It was 1996 and I was on a 3 day training mission. The last part of the mission requires us to navigate through the Lim Chu Kang cemetery, rest after dark till 10pm in the Indian cemetery and then move out to Temple hill. My team was the first to reach the rendezvous point at around 7pm with the rest of the other teams joining a short while later. We were sitting around 20m from the dirt track in the bushes relaxing after our dinner and sharing tales with each other when a few of us noticed that it was full moon that night.
Not passing a chance to crack a joke with others, I pointed to the moon and remarked to the Bruneian soldier beside me : “Hantu! Hantu!! Wooooo!!!”. We both laughed at the silly jokes and the others joined in to make ghostly sounds in light of the situation. Just a short moment later we heard a very distinct sound coming from the Chinese cemetery…. Howling of a single dog and then joined in by many others. This goes on for about 3 mins and towards the end it seems like the sound is all around us with no dogs in sight.
What followed later is the sound of gongs ..”Dong dong chang! Dong dong chang!” Again the sound comes from the Chinese cemetery and seems to come towards our direction and fade away after that. This was around 10pm where our instructors were supposed to contact us at our resting point and dispatched us to our final mission objective. By then we were kind of nervous and the air of relaxation of supplanted by an eerie silence. Around 1030pm, we saw from the distance the familiar headlights of a rover and when it reached us, the instructor hurried came down and issued the following orders :” Move out quickly from this point, no need tactical and combine all the groups together. Keep your comms on all the time”. We packed all our gear and moved at double quick pace to temple hill not looking back and wondering what they saw. The whole night went without any incidents and the instructors who came to contact us were eerily silent throughout the night.
On the following morning, one of them decided to tell us what happened the night before. 3 of them were driving towards the Indian cemetery but don’t know what happened, took a wrong turn and drove into the Chinese cemetery instead. They were quite confident that they could drive their way out via the normal route but no matter how hard they tried, always end up at the same spot. It was during this time when they heard the howling and the dong dong chang (albeit much louder than we heard). Panicked, they tried again to drive out of the cemetery and after much effort one of them saw a road lined with candles, joss sticks and offerings on both sides of the road and the drive decided to take his chance and drive along this route. It was a lucky choice and within 5 mins, they were out of the Chinese cemetery and onto the main road.
We could not make out what was the cause of this encounter they had but this might be the classic case of “Gui Zhe Yan”? And we wondered how it feels like with all the howling and gongs ringing all around you sitting in a rover lost in the cemetery. Now whenever I drive pass Lim Chu Kang cemetery, I can still remember this incident as if it happened yesterday.