These two Halloween stories are how I remember them after all these years. In other words, accuracy is coincidental.
The most haunted house in Chiang Mai is gone. I noticed a big plowed field the other day where the house had been since I arrived in the city 53 years ago. As it happens, Google Maps’ street view still has a picture of the old colonial house. It has been vacant and for sale since I first laid eyes on it pedaling my bicycle from language school. It is one of several built when wealthy foreigners and patrons came to town. There was a disaster that few spoke of, that decimated the original family. After a while new owners took over, although they had trouble recruiting domestic staff because the place was famously haunted. Accidents, a fire, disease and then two more suspicious deaths and a horrible hanging added to the ghosts. No one has dared to move in since. Twice the property changed hands and went on sale. It is in a prime location and was of sturdy classic stucco on 3 layers of bricks. It was the sort of place that had historical value, except it was deadly. It was too haunted to inhabit. We’ll see what is planned for the vacant lot.
Probably the most expensive piece of derelict haunted property in Chiang Mai is the former Poi Luang Hotel. It still stands, gutted and forlorn, as well as perpetually for sale. The hotel was constructed during the first wave of the tourist boom. It sits on the corner of the highway to Bangkok and Sankampaeng Road which was being developed to attract tourists and showcase Chiang Mai’s amazing handicraft industry – silk weaving, wood carving, traditional umbrellas, silver craft, celadon pottery, bronze ware, gems, lacquer ware, basketry, teak furniture, and much more. The hotel had a revolving restaurant on top that revolved about twice and couldn’t be coaxed to do it again. Sometime in the late 1980s there was a tragedy, resulting in deaths (or maybe I’m confusing that with the Chiang Inn where Legionnaires’ Disease killed a bunch), anyhow, guests began reporting ghosts in the hallways and registrations fell way down. No amount of exorcism could get rid of the ghosts. The hotel was sold to a consortium of physicians who began to convert it into a hospital. As the hospital-to-be was encased in bamboo scaffolding a storm tore some of it down taking a couple of construction workers to their deaths. It was one thing after another. Then the 1997 Asian financial crisis bankrupted the consortium. The building has been vacant ever since. The hotel was briefly attractive for clandestine trysts. The last one of those ended in a murder, adding still another ghost. Graffiti enthusiasts gave up shortly afterward, telling tales of ghosts they encountered. I understand the estimated cost of tearing the building down is still more than the property is worth. So the ghostly hotel remains, haunted.
This Halloween blog marks the end of our sixth year. This is our 312th posting, for an average of exactly one per week. At present we have about 2500 “hits” a week by 400 of you. Next week we will begin year seven on the same eclectic range of current events, LGBT issues, Northern Thai village life, and Thai Buddhism and Christianity. Again, thanks to our intrepid webmaster for his skill and persistence. Blessings to everyone as we maneuver through trying times.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.