Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nam Koo Terrace

Found a super scary building today. It’s called Nam Koo Terrace, colloquially known as The Wan Chai Haunted House. The wiki link is here, but it must be censored by the government because it certainly doesn’t do justice to the actual history of the building or to how seriously creeped out I was when I went there myself. 

It was used as a brothel when the Japanese had possession of Hong Kong, and local women were forced into prostitution to ‘entertain’ Japanese troops. It is said (read: in this case is incredibly likely) that the women were also frequently tortured and killed.  Now the building is owned by a development company, and despite the land being worth billions, it is heritage listed for “its beautiful architecture.” (Read: the Chinese are an incredibly superstitious people.)

It is so obviously colonial. The wrought iron, the balcony, the brickwork - and those
white panels are actually plaster boards - put there so that people can't see or get in.
I did a bit more digging on the place and found out LOT more juicy and frightening – and recent – information. To start with, it’s only occasionally inhabited by squatters. This is a pretty bad sign considering the number of homeless in Hong Kong and the fact that this building is in a quiet, isolated yet central location. It is also very rarely patrolled and there is no nearby security to fend off potentioal homeless people. Ordinarily this would be the ideal location for squatters or homeless, but it is still empty. Secondly, the building is a freaky kind of ‘suicide hub’ for depressed Hong Kong residents. People go to hang themselves from boughs and balustrades or throw themselves off roofs and verandas. Although the last reported case was in 2008, street knowledge is that in Hong Kong many suicides still go unreported – especially those that would create unnecessary hype – which is exactly what happens when anything happens at Nam Koo. Lastly, a couple of years ago a small group of ghost hunting students managed to get right into the building, in an attempt to stay the night and witness evidence to support the stories. The media went crazy when the story leaked out that one of the young girls had been ‘possessed’ and was hospitalized thereafter. She was hysterical – screaming and attacking police officers that came to retrieve the students.

My experience at Nam Koo? Where to begin… The building itself is difficult to find – it is hidden by massive overgrown trees and impossibly tucked away despite being smack bang in the middle of SoHo. Once you find Ship St, you are pitched against continuous flights of stairs that both crumble and narrow as you get closer to the top. The pathway finally comes to the edge of the brick building where it is boarded up with wood and signs and barbed wire. If you look closely, however, you can see a worn path through the dirt which winds around the side of the blockades and lets you peek over into the private property. A thin wooden plank presented itself as a bridge to climb over the wall onto the roof, and I’m not going to say that I didn’t try, but it took me about twenty minutes of shuffling around the place taking photos to work up the courage and put my booted foot forward. Luckily I wasn’t listening to my ipod, because as I shifted half my weight onto the rotting timber, I heard a crunch and a crack and quickly looked down to see it bent downwards in the middle. The fall wasn’t too far, but there was rusty wire and nails everywhere, I wasn’t supposed to be here, I was already shitting my pants, and I was completely alone - no one would have heard me scream. No exaggeration. This building exists in a vortex of creepy.

By the time I had even made the decision to try and cross (letalone began actually trying), I was breathing quickly, feeling lightheaded, and sweating despite the drop in temperature. After the near fall, I was essentially hyperventilating and my mind started playing tricks on me. The wrought iron bars in the red brick frames covered dusty windows, and the reflections in them moved as the wind in the trees did. I couldn’t see all the way around myself and I certainly couldn’t see around any of the corners in the building itself. I started really freaking out and figured I should get outta there quickly, but tripped on barbed wire as I scrambled down the hill. Now I was honestly close to [assing out. My body just felt like it couldn't get oxygen. It was insane. So intense. I gripped the railing so tight as I took the stairs three at a time back down, tripping again twice. I reached the bottom. Panting, with eyes watering (read: I was not crying. Maybe.) I gathered myself for a moment, and despite the incredulous looks of a couple sharing ice cream, I was glad of the human company.
Yeah - like this plank was going to support my weight.
It looks like it's been there since the goddamned war.
It's also about double the length of what you can see in the photo.
And it was a deep ditch, let me tell you.
I also have no idea what a wrought iron cage on the roof would have been used for.
I don't think we want to know.

I can honestly say that I have never been so affected by a place. I never give much consideration to the supernatural (apart from when Dean and Sam kick ass), but this place is seriously creepy. I don’t even look back at the visit and think of it as a funny anecdote. I was honestly scared. To date, this is the most scared I have ever been.

I would be interested to learn about the history that hasn’t been efficiently cleaned up since the war. Whatever went on inside this building must have been horrendous. I am also interested to know why the building is privately owned, and when (if ever) it will be restored. For now, though, Nam Koo remains a mystery and a danger.


  1. If I were there we totally could have gone in to put those bad-ass ghosts to rest, then Sam and Dean would arrive shortly afterwards, impressed by our mad skills, and propose to each of us on the spot. Then we could die happy.

  2. Well done Bri --conducting some TV research for haunted houses in Hong Kong and was wondering if you might know of anyone who encountered 'hauntings' at Nam Koo Terrace? Feel free to email me to share your experiences as well, really interested to know if any of you saw or felt anything: Fire away.


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