I was watching an episode of Asia’s Next Top Model two nights ago about the models camping in a forest in Malaysian Borneo. Just FYI, Borneo is an enormous island which inhabited by 3 ASEAN (Association of South East Asian) countries i.e. Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, and the biggest part of Borneo belongs to Indonesia. Anyway, the girls were building the tent and doing the outdoorsy things then an old memory of mine surfaced. Throughout my whole life I’ve been camping twice.
The first camping I had when I was in the 6th grade of elementary school (I was about 11 years old, back then) for only 2 days. I attended a public elementary school in Ternate for 6 months, it was temporarily because my father was posted to work in Ambon (there was an ongoing conflict in Ambon and it wasn’t safe for me to move there with my parents, so they decided to put me in a school near my grandmother which is in Ternate).
Long story short, I joined the Girl Scout and we went camping with the boys too. The camping site wasn’t too far from the city centre; I’d say it was just like 8-10 kilometers away. One of the boys’ father was a respected military guy, so we got the chance to ride in a big military tank during the camping. That’s probably the most incredible ride I’ve ever had. The first day when we arrived, the tents were already built up so we were assigned to each of our tents and then settled in.
The girls and I were so thrilled because it was our first time camping and we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t do many things on the first day because we arrived during noon so all the boys and girls were told to cook for dinner together. Half of the boys and girls cook and the other half do the dishes afterwards. We were also taught how to built fire for the bonfire at night. Some of the older Boy and Girl Scout as well as our teachers join us sitting side by side circling the bonfire. Earlier, we were split by groups and each group has to perform some kind of entertainment in front of everyone at the camp site. My group performed a local dance; some were doing a theatrical act or singing. It was totally fun. But then it was time for us to go to bed.
All of us went to our tent and that’s when the horror began. Actually, nothing frightening happened that night, but some of the girls from the other tent rushed into my tent saying that they saw something weird and refused to go back to their tent. Our tent, which only fits 4 people, gained 4 more intruders so we were scrambling inside the tent, unable to sleep. Then each of them started to tell horror story which was totally maddening considering that I’m not a big fan of horror. Some of the girls said that a teenage girl did a suicidal stunt by drowning herself near the river at the campsite which was only 35 meters away from our tent. How unremarkably agonizing was that! I was so terrified, I told them to shut up and sleep but none of them would listen to me. We end up being wide awake for the whole night while we actually had a tight schedule ahead of us. It was excruciating.
The second camping experience I had was when I was on the first year of Junior High School. We went camping for three days at the Prambanan Temple camp site. Prambanan is an old Hindu temple located in between Yogyakarta and Central Java. Unlike my first camping experience, we had to build our own tent this time with the help of our teachers, of course. Then we were involved in a lot of outdoor activities during the first and second day. Our view from the camp site was just amazing. At night, when the lights surrounding Prambanan Temple was lit, it looks like a tall and beautiful black diamond. One of the activity was we had to walk from one post to another and answer general knowledge questions at each posts. My team won the first place; we answered all the questions 98% correctly and shared the price of snacks and chocolate to the other teammates. Our last night at camping, we had the privilege to watch a drama play about Rama and Sinta in one of the Prambanan’s theatrical stage.
We were free to choose who we would like to share the tent with. So I shared my tent with two of my best friends, Mustika and Sinta. In the middle of the night, Sinta and Mustika woke me up. They wanted to pee so badly but they didn’t want to leave me alone in the tent, well, I’d be scared to death if I woke up and no one was inside the tent. So we walked to the toilet, which was 40 meters across our tent. While Mustika and Sinta went inside the toilet, I waited outside. It was really dark so I kept the flashlight on all the time. I was bored and sleepy standing outside all alone so I kept talking to both of my friends, trying to distract my attention from horror thoughts.
Then I accidentally pointed the flashlight towards one of the trees on my right side (approximately 10-15 meters away), and I saw a freaking Pocong! (In Indonesia, a Pocong is a ghost that is said to be the soul of a dead person trapped in its shroud. The shroud is a sort of white fabric used to wrap the body of the dead person in Muslim burials, then tied over the head, on the neck, and under the feet.) I immediately pointed the flashlight towards other place, but I was curious and couldn’t believe myself, so I pointed toward that tree and I saw that damn thing again. I tried to calm myself and take a few deep breaths; I stopped looking at the location of the Pocong and said a prayer out loud. Sinta came out and ask what happened. I told her to look to the right and she screamed at the top of her lungs. We both ran as fast as we could, forgetting that we left Mustika alone.
I still don’t know until now whether it was a real Pocong or it was just my hallucination. I’ve been trying to tell myself that it was just a hallucination and it wasn’t real but the fact that Sinta also saw the same thing, it kind of bothers me. Maybe it was just a crazy person who was trying to freak the campers out. I don’t know. All I know is, it was the first time I saw a ghost and I hope it will be the last one, because it’s a pretty traumatic experience in my life.