Friday, February 7, 2014

Myanmar Travel Stories - Ghosts at Ocean Blue Hotel?

Feb 8, 2014
Ocean Blue Hotel, Room 213

At around 3 am, I woke up suddenly as I heard a cracking sound, as if a balloon had burst. Just before I went to sleep, I heard an identical sound and thought it was from the TV program as I had not switched off the TV. All lights were switched on as well as the TV as my friend Khin Khin told me that there could be ghosts in a new hotel with only 3 rooms occupied.

Ocean Blue, Ngwe Suang Beach Hotel at  had just opened for business 2 days ago and the 3 rooms were rented by me, Khin Khin and her daughter and the driver Sonny for one night. After a 6-hour drive, we had reached Ngwe Suang, a fine-sand beach very popular with Caucasians from Europe. We ended in Aureum Resort - Spa Ngwe Saung. Such a beautiful luxurious hotel with villas, manicured lawns and palm trees very close to the beach. The villas or bungalows has two rooms at US$195/room and an additional US$80 for the communal living room between the two rooms.
"You can share your room with Sonny," Khin Khin said. "My daughter and I will be in the other room." So, the total rental for just one night would be US$390 without the communal room. She would have to pay US$470 for the whole villa out of her own pocket. That is a lot of money as a Myanmar graduate earns around US$300 per month. 

"I need my own room," I told Khin Khin who wanted to give me a treat as I seldom visit her in  Myanmar declining her many invitations. "I wake up at 3 am to do my computer work and switch on the TV. I will be disturbing Sonny."  Khin Khin then decided that Sonny ought to stay in a cheaper place. "I don't mind," Sonny said. He is around 50 years old and is a close friend of her husband for many years. He had volunteered to drive me from Yangon to Ngwe Saung and so he is more than a driver to Khin Khin's husband. It just did not seem the right thing to do. He was not a paid driver from a rental car company and such drivers do stay in much cheaper accommodation.

"Why not go to Ocean Blue hotel and check it out?" I suggested after we found that the other 2 hotels nearer to Aureum Resort - Spa Ngwe Saung were fully booked. "Brand new hotels are much better than old ones," I said. "The bathrooms would be newer and there should be no malfunctions of the shower. Yesterday, I stayed in Grand Palace Hotel Yangon and the shower could not be switched on when I wanted to bathe before breakfast!"

"So what did you do?" Khin Khin asked as it was too late to switch rooms as I had not checked on the functions of the bathroom tub with shower. After all, Grand Palace Hotel looks new and impressive. The rental was US$90 and as it has many Caucasian clientele, we presume it must be good.

"I have to bath sideways inside the bath tub!" I joked. The shower had lost its "button" and so I could not push or pull to activate the shower.

"Furthermore, I woke up to the sounds of dripping water, as if an invisible tap had been turned on and somebody was having a bath! That is why I don't want to stay in this hotel again."

"How long did these sounds last?" Khin Khin wanted to know.  "Maybe 10 minutes. It could be somebody next door bathing. But at 2 am in the morning. It is possible that the guest could have come back from the night club."

I didn't think much about it until Khin Khin mentioned that it could be ghosts. So, now we were checked in at the brand new Ocean Blue with a 10% discount US$90 for my bigger corner room with a large living area and a balcony facing the ocean waves and sunset, I thought this would be a good arrangement with all of us living in the same hotel, rather than banishing the driver to Ocean Blue while we indulge in the surroundings of the Aureum. I bargained but got 5% for the other two rooms as Khin Khin did not bargain. After all, this hotel was not opened to receive guests till the next day although it was opened 2 days ago. Kind of confusing, isn't it? The supervisor had to decide as the manager was not around and he gave us the rates we bargained for. So, we took Rooms 213, 215 and 216.

"Don't take 214," I advised. "The digit '4' means death in Chinese."
"I am afraid of ghosts in this new hotel," Khin Khin said. I did mention death in numerology of "4" and this must have had triggered her phobias. Yet she has her daughter sharing the room 215 with her and the driver would be in 216. Of course 214 was vacant and the ghosts could lurk there.

"Talking about ghosts," I added fuel to fire and joked. "I have two beds in Room 213. A ghost could sleep on the other bed and would really frighten me when I wake up!"

This was really a frightful thought. Do I believe in spirits and ghosts? I do when I sleep alone. To allay me fears, I sleep with all lights switched on.  As if ghosts are deterred by lights. It is hard to sleep with lights on and I cover my eyes with the spare pillows.

"What's those sounds of bells tinkling?" I frightened Khin Khin more as we came back from a wonderful sea food dinner at the restaurant favoured by many Caucasians. "Why is it so popular with Europeans?" Khin Khin asked me. "It could be from the websites as Caucasians always consult the travel websites" I told Khin Khin. "There is the band of two men singing English songs and the food is good and cheap." This beach resort restaurant seems to attract Caucasian couples young and old as I saw them streaming in while the competitors were not full on this February 7, 2014 fine evening.

Back to the tingling sounds of bells after we returned from dinner back to Ocean Blue and climbing up the stairs to the 2nd level. "These tingling sounds appear to be bells around the cow's neck. As the cows walk, the bells ting and ting!" Her daughter was carrying the metallic Ocean Blue disc with key and when these two collide, the tingling sounds commenced. I knew about it but not Khin Khin and so she was worried. More tingling sounds as her daughter walked behind her up to the rooms on the second floor, with the balcony facing the sea. This aggravated her fears of ghosts and put the chills in my spine too as I would be sleeping alone in a big room of some 250 sq ft. Room 214 would be vacant and so I had no buffer as the others would be in Rooms 215 and 216 while I would be in 213!
I could sleep with the TV on but there would be some creaky noises in some TV programs and it would be worse than ghosts walking about in my room. So I switched off the TV. All dead silence as the balcony was closed and there would be no sound of waves or insecurity from burglars.

Khin Khin discovered the source of the tingling sounds but was not secure from ghosts. "I paid 5,000 kyats one hotel staff to sleep outside the corridor," she told me. She really meant business. The appearance of "water flowing from taps" sound in my Yangon hotel at 2 am waking me up was so frightening an experience. A new hotel with no other residents. Rooms would be slept in by "nyats" or ghosts. So, she paid a hotel boy to sleep outside the corridor.

Of course, I was worried about the supernatural. Before I slept, I heard a cracking sound as if a balloon had burst which I thought was from the TV program. Then I got waken up by the same cracking sound. I dared not sleep. I went to the writing desk to download my images to the hard drive. On the brand new tiled floor, to the left of my small writing desk of about 4-foot in length, there were a row of blood-like stains. Could these be the trail of the bleeding ghost who arrived while I slept? This was really frightening as I had not been observant enough to see them when I checked in. This sighting meant that I should not sleep anymore. I was not sure whether the blood stains existed when I checked in as I was more interested in knowing that the shower was working and it was functional.

Then, I withdrew the sun curtains and stared out of the locked sliding glass doors to the blackness of the sea beyond and in between tall trees. Any spirits floating around. One should be more worried about human burglars in a deserted new hotel as they would be more dangerous.

I decided to open the sliding doors, seeing no human on the balcony. Spirits from the blackness could drift into my room. I took the risk. After all, there were lights of bulbs along the perimeter of the building facing the beach. Any spirits or ghosts would glide into the room in any case. The swishing of the sea waves pounding the beach was OK with me as I have heard such sounds before. I videoed the blackness, not expecting any ghosts to be around.

Suddenly, to the right side of the ground, near the main lobby and reception area, there loomed a big figure. Tall and stout. Silent and staring up at me as my video camera panned to his area. I did not drop my camera but was shocked. Was this the real ghost? At 4.30 am in the morning. Sounds of waves, blackness in the background and now a big figure looking up at me. Solid like the old teak wood tree of Myanmar.

What should I do? Quickly depart from the balcony, close the sliding doors and draw the curtains immediately. IA - Immediate Action during military training.  No, I did not do that. It would be too late as ghosts flit in faster than the speed of sound. Really? I don't know.

I waved to this figure and he waved back at me. It could be the security guard. Otherwise why would a ghost wave to me. In any case, I have the evidence on video. I could not sleep anymore. I opened the door to check whether the hotel staff was sleeping outside the corridor to guard us. Sure enough, there was protection from the spirtis or "nyats" in Myanmar culture. Not one hotel boy but two sleeping on mattresses at the corner. Two is for protection. One is vulnerable should ghosts appear. Even the hotel boys were worried too.

It is nearly 6 am now and the hotel supervisor had said electricity to the rooms would be from 6 am to 6 pm. I can't understand why. I had bathed at night and so would not be shrouded in darkness when the room lights were off at 6 am. Better save this story to the cloud.  The two hotel boys have had rolled up their two mattresses as I could hear the clicking sounds outside and some voices. 

Ocean Blue Ngwe Saung Beach Hotel is a great place to stay, in my opinion. The beach is clean and has fine sand tingling the toes as you walk on it. The surroundings make you closer to nature and tranquility.

I need to check floor tiles for blood stains, functional showers and bath tubs at the next hotel I check in.         




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