Travel Horror Stories is a column in which travellers submit scary, traumatizing, crazy or just flat out annoying tales from on the road. This Travel Horror Story is brought to you from Jim McIntosh at Holes in My Soles. Check his site out! If you would like to share your horrific experience, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meeting Ghosts in a Genocide Museum
In strange, intimidating, or new situations, or when needing to make a decision I try to use my perceptive abilities, by practising a form of quickie meditation, blanking out my mind, ignoring any outside influences, and seeking that immediate inner intuitive response. Over the years this ability to sense influences in my surroundings, or happenings to loved ones has been a rather interesting journey. There are stories to tell…this is but one of them.
An early morning’s visit to S21, Tuol Sleng, Phnom Pehn, Cambodia, January 2008. Few tourists around, so I picked a room in the ground floor of the middle block, where prisoners were brutally tortured, chained to the iron beds in the centre and waited until I was alone.
And I meditated.
Soon I was almost overcome with an overpowering
feeling of pain, anguish, despair…feelings that seemed to come at me rather than from inside me. All the torment and despair of hundreds of people, as if I was experiencing all the residual anguish and pain imprinted in that room. I knew those were not my feelings, they didn’t belong to me. This was from outside me, coming at me, almost overwhelming, but in a strange way not threatening, and as if some thing or things wanted me to understand what they felt.
Then things started to form, a host of shining, shimmering spherical orb shapes, as if faces were forming…and those feelings were being communicated to me from them. Then they started to elongate, and my thought was “These are pre-human forms.” So I freaked out, I really was not prepared for that and snapped out of the trance. Immediately all the anguish and pain subsided.
I expected to feel pain, despair etc, but not to see things forming! Then I found myself wandering into every other room, on each of the 3 floors of that block. Each individual brick cubicle. Why? So I stopped, meditated and asked myself “Why are you doing this?”
The immediate impression was “You are searching for something.”
I turned and walked out to the stairwell area at the end of the building, and for some strange reason found myself looking under the stairs, and came upon the graffiti on the wall. Most people will miss this.
When this was a school, nobody died.
When this was a prison, nobody learned.
I breathed a sigh of relief as this was what I felt I had been searching for. Some tourist had written this upon the wall. I never knew it was there, but felt I had been sent to read it by some unseen but compelling guiding presence, as if it was their only way of being able to communicate.
Some people say that spirits or ghosts are the personalities imprinted on a place from traumatic events…I don’t know. But whatever happened leaves me wondering if those who died there have left part of their souls within that place.
And the overwhelming impression the shapes left in my mind was that they want Tuol Sleng kept for a reminder that this should never happen again, otherwise their suffering has lost the last remaining shred of any meaning.
If you visit Tuol Sleng treat it not just as a museum, but with respect as a lasting reminder that the genocide should never happen again. The souls of those that died there can only rest easy if we never allow this to happen again. You will not visit and be unmoved.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Meta-Guide.com, Lindsay Hogg. Lindsay Hogg said: TRAVEL HORROR: Meeting Ghosts in Genocide Museum, Cambodia http://bit.ly/gZNXBU #Cambodia #travel #rtw #genocide #ghosts #rtwnow via @nevjmc […]
eerie story Jim. when I was younger I would visit a a old abandon insane asylum and feel strange outside forces around me. Things I didn’t relate with but could feel. I don’t know exactly what I believe anymore, if they were ghosts or my imagination bringing these feelings to life. Either way definitely interesting
this reminds me of a film I watched about a Museum. We can apply the message that this story just make known every to every museum of this planet. Well the message is : even every masterpiece seems old or dead actually it is alive and interpret the cultural background of such nation. Thank you Jim for telling this.
Thanks Michael. You may very well have felt those unexplainable influences there, as in such a place I’m sure there would be very traumatic experiences imprinted.
Some will say it’s just imagination, and yes, I tried to rationalise it out like that myself. Until I realise that imagination may very well be the way to ‘connect’ (if we ever can) because all religions use altered state of mind to try to ‘connect’ with a higher being or beings. Prayer, meditation or even mind altering drugs are all means of altering your state of mind – imagination -after all.
There have been other incidents like the above. I’m slowly blogging about them, on my website.
If you’re able to sense things there, no reason why you cannot in other places.
Hi Aznzar, glad you appreciate the story. Since S21, there have been other incidents. S21 was my first ‘encounter’ and it freaked me out. I don’t scare easy, and I have come to accept when this happens, to be more accepting, so on my website there is this-
Now my wife was with me, and as soon as we walked in the door, I commented to her there is something weird there. She left me to it, and this time I walked towards the ‘influence, rather than being scared of it.
Many of us can sense these ‘things’ -what i try to do now is to make myself receptive to whatever it is.
Hi Jim it reminded me of my visit to a concentration camp in Germany. I will never forget the eery feeling and for some unexplained reason i still cannot shake it up to this day. Thank you for sharing.
Jim, I appreciate you being open enough to share this story and experience. I’ve been sensitive in this regard since my earliest memories, and I have to be mindful of very old buildings. Our downtown area of Knoxville is tricky, as many restaurants and apartment units are housed in former brothels. I’ve learned to avoid several of those buildings, because it’s just not possible for me to be inside them and not see, hear and feel a whole slew of things. Oddly, it doesn’t freak me out. It just wears me out on an emotional level. Battlegrounds here in the south from the War Between the States are places that will just about break my heart, so I imagine it would be equally challenging to visit any place like a prison camp. That being said, I do still push myself to have those experiences. The energies that exist and the messages the Souls who are still there are trying to communicate deserve to have someone give them voice, if possible. You did this here with your blog post, and that is admirable.
Your travels continue to fascinate me and I’m finding more and more reasons to continue returning here. Wonderful post!
Hi Dawn, I can appreciate how you can sense things in those sites. While I write about the fear I felt at S21, it was the first encounter like this. Since then I understand the happenings and accept them. So like you, it doesn’t freak me out now.
Thanks for reading.
Jim, that is brilliant! We know so little really! I’m just reading “The Labyrinthe” by Kate Mosse, which is a medieval mystery story concerning the Holy Grail, and the main character in this book, from the year 2000 (approx) has similar experiences. Cheers.
A really powerful post that leaves one contemplating. Raw empathy of those around you (seen or unseen) while meditating must be a deeply transforming, moving and perhaps troubling experince. Wow. I can’t imagine. May the terror experienced there never repeat itself.
Hi Jessica, No, the fear will not repeat itself. It was so unexpected that I freaked out once things started forming human type shapes. I understand these events now.
But there have been other experiences since. And now I accept them because they don’t mean harm…they need to communicate. I walk towards them, physically and emotionally.
I used to have remote psychic vision experiences, ever since being a teenager. But around 10 years ago they stopped, and these weird experiences started happening.
Google ‘remote psychic vision’ and it may explain a lot.
BTW I do not claim to be psychic.
But I do believe the human mind is not truly understood.
I have my own theories on intuition and perception and think they are natural senses we do not truly understand or utilise fully. Dog owners will understand.
I too felt these overwhelming feelings of the pain and torture that existed within those walls visiting that prison. I could not visit the Killing Fields after it, I was just too traumatized. I couldn’t feel that deep sickness anymore.
I have since learned about positive and negative pheromones which I wrote about here
This is the energy that is left behind in places from what once occurred
there. Animals are said to feel this energy acutely and humans if they are tuned in to it.
Great post Jim
This was a very powerful and moving read. I had goose bumps running down my arms the further I read. It is amazing to me that things like this happen all over the world, but you hear very little, if any, about it. You found what your mind was seeking and it was a message that needed to be shared. It is short, concise, and exactly to the point. The person writing it left the reader with a very clear picture of what occurred there.
Great feedback from everyone! I’ve read this post more than a few times and it still manages to make my hair stand up. Thanks so much for submitting it Jim!
This reminded me of that Twilight Zone episode where the SS officer went to the concentration camp and was haunted by all of his horrible deeds there. I don’t think that things like the atrocities that happen in prison camps can be forgotten…they leave an impact on the unseen web that connects us all and that is obviously what you felt. Very moving post.
The genocide in Cambodia was such a horrible tragedy. I’m glad you were able to share something positive about the experience.
Being a little more sensitive to things like this I have to be very careful where I go. The Hiroshima Peace Museum stayed with me for months after we left Japan.
In a way I am both sad and relieved to hear that you had this experience in Toul Sleng, I visited the site earlier this year and walked into a room on the second floor, it’s the room with the tiny prison cells, with wooden doors and shackles – anyway, I was in there on my own and I looked into one of the cells and felt a really strong presence, just in that particular place, I closed my eyes and suddenly felt unable to breath and then it stopped. I have never felt a presence like it; it was intense but not threatening, not the clichéd, felt as though someone was strangling me sort of thing, I just became unable to breath as the feeling was so strong. The reason that I am glad that you shared this is because – I never told anyone, I thought I was going mad. I fully understand the feelings that you experienced in that place it is harrowing.
Hi! Thank u very much for your ghost blog. The Killing Fields genocide just popped up into my mind recently that why got interest. Man, as I was researching(browsing) about S-21 Tuol Sleng on d web, I still can’t help myself to be shocked: innocent men,women,children,& even babies were helplessly tortured & murdered by d Khmer Rouge. As u browse those thousands of old photographs, u still can’t help that jaw-dropping feeling.It seems like they are also staring at u in return.It’s feels like they are telling u,”I don’t wanna die.”But I don’t feel scared at all.What I only feel is d shock that this should never ever happen again in d future.Since Vietnam failed to execute Pol Pot when they invaded Cambodia in 1979 & died in a natural death in 1998.
“I’M NOT SCARED OF THE DEAD. I’M MORE SCARED OF THE LIVING. & THEIR ACTIONS.”
-Nik Nakav of Israel, on war on d Middle East & terrorism