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Tales of the Unknown

By YK Loh

YK Loh, an ex-scout would like to share his experience on some mysterious events during his scouting years in Penang. Both episodes 1 and 2 happened during his scouting days with the MBS 20th Georgetown (South) Troop in 1966/67. Episode 3 is a story he remembers till today.

Episode 1 - Pathfinding to highest hill at Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve (now Penang National Park)

Mission : To mark (red paint) and clear 3 trails to Muka Head highest hill (460m above sea level) and meet at the rain gauge. Then return to starting point at Teluk Bahang coffee-shop opposite the Bus Stand and disperse.

Trail 1 - Hike from Teluk Bahang to Muka Head Lighthouse and then south-easterly to the meeting point. Then hike down to Kampung Teluk Bahang and end at the starting point.

Trail 2 - Hike from Kampung Teluk Bahang behind Teluk Bahang School to the meeting point and then hike down to Pantai Acheh and collect bicycles and back to Teluk Bahang.

Trail 3 - Proceed from Teluk Bahang to Pantai Acheh. Leave bicycles there and hike uphill to meeting place and then hike down to Kampung Teluk Bahang and end at the starting point.

We were split into 3 groups (one for each trail) and our group (3 persons - a fellow scout, my younger brother and me) chose Trail 3. All 3 groups were supposed to rendezvous on the hill at 1100hrs.

The Journey

We started out at 0900hrs cycling to Pantai Acheh. Reached Pantai Acheh and left our bicycles at the uncle's house of my fellow scout.

We started trekking from behind his uncle's house and proceed uphiill, hacking away at undergrowth and merrily marking our way with red paint as we proceed with a topo map in hand.

My brother was in charged with painting red arrow signs along the way on any rock surface or tree trunks. Things went as expected until about halfway up to the rendezvous point, my brother complained feeling sick, headache and could hardly walk. He stumbled and fell a few times despite of slowing down our pace.

Having no choice but to carry him lest we missed the deadline, we fashioned a stretcher out of 2 tree-branch, latched and slotted them into 2 button-up shirts (luckily our uniform was tough enough to take the strain). I then took over the marking task as we carried my brother on the stretcher up the hill.

As we reach the rendezvous point no one was in site (we were late) but a message pinned on the rain gauge said to proceed as planned. The others had left but we never crossed path with the group from Trail 2 who was supposedly to pick up our bicycles at Pantai Acheh. They might have taken a different trek or else we would have met them on our way up or were we blinded somehow????

I ask my brother how he felt after a brief rest at the rendezvous point and he replied that he felt weak but could walk. Since it was downhill all the way in a north-easterly direction we hike down towards Kampung Teluk Bahang. The further we trek from the hill the better he became. As we approach Kampung Teluk Bahang after trekking past a barren patch of hill-slope he said he's felt all right.

Having ended our mission we arrived home and narrate the story to my father. He asked my brother whether he had painted any arrow-signs on boulders or trees which were devoid of any fallen leaves, grass or undergrowth, etc...(meaning a place well kept and tidy). My brother couldn't recall any but mentioned that he did noticed some big boulders were pretty clean without any mosses or lichen on them. He then explained that such places in the wild or forest are usually residence of spirits and they do not take kindly to any disturbance or defacement of their property and that my brother got of lightly.

This is another lesson learnt....as I recalled I had many a times crossed path with the spirit-world while in my childhood days cutting bamboo poles from a clump by the riverside for a tree-house; trekking with a friend from the stream next to my house to find its source and ending up at a wooden bridge near Moniot Rd (somewhere near point 84) and urinating along the way without asking for permission first etc...which resulted in being sick afterward. My mother will then check the Chinese Almanac to see which spirit, direction I had offended and after praying all will be well without the need to see a doctor.....

Episode 2 - Encounter with the Unknown at Muka Head

In order to become a King Scout then, one has to complete and earn a series of badges. One such badge was the "Hiker's Badge". Earning this badge requires a journey or expedition will full gear and food of at least 50 km (30 miles), inclusive of overnight stops along the way. Members of the group must show that they know the intended route and have knowledge of basic navigation, map reading and after the journey or expedition, the group should prepare a written, sketched, and log of the trip.

Picking a weekend as appointed our group (3 of us) met at the tester's house in Cheeseman Road for the briefing and start of the journey. Will full gear on our backs we trek from Cheeseman Road at 0900hrs to Green Lane, onwards towards Scotland Road junction, turn left and head toward Rifle Range Flats. From Boundary Road we headed towards Ayer Itam Dam. The journey was slow with stops every now and then to sketch the route and details into our log.

From Ayer Itam Dam we took the Balik Pulau trail and had a quick lunch-break at the cross-junction before proceeding downhill. We arrived at St George school in Balik Pulau and ask permission to stay the night in the school hall. Everything was uneventful and being tired we slept on the stage that night after dinner instead of pitching tent.

Early next morning after a quick breakfast of bread and sardine we continued our journey towards Teluk Bahang. We had a light lunch at Titi Kerawang waterfall. Arriving at Teluk Bahang we turn left and head towards the fishing village. From there our trek took us into the forest, past several beaches (one filled with dead jellyfish washed ashore), cross log bridges before arriving at Muka Head Lighthouse in the late afternoon.

We ask permission from the caretaker of several chalet/bungalows belonging to Boon Siew there, to use the toilet and water supply and set up camp in front of bungalow No.2 as there were a group of holiday makers occupying Bungalow No. 3 and 4. After dinner we bed-down for the night ready for the final trek back to Teluk Bahang the next morning and end our trip. Being tired from whole day of walking we slept early and I was awake at about 0500hrs before the sun rise. Being the first to get up I went into the toilet of chalet No.2 to wash up and get water for cooking breakfast with a flashlight. However as I was peeing in the toilet, I heard the tap of washbasin situated just outside of the toilet being turned on. I turned around and saw no one there but water was running from the tap. Sensing eeriness and unease I turn the water off and bolted out of the chalet and crawl back into the tent to wake up my friends. We waited until about 0730hrs when the holidaymakers were out and about before my other friends decided to get some water for washing up and cooking. After breakfast and a quick tour of the Lighthouse we made our journey back to Teluk Bahang and took the bus home.

Only later was it learnt from other scouts, (as told by the caretaker there) that one of the chalet is haunted and to let the caretaker know if assistance is needed.

Episode 3 - Bungalow Stay at Shamrock Beach

This story happened to a group of friends studying at Ngee Ann College Singapore, who came up to Penang for a holiday. One of them was my childhood friend and neighbour and this is what he told me.... This group of 6 friends during their semester break decides to have a weekend by the beach in Penang and rented a seaside bungalow situated at Shamrock beach a short distance from Boon Siew Bungalow in Tanjung Bungah. However all was well until the next morning when one of them was found sleeping on the cold cement floor downstairs. He had no idea of how it happened or why it happened. They had bedded-down for the night after having supper at Gurney Drive in the 2 rooms upstairs with 3 to a room. No one knew or had any explanation as to what had happened and why this particular person was singled out. There was no prank involved, and neither were drunk. To physically carry him down to the ground floor would need at least 2 person and the chances of waking him is there but none had any recollection of doing it.....

Strange and unexplainable, unusual, unaccountable fact or occurrence do happen within the spirit realm. There was this ex-staff of mine who died after getting lost in the forest off Penang Youth Park while jogging and trekking there. His body was discovered only a few days later and was only 50 meters or so from where searchers had traverse earlier. He used to be very playful and vocal at times and it's said whenever one is in the jungle there are certain rules to be followed. One important rule is not to shout and called out a person's name. Another is to be disciplined in all things we do so as not to offend unseen beings as we venture into unknown territories.

YK Loh
9 Nov 2012

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