Most of us would remember school holidays spent at chalets exchanging ghost stories late into the night. As someone who’s always been interested in the supernatural, some of my fondest memories involved going on mini “ghost hunting” trips during chalet stayovers to places like the “Red House” in Pasir Ris.
Despite now being older and much wiser, one question that still bothers me from my childhood is this: “Do ghosts exist?”
And particularly, did they exist in Pasir Ris, the place I call home?
With this in mind, I decided to do some ol’ fashioned legwork and visit some of Pasir Ris Park’s most haunted areas. Armed with nothing but my trusty ghost hunting hat, an iPhone filled with free “ghost detecting” apps, and an unwilling cameraman, here’s how my first ever ghost hunt went:
Spirits and ghosts have always been a touchy subject due to their ties with culture and religion. Personally, my interest in the supernatural stems from pure curiosity, and although I’m naturally skeptical towards bold claims of ghost sightings, I’m open to any contrary evidence that I may find.
That being said, my ghost hunting “adventure” was not to undermine or disturb the spirits, but rather, to see if I was able to document any potential supernatural events. Throughout this journey, my cameraman and I made sure we didn’t make any disparaging remarks about the place or acted in a way that would’ve gained us TikTok infamy.
Any competent ghost hunter will tell you that half the work is done before stepping out the doors. After a bit of Googling, I narrowed down the most haunted spots in Pasir Ris Park: Sungei Api Api, Birdwatcher’s Tower, and the Pasir Ris chalets.
Image credit: Roots
Sungei Api Api is a river that runs through the western part of Pasir Ris Park. The name “Api Api” actually comes from the name of the mangroves in the area. Some may also point out that “Api Api” translates to “fire fire” in Malay, making it the “River of Fire”.
Could something have happened in the past to warrant such a fearsome name as “River of Fire”? With little information to go on, one could only speculate.
Supernatural activities have been confirmed by paranormal investigators who’ve visited Api Api, with horrifying claims of sighting blood-thirsty pontianaks in search of male virgins and pregnant women. There are also rumours that the place is the site of black magic, various murders, and suicides.
Today, Sungei Api Api is a park connector and one of the entrances to Pasir Ris Park.
Known colloquially as “Suicide Tower”, this omnious looking tower is located at the heart of Pasir Ris Park’s mangroves.
According to my research, a young boy who could see ghosts was cycling with his friends when they decided to stop near the tower. Without warning, he ran to the highest point of the tower and jumped off. Right before he died, he told his friends that he didn’t jump on his own but was instead pushed by an unseen force.
Though the story has never been verified, it’s said that the place has since been haunted by the spirit of the young boy.
Image credit: CSC Loyang
Aside from Wild Wild Wet, Pasir Ris’ chalets were a popular spot for students to gather for their outings. Perhaps it was the mixture of childhood naivety along with the thrill of staying overnight in a place that wasn’t home, but there were always tales of supernatural sightings at these chalets.
One of the more famous stories involves a little girl dressed in red. The story goes that a group of friends were bored in the middle of the night and wanted to see if they could summon a ghost. One of them opened the backdoor of the chalet and shouted an invitation for ghosts to come in. The next day, one of them reported to have seen a little girl standing right outside the backdoor.
Despite being skeptical about the existence of ghosts, it always pays to be cautious. The last thing I wanted was to be chased by a ghost without any video evidence.
If I was going out, I wanted my last moments to be part of a viral TikTok video.
Here’s a breakdown of the equipment I brought along on the trip:
With all I needed in check, I met my cameraman Clement for dinner before setting off into the dark recesses of Pasir Ris Park just as the sun was about to set.
We made our way first to Sungei Api Api from Pasir Ris MRT station, which was a 10-minute walk away. Since there wasn’t one particular haunted spot in Api Api, I decided to walk along the stretch of the river with my trusty EMF detector out, hoping to see a spike in the readings.
We spent about an hour walking beside the river, occasionally stopping to take some pictures in the hopes that we would randomly capture some “dirty things”. However, I didn’t feel any “chills” or “bad feelings” and overall, it was a quiet, peaceful walk.
Things took a little bit of a turn when we came across a small gazebo that overlooked the river. Here, I took out the EMF detector and stood still for a few minutes, waiting to pick up anything supernatural. After a few minutes, the app displayed this:
Image credit: Tay Jin Heok
She is guilty.
Those words sent my mind racing. Who is she and what is she guilty of? Could this be the spirit of a pontianak trying to communicate with me? Could this be the work of a lazy app developer trying to make a quick buck off a $0.99 cents “ghost detector” app on the app store? Both thoughts chilled me to my bones.
With no further readings from the EMF reader, we decided to move on from Api Api towards the infamous Suicide Tower.
Growing up on shows like Ghost Hunters and Buzzfeed Unsolved, the trail to the Birdwatcher’s Tower was exactly what I imagined real life ghost hunting would be like. The boardwalk was pitch dark and isolated from the rest of the park, which was mostly visible thanks to the streetlamps.
Luckily, Clement brought along some powerful flashlights, and we were able to shine our way forward. After our eyes adjusted to the darkness however, I opted to switch off our flashlights and continue our journey in the dark, much to the chagrin of Clement.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a skeptic and a non-believer. But I would be lying if I said that walking around in the dark didn’t make me feel a little apprehensive. When we finally reached the tower, it was completely shrouded in darkness and not a single soul was in sight. Well, human soul, at least.
We slowly made our way up the stairs to the top of the tower, where I would once again bring out my trusty EMF app. Along the way, we found a few joss sticks that were unburnt. Perhaps someone left it there to appease the spirit of the young boy?
At the top of the tower, we switched off our flashlights in order not to “scare off” any spirits while I used the EMF app. This time, the app showed this:
Could “Hayden” be the name of the young boy who committed suicide? Wanting to seek out more answers, I took out my voice recorder and asked the question:
If you were to play it back again, you might’ve caught a faint whisper that said “yes”. Again, the skeptic in me was quick to dismiss it as the wind. But the strange thing is, it was a rather humid and windless night. Perhaps the spirit of “Hayden” was trying to communicate with me after all.
Turns out, the voice recording was just Clement pulling a prank on me. Fighting the urge to turn Clement into a spirit, we made our way down to the bottom of the tower and headed off to our final destination.
By the time we’d decided to leave the Birdwatcher’s Tower, it was close to 10PM and the park was getting emptier. We walked towards the eastern side of Pasir Ris Park, where we’d be able to see the chalets from behind a fence.
Since it was impossible to enter the chalet grounds without purchasing a room, we could only loiter around outside the fence and snap some pictures of the interior. Nothing suspicious to see here.
There wasn’t much here, perhaps because we weren’t exactly in the chalet itself. The EMF app didn’t display any new findings nor did our voice recorder. Though disappointing, we did have one last location that we wanted to look for.
Some of you may have remembered reading about a jogger who spotted a white figure in Pasir Ris Park. Wanting to leave no stone unturned, we managed to find the exact same bench where the ghostly figure was purportedly sighted.
I volunteered to sit on the bench for a couple of minutes to see if anything happened at all. Other than donating some blood to the mosquitoes, it was a rather peaceful couple of minutes, with the silence of the park intermingled by the occasional waves crashing onto the rocks.
And with that, we decided to call it a night and head on home.
So, now that I’ve gone on a “legit” ghost hunting trip, do I believe in ghosts? The answer to that may frustrate some of you, but personally, I still can’t give a definitive yes or no.
While I didn’t see physical manifestations of spirits, I can’t deny that this is only my experience and not representative of everyone else’s.
What I can confirm is how people may be led to believe that Pasir Ris Park is haunted. As one of the more secluded and ulu places in Singapore, the location itself is ideal for imaginative kids who spent an otherwise uneventful night at one of the chalets to come up with their own ghostly tales. Generations later, these tales have become solidified as legends that spread by word of mouth or on the internet as definitive “proof” of supernatural events.
Who knows – perhaps 10 or 20 years down the line, this article would be referenced by other ghost hunters eager to find out answers about the supernatural. Until then, Pasir Ris Park will forever remain an elusive and perhaps slightly creepy place in the east.
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Photography by Clement Sim.
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