When Things Go Bump In The Night

Tanah Rata, after the rain. The mist enveloping the small town does lend a eerie atmosphere. (@ all rights reserved)

Hand on heart, we will all admit to being travel enthusiasts.

As we travel far and further afield, whether it is within the borders of our own country or to visit the land of others, we develop talents that only seasoned travellers have, like how to plan and put together the best travel arrangements that we possibly can on our limited budgets and how to respond to the unexpected.

Many of us have would also have adapted to the many demands that travelling, whether for business or for leisure, and whether it’s on a limited budget or otherwise, requires.

But things can still go wrong and do go wrong, in compliance to Murphy’s Law and normally when you least expect it too. When it does, most often than not, due to the experience accumulated from our travels, we are able to adapt.

In most cases, admirably and with thanks, in no small measure, to the kind heartedness of the locals as well as a prayer or two.

But there are situations that are not only beyond our control but beyond anybody’s. Especially when it is not of this realm. And for that, you need a special kind of skill set.

Streets of Tanah Rata (@ all rights reserved)

I consider myself lucky that, most often than not, I do get ‘good and clean’ (in both senses of the word) hotel rooms.

But there have been times that as I am about to enter a room, I get that ‘hairs on arms standing’ feeling. More times than I care to remember, actually.

Normally, after observing certain rituals or procedures that I have been taught over the years, I do get a peaceful night’s sleep.

It’s even better when you are already exhausted and the lights go out on you the moment you place your head on the pillow, only to wake up early the next day with the lights and yesterday’s clothes still on.

That’s not so bad as when you experience ‘the hairs on your back stand’ situations. Sad to say, that too has happened to me a few times as well.

Whenever I experience these kind of situations, I have been known to check out straightaway as I did at a hotel on Penang Island, in Kota Bharu and in Port Dickson.

Talk about instant checkout. And looking at the expressions on the faces at the reception desk when you return the room keys, they pretty much have an idea why you checked out in such a hurried manner.

There has however been occasions when these ‘hair standing on back’ occasions manifested themselves, few and far in between they may be.

One of the most recent ones was during our trip to Cameron Highlands. To say that it was creepy is an understatement.

My wife and I were booked in for 3 nights and looking back, the first night itself should have served as an indicator of things to come.

As we remarked many times to friends, the hotel was first-rate, the room large and expansive, the bed was extra-large (like, there was no foreseeable way you could sleep-roll off the bed), the pillows were very, very comfortable, the shower and the toilet worked well and there was a mini bar and mini fridge.

The latter being ideal for us, allowing us to stock up with our favourite drinks.

Cameron Highlands, a small town steeped with the history of colonial times. (@ all rights reserved)

My wife did however remarked that it felt cold in the room. As we were up in the highlands and that it was raining when we arrived at the resort, we did not think too much of it even though there was no air conditioning unit in the room.

In fact, the sight of no air conditioning in the room seemed a novelty to us lowlands dwellers, where a bright and sunny day means it’s a hot day.

As we were already tired from the day’s travelling, we got settled in, went for an early dinner and upon returning to the resort, went to bed early.

The morning after, over breakfast, my wife complained of a splitting headache as she did not get a good night’s sleep. Again, we did not think too much of it, being newbies in Tanah Rata, as we were.

We went on our planned itinerary for the day, after which, since as we had no plans to go out for dinner, bought some snacks and drinks before returning to the resort.

Settled in for the night, watched TV (same as in most hotels we stayed in, here was not much on offer. Must have got a bum deal, these hotels.) and without knowing it, we were out for the night.

Until the telephone call.

It was 2 in the morning when the phone rang. It did struck me as odd that my wife did not pick up the phone despite the phone being on her side of the bed.

It struck me as even weirder that she asked me not to pick up the phone when I walked over to her side of the bed to pick up the call. I mean, it could have been the front desk.

Upon answering the phone, there was nothing at the other end. More like it was just a vacuum. Thinking that there might be a bad connection on the other end, thought nothing of it and went back to sleep.

It did not take long before the phone rang again, and this time before I could answer, the ringing stopped.

At my wife’s behest, we changed sides and continued with our sleep. Or tried to.

Everybody knows of the saying that you always save the best for last. They or whoever they may be, must have known that particular saying, for they did save their ‘best’ for our last night at the resort.

Apparently, the magical hour seems to be 2am, there or thereabouts. And this time, we were rudely awaken and I do mean rudely.

Insistent hard knocks on the door, coupled with the incessant ringing of the door bell and someone trying hard to open the door were the order of the day. Or is it ‘order of the night’?

As I rushed to the door, thinking that it might be an emergency of some kind, my wife pleaded with me not to open the door. And somehow, I complied.

The same happened within five minutes or so and this time, we called reception to send security up to check. Needless to say, we barely had a wink after that and only fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion.

We had planned for a late check out but after the night’s events, we decided to check out as soon as we had breakfast.

Looking up from the bottom of the valley. (@ all rights reserved).

On the way to breakfast, we checked with the front desk and inquired as to the night’s events.

The words were comforting but we did notice glances being exchanged between staff at the front desks.

After breakfast, we decided to take the bull by the horns and leaned on strongly at the staff at the front desk.

And this time, the beans were spilled, with the staff being surprised that it was our room that was ‘disturbed’, as the norm would be a room a few doors away.

As I returned to the room with a concierge to collect our belongings, my wife stayed behind at the front desk. Tired, weary, and wary, I guess.

It was only after we checked out that my wife mentioned that she insisted at having a look at the CCTV recording of the corridor outside our room. What she recounted made the hairs on my back, never mind my arms, stand.

Recordings of the CCTV showed absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing. For an hour on both sides of the time it happened, absolutely nothing. Which gives credence to the report from the security personnel.

We had looked forward to a ‘happening’ holiday. Well, we got more than we bargained for. Well, next time we go up to Cameron Highlands (if we ever that is), we might even go back to the resort where we stayed. With the knowledge that we have now, we’ll know which floor to stay this time.

Trouble is, ‘they’ might still remember us and come a visiting. Would not that be a bummer?

 

Date : 18 July 2017

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