There are many places around the world where ghosts are known to tread. Some spirit stories have been passed down through generations. Others are more recent. Regardless, as we get ready for Halloween, here are some places where our students travel that ghosts have been known to lurk.
The mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu have spawned a number of ghost stories among travelers. The fog in the area is said to carry the spirits of lost Incas. Some people even think the city was once a spiritual place built for the dead. Others believe it was used as a prison. More commonly, researchers think it was a retreat for royalty with many servants doing the labor.
One mystery is that scientists have found only about 100 skeletons amid the ruins, which is smaller than expected amid the large complex. Regardless, whether it’s haunted or not, it’s easy to see how this ancient location with the low-hanging mist could be the perfect place for a horror film.
Faro a Colon
The so-called “Columbus Lighthouse” isn’t actually a lighthouse. It’s called this because it has 157 lights that can send beams into the sky, forming a cross. The building is located in Santo Domingo across the Ozama River from the Colonial Zone that students visit while in the Dominican Republic.
The monstrously-huge monument is meant to mark the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Dominican Republic. Columbus’ remains are allegedly held there, though that’s debated.
The structure that’s built with gray granite and concrete is often described as being dark, strange and frightening – or at least bizarre. Even if it isn’t haunted, it seems to send shivers down people’s spines.
This gate structure in Seoul may seem like an unlikely place for ghost stories. It was built in 1894 when the first Sino-Japanese war ended and China recognized the independence of Korea. The area was recognized as being a center of the Korean independence movement.
However, the surrounding park was known as an area where man-eating tigers once roamed. Also, the Korean queen was assassinated just as the gate was being completed. Her funeral was held the day after the structure was completed.
Rumors started to spread that the area was haunted by goblins that would cut the topknots off men’s heads. It doesn’t help that in 1908 a prison was opened up near the gate. Thousands of Koreans who struggled to gain independence from Japan were imprisoned there. Many of them died within the prison walls. Such realities created much fodder for ghost and goblin stories.
In addition to the gate, the Han River that runs through Seoul is also said to be haunted by the ghosts of people who have died in the waters. Some locals say not to get too close to the water or you may be pulled in.
One of the more famous stories surrounds the murder of Christian missionaries whose bodies were taken to the river as a warning for an incoming French fleet. Some believe their spirits still are in the area.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
It’s not surprising this location is known to be haunted considering the horror that occurred within its walls. The building was a former school that was used as a prison by the Khmer Rouge. About 20,000 prisoners were held there and only seven survived. Twice a year monks are invited to the building to hold a ceremony for the spirits of the victims.
Thailand has a number of places that are considered haunted, including the airport many people use to enter the country. It was constructed on swampland and a former graveyard. Some locals believe the snakes killed during the construction put a curse on the airport and that the graveyard’s caretaker has haunted the airport and its workers.
During its opening, 99 monks were invited to perform spiritual cleansing rituals for nine weeks and shrines were built around the airport.
Despite that, some airport workers still claim they see ghosts. One of the pillars in the customs area is also said to be haunted by a female worker who died during the airport’s construction. The good news is some people claimed they have also won the lottery with the help of the airport’s spirits.
Ayutthaya Historical Park
Many of Thailand’s ancient cities are also said to be haunted. That includes the Ayutthaya Historical Park students visit during the Southeast Asian Adventurer program. It’s said the spirits settled in the area after many fighters died during brutal clashes with invading Burmese forces.
This house in Chiang Mai that’s also called the White Lion House is the center of a true horror story. The landowner apparently was warned that the land where the mansion was built was unlucky. He ignored that and locals say he went insane after moving in and killed his whole family in the house. Now no one will buy it, so it lies empty and haunted.
Nabutautau Village in the Highlands
Fiji’s history with cannibalism has sparked many stories about angry ghosts and spirits. One of the main ones surrounds this village where Christian missionary Reverend Thomas Baker was killed in 1867 along with his guides. He’s known as the only missionary to die in Fiji because of cannibalism.
He apparently touched the head of the chief, which is considered very offensive, and was killed. The villagers say they were haunted by the spirits who died that day. In 2003, the villagers held a ceremony to ask for forgiveness for the acts of their ancestors. There are reports that it didn’t help.
Outside the village, there are stories about ghosts wandering in other areas because of the country’s history of cannibalism. Because of this history, in some souvenir shops you can even buy creepy things like cannibal dolls and cannibal forks.
Sigatoka Sand Dunes
The story is very different at the sand dunes that students on the Big Fiji Explorer program visit. There are legends that say the sand dunes are haunted by spirits who were killed by a tidal wave. The belief is that the snake god Degei was angry at local villagers and sent the wave as punishment. It buried the village and killed its inhabitants.
Whether this is true or not, reports of ghosts where natural catastrophes have occurred are more common. In more recent times, one of the better known stories surrounds the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. Since then a number of Japanese people have reported seeing the spirits of the victims.
Regardless of the country, ghost stories seem abundant. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to find connections across people and across time. Be on the lookout the next time you’re on the road. Until then, happy Halloween!