Some people may not believe in ghosts, but they’ve probably heard about them in their life. In Cambodia, ghosts are still part of the local lore and they are often mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures.
A question comes naturally when someone says he is afraid of ghosts. “Are you talking about ghosts or spirits? Have you ever seen one? What do they look like?”, people usually ask.
I have had my own experience with ghosts.
When I was young I saw a woman without legs, flying from tree to tree. At first I didn't dare look up, I was terrified. I wish it was a dream.
But it wasn't.
My aunt said, “Don’t worry, just leave her alone,” and began cleaning her bean sprouts. While she was cleaning, she told me again: “Don’t look at her.” But, I couldn't resist. I turned back and saw a lady in a white dress, with long long hair, and a disfigured face.
She had been tortured.
As soon as I looked at her, she disappeared.
My aunt told me she had seen ghosts almost every day. When she saw one for the first time she was also shocked and scared, but after seeing them many times she got used to it.
“If you don’t care about them, they won’t haunt you,” she said. “Just pretend they are not there.”
Then she told me the story of the ghost I saw.
She was an old lonely woman, with no relatives to look after her. One day she decided to climb up a tree to pick some fruit, but she fell down and died.
The villagers buried her without any funeral celebration. This is why her spirit still wonders around and cannot reborn.
Kong Chantha, a 24-year-old woman living in Banteay Srei village, says she firmly believes in ghosts or spirits.
“I used to see them many times," she said. "But some people would say I'm crazy.”
Chantha says that when she was young she used to play hide and seek in the forest with other children from her village. Once she saw a ghost carrying a baby and singing on the top of a mango tree.
“Run, run,” Chantha said to herself, but her body was stunned. A couple of days later she became so ill that her hair fell down, until she got completely bald.
It's not unusual for people who see ghosts to accuse health problems such as feeling light-headed and hair floss.
A few months went by and Chantha had lost so much weight that people in the village suggested she saw a witch doctor, to free her from evil spirits.
The doctor told her parents that the ghost cursed her.
The ghost was a lady who committed suicide when she was seven months pregnant because her husband left her for another woman. That's why Chantha saw a woman with a baby in her arms, singing next to the mango tree, and scaring anyone who tried to approach it.
The doctor managed to heal Chantha completely.
Fisherman, Eng Sila, 45, also had many paranormal experiences in his life. The first one was at the age of four, he told Insider, when a shadow flew past his window.
“I was about to sleep and I saw something flying around, next to my window,” he said. “I was curious to know more about it. The next morning I told my parents but they laughed about it.”
Wat Kesararam chief monk Sambath Ly Yeut told Insider that if you walk late at night, you shouldn't think about anything bad or evil, or that will happen to you.
And he added: “Ghosts or spirits generally appear at night because they want to frighten people and make them leaving their home."