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10 True ‘Hantu’ Stories, As Told By Malaysians


Did we scare you?

We hope we did. If not, you’re about to be spooked in a bit…

One thing that we have in common in Malaysia, or even Asia for that matter is, no matter how our conversations go, it will all somehow end up being about our supernatural encounters and experiences. 

So today, in true Hungry Ghost Festival spirit (get it?), we purposely steer the conversation into that of ghosts.

We compiled a selection of ghost stories told by our colleagues, friends and families, for your reading pleasure (or horror):

1. Laundry Drop-Off

Image: Pexels

During my college days, I had always preferred sleeping in total darkness. 

One particular night, I made sure the doors were locked and the lights were off and went to sleep as usual in my apartment. 

As I fell into a deep sleep, something was dropped on my chest from a considerable height (as far as I could tell) and that instantly sent a pulsating shock through my body. 

My reflexes had me push away whatever that landed on me while remaining tense.

After frantically reaching for the lights and regaining visibility in the room, I discovered that it was the clean laundry that I had set aside earlier, which was nowhere near myself (about a couple feet to my left). 

Staring at the very much inanimate bunch of clothes, I was petrified for a short while before resuming normal breathing patterns and contemplating what just happened. 

Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep after that and had categorised that incident as a supernatural one, as no matter how much I racked my brains, no other sound conclusion could be made.

  • Kan Seak Hong, Art Director, travel360

2. Melaka Ghost Throwdown

Image: Unsplash

For the longest time, I did not subscribe to the realm of the supernatural albeit having heard tales of the mystic from friends and family alike.

However, all that changed one night in November 2015 at an old hotel in Melaka, Malaysia; I was headed southwards on a three-day media junket from Kuala Lumpur to Johor, stopping for one night in Melaka town.

After a whole day of perusing the locale and feeling absolutely exhausted afterwards, I finally checked into my charming suite at around 11.30pm.

It was the prettiest thing I had seen all day; a comfy king-sized bed, cosy dim-lit lights, mocha-coloured walls, glistening shower and all.

Truly, it was a warm and inviting suite. Perfect, right? That’s what I thought too. 

However, after curling up under the covers to snooze, I noticed what seemed like a silhouette standing at the entrance of the bathroom facing my bed.

As I rubbed my eyes to make sure that I wasn’t hallucinating, the shimmery dark figure began to dash in and out of the bathroom, moving frighteningly quick.

After a couple of seconds, this strange anomaly came to an abrupt stop. And naturally, I stared at the shower entrance in utter disbelief at what I had just witnessed.

By that time, an eerie feeling had settled in my suite alongside pin-drop silence. It was around 12.30am. Even so, I still tried to force myself to sleep; “You’re just tired, Adrian, you’re imagining all of this. Sleep it off,” I thought.

But no matter how hard I tried, my eyes couldn’t turn away from the shower entrance. 

Just as I began to doze off a short while later, I suddenly felt my comforter being tugged at by someone (in this case, something!) from the bottom of my bed.

The tugging soon became more incessant, forcing me to fearfully grab onto the comforter just in case it slid right off.

I was determined not to allow the situation to get the better of me and so, I did what most hapless Catholics do in such forlorn instances – I started to recite the Hail Mary prayer under my breath to fend off whatever it was that was bothering me. 

As if a battle had ensued, each recitation of the prayer was followed by more ceaseless tugging and my short, heavy breaths were proof that fear had gripped me.

But I soldiered on, persisting with my prayers until at long last, after 20 minutes (it felt like forever), I felt my comforter finally lay still; “Yes! The tugging stopped, thank God!”

Filled with anxiety still, I decided to continue praying in my mind just to calm myself down.

But, to my sheer horror, a snarly voice suddenly filled the room and began to mock my prayers using a nasty, guttural tone. In fact, it was completing the words of the prayer even before I uttered them until – SWOOSH! – the entire comforter was suddenly dragged off me and angrily chucked on to the floor! 

At that frenzied point, I wasted no time pondering the situation; I jumped right off the bed, quickly packed my bags and dashed straight down to the lobby, without even checking to see if I had all my possessions.

I did in fact leave one thing behind at that hotel room in Melaka – my doubts of the supernatural. Say your prayers people, and if you don’t believe in those, bring along sleeping pills! 

  • Adrian Balachandran, Sub Editor, travel360

3. ‘Lift’ The Spirits

Image: Pexels

A long time ago when I was working in one of the premier banks in the city, the HR department organised a seminar on the C Suite floor. This floor had its own elevator accessible only from the Lower Ground floor without any stops in between. 

That evening after a seminar, two of my colleagues and I got into the lift and pressed the LG Floor button. We occasionally looked at the different numbers on the lift panel illuminating rapidly as it descended to LG.

Suddenly, the speed reduced and the lift came to a gentle stop. Oddly enough, the doors refused to open on LG. 

I pressed the ‘Open’ button repeatedly but nothing happened. We were certain the lift was faulty but before we could react, the lift started moving up again. We assumed it was going all the way to the top because someone must have called for it.

As the lift rose, the air started turning strangely chilly. We didn’t give it much thought as we assumed the air-conditioning was just blowing harder. And then, without any warning, the lift suddenly stopped with a jerk. None of the floor buttons were lit to indicate which floor we had stopped. 

We waited for the doors to open, expecting one of our big bosses to step in, as we thought it had reached the C Suite floor. For the longest time, nothing happened and there was an eerie silence. All we could hear was our own breathing.

A loud ‘ding’ jolted us suddenly. One of the floor buttons lit up. The lift had stopped on the 13th floor!

As the staff of the bank, we knew there was nothing on the 13th floor; it was only used to house electric generators. Office staff and civilians had no access to this floor. No one went there and more importantly, none of us in the lift had pressed any button to stop the lift on that floor.

We kept staring at the lit button, expecting the lift to start moving at any moment. It felt like an eternity when suddenly the doors opened.

In pitch black, hundreds of red eyes stared angrily back at us, accompanied by a long and deep growl. I started breaking out in a cold sweat as the bloodshot eyes seemed to move forward.

Frantically stabbing on the LG floor button, I desperately wanted the doors to close and shut out the red eye creatures. After a few seconds, it did close and soon, the lift moved downwards.

My colleague, turned around and chuckled: “Those were the red lights from the generators, right?” Feeling a little silly, we chuckled and shook our heads at our own foolishness. The lift headed down and finally arrived on LG level.

But the doors refused to open again. 

We felt panic rise up to our throats as the lift started racing up and lo and behold, it stopped again on the 13th floor.

After what seemed like a lifetime, the doors opened and the same angry, red eyes glared back us with a growl that seemed even louder now. 

“Close the door!! Close the door!” shouted my female colleague.

The doors listened to us this time, shutting out the red circles and the oppressive darkness. 

“It must be a motherboard circuit,” I volunteered, trying to make sense. “Don’t worry. We are going down again,” I tried to pacify myself mainly, as I heard the mechanical parts of the lift murmuring.  

The lift didn’t move but instead, the doors opened again, revealing the same angry red eyes that strangely seemed to have grown larger with a growl that seemed louder. 

By this time, all three of us had moved to the very back of the lift. Paralysed with fear, we couldn’t even press the button anymore. Something was playing Yo-Yo with the lift.

“Call for help,” someone shouted but before anyone can reach the Emergency Button, the doors closed and the lift started to descend. 

For the second time, the lift reached the LG floor, refused to open and shot up again to the 13th floor. Every time there, the doors remained open for even longer.

We were petrified, not knowing what’s going to happen next and how long we were going to be stuck there, terrorised by some unknown force. Every prayer in the book was uttered, begging protection from our respective gods.

The lift rose to the 13th floor for the third time and behaved in the same inexplicable way. We pressed the Emergency Button for help but no one responded. Fear gripped us tighter. 

But some higher force must have heard our prayer. The doors shut and the air in the lift warmed up. It finally stopped on LG level but we were almost certain it was going to bounce up again to face the hundreds of angry eyes on the 13th floor.

Mercifully, the lift opened on the LG floor and for a few seconds, we just couldn’t muster any strength to step out, almost certain the door would shut on us any moment now.

But it didn’t and we finally dashed out of the lift into the lobby full of office workers.

A few days later, I asked one of the facilities officers if he noticed the lift malfunctioning on that day we were trapped in it.

He checked his record and said nothing of that sort happened and everything ran smoothly. If anything was faulty, they would have attended to it immediately as the big bosses used it daily.

There was nothing on record to document our experience on the 13th floor. There was no explanation either.

  • Rajendra Ramasamy, Regional Managing Editor, travel360

4. A Warm Welcome

Image: Pexels

This happened during one of my outstation work trips for a major photo shoot.

I was in charge of a trip that would have us documenting two socialites volunteering at a school for a day, and the school chosen for that was located in Kedah.

As I was unfamiliar with the hotels there (and strapped for cash), I opted for the next best thing — by booking a place online based on the reviews. 

The price was considerably cheap, it was clean, and the best part was it was a large corner terrace house that could perfectly fit all five of us. 

There were no telling reviews, although ratings were high and the photographs showed that the property was clean and new to this business. In person, it looked better.

It was newly renovated, fully-furnished and had an all-around warm and welcoming vibe…until I went into the bedroom I was to share with my female colleague. 

There was something in the air that I couldn’t quite place, but I chalked it up to me being tired after the long drive.

I always knew I was sensitive to…certain energies, but I just decided to ignore it. We had a long day ahead, after all.

It was halfway past 2am, and I was still wide awake. I had trouble falling asleep. It was awfully warm in this room, yes, because this particular room had no air conditioner yet.

I looked around the darkness and saw that my roommate was fast asleep and snoring at that, with earphones plugged into her ear.

 “It’s a new place, that’s why I am having difficulty sleeping,” I told myself. 

When I finally managed to fall asleep, I was jerked awake all of a sudden. Everything was dead silent. I couldn’t hear the swinging of the fan and my colleague’s snores — which had filled the room earlier on. 

I made a move to get up, and maybe switch positions, but I realised that I couldn’t move.

Something, or rather, someone was holding me down so hard and squeezing me so tight I couldn’t even bring myself to lift my shoulders. Or my hands. Or my head. 

My heart was thumping. My eyes were darting around. I looked to my roommate who was still sound asleep.

“Help me,” I tried to call out, but I couldn’t even manage that. It just came out as a groan, as if my mouth had been sewn shut.

I struggled against my invisible bonds but after realising that this wasn’t working, I started praying.

I had only begun the first sentence of the Our Father before I heard a girly, flirty – coquettish – giggle ring throughout the room before the pressure on my person.

I was able to move, and immediately checked whether it was my roommate who had snickered in her sleep earlier – and consecutively broke the spell I was under. It turned out that it wasn’t her, and that she was, in fact, snoring still.

I didn’t manage to sleep, after that, and my roommate noticed right after she got up and took off her earphones. She asked me if something was wrong.

I told her what happened, and she had a knowing smile on her face. “Actually, I felt something strange too when I walked in here, that’s why I went to bed listening to scriptures from the Quran.”

Between mock-scolding her for not ‘warning’ me and getting ready for the full day ahead, I tried to rationalise things: maybe I had just experienced some form of sleep paralysis.

Either that, or the house’s other guest wanted to ‘greet’ me and welcome me. That would explain the cheeky giggle and my subsequent release after my furious prayers – as if she was saying, “Hey, take it easy. I’m only saying hello.”

  • Kathlyn Ursula D’Souza, Content Executive,

5. Scared My Head Off

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Gosh, I had a rather… secular upbringing. 

But as a child, I was never out of the house after sunset. Why? Because of mayau. You know how we, Dayak people, had this tradition of mayau or headhunting (ngayau in Iban)? 

Well, where I’m from (province of South Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo), mayau still haunts children. But instead of a tradition, it has evolved into a mythological creature of some sort. 

I don’t know what he’s supposed to be, whether a man or a demon, but my friends told me (my parents never did) that he likes to abduct naughty children who roam outside of their homes after dark, behead them, then use their decapitated heads as offerings to keep roads, buildings and bridges safe. 

Of course, it’s just one of those stories parents tell their children to keep them home after dark but as a child, it was damn scary to me! 

What’s worse, parents would point at scavengers and say that they were the mayau and the sacks over their shoulders were where they keep the severed heads.

It’s horrible and I hope parents don’t say these things to their children anymore. 

Although I think the problem most parents have in this modern time is to get their children out of the house… 

  • Ari Vanuaranu, Content Executive, 

6. Waste Not, Want Not

Image: Matthew Meyer

This happened during my high school days in Seremban. I studied in an all-boys boarding school. The school had around 700 students and every Friday, after prayers, the students gathered in the dining hall for lunch.

On Fridays, the principal, deputy principal and dorm wardens joined the boys for lunch. Important messages and announcements were shared during this time.

It was one of those Fridays with 700 boys talking, laughing and eating all the same time. Metal dining trays clanging with each other added to the din. Foldable chairs screeched as someone pushed his chair backwards to talk to another student.

A group suddenly broke into a Happy Birthday song while others clapped in unison. Lunch proceed without any glitch and everyone was waiting for the litany of announcements, as we saw the deputy principal (DP) stand up and reach for the microphone.

The DP tapped the mike a few times, immediately bringing the noise in the hall to a lower decibel. He cleared his throat and proceeded to give his salam and greetings to the students. 

We never paid attention to this as we knew it was going to be another long list of warnings, to-do list, to avoid list, disciplinary reminders.

But that day, the DP took longer and kept staring at the paper in his hands. Most of the boys started to look at the main table inquisitively as the DP was never short for words.

Then, after a deep breath the DP spoke in a hushed voice.

“A lot of strange things have been happening in this school lately.”

More heads cocked up to see the DP make that proclamation. I turned to look at my best friend with a puzzled expression.

“A lot of strange things have been happening in this school, things we cannot explain,” he continued. “I want every student to listen carefully and pay attention to what I am going to say now as it concerns your safety and wellbeing here.”

As boisterous students, we sort of expected what was to come next. It must be more reminders on being a good and upright student to preserve the school’s values and so on. The din in the hall resumed.

“Lately, something strange was spotted in the toilets…..’

And that’s when the hall went totally quiet. You could hear the pin-drop silence as all heads turned towards the main table, curious as to what the DP was referring to.

“… something that cannot be explained was spotted in the toilet by the prefects on their nighty rounds in the Block A and Block C toilets. This thing… it was eating something from the toilet bowl.”

You could have cut the silence in the dining hall with a knife. Every pair of eyes was trained on the DP who was clearly finding it hard to explain.

He was a religious man who was very strict and usually wouldn’t entertain such frivolities like ‘strange’ and ‘inexplicable’ things. To have him talking about it was equally weird as the subject he was dealing with.

“From today, students are not allowed to bring food back to their dormitories. All food must be eaten in the dining hall or the canteen,” he rattled away without looking up. “Most importantly, you must not, MUST NOT, throw any food in the toilets, sinks or drains in the toilet areas.”

His warnings were mysterious but us students just didn’t know what to make of it.

“And you must flush the toilets fully after you have done your business. Please do the needful and if you see anything strange in the toilets, run and inform the prefects or the wardens,” he ended his speech and sat down.

No one dared ask what he was referring to or what that strange thing was that was eating from the toilet. 

We obediently filed out of the dining hall and returned to our rooms that afternoon.

That evening, all of us made sure we had our baths early and vacated the toilet areas before the sun went down. Many were too scared even to take a leak during the night. 

Months later, during preparatory class at night, one prefect who had bunked classes came running from the dorm building clad only in his towel, screaming for help.

He had decided to skip night classes to do his laundry. In the toilet area, the showerhead in a cubicle farthest from him kept going on. He tip-toed to catch the truant student.

What he saw in the cubicle was so scary that the student fell ill for almost a week, all delirious and incomprehensible when we prodded him to tell us what frightened him so much.

We could only understand him saying “Big, hairy thing…7 feet tall…licking the slime off the floor!”

  • Rajendra Ramasamy, Regional Managing Editor, travel360

7. The Hungry Ghost

Image: Wikimedia Commons

My friend and I once travelled to Bangkok on a shoestring budget and stayed at a backpackers lodge. Around 3am, I was awakened by a chilly sensation in the room.

Something cold had touched my feet, particularly my left toe. I was awake but couldn’t get up as something heavy kept pinning me down.

The wet and cold feeling reminded me of the sensation of a cat licking your skin. It was wet, clammy and grainy and it was licking in long strokes. 

Was there a cat in the room, I wondered, still unable to get up or pull my leg away. I could only register that something weird was happening in the room and it certainly wasn’t a cat.

This went on for a few minutes. Then, with all my might, I managed to tear myself away from the bed. The wet feeling disappeared. I crept to the edge of the bed to investigate and as expected, there was no cat on the floor.

A loud rustling in the room drew my attention. Feeling fearful, I turned to wake my friend only to see him tossing and turning in bed. His movement kept getting violent by the minute as he growled in a deep and menacing voice.

Absolute fear gripped me as I watched him thrashing about, gripping the sheets and burrowing into the mattress while growling and hissing deeply. 

I did the only thing I could; threw my arms around him, pinned him down and started praying loudly, begging for deliverance from the gods.

My friend punched and pushed me away, struggling to break free from my chokehold, and hissing like a demon. He spoke in a language that sounded like garbled Thai. 

As I kept chanting the prayer over and over, the growling began to subside and his struggle weakened.

Eventually, he became still and simply went to sleep. I, on the other hand, lay awake the whole night, watching over him, worried that he might have an encore. 

The next morning, my buddy woke up to see me staring at him with tired eyes.

When I related the incident to him, repeatedly asking if he was OK, he just brushed it off and accused me of making up the story. He slept like a baby, he assured me.

As we were checking out of the hotel, I mentioned the incident to the receptionist, hoping someone could explain my brush with the supernatural. 

In her broken English, she asked; “Sir, where you go yesterday?” I told her in detail all the things we did and the places we had visited.

“You go back road? Near place people put food on ground?” she enquired looking a little worried.

I thought hard and yes, we did. Both of us had entered a market area and had seen someone offering prayers near a back alley. We took pictures and walked back to the hotel, cutting through back lanes and alleyways.

“You bring back spirit, spirit follow you into room,” she confirmed my worst fears. “Spirit hungry, like to drink blood from leg, bite and lick leg finger” she continued in an alarmed fashion. 

My blood froze. She had just explained the cold, wet thing I had felt the night before. It was a spirit trying to suck blood from my toe!

“You friend turn-turn in bed… spirit go in him. Spirit angry you no give blood,” she explained my friend’s violent behavior in bed. 

“You pray. Buddha protect you. Spirit go away,” she concluded with a happy smile.

I promised there and then to never ever to go gallivanting in back lanes since that fateful day. As for my friend, till today, he insists it was all a figment of my imagination.

  • Rajendra Ramasamy, Regional Managing Editor, travel360
Image: Pexels

8. Ghostly Games

Image: Pexels

A moonlit seaside walk became memorable for more than the romantic ambience when we noticed shadowy figures by the palms – they laughed as they dashed about, as if enjoying a game of catch!

We froze.

Suddenly, realising our presence, they too froze, then vanished into the darkness.

  • Shamini Rajah, Sub Editor, travel360

9. Head To Head

Image: Wikimedia Commons

When I was in Standard 6, my friends and I took a baking class at a hotel in KL (I can’t really disclose the name of this hotel, because it’s still there, and it’s quite a renowned one too!)

After the baking class, the hotel hosted this tea session where participants could have some food from the buffet and chat away. My friends, my sister and I decided to go to the toilet together at this time. 

My friends and I chatted a considerable distance away from my sister’s cubicle, just waiting for her to finish.

But as my friends were talking, I started seeing (if not feeling) that there was a head floating in front of my sister’s cubicle!

My immediate response was to act like nothing was there, but after a few seconds I just said, “Scared me! I thought I saw a head there!” As soon as I finished saying that sentence, all of us froze and chills went down or spines.

We started running, towards the door, without evening waiting for my sister!

But as we tried to pull the door open, we couldn’t — the door was locked!

My sister eventually came out, and she was admonishing us for being frantic, asking us why we’re screaming.

She took her time as we panicked, and she went to wash her hands. When she came to pull the door open, it surprisingly worked.

We were visibly shaken, but we went back to the tea buffet anyway. 

My brother and his friend, shortly after this, decided to go the toilet as well (which happened to be next to the female toilet my friends and I were in earlier). We didn’t tell them what happened.

It was like clockwork: they went in, shut the door, and within seconds, came out screaming.

Apparently, my brother’s friend saw another head.

At the end of the tea break session, the organisers released us and we were free to meet our parents.

As we were walking along the corridor (which, coincidentally, had a mirror at the end of it), another female friend who was in the toilet with me earlier also saw another head!

We ran to our parents, and we told them what had happened to us earlier. Close to us, there was the hotel manager who was watching us and listening…as if he knew something.

He even asked us at the end of our story, “Is there anything I can help you with?”

We were shaken at the end of the day, and tired due to the stress. But one of our friends actually had to resort to calming pills because she was so traumatised. 

  • Vikki Tan, Social Media Executive,

10. Lights On

Image: Pexels

All the classrooms at the Pusat Bahasa (language school) were so crowded in the day. Minutes after one class ended, students from the next class would storm in to get ready for their class.

We always wondered why the language school did not have night classes to handle the numbers of students of the whole university.

This story explained why.

With the final exam just over, Lecturer X had been marking another batch of papers.

Suddenly she realised, she was all alone  tiny room and the time was already half-past nine! She and her next-door lecturer Y would always wait for each other to finish before leaving together.

She heard some movements in the room, lights were on in the next room, so she picked up the phone to call her friend in the neighbouring room. 

As soon as the phone rang, the lights in the next room immediately switched off.

Lecturer X thought that her colleague was coming over so that they could leave together and because she wasn’t quite finished marking her papers,  she shouted loudly “Please give me five minutes, my desktop needs to shut down and then we can go back together. ” 

At that moment, her mobile phone rang, the screen showed that it was Lecturer Y calling her.

“Hey, Lecturer X, I forgot to tell you, I went back early this afternoon, I had to fetch my daughter from her tuition centre…” 

Lecturer X froze, so what had been in the room next door?

Grabbing her bag, she rushed to her door in a panic and quickly made her way  through the narrow corridor.

As she made her way towards the main entrance, to her horror, the centralise fluorescent ceiling lights began switching off one by one. A short 30-step walk seemed like eternity!

She reached the main entrance and ran to the car park, got into the car and drove off as fast as she could!  

This is why I would never attend any night classes…EVER!

  • Chew Win Win, Photographer, travel360 &

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Written by Kathlyn Ursula D'Souza

Professionally a journalist, personally a lover of all things fried chicken, Gogorn (her big black German Shepherd) and ice cream.

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