by Christopher Laursen
The uncanny experiences of an expatriate
living in Bali: strange shadows that beckon to
another dimension; and the kuntilanak, an
apparition of a girl with long black hair, similar
to the one in the horror movie The Ring.
article | extraordinary experiences
Shadows from the Multiverse
& the Kuntilanak
December 28, 2012
Strange dancing shadows in the window that transform into something
even more otherworldly and interact with a man lying in his bed. The
alleged apparition of a woman who died in childbirth standing in the
middle of the road late one night as he rides home on his motorbike.
These are two of unusual experiences recollected by Vyt, an Australian
expatriate living in Bali.
Vyt's wonderfully engaging blog Borborigmus in Bali recounts his
experiences since moving to the island in 2009 after over working for 30
years in Australian learning institutions. Bali, for him, has been a
challenging but transformative experience from living in the "West."
"I feel compelled to say at the outset that I am not a believer in
paranormal phenomena," he begins one blog entry. "Sure, strange
things happen – but in most cases there are perfectly rational
explanations for these without invoking the supernatural. So naturally it
came as a surprise to me to experience at first hand an event that still
has me wondering."
The experience he describes is among the strangest accounts I have
read, and it all happened around one of Bali's most important holidays,
Galungan. Occuring every 210 days (a single cycle in the Balinese
calendar), during this week-and-a-half period the Balinese gods visit the
Earth. Decorative poles called penjor made of bamboo and dried rice
plants are erected along the streets. It's the closest thing to Christmas in
Bali - minus gift-giving - and I first experienced it upon my arrival in Bali
On the first night of Galungan in
mid-October 2009, Vyt had a
prolongued experience of strange
shadows "flitting" across his
window in the night while the
curtain was drawn - a dance of
abstract motion that culminated
into something indescribable.
"It was as if what was visible to
me was a projection from another
world, one that contained many
more dimensions than ours.
There were hints of coalescing
shapes, colours that did not exist
in this world, movements that
defied physics. If you asked me to
draw, paint or sculpt what I saw, I
could not do it, simply because
there are only three dimensions
available to me, and I would need
a lot more."
And things only became stranger
as the dance of shadows
Click here to read Vyt's full blog entry, "A Super Natural
Experience," about the shadows in the window.
Two years later, driving home on his motorbike in Seminyak, a coastal
city in the south of Bali, he experienced something strange but
"It’s around midnight, and my headlight illuminates a young woman
standing stock-still in the centre of the road. She has long black hair
covering most of her face, which is slightly averted, but I sense that she
is staring straight at me. Her dress is of pure white and imbued with a
dazzling intensity. It reaches down to the ground, seeming to blend
seamlessly into the very cobblestones of the lane."
He did not stop and continued on his way home. In relating the story to
Indonesian friends, they were terrified for it seemed that what Vyt had
encountered was among the most frightening of Indonesian/Malay
ghosts - the Kuntilanak, also known as the Pontianak. "Reputedly
women who have died in childbirth and become ‘undead’, they terrorize
villages as they seek revenge. Legend has it that they target passing
men," Vyt writes. Indeed what he saw fits the atypical description of one
of these apparitions, which is not unlike the creepy girl who haunted
those who watched a videotape in the movie The Ring. At least 17 films
have been made in Indonesia and Malaysia since 1958 about this type
of ghost, and there are countless stories - written and shared orally.
Vyt relates this fear of the ghost of a woman who died in childbirth to the
many other fears and phobias he has seen Indonesian people display.
Such phobias certainly do seem to extend to the horrifying monstrous
and murderous ghosts that inhabit the lore of Asian cultures. The
statues that adorn the temples and the costumes worn during traditional
dances in Bali are so grotesque and humourous at the same time. As
the anthropologist Clifford Geertz had pointed out, the battle between
good (enacted by the cartoonish creature Barong) and evil (through the
freakish, distorted witch Rangda) is not necessarily resolved but
ongoing. Here in Bali, there is not such a defined line between light and
dark - the two intermingle almost seamlessly. They are a part of life.
And Vyt's experiences show how, as rational as one can be, on two
occasions, he has been drawn into these less easily defined realms
living in Bali.
Click here to read Vyt's full blog entry, "Fighting the Fear
Factor - Phobias in Paradise," for his observations on ghost
lore and phobias in Bali.
If you liked this article, you’ll probably also enjoy these other articles on
Throw a Fistful of Salt, Smash a Glass of Gin
Surveying Hong Kong's Abundant Spirits
The Ghosts of Gili Meno
Japanese Yokai On-Screen
STUDIES & EXPERIENCES
OF THE EXTRAORDINARY
© 2012-2014 Extraordinarium Digital Press & Journal.
All rights reserved.
Press is distributing
Horror Bound’s ebook
for the acclaimed
dark fiction anthology
FEAR OF THE DARK
featuring 300 pages worth
of eerie tales by emerging
and established writers.
starting at only
$4.99 USD / £3.58 / €4.38
CLICK HERE to read the
author biographies, and
to buy your copy.
Extraordinarium Digital Press publishes
non-fiction on studies & experiences of the
extraordinary; speculative fiction; and
OUR SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS
WHAT IS EXTRAORDINARIUM?
Extraordinarium is a Digital Press & Journal
in which we journey through the extraordinary,
the fantastical and the supernatural. It is
curated and edited by Christopher Laursen.
The extraordinary consists of moments,
events, and things that unexpectedly catch us
off guard - changing how we see the our lives.
It defies order, challenges rules, and invites us
rethink everything! Read more about the
extraordinary in our About section.
Our online Journal, Studies and Experiences
of the Extraordinary (SEE), features indepth
articles, interviews, and first-hand experiences
on many facets of the extraordinary.
The Digital Press publishes non-fiction on
studies & experiences of the extraordinary;
speculative fiction; and imaginative works.
Subscribe to our e-mail list for updates.
EXTRAORDINARIUM’S CHRISTOPHER LAURSEN
& PAUL CROPPER DELVE INTO THE BALDOON
MYSTERY IN FORTEAN TIMES
(FT 315, JUNE 2014).