Two weeks ago, my 14-year old son went for a 3-day field trip to Kuala Lumpur organised by his school. When he handed me the consent form for me to sign, I read through the itinerary and noted that the students would be staying at The Heritage Station Hotel.
Since the trip was fully sponsored, it is understandable that the school would book a budget hotel. But I felt that putting up the kids in an` old' building is not without some risks. The Heritage Station Hotel is located within the old KTM train station. Photos in the hotel's website show reasonably well-furnished interiors but the hotel's unique selling point is its historical attachment.
On the second day of the trip, my wife called up my son to check how he was getting along. Generally okay, my son said, except that one student experienced `disturbances' during the night. "Gangguan mahluk halus", were his exact Malay words. My son himself did not see any ghosts or spirits or whatever... but my wife advised him to be careful just the same. `Jangan lupa sembahyang' was the standard reminder of mothers to sons.
I couldn't help but smile when I overheard the conversation. In my course of work, I have stayed at numerous hotels in many parts of the country and also overseas. Most times alone. The types of accomodation range from the very basic to the very plush. So far, I have been fortunate enough not to encounter any spirits or other beings `not of our world', except for this one incident at a hotel in Cameron Highlands, around 5 years back.
I can't remember the name of the hotel but it is a fairly big one and built more than 10 years ago. I was in Cameron Highlands to visit one of our projects and stayed alone at the hotel that night. Initially, I had difficulty in falling asleep but the tiredness of the day's work and traveling finally took over and I drifted off. Sometime in the middle of the night, I felt difficult to breathe.... as if a heavy load was resting on my chest. I struggled to push the load away but my arms felt liked they were pinned down. I opened my mouth to scream but nothing came out. It was suffocating, my heart was pounding... and I was in real fear.
And then I started to recite the relevant holy verses of the Quran that I have in memory, as taught by my elders. Initially my recitation was gibberish... like my mouth not following the instructions of my brain. I tried and tried... until I can actually hear the words come out right. And slowly, the heavy load on my chest lifted, my breathing returned to normal and I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up at early dawn and quickly switched on the lights and looked around the room. I could see nothing out of the ordinary. Did an unseen being sit on my chest last night or was it all just a bad dream? Hard to say...
Another hotel that is in the heritage category is the impressive Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang. The hotel has undergone extensive refurbishment over the recent years.
I stayed there once, three years ago, despite having heard a first-hand account of encounters with other unseen occupants. But that's a story to tell for another day.