Johor villa 'spooks' Expedia

JOHOR BARU - The fast-changing Danga Bay waterfront may be better known as part of the multi-billion ringgit development projects under Iskandar Malaysia. But unknown to many, locals included, US-based travel portal Expedia has listed it as among the five most haunted places in Malaysia.

It owes its reputation to an abandoned bungalow, known as Villa Nabila, perched on top of a hill that overlooks the Straits of Johor.

The bungalow has held untold secrets for over 40 years and there are several versions of how it earned its status.

They include murder that took place among a wealthy Caucasian family who once lived in the house.

Another version tells of how the maid was behind the murder and had killed the family, including a daughter named Nabila, and buried their bodies somewhere in the compound.

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One of the most interesting stories is that the family members were killed by two hit men who were hired by a relative due to greed.

Among the superstitions surrounding the place are that visitors should enter the house in even numbers. Should they visit in odd numbers, there will be an "extra" person in the group when they leave.

A check by The Star found a group of children playing in the compound despite knowing that the house may be haunted.

One of them, Azmirul Syafiq Azmadi, 12, said he and his friends came to the premises to see for themselves if there were really ghosts in the house.

"I've been hearing it from my friends and the older folk that the house is haunted," he said, adding that they saw nothing.

"We may come back later at night to try our luck."

Expedia has also listed Kellie's Castle in Perak, Jalan Turi bungalow in Bangsar, colonial bungalows at Bukit Tunku in Kuala Lumpur and Ria Apartment in Genting Highlands as among the other venues for ghost hunting.

Johor Tourism Department assistant director Amirrul Asyraf Ibrahim was optimistic over the listing, saying it could attract other types of tourists, especially those who liked to visit spooky places.

"In other countries, such packages are available and have been known to attract ghost hunters and those who want something adventurous,'' he said, adding that the department was willing to work closely with travel agents to promote ghost hunting and supernatural packages in Johor.