Ghost hunting with Bangkokâ€™s infamous Shock jocks
Ghost hunting with Bangkokâ€™s infamous Shock jocks
December 2, 2010
By Oliver John
Nightmare-inducing stories of violent death and restless spirits. In place of jingles -- canned blood-curdling screams. Welcome to The Shock on Shock FM, airing on 101 FM in Bangkok between 12:30-3:30 a.m. from Monday to Saturday.
The show's host is Kapol Thongplab, or DJ Pong. Beginning his career telling ghost stories on local radio, Pong has spent the last 20 years indulging the Thai appetite for the paranormal with his now hugely popular show.
Listeners can call in with their own ghostly experiences, but the Shock investigation team also visits supposedly haunted houses, relaying their experiences live on air.
I arranged to accompany the Shock team on one such investigation to an abandoned house in Chonburi. An hour and a half after leaving Bangkok we arrive at a narrow country lane. I wonder why someone would want to build a house here -- itâ€™s in the middle of nowhere.
As we pull in, I catch a glimpse of the house, set back 30 meters from the road and briefly illuminated by the carâ€™s headlights. A grimy, unfinished shell of a building, itâ€™s undeniably a sinister looking place. The body of a 30-year-old man was recently found here. His hands were tied together with wire and heâ€™d been shot in the head, apparently the victim of a gang killing.
His spirit is destined to remain here, says Gaeng, a member of the team, â€œUntil his life is over, another 40 or 50 years.â€
It seems that malignant spirits arenâ€™t the only potential threat that the Shock team encounters. Gaeng says they often run into trouble with the locals when they come to remote places like this.
There are two police officers with us, one of whom tells me that local youths have been using the house.
â€œThey come here to take drugs, bring girls here,â€ he says.
â€œTheyâ€™re not scared of anything.â€
Right on cue, six teenage lads on motorbikes come racing round the corner. The cop turns his torch onto himself and they barely slow down as they make a U-turn and vanish into the night.
This house was recently the scene of a grisly murder investigation.
We set off across the muddy wasteland towards the house and as we get nearer I see that the roof has almost completely caved in, the floor covered with shards of terracotta tile. We enter, each step producing a hollow jangle underfoot, the only other sound the intermittent shriek of the hand-held EMF meter.
Team member Jack is providing the showâ€™s listeners with a running commentary by phone as we move into the room where the body was found. There we find a pair of rubber gloves, presumably used by the police during the investigation, and scraps of the cloth that was used to wrap the body. To one side are some sheets of paper, which when lifted up reveal a blood stain on the cement. Thereâ€™s a joss stick in the ground; someone else has already held their own ceremony here.
The equipment readings are normal, but Gaeng tells me that DJ Pongâ€™s team tends to rely more on their senses.
â€œWe can feel something in the air,â€ he says.
â€œSome sounds or some odors -- like an old dead body or the perfume that we pour on someone who recently died.â€
â€œBut have you ever actually seen a ghost?" I ask him.
He admits that in 10 years of doing this job heâ€™s never seen one, only felt its presence.
â€œBut sometimes I go home after a ghost hunt and my mum says to me â€˜who was that in the car with you, do they want to come in?â€™ But I was alone.â€
Weâ€™re standing by the car, sheltering from the increasingly heavy rain which started shortly after we arrived. With us is a volunteer from the Shock FM fan club, named Tar. A man in his late 20s, heâ€™s clearly utterly terrified -- constantly asking questions and visibly shaking.
Heâ€™s about to be left in the house on his own.
A few minutes later heâ€™s sitting on his haunches by the place where the body was found, hands in front of him on his chest, tied with holy thread like a body ready for cremation. The phone is placed on the floor about six feet away from where heâ€™s sitting, and weâ€™re listening on the car radio as he begins his ordeal.
â€œItâ€™s so quiet. I can hear water drops all the time and itâ€™s so dark. It is so cold behind me. The candles have gone out andâ€¦â€
Heâ€™s suddenly silent.
â€œWhat is it?â€ Pongâ€™s anxious, crackly voice asks over the speakerphone.
â€œItâ€™s like a shadow, not so clear. Itâ€™s looking outside. Itâ€™s like there is a shadow there under the stairs all the time,â€ comes the reply.
His voice is trembling uncontrollably.
â€œWant to try to talk to him?" asks Pong. "Say, â€˜Is there anybody here?â€™â€
He does as heâ€™s told. Silence.
Then we all hear a sound, faint but audible -- itâ€™s like something has brushed against the phone.
Tar is adamant that he didnâ€™t touch it and as heâ€™s brought out of the house Iâ€™m struggling to come up with an explanation of what just happened. Iâ€™m also wondering if anyone has ever come to any harm on these tours at the hands of an angry spirit.
Shock FM team member Jack tests the equipment before venturing into the house.
Gaeng tells me that once a fan club member became possessed.
â€œWhen he spoke it was like the ghost was talking, and his body was shaking all the time,â€ he says.
With no one around for miles, they had to call a monk and get him to try to exorcise the spirit over the phone. It didnâ€™t work.
â€œWe had to wait for many hours,â€ Gaeng says. â€œEventually the spirit left by itself.â€
Itâ€™s now 3:20 a.m., 10 minutes until the end of the show and the last chance to get a reaction from the ghost. Gaeng and Nhoom (a local reporter who covered the discovery of the body) are standing in the hallway, and on DJ Pongâ€™s instructions they begin throwing pieces of tile onto the ground, each echoing clatter followed by a question: â€œCome out and let us see you; Please come and sit right here.â€
They repeat the process over and over and by around the 12th time I can see from my vantage point just outside the window that theyâ€™re beginning to panic. Gaeng says he can feel a presence, and itâ€™s very close.
â€œI feel like someoneâ€™s breathing down my neck!â€
Pong urges them to wait another minute but on the count of three they run out of the house, Gaeng dropping the EMF meter, and the phone, in the process. And Iâ€™m not far behind.
Within 10 minutes weâ€™re back on the road, stopping briefly at a petrol station. â€œIf we wash our face, the ghost wonâ€™t follow us,â€ Gaeng explains. The following day, he says, they will make an offering at the temple for the dead manâ€™s spirit.
The evidence weâ€™ve gathered is of course far from conclusive. But it doesnâ€™t matter because The Shock deals in old fashioned scares -- itâ€™s entertainment, and the 100,000 people who tune in every night, six nights a week, would undoubtedly agree with that.