If you have been following me for a while now, you already know that I travel solo, and, in this post, I want to share my scariest, paranormal, so to speak, solo travel experience.
I visited Tacloban to feature the city for my travel blog in 2018. While my experience visiting attractions was great, the accommodation I booked was a different story. At first, I thought it was a great find because this room, which I booked online, was pretty decent yet affordable – less than 1,000 pesos a night. I hadn’t considered its location, though I was aware it was near the Robinsons Mall. It was a few kilometers from the airport as well.
At that time, accommodations online usually showed the interior but not the exterior. You would also be clueless about what the surrounding places were like. Or where these accommodations were located (and maps online were not up-to-date).
My accommodation, while still inside the city, I found out later, was atop an old car repair shop located on the outskirts of a subdivision, next to a grassland – from the glass window, I could see nothing but grassland, which was completely dark in the night (seemed no lamp posts nearby; though the afternoon before, I could catch glimpses of some people below from my window).
So, let’s talk more about the accommodation.
To get into my room, I needed to pass through a small pathway inside the car repair shop, which was empty (no one was there). Maybe because the workers’ day’s job had ended, and I arrived there late afternoon. Then, I had to climb up a narrow spiral staircase before landing in the hallway on the second floor (the caretaker guided me to get there; he was a neighbor of the owner with whom I only communicated online).
After getting my keys and some instructions from the caretaker, I was left alone in the room to settle down. It was then that I realized I was scared, feeling an eerie presence. I also noticed that I was the only guest that day; the deafening silence in the hallway brought about an uneasy feeling, which was a first in my entire travel experience.
Checking the rooms
After settling down, I checked out the entire second floor, which had multiple rooms, to confirm my suspicion. I did not miss checking all of the rooms because they were left ajar (others were left wide open). No other guests were there, indeed. What I saw in the other rooms were cobwebs and mattresses left unattended – pillows were also not in their proper places (some were on the floor), and it seemed they had not used them for quite some time. Again, cobwebs were everywhere. The only clean room was the one I occupied. After checking them, I returned to my room, realizing I was staying in an unusual accommodation.
I had plenty of time to get through the night. I had nothing to do but stay in my room. I considered going outside and roaming around, but I chose not to because the place was not familiar to me, and accessing my accommodation would mean I had to do what I did – I had to pass through the car repair shop and climb up the narrow spiral staircase again, so I decided to stay in my room.
At around 8 PM, I decided to switch on all the lights in the hallway to alleviate the eerie atmosphere I felt. Then, I went to my bed to sleep. Around 10 PM, I woke up to go to the bathroom and realized, once again, that I was alone in a strange place. Outside my room, I immediately noticed that the lights in the hallway were off. It was completely dark. Someone must have turned them off.
When I got to my room, I planned to stay awake until morning – just sitting on my bed. But because I was so tired, I eventually fell asleep – until something woke me up.
Dreaming of loud banging on my door
I realized I just managed to sleep for about an hour because at around 11 PM, a seemingly loud banging on the door woke me up – actually, I did not know whether the banging was real or was just a dream – so I got up and opened it. But no one was outside the door, and the hallway was pitch black again. Somebody must have switched off the lights again -maybe the caretaker neighbor went up to do it again.
I closed the door and returned to sitting on my bed. Because I felt a strange atmosphere, I picked up the menu pamphlet from the table; I decided to order something to eat, hoping to see a person and have a brief conversation with. However, the person on the other end informed me that food was unavailable because it was already late at night. So, I decided to order some drinks instead. My order took a while, and I grew impatient, so I checked on it. When I opened the door, the person who brought my drinks was there already, standing in the dark before me – he startled me! He mentioned that he had just arrived. I nodded in response, although I was hoping he could stay longer, providing some company.
I was determined not to fall asleep. It was already a quarter past midnight, and I remained sitting on my bed, struggling to ward off sleepiness. However, sleep overcame me until around 2 AM.
At around 2 AM, I was having a nightmare. A horrific dream woke me up. I dreamt of a black shadowy figure with long, scary hands getting inside through an open windowpane. I got up so scared, staring at the window part that appeared in my dream. To my surprise, two windowpanes were left open (the size was enough for a person to get through). I immediately shut them closed (and I could still see the dark grassland through the window as I locked them; I suddenly realized it resembled the mass grave of the Yolanda victims, which I had visited several days before.)
After closing the window, I sat still on my bed, with my back against the wall. I squeezed my hair multiple times to fight the sleepiness but fell asleep again. I fell asleep again only to wake up from a nightmare – the same dream, still the black shadowy figure creeping toward my bed. I was already praying again, asking why I was having such nightmares. After that, I put all my belongings – bags, clothes, etc. – on the other side of my bed. I remembered what some people had to say to me – that if I had to sleep in a double-sized bed that was not my own, I should fill the unoccupied space with my belongings so no one would occupy it, beside me.
I stayed awake for about 30 minutes, praying, hoping that early morning would come so soon. After that, just like before, I fell asleep and had nightmares again. I could not move, but I could sense I was dreaming. When I woke up, I was happy because (I thought) new guests had arrived; I heard a loud conversation in the hallway. I listened to a kid playing/dribbling a ball in the hallway, with both the mother and father scolding him because, as they said, “There’s a guest in the room; you are disturbing him.” But when I opened the door, the hallway was still dark and quiet, and there were no traces of people.
I went to my bed again after that and fell asleep. And guess what? I woke up again from the same nightmare. It was a repetitive dream – still the parents in the hallway scolding their kid who was dribbling a ball, throwing it on the wall.
I did not go back to bed after that. Instead, I went to the coffee table, sat on a chair, squeezed my hair multiple times, and drank bottled water. I stayed there, praying I would not fall asleep again. After about an hour, I noticed the wall clock read 4:30 AM. It was soon going to be early morning. When I finally saw the break of dawn through the window, I decided to get some sleep.
The morning after
The noise from outside woke me up at around a quarter past 7 AM. I managed to catch about 2 hours of sleep – nightmare-free.
I took a bath after that, packed up my things, and, after a little while, left the keys on the coffee table. I headed out immediately.
Outside, I realized that was the longest night I ever had – not to mention the scariest one in my travels.
I would never book such accommodation again.