Ghosts are probably bullshit; if nothing else, the lack of irrefutable evidence in the Age of the Smart Phone is probably proof enough of that. That said, it doesn’t stop some places from being spooky as shit. There are tens of thousands of reputedly ‘haunted’ places all over the globe, but here are YPT.life, China is our bag. Let’s take a look at the Middle Kingdom’s most haunted locales.
Chaonei No. 81, Chaoyang, Beijing
Possibly China’s most famous haunted house, Chaonei No. 81 is located in central Beijing and has established its spooky bona fides enough to be a popular urbex destination for thrill-seeking Chinese youths and filmmakers alike.
Built in the early 20th century and heavily influenced by French Baroque architecture, the building has remained abandoned for many years and, in the fine tradition of many a haunted house, its history is shrouded in mystery. Nobody is quite sure who built it or why, due to incomplete records. One popular urban legend claims that a fleeing Kuomintang officer left his wife or mistress there when he fled to Taiwan in 1949, and the despondent lady subsequently hanged herself there. This is almost certainly bullshit, but makes for a nice campfire story. If they did campfires in China.
Creepier still are the (unsubstantiated) accounts of disappearances at the house. The British priest who apparently had the house built (again, no proof of this man’s existence or that he commissioned the building) vanished after discovering a secret tunnel in the crypt. It is also alleged that three construction workers who were working on an adjacent property got drunk and knocked through the thin wall into the crypt of Chaonei, only to be never seen again.
The spectre most commonly associated with the property is that of a suicidal woman, presumably of the aforementioned urban legend. Locals claim that the phantom screams during thunderstorms, although others have posited that this might simply be youthful pranksters putting some meat on the bones of the rumours.
Whatever the truth of all these spectral shenanigans, the place is apparently fucked enough that the Red Guard, dicks par excellence of the Cultural Revolution, fled the place in fright.
Edit: unfortunately it has come to this writer’s attention that Chaonei No. 81 has, in recent years, been renovated, fucking actually exorcised and turned into another drab office building. Because if there’s one thing that Beijing needed, it was more office buildings.
Qiu Mansion, Shanghai
The tale of Qiu Mansion (formerly ‘mansions’) is a rag-to-riches story of two loveable peasant brothers who stumbled upon a cache of paint in post-war Shanghai, discovered it was worth a fortune, and promptly became overnight millionaires.
What do formerly penniless folk do when they become suddenly monied? What you or I would do, probably – spend it on decadent tat.
The Qiu brothers built identical mansions right next to each other and decked out the grounds with fancy flora and fauna – crocodiles, tigers and peacocks all found a place in the gardens, though the latter possibly not for very long.
The Qiu brothers eventually disappeared quite mysteriously. In the 50s one mansion was razed, and the other was recently due to be moved brick by brick.
That was the plan, in any event. The purported ghostly animals that now inhabit the dilapidated grounds apparently had other plans. Over the years frightened construction workers have claimed to have been bitten by the otherworldly creatures that haunt the grounds; one worker even tried to bludgeon his boss to death with a hammer. When questioned, he offered the time-honoured defence of ‘ghost lizards made me do it’.
Whatever the truth, plans to move the mansion are apparently on hold, so go and check out the ethereal zoo whilst there’s still time.
Fengdu Ghost City, Chongqing
No mere mansion or house for this entry, ladies and gents; no sir, this is an entire haunted city.
A collection of shrines and temples dedicated to the afterlife, Fengdu is more Casper than Poltergeist. Fengdu is home to a whole bunch of statues of demons and dioramas depicting the dead being sawed in half in Hell, which is cool and all, but it’s prime tourism territory along the Yangtze River, and so it’s been chintzed up all to hell.
There are three ‘tests’ to pass into the underworld at Fengdu. The first is crossing a bridge, which sounds simple, except that if you are unworthy, demons will throw you into the waters below. Nowadays the demons are performers and will almost certainly not throw paying customers to their deaths.
The second test is pretty simple: passing through Guimen, variously translated as ‘ghost gate’ or, more ominously, the ‘gates of Hell’. It is here that the dead are, in the most Chinese take on the afterlife ever, made to fill out spooky documents before being given a travel permit to the ever-after.
The final test is a huge crowd-pleaser: prospective entrants to Heaven are made to stand on one foot for three minutes. If they are able to do so, they are adjudged worthy and can pass on. If they are unable to do this, then they are clearly demon-spawn and cast down to Hell, because basic balancing skills are an excellent indicator of one’s moral fibre.