heavily pregnant members were extremely careful at night as they believe that the Langsuir thirsts for the unborn child.
My friend, a dentist by the way, who was totally enjoying himself!
The blood stained attire by the side of the bed. There were many spots where you can take photos so long your camera is able to handle low light conditions and your hands don't shake.
Bring a tripod would be best, which i didn't as i am simply put, lazy. I did try my best to prevent the hands from shaking; hence, do excuse me if the photos turned out to be blurry. :(
Pocong (包头僵尸) - this was something i often see in Malay movies although i didn't know what it really was. Similar to the Chinese vampires, pocong jumps at night but it does so to seek help from humans to untie it from the cloth.
The friend at it again! As i was busy taking photographs, the rest of my mates were much quicker than me and it seemed that i am an easy target for them to scare! Too bad, i am a seasoned paranormal seeker!
Hantu Pisang - it was said that female spirits reside in banana trees and you can get them to help you by piercing a needle with a red thread that's tied to your big toe. Beware however that their revenge can be ugly.
Lighted kampong house with a bloody headless body! Back in the old days, street lights were uncommon and it was often a happy occasion to chance upon a lighted house if one were lost.
Honestly, i felt that this was more murder than hantu.
Old school latrine with just a hole for your waste products. I remember a similar outhouse in my uncle's house at the village although i had a greater fear of dropping through the hole than seeing many pairs of hands.
In Chinese custom, a lady who committed suicide while dressed entirely in red would be back to take revenge on those who had failed her. Not sure if it is applicable to men though.
In the 80s and early 90s, horror movies imported from Hongkong fall generally under the Chinese vampires genre known as 殭屍. Even though the Chinese vampires in those films were generally evil with the objective to suck your bloody, there were instances of cute young ones who were not as bloodthirsty.
A make-believe ritual for the three 殭屍; two of which had prominent canines ready to go for your neck and suck up the essence that apparently gave them the strength needed to survive as an undead. Eh, how come no talisman on their forehead?!
Hm...... clothes for Chinese vampires and priest hung on the side. Are they part of the display?
Of course not! Time to don the attire and have some fun! This time, it was my turn to scare my mates as they didn't realise the clothes could be worn! Pity i had too friendly an expression and i couldn't stop myself from laughing!
Even Alex couldn't resist playing the role of a Chinese priest; the kind in movies that's simply out to earn some money yet doesn't have any real powers.
His masquerade as a Chinese vampire was less convincing although no less hilarious, resulting in laughter from everyone in our group.
Another photo point - a bloody pair of mysterious hands appeared out of the dark to grab you by your throat. They were a bit too high for me and it would look as if the hands were massaging my scalp.
Alex was happy to have his shoulders' massaged.
As it is the ghost month (known as hungry ghost festival) in Singapore, this sight should not be unfamiliar to those staying in Singapore. The festival is no longer as elaborate as 20 years ago but the burning of paper money, incense sticks and food offerings can still be seen at void decks, especially during the auspicious first and fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month.
Paper shoes, paper umbrellas, paper clothes were part and parcel of the festival too even though they were more common during the Qing Ming festival when Chinese honour their ancestors.
I don't know why this was included as Anubis was a god of afterlife. It had a frightening face and if you are not unconvinced, do watch the movie; The Pyramid.
You can be pharaohs at this section; my friends were nowhere to be seen and i didn't think of using my iPhone to take a selfie!
Fake skeletons half buried in the caverns of the Egyptian burial grounds. Bet you would find some similarity while queuing for the mummy ride at Universal Studios Sentosa.
Placed as part of the "Egypt" section, i failed to see much relevance for the above; chest, a skeleton and gold coins were elements more suitable for pirates of the Caribbean!
Rubber scorpions climbing up the wall.
This was a revolting sight with insects crawling out of the oral cavity; if the insects were moving, i think i might have gagged and purged the lunch i had earlier.
Staircase up the second level - we were finally halfway through!
Oh, so that skeleton with a chest and gold coins was a prelude of what's to come on second level. Banking on likely the popularity of the pirates of the Caribbean movies, i guess.
Pity the lighting condition (basked in red light) was incredibly bad for any decent photo taking (blame it on the photographer).
As the make-up mannequins were static, there's honestly nothing to be scared of. I was alone throughout as my tour mates were very much ahead of me and i didn't feel any spooks.
Pirates hung on a wooden beam and left to rot and dry by the salty sea breeze for betraying the captain of the ship. There's even a lady although i didn't know her role in the mutiny.
Without flash and then with flash - i must have taken over a hundred photos in this section as most, if not all, pictures turned out to be blurry!
Last look on the pirates before we entered the blue arena.
Compared to the dim lights in the other sections (so far), my eyes took some time to adjust to the brightness of this ang moh style dining room.
Dentist in a cape waiting to strike from his resting place! I was already prepared as the noise coming from the room subsided suddenly as i neared the curtain separating the sections.
Grotesque vampire - guess all of you don't need any introduction on Count Dracula, a novel based on the cruel prince in Romania.
Chopped up hands and fingers that would serve as appetisers before the main course; we have something like that in Singapore for humans too - the bloodied looking sup tulang!
Main course; prepared in an unprofessional manner, this head should have its hair shaved and the spectacles removed. Have to clean his nostrils too; i noted some materials within.
The feast shall begin shortly!
It's interesting when i read about the origins of lantern and umbrella ghosts; quite embarrassed i didn't know much about them before this as they were often featured in Hayao Miyazaki anime films.
In a nutshell, they were abandoned home items that were poorly kept and the idea was for Japanese to store their stuff in an orderly fashion and to pass them to the less well off if the family has no more use for them.
Rokurokubi - a long necked ghost, this was in fact a Buddhist who didn't follow the religion faithfully and turned into a hideous creature after his / her death. Frankly, it didn't quite make sense to me.
Kappa (河童) - i actually read a comic about it before although the river demons had a good heart and there were actually shrines honouring good natured Kappa in Japan. Now, let me see if i can still find the comic book.
Daidarabotchi - a son of god, he was said to be a giant and a protector of the forest. Since he is so tall, i am afraid we don't have the chance to see how it looks like.
Nope, there's no other way to prove he is a man except for the bushy hair on the legs. On second thought, i have seen ladies with leg hair longer, curlier and in much higher density than mine.
When we talk about Japanese horror, the movies "Ring" and "Ju-On" will come into picture and the above will no doubt send a chill down the spines of those who were badly affected after watching the movies!
For my polytechnic school mates who watched the show with me, we left the theatre with paranoia whenever our mobile phones rang in the middle of night and the CRT screen was switched off.
Alex appeared totally at ease and i have a suspicion he didn't watch the show!
Among all the mannequins i have seen so far, the one above took the prize for the highest likelihood to give me nightmares (even though there wasn't any).
Save for the plasticky looking hands, the facial expression accurately depicted that on a human! Should the ghost museum be used for halloween, this will be one place i am likely to give a high pitched scream!
You know what's lacking from the UV lighted room that had hanging pumpkins and leave-less trees? Tombs with hovering spirits!
Without flash and with flash again - lights can play tricks on our eyes and this was the same with haunted houses ride at amusement parks around the world. Once you turn on the main light switch, the horror factor dropped by a significant number.
Also known as the witch's lair, you may explore the potions on the shelves and the unconventional ingredients that go into the boiling pot.
Although witches have a bad reputation in the Christianity world, i am of the belief that there's goodness in some of them. Maybe i have been brainwashed by the movies.
In the unfortunate event that the ghost museum closed down, i believe the converted shop house would become a spot for thrill seekers and even for black magic practitioners.
Dark water squid eyes - an ingredient that's not for sale. When i was younger, i remember reading somewhere about a shop in Arab street that actually has black magic ingredients for sale; things like the candle made of fats from a death row prisoner etc.
Skull with luminous eyes and a broken bloodied hand.
Interested to buy? A pair can be purchased at RM 38.00 No refrigeration is required and it shall remain fresh and bloody throughout the years.
You may also consider buying the caps and polo / tee shirts trademarked by the "ghost museum". Actually i would have considered the tees with the jumping Chinese vampire.
I played safe by going for the fridge magnets instead!
Walking past the menacing tree of Halloween zone again as we proceeded to the museum's exit. The map of the museum shall be shared with you shortly! :)
Point of no return as you couldn't re-enter once you go back to the real world. Actually you can, provided you pay for another ticket! Okay, i am kidding here as the staff members were friendly people!
57, Lebuh Melayu,
10300 George Town,
Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
10am to 7pm (Daily)
Map of the Museum