[top photo: A ghost tour at the Bukit Brown Chinese cemetery]
By Rina Ota
SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Don't take the Singapore Spooky Tour expecting to see ghosts, but those seeking an old-fashioned thrill in this modern state are likely to get it through insights into abandoned sites and ancient practices.
The tour is conducted by the Asia Paranormal Investigators (API, api.sg) who spend most of their time poring over legal texts and archives to unravel the beliefs and confusion surrounding supposedly paranormal phenomena.
"It is not a thrill-seeking, ghost-searching expedition," said Charles Goh, API's founder and guide on the tours which started last year.
Charles Goh, founder of API
[file photo: ST]
"Our tours are specially themed educational programs and you will walk through a living, breathing history book that tells you a lot about Singapore," he told Reuters.
"I carry out paranormal investigations, which is research into recovery of lost histories, urban myths, and legends... which helps me bring people to unusual places."
The tour, which takes visitors around the island for about four hours, is listed by the Singapore Tourism Board as one of 20 unique activities to do in the city.
While on the bus, guides play videos and share ghost stories and urban legends.
The first stop is usually the "Village of the Dead" or the Bukit Brown Chinese Cemetery.
When this private property became a public graveyard in the early 20th century, the nearby village's economy became one based on death, but housing developments in the 1980s emptied the village and the area was abandoned.
Visitors are also taken to Kampong Buangkok, the last surviving village in Singapore, and Matilda House, a bungalow reputed to be the most haunted home in the city but whose real claim to fame is that it is the last remaining structure in the northeastern Punggol area from the early 20th century.
API say that while the tours lack the fear-factor, they often open people's eyes to another side of Singapore, and arm them with information not widely known
"Many of the urban legends, haunting and ghost stories that abound in Singapore are usually due to misconception, misinformation or lack of information," says API's website.
The group's peak season is around Halloween in October, Goh said, instead of the annual Hungry Ghosts Festival which usually occurs in September and during which some Chinese believe the gates of hell open and the souls of the dead roam the earth.
(Editing by Miral Fahmy and Sanjeev Miglani)