He sees dead people

Chris Lau

Chris Lau talks to a man who not only believes in ghosts - he's seen three

Chris Lau |

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Scientists would tell you that ghosts only exist in scary movies or people's minds. But that's probably because they've never seen one. It takes a sighting to make someone truly believe the existence of the supernatural.

Pete Spurrier is a publisher at Blacksmith Books and part-time sub-editor at Young Post and South China Morning Post. But when he's not in an office, he's an occasional ghost-sighter.

Spurrier has lived in Hong Kong for 19 years, and throughout his time here, and travelling around Asia, he has had three vivid ghostly encounters.

A hiking enthusiast, Spurrier saw his first spirit during a trek in the Sai Kung Country Park. As he trekked alone downhill, the sun about to set, he came across an abandoned village.

"I always enjoy checking out abandoned villages to see old family photos," he says.

As he entered one of the buildings, he saw a middle-aged woman, possibly in her 50s, stare at him.

"I waved at her, and tried to show her I was friendly and everything was fine," Spurrier recalls.

Then something inexplicable happened: Spurrier looked away for a moment, and when he turned back, the woman was no longer there.

Curious and confused, the Brit ran over to where he'd seen her, only to find there was nowhere anyone could hide. He realised it could only be something supernatural.

He saw his next phantom when he lived on Lamma Island. He saw a girl at the back of the ferry - then realised she had no reflection in the window. And when the boat docked and the ferryman came to see if there were any passengers still on board, the man could see Spurrier but not the girl.

Another experience happened on a media tour to Phuket, Thailand, a month after the massive tsunami struck Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004, killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Spurrier was strolling along a deserted beach, looking for a village to find something to eat, when he saw a man strenuously swimming for shore.

"He was a European man with blond hair," he says. "I was wondering why he was in such a hurry."

History repeated itself: as the publisher looked around, trying to figure out where he had come from, the swimmer disappeared.

"He could have been a victim of the tsunami," Spurrier guesses.

While three ghost-spottings hardly make Spurrier a male Melinda Gordon - the medium in the American TV series Ghost Whisperer - the experiences have made him think more seriously about the existence of paranormal beings.

"It is a big mystery, but there have been a lot of sightings," he says. "I've always tried to be open-minded."

One thing Spurrier is sure about is that, despite what the media suggests, not all ghosts are evil. He believes some of them are stuck in this world, not knowing where they are or what they are doing, so they deserve our sympathy.

"It's like their experience had been recorded," he says, referring to the man he saw in Phuket and the potential drowning victim on the Lamma ferry.

Spurrier says he would probably try to talk to a ghost if he saw another one. But he thinks that seeing a ghost is less traumatic than when a ghost sees you.

"What if they ask questions that you don't have an answer to?" he wonders.