I am being stalked. In a good way. Kind of. Let me explain.
Several years ago, when I was about 10, my best friend introduced me to one of the greatest films of all time – Mr Vampire.
Mr Vampire Theatrical poster.
Made in Hong Kong in 1985, Mr Vampire has everything – horror, comedy, action, romance. An instant classic, the film also boasts top-notch special effects and a high quality, iconic soundtrack.
Mr Vampire also features…(pause for effect) the Jiangshi!
The Jiangshi is a vampire/zombie type creature in Chinese folklore - it’s a reanimated corpse, it feeds off the living, it moves around at night. By hopping. Seriously.
Since moving to south east Asia, I have had various encounters with the Jiangshi which makes me think I am being stalked by these hopping ghouls. I have recounted the Jiangshi sightings below. Judge for yourself:
Stalk 1: Randomly Rural Jiangshi
The first Jiangshi appearance happened when I was on my first work field trip in Kampong Chhnang province of Cambodia. I was riding on the back of my colleague’s motorbike, headed to a village a few hours way to conduct a community screening for Tuberculosis. We stopped for breakfast at a small strip of roadside shops - I had no idea where we were, but tractors were rolling by, half-feathered chickens were roaming around and in the distance I could see a satellite dish attached to a tree. As I was enjoying my breakfast of chicken and rice, I heard a familiar sound coming from the TV behind me…Mr Vampire was playing!
I’m not sure what are the odds are of seeing your favourite 1985 Hong Kong Zombie movie playing in rural Cambodia, but my guess is it’s quite small…and what makes it even weirder is that just as I was leaving, the movie cut out and the screen went to what seemed like a Cambodian version of 'no signal' – so it was only playing when I was there…Coincidence, I think not!
Stalk 2: Golden Jiangshi in Bangkok
The second unexpected Jiangshi stalk incident came up on a brief trip to Thailand when I was loitering around a giant shopping mall. I was waiting for my next tour to start…then I saw them. Tiny golden Jiangshi toys. My reaction was slightly embarrassing…I audibly gasped and blew my budget buying all four available versions of the little guys. Totally worth it. Here they are at my old house in Kampong Chhnang, hanging out with my bunnies (Snuff and Butter) and a weird Ultraman figure I also bought in Thailand. I also made some stop action films using a spirit house as a move set:
Zombies vs Bunnies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4u6npOqUU4
The Hungriest Zombie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OO15SKUmuU
Stalk 3: Colourful Jiangshi in Singapore
Just when you thought finding Golden Jiangshi in Bangkok were a surprise, a few months later I encountered coloured versions of Jiangshi in Singapore! These guys were in a toy museum (they were for sale, I did not heist them), but again they caused me to audibly gasp and blow budget. Here they are in original packaging before I opened them:
Now they all now live happily together with their golden brothers in my new apartment in Phnom Penh:
We are Jiangshi! We are available in many shapes, sizes and colours! Jiangshi unite!
Stalk 4: Halloween Horror Nights Universal Studios Singapore
The final Jiangshi sighting (so far) happened during Cambodia’s week-long public holiday to commemorate Pchum Ben (a festival to honour one’s ancestors). So naturally, I headed to Singapore so I could check out Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights!
Halloween Horror Nights is an annual event when Universal Studios turns the park into a massive Halloween fest. There were four differently themed haunted houses and three scare zones. One such scare zone was called ‘Hungry Ghosts’ and featured various freaky creatures from Chinese folklore, including – you guessed it – the Jiangshi!
Again, I got a little too excited and made an audible gasp when I saw him. I also may have followed him around for a bit when he was trying to scare the other guests.
A few random things you may notice about this full size Jiangshi (according to Wikipedia):
- His stylish pyjamas: These aren’t really pyjamas, but they are official garments from the Qing Dynasty
- His skin: Some Jiangshi have greenish-white skin, this is thought to be representative of fungus or mould growing on the corpse.
- His outstretched hands: The Chinese character for ‘jiang’ means ‘hard’ or ‘stiff’. This stiffness means the Jiangshi cannot bend it’s limbs or body, so as I mentioned above, it hops around and uses the outstretched arms for mobility #themoreyouknow
So there you have it friends…four supposedly ‘random’ Jiangshi encounters in 6 months!
Are the Jiangshi stalking me? Or have I turned the tables and started stalking them? Only time will tell…
Rise against the Risen!