One of Penang’s many tourist attractions, Penang Hill is located on the island of Penang and accessible through a funicular railway from Air Itam. In the colonial days, British officials built bungalows on top of the hill and use them as their retreat homes. The cooling climate at Penang Hill attracted the British who find the weather in Malaysia too hot and humid.
Most of the bungalows built by the British officials are still there and they are now owned by big organisations as well as government departments. Employees of such organisations are usually entitled to rent the bungalows for holiday use.
Due to the long history of those Victorian bungalows, most if not all have one or two ghost stories behind them. Perhaps the most eerie bungalow of all is the Brother’s Bungalow. Built and used by the Christian Missionary Brothers, it had been home to many retiring Brothers. Hence many Brothers had passed away there. At present, they no longer served the same purpose but instead are used by students and teachers of St Xavier’s Institution (my alma mater) for training camps or simply for holidays.
The Brother’s Bungalow consists of two wings — the east and west wing. The east wing is situated behind some tall trees and bushes and hence, the whole wing is always dark and gloomy. Most of the scary ghost stories happened here.
There is also a chapel inside the bungalow. One can be assured of seeing the ghost of a Brother if one visits the chapel after midnight. Some of my friends have reported seeing a Brother walking up and down along the corridor of the chapel.
Inside the bungalow itself, many eerie spots can be found. There were reports of people seeing a headless Brother walking around one of the rooms. Also, there is a bullet still buried inside one of the walls and a Brother was claimed to be killed by that bullet long time ago. The storage room is also claimed to be “fiercely” haunted and very few dare to step foot inside.
All the rooms in Brother’s Bungalow are numbered. There is a strange phenomenon at room number 16. If you have visited the bungalow, you may have noticed there are no Room 16 after all. No matter what the caretaker does to make the sign show ’16’, it would somehow turn itself and become ’91’. Many eerie things are reported to have happened in this room and the caretaker closed up this room from being used.
One of the bathrooms in Brother’s Bungalow had also been locked up after a scary incident. Someone was bathing in the shower when the water became blood and rushed down on him.
There are a few stories at the Brother’s Bungalow that involved the Japanese soldiers found here during the World War II.
The first story, told by my friend, Sovita, is as follow:
It was actually a beautiful morning in 1995 when we went up to the Brother’s Bungalow for our Junior Leadership Training Camp. The seniors had earlier warned us not to do anything silly as it would cause the ‘Brothers’ to ‘wake up’. However, you see, my friend, Guan, was a non-believer and that’s where the problem starts.
Outside the bungalow, there is an image of the Virgin Mary and of St. John Baptist de La Salle, the founder of the Christian Missionary Brothers. Guan was telling me how he would not believe that, with those two holy figures protecting the bungalow, there would still be any ghosts around. Somehow, he challenged the so-called evil spirits there. He thought to himself that if the ‘Brothers’ are to be real, they have to appear before him. Otherwise, it would only be merely insubstantial ghost stories made up by some people. Guan even burst into laughter after hearing the seniors’ warning.
We had our formal programme for the rest of the day. When night falls, at about 11pm, everyone was tired and was sleeping soundly. Nevertheless, Guan woke up in the middle of the night to ease himself. He came out of his room and walked towards the toilet. As he was on his way to the loo, he saw this image that was supposed to be a Brother. He saw an image of a monk in a Christian Brother’s gown walking around but his feet didn’t even touch the ground. Guan was stunned for a moment. He took another look and was so shocked to find the Brother, not only floating, but was also headless!
Guan was absolutely petrified with fear. He stood there motionless for a full three seconds until he decided it may be a good idea to rush back to his room and hid under the blankets. He forgot about his “nature’s call” and forced himself to go back to sleep.
I was talking to Guan the other day and he told me another story that he had heard of much later after his own experience. It happened to another boy from our school that was staying at the east wing of the Brother’s Bungalow.
While at the bungalow with a group of people, Keng Lim, Kenny and Choong was sharing the same room. After everyone retreated to the bedrooms for the night, the three of them went back to their room and played cards. As they were playing and joking happily, Keng Lim suddenly looked so pale and sick. Kenny and Choong sensed something was wrong and asked him if he’s all right. Keng Lim just kept quiet for a while and then suggested it was time for all of them to go to bed. Kenny and Choong knew something was wrong but thought it may not be the right time to talk about it. So, they just went to bed without another word.
Next morning, Kenny and Choong woke up to find Keng Lim having a fever and still looked sick. Keng Lim pleaded them to send him home and he also insisted that both Kenny and Choong leave the bungalow with him. He was asked numerous times what had happened on the night before but he refused to say a word.
So, the three of them went back home and Keng Lim recovered speedily. A few weeks later, Kenny and Choong approached Keng Lim again to ask what had happened that night when he suddenly looked so sick and pale. Keng Lim finally agreed to tell them what had happened.
“As we were playing cards and joking away, I suddenly have an urge to go to the toilet. However, just before I got up, I turned around and saw something that almost scared me to death.”
“You mean inside the room?” interrupted Kenny.
“Yup,” continued Keng Lim, “There was a Brother with his hands tied to his back. Then, there was a Japanese soldier by his side. He pushed the Brother to get down on his knees and then he took out his sword. I saw the soldier just chopped off the Brother’s head.”
“Then what happened?” asked a scared Choong.
“They just vanished once the head was chopped off. A moment later, the whole process begins again. I could only bear to see it twice. I even thought I want hallucinating the first time I saw it. After seeing it twice, I even forgot that I needed to go to the loo. I just turned back and wish they were no longer there when I turn around again. I was scared stiff but there’s nothing I could do. It was then that you guys started asking if I was all right. Apparently, both of you did not see anything.”
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