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  • Writer's pictureNeill Mckee

The Haunted Fairwinds Hotel

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

The Fairwinds Hotel, Port Dickson, abandoned to the ghosts by January 1991

Excerpt from Chapter 13 of Finding Myself in Borneo by Neill McKee:

During this second stint in Malaysia, Beth and I spent at least a third of our time in West Malaysia, often staying with the Hoffmans, who were open and friendly to us and to all the Malaysian volunteers. They always had visitors. I helped to recruit, place, and support volunteers. I ran the whole program when Peter and Barbara went on home leave. During my most difficult times in Sabah, these retreats to the West were true escapes from “the Shadow of Mordor,” as I jestingly called it. (Note: By then it was firmly established that J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth was North Borneo, despite claims by New Zealand.) Another task involved running orientations for newly arrived volunteers, imparting our knowledge and experiences alongside that of Malaysian experts. Some of the orientations took place in Port Dickson, at the Fairwinds Hotel, an old edifice on a hill overlooking the Straits of Malacca—a two-story affair with concrete arches and Roman columns grown over with moss. A Chinese tin mining millionaire had built it as his seaside residence in the early part of the twentieth century. As the story goes, the Japanese military police took over the Fairwinds during World War II for use as an interrogation center. They tortured many people inside the rooms where we slept, and they chopped off numerous heads on the grounds outside. Then, after the Japanese surrendered, the former owner reclaimed his property, only to have his son commit suicide by jumping from the cliff in front of the house and smashing into the rocks next to the water below. Possessed by a hantu? Of course.

Ghost stories are one of Malaysia’s specialties, possibly because of the confluence of so many oral cultural traditions. There are reports of over eighty haunted hotels in the country. Mr. Lim, who ran the Fairwinds, never told newcomers outright about the Japanese history. Bad for business! Stories floated amongst guests, regardless—most definitely part of the attraction—at least for foreigners. New guests might start to hear or imagine things: a door that wouldn’t stay closed, strange knocking on the walls, groaning sounds in the middle of the night. We could easily visualize what had happened in this building 30 years earlier. These stories added a little more spice to our orientation sessions, alongside Mr. Lim’s fish head curries, and none of our trainees ever jumped off the cliff, that I can recall....

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