This Halloween, there’ll be the cheeky ones dressed up as ghosts… and, in Singapore, some people believe there are the real ghosts.
Read about the urban legends behind these Asian ghosts before Halloween is here!
1. Orang Minyak
The Orang Minyak, literally meaning “oily man”, is so called because this ghost looks black and shiny, like a man doused in oil. They strike virgins in their sleep, the most high-profile case featured in numerous news reports back in 2012 about a village in Selangor, Malaysia, that was being terrorised by an Orang Minyak.
This is one that most Singaporeans are familiar with. Believed to be the spirits of women who died in childbirth or during pregnancy, Pontianaks are vampires that devour the organs of their victims. They’re said to reside in banana trees, and apparently, you can tell one is nearby if you catch a whiff of frangipani.
3. Makcik Keropok
The urban legend goes that there’s an elderly Malay woman – makcik – who would go around HDB estates, knocking on door to door selling keropok, a Malay deep-fried cracker. While the thought of having a delicious, crunchy snack may be tempting, it is said that the makcik will then release a ghost or a Pontianak into your house when you open the door. Better not risk it.
4. Restless ghosts
Certain spots, like Changi Beach and Tanah Merah, are said to be haunted by the restless souls of massacre victims who died in the Second World War. Not surprising, considering the belief that people who died violent or unjust deaths tend to return as ghosts to haunt the area, or those who have wronged them.
It’s believed that you can call on the spirit of a dead human fetus – a Toyol – using black magic, and the spirit will do your bidding. If you suspect that some creep has let a Toyol loose in your home, you can distract it by leaving toys around. It’s a child, after all.
6. Slit-mouthed woman
The Japanese Kuchisake-onna (slit-mouthed woman) is believed to be the malicious spirit of a woman who had her mouth slit open by her husband. She would approach her victims and ask, “Am I pretty?” Spoiler alert: There’s no right or wrong answer, because either way, she’ll try to slice your face open.
7. Water ghosts
These are the ghosts of people who died of drowning, and it’s commonly believed that they’d be at the site where they had originally drowned, lurking in wait of people to pull underwater. So, Bedok Reservoir definitely isn’t the place you’d go for a dip.
Originally by Sophie Hong, CLEO / Updated by Willaine G. Tan, October 2020