Beijing horror story

By Yin Lu Source:Global Times Published: 2013-4-11 20:13:00


The long-gone concubines still stalk the city through ghost stories.
The long-gone concubines still stalk the city through ghost stories.


Evil spirits also frequent Subway Line 1
Evil spirits also frequent Subway Line 1


a TCM drugstore that had to relocate from its Caishikou location. Photos: CFP and IC
a TCM drugstore that had to relocate from its Caishikou location. Photos: CFP and IC


Recently, Max Zhou's grandmother keeps saying that people should watch their backs, because these days yinqi, or negative flow, has been very heavy.

"Don't wear black or red clothes when you go out in the evenings, don't pick up any coins and don't sit at the back of the bus," Zhou's grandmother warns him, saying that all those attract ghosts.

Actually, April 12 is the third day of the third lunar month, known in many places in China as the day when ghosts show up. According to some different versions of Chinese folklore, ghosts come to visit the human realm for Spring Festival and go back to their homes in the mountains today. Other versions say Yama, god of death, just gives the ghosts a day off.

Dim the lights and grab a flash light: it's time for Beijing's best ghost stories.

No.81 Chaoyangmennei Dajie

As told by: Max Zhou, 23, college student studying in Canada

In 1900 or so, this house was built as a church for the Britons in Beijing, but it was never finished because war broke out. In this story, as with many other tales, a woman abandoned by her husband hanged herself there and has haunted the house ever since. It's also said that under the house is a hidden entrance to a 5-kilometer underground tunnel.

In a summer evening in 2001, four construction workers who worked in the apartment building across the street from the haunted house had a few drinks, and went to the basement to relieve themselves. While doing so, they felt a cool breeze on their backs. They turned around and found a hole in the wall. One of the drunken workers kicked the wall and the wall fell down, and they saw complete darkness behind the broken wall. Three young workers, with courage jacked up by alcohol, said they would go in and see what's there, but one older worker refused to follow them and left.

He went back up to the construction camp. Before falling asleep, he looked across the street and saw lights of No.81 blink a few times, and then go out. He felt an ominous foreboding in the air, but still managed to find sleep.

The next day, the young workers didn't show up for work, and have been missing ever since.

Ghostbuster says: The No.81 house still stands, albeit in disrepair. People who are easily scared should never go into or near the house.

"I remember it was in July or August during summer vocation, but that place was much colder than the others," recalled Zhou, who went to the house years ago. "It was deadly quiet, but the wooden floors creaked whenever people stepped on. There were mildew smells and dead bodies of mice." 

Last bus to Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan)

As told by: Wang Yu, 23, college student from Haidian district

On a dark night in 1995, a young man stepped onto the last bus heading to Fragrant Hills, Haidian district. Soon the driver saw two people on the side of the road trying to stop the bus and get on. At first the driver was reluctant since they were not waiting at a bus stop, but the kind-hearted conductor put in some good words, saying it was already the last bus.  

So the driver let them in. The other passengers took a look, and were surprised to see the two people were in official's robes of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and they supported a third person by the arms, whose hair was hanging loose. Their faces were much whiter than a normal person's, and they didn't say anything. The other passengers looked on nervously. The conductor soothed people by saying they were probably actors who had no time to change costumes.

Gradually, the bus emptied as passengers got off the bus, until only the young man and an old lady remained. Suddenly, the old lady claimed her wallet was missing, and that the young man was the thief. The two entered a fierce argument which ended in the old lady insisting they get off the bus right away and head to the nearest police station to settle the matter.

As the bus drove off, the young man became enraged when he saw no police station in sight. Then the old lady said, "I saved your life, young man! Those who just got on bus were ghosts, not humans!" "You're out of your mind!" the young man replied.

"The breeze coming in from the window lifted their robes, and I saw they didn't have feet!" said the old lady.

The next day, the last Xiangshan-bound bus was reported missing, and was later found miles away from its destination, with three heavily rotted bodies - the driver's, the conductor's and one unknown body with long, messy hair.

Ghostbuster says: Don't take the last bus. "Almost everybody has taken a late bus once, which is what makes the story horrifying," said Wang.

The haunted subway line

As told by: Xu Ziqian, 22, teacher  

When construction on Subway Line 1 began in 1965, nothing went smoothly. Equipment broke, and dangerous accidents happened. Beijingers have many theories about the cause of the woes, including that the bones disinterred during construction had angered an army of now-homeless souls.

Hoping to dispel such energies, monks were brought in to perform ceremonies for days, and asked the souls to bless the construction. The monks promised the souls that in the future the subway would be shut down before 11 pm, since 11 pm to 1 am was the time all the souls should rest. They also promised the train would run a lap without any customers, to deliver the souls back to where they belonged safely to rest. Oddly enough, after the ceremonies, the construction went well.

Later, there have been more metro lines, and the night life in Beijing has only grown, but all the subway lines still shut down around 11 pm.

Ghostbuster says: "This story sounds real, and not to mention Line 1 leads to Babaoshan (the cemetery)," said Xu. If you ever take the subway around closing time, don't do anything to upset the souls haunting the metro system in Beijing.

The Forbidden City

As told by: Max Zhou

Many Beijingers claim to have seen the place crowded with ghosts in the night - eunuchs and concubines walking in lines with music. Some tourists hear ghosts singing or weeping, and some get lost in the complicated yards and paths, and never came back. Or they came back - as dead bodies with no faces.

Ghostbuster says: Stay close to your tour guide, and never follow anybody into secluded places.

Execution grounds

As told by: Jolin Qin, 29, white collar worker

Caishikou used to be the place for executions in the past, so the place is haunted with beheaded or hanged ghosts. TCM shops won't sell any medicines that treat wounds in the night to anybody.

Ghostbuster says: Avoid talking to people wearing any red threads on their necks, or people who are wearing turtlenecks.

Dealing with a dragon

As told by: Xu Ziqian

A ferocious dragon was trapped in an ancient well somewhere in the Beixinqiao area. And when anybody tried to lift up the well lid, the dragon would come up and unleash huge waves to flood the city.

The name of Beixinqiao, literally meaning "north new bridge," is actually a pact that the local people and the dragon agreed on - the dragon can only come out when the bridge is not new anymore.

Ghostbuster says: Never call it an old bridge and steer clear of manhole covers.

Scary hairy

As told by: Wang Yu

A young man saw the back of a girl with a long braid crouching on the side of the road, crying uncontrollably. He approached her and asked why she was crying. She said, "People say I am ugly." The man comforted her, saying, "I bet your face is pretty, so don't cry." Then the girl raised her head and turned back, slowly, and all he saw was another braid.

Ghostbuster says: Don't try to save a beauty in distress crying on the roadside.

Posted in: Metro Beijing

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