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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ghost defies eviction notices

Ghost defies eviction notices

A house built over three decades ago has rarely been lived in as residents have repeatedly

been driven out by an angry ghost.

Local people fear the place they call the "ghost villa" and say it is the

source of many mysteries.

For those eager for a supernatural experience the derelict building can be found

on Route 4, about seven kilometers west of Pochentong Airport.

"It is true about the rumors that the villa is haunted," said Kim Pan.

He once looked after the building earning the name Ta Pratean Khmoach - the President

of the Ghost.

Kim Pan was 22 when the house was built. He said it belonged to a retired senior

official in the Sangkum Reastr Niyum who built it for his second wife, Madam Thach.

The official died before construction was finished. Madam Thach had no money and

tried to sell the house but no one could afford the 300,000 riels she was asking.

At the time, Kim Pan was looking after a fruit field for Lon Nol who was interested

in buying but didn't as the house was sagging at the front. Apparently, Lon Nol also

thought it was bad luck that the owner of the house had just died.

Madam Thach was harassed by builders who had not been paid and eventually she quit

the house, never to be seen again.

People say she hanged herself in the villa, which is why it is now haunted.

Others believe the house was built on a grave and its occupant now prowls around,

unhappy at being continuously disturbed.

Since Madam Thach's abrupt departure the villa has been vacant most of the time.

Villagers say people will not walk by the house day or night because of terrifying

images and fading screams of the ghost, which often appears in front of startled

visitors.

When Vietnamese troops were in Cambodia, some of them heard about the haunted villa.

Not fearing ghosts, troops occupied the house but villagers say none of them stayed

very long and the groups were often rotated.

Every night, the sound of gunfire was heard as Vietnamese troops and the ghost fought

for control of the villa.

When the troops left, the head of the local community looked for somebody who was

not scared of staying in and taking care of the by-now, dilapadated structure.

Villagers suggested Ta Pratean Khmoach as he did not believe in ghosts.

Kim Pan said he was glad to get the job because he could move his bucket-making profession

to more spacious quarters, which were close to the main road.

Before he moved, he had been told to go to a kru - traditional doctor - to ask if

he could live there.

He was advised to talk to the ghost which he did, preparing and leaving food for

his supernatural house-mate.

Kim Pan recalls saying to the ghost: "I ask to live with you but you will stay

in one room and I will stay in the other."

On moving in Kim Pan lit some incense sticks and immediately smelled the stink of

the ghost all over the room. The ghost was showing its might.

While taking a nap at noon on the second day, at one side of the villa he saw

a meeting attended by the ghost, who wore a black uniform like that of the Khmer

Rouge.

The session focused on to whom the villa should be given. But the meeting vanished

into smoke just before the result was announced.

However, Kim Pan kept claming that he wasn't afraid of the ghost. "I always

think that we will all become ghosts as well when we die," he said.

During the whole of his stay from 1988-92, Kim Pan saw the ghost appear in different

forms and make many sounds.

The ghost was mischievous, impersonating the voice of Kim Pan's wife and poking his

waist while he was shaping buckets.

Kim Pan's wife said she would not visit the villa even during the day because she

was fed up with the ghost pestering her.

One day, Kim Pan cut a banyan tree growing on the villa wall. One of his arms has

been paralyzed since.

Villagers, as well as his wife, say it was the reaction of the ghost against him

for chopping off the tree. But, he does not believe this and cited medical problems

as the reason.

Kim Pan was finally chased out of the building not by the ghost but by the military.

However, they encountered the same problems as the Vietnamese troops and sold the

villa to a trader in Phnom Penh.

Nobody has as yet decided to live there and the only visitors these days are herds

of cows who drop their calling cards all over the house, believing it will help chase

the ghost out.

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