The Taipei-Yilan Highway has been voted Taiwan’s most-haunted site in an online survey of the nation’s top 10 haunted places conducted by Internet portal Yam.com.
The winding mountain road, which runs from New Taipei City’s Xindian District (新店) to Yilan County — also known as Provincial Highway No. 9 — has many hairpin turns. It has been dubbed the “Highway of Death,” because of the many fatal accidents that have happened on it. In recent years, traffic on the road has declined considerably with the opening of the Hsuehshan Tunnel and the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (Freeway No. 5) in June 2006.
Some motorists have reported seeing ghostly apparitions, human-like figures shrouded in white floating through the air, while driving the mountainous area.
Drivers have been warned against speaking to or picking up female hitchhikers at night on the road, as there are a number of tales about such incidents having scary endings.
Yilan County Councilor Tsai Wen-yi (蔡文益) said the Taipei-Yilan Highway has seen reduced traffic and fewer accidents since the Hsuehshan Tunnel began operating in 2006.
“A program was implemented to widen the road and it was made more beautiful with landscaping works. Thus it is now more suited for leisure and tourism. The ghost stories are from the past and have no connection to the road’s new look,” Tsai said.
No. 2 on the online poll is Greater Taichung’s Port Road, the site of the Wellcome Restaurant blaze in 1995 that resulted in 64 deaths. It is the worst fire disaster in the nation’s history.
Locals claim to have seen a “ghost ship” appearing over the site late at night, with anecdotes saying the phantom ship will only set sail after it has gathered 100 souls.
Though two decades have passed, some locals say they are still scared when the restaurant and the fire are mentioned.
Greater Taichung City Councilor Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) said the location was once a lively business section in the city, “but since the fire, the area has declined considerably.”
“We would like to revitalize the neighborhood,” Huang said.
It has been two decades since the fire and most people have forgotten about it, unless they are old residents in the area, he added.
Huang said the area has the just-launched Taichung rapid bus route passing through it with a stop nearby, as well as new hotels and stores opening, and the locals are happy to see signs of rejuvenation.
“Things are coming back to life, but now that it has come up in this list of haunted places. People in the area feel frustrated,” he said.
Taipei’s Xinhai Tunnel is No. 3 on the list. The location is a rich source of ghost stories, with scary experiences claimed by motorists passing through it late at night. The tunnel passes under an old graveyard, and the Taipei Municipal Second Funeral Parlor is at the Taipei-side entrance.
Other places on the list include Dayuan Township (大園) in Taoyuan County (the site of crash of China Airlines Flight 676 in 1998), Ita-Thao Harbor at Sun Moon Lake, an abandoned hospital in Greater Tainan, Daren Hall at the Chinese Culture University, a house in Chiayi County’s Mingsyong Township (民雄) that is said to be haunted, Taipei’s Sining Public Housing Apartments and Meichi Night Club in Keelung, which is said to be haunted.
Yam.com said the online poll took place between July 11 and Friday, and received 40,000 votes.
The seventh month of the lunar calendar is traditionally known as Ghost Month, and it began yesterday.
Taiwanese traditionally believe that during Ghost Month, the door to the underworld opens so that the spirits of the dead can come back to the world and partake of food offerings prepared by family members.
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