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A ‘ghost’ hunt on the edge of Koh Pich

Guests exit Koh Pich’s Ghost House with a mixture of fear and enjoyment.
Guests exit Koh Pich’s Ghost House with a mixture of fear and enjoyment. Daniel Nass

A ‘ghost’ hunt on the edge of Koh Pich

Koh Pich can be a scary place – from the amusement park’s disconcerting absence of visible safety measures to the rampant construction. But the island’s most frightening feature may be the house of horrors tucked away on its eastern bank.

For just $2, thrill seekers can walk the winding passages of Ghost House Koh Pich, where spooky lights, eerie sounds and the grasping hands of “undead souls” assail them from all sides. It’s calculated to terrify – but only a little.

“We didn’t create the scariest ghosts, because we also care about [guests’] lives,” says Luon Thida, who runs the haunted house’s ticket counter. “If they are too afraid, they won’t come again.”

The house – which consists of a maze of corridors inside a one-storey warehouse – is populated by 10 moaning, groaning and clanking “ghosts”. Some lurk along the walkway, while others are perched overhead.

It’s a low-budget operation, but one that effectively employs a “less is more” philosophy. Wandering the dark halls in anticipation of the next surprise can be harrowing.

The spooks inside are inspired by figures from Khmer folklore, though the team deliberately dials down the realism. According to Thida, they want to avoid the possibility that any customers mistake the actors for real ghosts.

One of the haunted house’s ‘ghosts’.
One of the haunted house’s ‘ghosts’. Daniel Nass

It’s also mercifully brief. Thida says the experience is designed to take at most 10 minutes, though in practice most finish in less than five.

As a final precaution, a sign posted at the entrance features an incantation – in capital letters – to ward off the dark curse of legal liability: “No entry heart attacked people”.

Ghost House was once based in Phnom Penh’s Dreamland amusement park. But after the park shut down earlier this year, the Korean owners relocated just over the bridge to Diamond Island, overhauling the haunted house in the process.

Not everyone is thrilled with the reboot.

“It’s not scary like the one in Dreamland,” said guest Peng Meng Hour, 24, upon exiting. “I didn’t see the ghosts clearly so I didn’t feel scared at all.”

Still, a trip to the Ghost House shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. There are plenty of jump scares, and guests are pursued along the final stretch by a hunched, dreadlocked ghoul dragging a shovel.

Post Weekend observed three groups of guests make their way through the Ghost House. Two escaped out the exit, evincing a mixture of fear and enjoyment as they burst from the house’s dark clutches into the bright lights of the amusement park.

Enter at your own risk.
Enter at your own risk. Daniel Nass

But the last bunch evidently lacked the constitution to make it all the way through. A few minutes after entering, they reemerged nervously through the front door.

No Sanim, 22, emerged unscathed. “I didn’t really get scared,” she said, adding, “one of my friends hugged me the whole time because she was so scared”.

The haunted house isn’t a Halloween special: it operates year-round. But Thida says they’re taking extra measures to prepare for the 31st. They plan to draw in more guests by stationing ghosts on the pavement outside, and they’ll be offering face painting too.

“We combine scary with fun at the same time,” she says, “so everyone of all ages can come to visit.”

Ghost House Koh Pich is located at the back of the Koh Pich amusement park. Admission is $2. It is open from 4pm to 11pm Monday through Friday and 3pm to 11:30pm on weekends.

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