Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Bali is the go-to destination for holidaymakers and honeymooners.
Just thinking about Bali conjures up images of beautiful sandy beaches, crystal clear water and bikini babes lying in the tropical sun.
But did you know that this gorgeous island actually has a dark side? Shadows lurk in every corner, and those turquoise waves are tainted with stories even the Balinese are too scared to tell.
These are tales that may make your hair stand and your blood curdle in your veins.
Do you dare visit these places?
1. Ghost Palace Hotel
Up in the mountains of Bali on the way to the iconic Bedugul Lake, something is stirring in the fog. It’s a ghost story some two decade in the making, and it’s soaked in skin-crawling horrors…
Some say the Ghost Palace Hotel (also known as PI Bedugul Taman Rekreasi Hotel & Resort), a construction perched on a hillside, was built by Tommy Suharto. Others say it was a crooked developer who tried to curse his rivals out of the way.
If you’re brave enough to explore this place, you’ll likely see the wandering spirits of victims, either laborers crushed in their rush to complete the construction, or competitors cursed to horrible deaths.
This hotel may never have been opened to the public, but who knows if it already has a full house every night?2. The Abandoned Wreck of Padang Padang
Do you believe in divine retribution?
If you don’t, the true story of an abandoned ship may give you second thoughts…
On a tropical Saturday morning in July of 2008, hours before the start of the famous Rip Curl Padang Cup (Indonesia’s longest-running surfing competition) was due to start, a ghostly shape was spotted on the reef near Padang Padang beach.
It was an enormous shipping vessel, the Ho Tsai Fa No. 18, which had run aground on the reef during the night.
But what’s most chilling is that her captain and crew were nowhere to be found.
After investigations probed into the ship’s history, it became clear that something bigger was at play.
The ship had been caught illegally fishing in the past, earning profits through underhand means – there were stories of murder, mutiny and lawbreaking.
The owner was called to take responsibility, but before he could get the ship onto the water and back to its evil ways, assailants unknown came and burnt it to the sea.
The ship might now be gone, but the reef and the beaches of Padang bear the scars of Bali’s karmic retribution, and the ghost of the ship’s sinister past.
They say what goes around, comes around. Care to test the theory?
3. Muaya Beach
A renowned tourist attraction, Muaya Beach is famous for its beautiful white sand, gentle waves and… doll vampires (jenglot) washed up on the shores.
Jenglot are dangerous beasts that resemble a tiny human being – only that they drink blood and can control the actions of their victims, including murder.
Yes, this may not have made it to the national news, but it definitely got tongues wagging in the Muaya Beach community after some joggers discovered two jenglot on the shoreline.
They brought the creatures to the local traditional healer Jero Mangku, who managed to neutralise the power of the jenglot just in time, before the two joggers lost their minds.
What a close call!
4. Balinese Cemeteries (everywhere!)
Bali’s darkest secret is perhaps the one most often concealed from tourists who view Bali as a paradise island.
Corpses lie in Trunyan’s open-air cemetery in Kintamani, Bali, a village where if the decease body was not buried or burned , but put under the tree after an elaborate funeral ceremonies
And this secret is the presence of Leak – an evil witch spirit.
As a child living in Bali, I knew that if you wanted to avoid Leak, you had to stay away from Balinese cemeteries.
But one night, I decided to take a shortcut home through a field full moon celebration, and it was a decision I sorely regretted. Under the dim moonlight, I thought I saw a long-haired apparition digging around in the graves.
What happened after that was a complete blank. I remembered running as though my life depended on it (which was really the case), before I came to the refuge of my home.
Le Ak masks, a face I’m well familiar with
Till now, I believe it was the recent blessing I received at the pura (temple) that saved my life.
Or was I simply lucky?
Perhaps. But every time I return to the island, walking near cemeteries still make me shudder. And wait, was it my eyes playing tricks on me, or was there something that just flickered past?
5. Padang Galak Beach
Surfers beware! Padang Galak Beach in Sanur isn’t just a surfer’s heaven, it’s a salty hell.
Beware! There’s more to this beach than meets the eye.
Legends speak of a female sea goddess that haunts the beach, with a wild and angry energy that binds and drowns unsuspecting victims, living up to the beach’s name, which means ‘fierce’ in Indonesian.
Any local will be happy to regale you with stories of those who have ventured into the waters of Padang Galak looking for the perfect wave, only to disappear below the wild water, never to be seen again.
And that wind that blows along the beach? Some say it’s the screams the surfers manage in their last breath, before the sea goddess drags down to the bottom.
Some time ago, a boy was struck dead by a kite at the beach. Rumours spread that he must have incurred the wrath of the sea goddess, who claimed him for her own…