Singapore celebrity ghost stories: Laughter in the jungle, a funeral and a very polite spirit
Hungry Ghost Month isn’t over just yet – Desmond Tan, Denise Tan, Ian Fang, Romeo Tan and Denise Camillia Tan share their spookiest encounters with CNA Lifestyle.
It’s nearly the end of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, so it should be safe to start swapping scary stories, right? If you ask us, there’s never a bad time for a hair-raising yarn or two – as long as these spooky encounters aren’t happening to us personally, of course.
Our Singapore celebs may be unflappably glamorous on the outside, but they’ve been in various spine-tingling situations, too – and we’ve collected their stories here for you.
Could there be logical explanations for what they think happened to them? Probably. Is it more fun to believe they had paranormal encounters? Definitely.
DESMOND TAN AND THE JUNGLE LAUGHTER
During my army days, I was in Brunei, and we had to navigate in the jungle for three or four days. One day, towards evening time, we were running late and we had to find a checkpoint, so we decided to split up. Another guy and I left the team of seven, and the two of us went in a different direction. We walked for a distance, hoping we could find the checkpoint in the jungle. We realised we couldn’t find it and it was getting dark, so we decided to walk back.
The moment we decided to go back, I heard what sounded like a kid’s laughter in the jungle. It was very loud. I heard it; I didn’t know whether the other guy heard it or not. It was freaking creepy. I said, ‘Okay, we’d better go back now.’
And when we were walking up, there wasn’t a river. But when we walked the same route back, there was one. It was very creepy.
I didn’t talk about it because we had two more nights in the jungle and I didn’t want to spoil everyone’s mood. On the last day, after we’d gotten back, I was washing my boots at the washing point. The guy who had walked in the other direction with me was washing his boots next to me. I asked him if he had heard the laughter. He looked at me, freaked out, and said, ‘Hell, yeah.’
We talked about it: Could it have been a monkey? There are no settlements in the jungle. So where had the laughter come from? And it had occurred just as the both of us were feeling the same emotions: ‘We can’t find the location before sunset.’ It was as if someone was mocking us.
Yes, this happened during my time as a Commando – I was supposed to be a man of steel, but I kind of sh*t my pants.
DENISE CAMILLIA TAN AND THE FUNERAL 'PRANKS'
My grandfather passed away about 12 years ago, when I was still in secondary school in Malaysia, and the funeral was on the first day of the Hungry Ghost Festival, if I remember correctly.
My relatives and I were all at the funeral parlour but it was getting late, so some went home, leaving my family and me. We had our heads down on the table and I was very sleepy. Suddenly, we heard people chatting really loudly outside. But we saw no one. It was very strange. And shortly after, we heard the sound of really heavy chains dragging. I didn’t dare look, because I didn’t want to see anything! And then we heard people laughing really loudly. My parents and I pretended we didn’t hear anything, and we didn’t talk about it.
After that we went to my aunt’s house for the night. It was quite late – about 2am – and it was a really big house. My cousins and I were going up to our rooms when suddenly, there was a blackout throughout the house. We screamed our heads off! It was late and it was so quiet and dark in that huge house. I had that eerie feeling. I guess the fact that it happened during the Hungry Ghost month, when there are many spirits wandering around, made it 10 times scarier. On normal days, we’d probably convince ourselves that there must be some reason behind it. (Later we would) joke that the blackout was our late grandfather playing a prank on us!
IAN FANG AND THE ENORMOUS RUNNING SHADOW
It happened five or six years ago, when I was filming a scene for the drama 96C Cafe at a disused school. I was facing the academic block; Julie Tan was standing right in front of me, facing in the opposite direction. I saw a huge black shadow, very tall, running extremely fast across the academic block, with its arms pumping. They said my face turned pale.
I’m a Buddhist, so I said a prayer with joss sticks. Now, in the corner outside each classroom, the production people had put some sweets, just in case there were spirits there. The next day, we saw that all the sweets had been gathered together into a pile. That was pretty creepy.
DENISE TAN AND THE VERY POLITE 'GHOST'?
When I first started out in theatre, the old Victoria Theatre was always the place where people would say, ‘You have to respect the theatre because it’s been around a long time and you don’t know what’s lurking there.’ The first time I performed there, I was told the third and fourth levels were completely off-limits. People were generally quite reticent about why. They’d just say, ‘Don’t go there. Don’t disturb.’ I’m quite a scaredy-cat, so I was quite obedient. I had co-actors who would go up and giggle and scream and run back down. They didn’t really see anything, but it was an old theatre, so it had a spooky atmosphere.
One time, I think in 1999, I was doing a production, and I desperately needed to use the bathroom, but I was due to be on stage in a matter of minutes. There was a VIP dressing room there, right next to the stage. It was out of bounds to us, but because I desperately needed the bathroom, the stage manager waved me in. It was pitch black. I went in, peed in the dark, and, coming back out, I reached to open the door to get back out. And the door opened for me. I was like, ‘Oh, how nice. Thank you.’ I went on stage. Afterwards, I was like, ‘Wait a minute. How did the door open from the inside?’
I’ve also heard about a stage manager who experienced weird interference in her headset – she heard a little girl crying and laughing. Actually, the crew are probably the ones with the most spooky stories, because they are always working with equipment and in secluded places in the theatre!
ROMEO TAN AND THE SLAMMING DOOR
Just recently, I was filming for the upcoming drama Happy Prince. We were shooting a scene set in my character’s home. While we were filming, the bathroom door suddenly slammed shut with a bang. There was no wind – all the windows were closed. And it was one of those stiff foldable doors that you’d need quite a bit of strength to shut. The next thing that happened was that the curtain suddenly loosened and opened up.
It was an empty house that we had rented for two or three months. We didn’t make a fuss about it, but inside, I said, ‘Sorry, guys. We are using this place for a few months, so if we interrupt you, please excuse us.’
I don’t usually encounter any funny things like these, but that day, I did feel something. They may be telling you, ‘Stop disturbing me.’