Kuching’s Urban Legends: Ghostly apparitions paying with leaves

Photo for illustration purposes only. Source: Pixabay

by Marlynda Meraw

KUCHING, May 3: In the hushed solemnity of funerals, amidst grief’s heavy shroud, it’s not uncommon for ghost stories to rear their spectral heads, for it is in these moments of finality that eerie tales take root and spread like wildfire.

Seated at one of the tables was a group of elderly women, with their conversation centred on memories of the recently departed.


What began as gentle reminiscing soon transformed into an interesting ghostly encounters and local lore, each woman adding her own twist to the unfolding narratives.

Among them sat Ngayak, a 67-year-old woman with a voice that carried the weight of her years as she regaled the group with a tale of apparitions known for their peculiar payment method — settling debts in the form of leaves.

“There was once a boy who travelled to various villages to sell ice-cream. He stopped by a village and there were a lot of children who came to him, excited to buy it (ice-cream). The boy, of course, was happy; it was a chance to earn a lot of money.

“He went to the next village once he was done. The next village, too, wanted to buy some ice-cream. When it came to returning the change, that’s when the boy realised what he received as money from the village earlier had turned into leaves,” said Ngayak with a mischievous smile.

Seeing his predicament, the villagers where the boy currently was asked him which village he went to, and when the boy answered that he was over a nearby village, the chief then asked a bone-chilling question, “What village?”

To their knowledge, no village existed where the boy had been — just stretches of empty, thick forests.

According to Ngayak, the boy later learned that he had apparently encountered apparitions, perhaps even stumbling upon a village of ‘orang bunian’ (elves).

The rest of the elderly women hummed in agreement—some added that they too, have heard of the stories of ghosts leaving behind foliage as payment.

What about you? Have you heard of such tales, or even receive payments in leaves? Interested in other urban legends? Check out the story of the infamous red-robed ghost of Janet here. — DayakDaily