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GHOULISH GETAWAYS

Published: Monday, October 02, 2017    



By Sana Panjwani

If you’re planning an overseas break this month, why not embrace the Halloween theme with one of these 13 spine-tingling destinations

If Stephen King's recent multi-million blockbuster movie hit go by, the public has a hefty appetite for IT is anything to fright.

But why not forego the flm screens and opt for your own real-life horror experience instead?

From abandoned towns to an island of creepy dolls, Oasis Living has rounded up thirteen (naturally) of the scariest places in the world – visit them, if you dare.

STANLEY HOTEL, US

The Stanley Hotel is a pictureperfect colonial guesthouse in Colorado, US that holds a sinister secret – ghosts. Guests and staff have reported hearing children playing in the corridors late at night as well as echoes of piano music wafting from the ballroom.

The real kick in the pants though is that this hotel also inspired the setting of the Overlook Hotel from Stephen King's The Shining. And in 2015, as homage to the story, the Stanley opened a hedge maze reminiscent of the one from the book-turned-movie.

NAGORO, JAPAN

Nestled in the hidden valleys of Shikoku lies the remote village of Nagoro. Once home to hundreds of villagers who have since relocated to bigger cities, the settlement now houses only a couple dozen people.

Its most notable feature though is its life-sized doll population that outnumbers its living residents by nearly 100:1. Thirteen years ago, local resident Tsukimi Ayano began making doll replicas of her neighbours after they died or moved away, and has since made over 350 doppelgangers. The eerie scarecrows can be seen in various positions across the town, from fshermen sitting on the riverbank, students flling entire classrooms, and elderly couples resting on benches outside of buildings. Check out Nagoro village on YouTube

PRIPYAT, UKRAINE

Welcome to Ghost Town, population zero. Regarded as the unoffcial poster child for creepy, abandoned places, Pripyat in Ukraine was founded in 1970 and housed a population of nearly 50,000 by the time it was entirely evacuated after the notorious Chernobyl disaster in the late eighties. Since then, it has remained an uninhabited city though, due to the immediate evacuation. All signs of life – books, photographs, toys and such – are exactly where the town’s former residents left them. Check out Pripyat on YouTube

HASHIMA ISLAND, JAPAN

An abandoned island lying 15km from the city of Nagasaki, Hashima Island was once a bustling coal mine now reduced to a dilapidated shell. At one point, the island was also used as a prisoner of war (POW) camp where more than 1,000 conscripted civilians and prisoners were brought to conduct labour work under harsh conditions. Today, the place is home to a number of abandoned concrete buildings, undisturbed except by nature. Guided boat tours are available.

hashima-island.co.uk

HAW PAR VILLA, SINGAPORE

Adorned with a colourful Chinese arch as its entrance, Haw Par Villa is a unique 80-year-old theme park located on the Pasir Panjang Road in Singapore. It looks harmless enough until you step inside and start thinking that maybe you should have planned a trip to Disneyland after all. The property is covered with more than 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas, depicting scenes from Chinese mythology and folklore, each stranger than the last. Its most famous attraction is titled the ‘10 Courts of Hell’ – which is intended to teach young children about morality by portraying various punishments, accompanied by a placard explaining the sin. Cheating in exams sees you being dismembered, while misuse of books has you being cut in half by a saw. Perhaps leave the kids at home for this trip...

visitsingapore.com

CATACOMBE DEI CAPPUCCINI, ITALY

A macabre spectacle or a unique display of cultural heritage? It's a matter of opinion between the two when it comes to visiting Sicily's Capuchin Catacombs. Created back in the late 16th century after the Capuchin monastery's cemetery became overrun, the underground tombs contain around 8,000 bodies divided into separate corridors, including one for religious fgures, one for professional men, and one for children. Among the corpses also lies Rosalia Lombardo, a two-yearold mummy who is referred to as the ‘Sleeping Beauty of Palermo’ because of her near perfect preservation. The rest of the bodies are also presented like a museum exhibit, largely dressed to the nines considering the number of noble families displayed – sound like fun?

palermocatacombs.com

THE DOOR TO HELL, TURKMENISTAN

Supernatural writer Eric Kripke may tell us that the Devil’s Gate is in Wyoming, and Joss Whedon may have lead us to believe that the entrance to hell is in Sunnydale, California in Buffy the Vampire Slayer – but in Turkemnistan people believe it is actually in Ahal Province. Located in the middle of the Karakum Desert is a 230-foot-wide crater that simply won't stop burning, and is ‘fondly’ referred to as The Door to Hell by locals. The story behind it traces back to Soviet engineers in 1971 who, upon believing that site was an oil feld, drilled into a natural gas pocket thereby releasing methane into the environment. To prevent the spread of the poisonous gas, the engineers set fre to the crater to burn the gas leaving us with an almost 50-year-old anomaly. Check out Turkmenistan’s ‘Door to Hell’ on YouTube

ISLA DE LAS MUÑECAS, MEXICO

If movies like Chucky and Annabelle made your favourites list then Mexico's Island of the Dolls is the place for you. Nestled among the many canals of Xochimico district, Isla de las Munecas is home to near 1,500 mutilated dolls with many hanging from nooses with missing limbs, others scattered around in the grass, and some simply being spiked heads – all with blank eyes, staring into nothingness. Legend has it that recluse Julian Barrera, who called the island home for decades, one day found a dead girl's body in a nearby canal with a toy doll. He then hung up the doll along with the hundreds of others in the hopes of appeasing the girl's spirit. Years later, it is said that Barrera himself was found dead in the same spot where the child had been found, though others say that he passed away from a heart attack.

isladelasmunecas.com

AOKIGAHARA, JAPAN

Spanning 30 sq km near Mount Fuji's north-western flank, the thick forest of Aokigahara is known as the Sea of Trees to some but more widely known as Suicide Forest. In fact, it ranks second in suicides after the Golden Gate Bridge in San Franciso. It is also rumoured to be haunted by yurei, analogous to Western legends of ghosts. This phenomena, along with the density of the trees, are two factors that many assume to have given the place the name Suicide Forest – with hikers and campers also being reported missing regularly, as evidenced by the leftover materials often found among the woods. The scene, seemingly pulled straight out of Blair Witch, is sure to give you chills down your spine.

aokigaharaforest.com

BEELITZ-HEILSTATTEN HOSPITAL, GERMANY

Shrouded in mystery (and graffti), Beelitz-Heilstatten Hospital is an abandoned sanatorium that might as well be a set from American Horror Story. Between 1898 and 1930, the complex – which is located just outside Berlin – served as a military hospice caring for mustard gas and machine gun victims during World War I, including a young soldier named Adolf Hitler. Later on, during WWII, it became a treatment centre for Nazi soldiers and then a Soviet military hospital until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today, some sections of the hospital remain in operation for neurological rehabilitation and research but the remainder of the complex has been abandoned since 1994, giving way to decay and nature.

Check out Beelitz-Heilstatten Hospital on YouTube

MONTE CRISTO HOMESTEAD, AUSTRALIA

What kind of ‘scary places’ list would this be without a haunted house thrown in? A history of unnatural deaths can be found in the Monte Cristo Homestead located in the town of Junee, in New South Wales, Australia. Covering everything from a child falling down the stairs, stable boys burning to death and caretakers being brutally murdered on the premises, its gory past brings in countless tourists from all over to stay the night at the late-Victorian manor, or to simply check out the in-house museum and antique store.

montecristo.com.au

SCREAMING TUNNEL, CANADA

Most people head to Ontario for a gander at the majestic Niagara Falls, but did you know that just 14 minutes from the natural beauty spot is a place called the Screaming Tunnel? The name itself is enough to turn many away with urban legend speaking of a girl who died within the cavern after being set aflame by her own father. It is said that the girl, whose soul is trapped within the walls, screams as someone so much as enters with a flame into the tunnel. Horror fans will also enjoy knowing that the venue was used as a set for the flm adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Dead Zone. Check out the Screaming Tunnel on YouTube

GOMANTONG CAVES, MALAYSIA

You may be wondering how limestone geographical wonders have made it on to the list. Well, the Borneo-based Gomantong Caves are known to leave visitors with a permanently scrunched up face due to it often being described as one of the most disgusting wildlife experiences ever. The caves are home to over two million bats, leading to seriously thick layers of guano (read: bat poop) coating the ground, the handrails, everything. Also, keep in mind that the caves play host to several million Malaysian cockroaches – they camp out wherever the guano is (everywhere) – as well as snakes, scorpions, freshwater crabs and poisonous caterpillars that are at least three inches long.

sabahtourism.com
 
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