From my connecting flight mishap to the freakiest place on earth – my blog is getting creepier by the minute.
I mention this place, however, for a reason. The recent horror film “GONJIAM: Haunted Asylum” is showing in theatres right now and received huge commercial success. The film came first at the domestic box office since March, and I have seen it last week. I have to say the film is a classic horror film (there was no surprise), but still, I enjoyed the chilling atmosphere that the director created based on a real haunted place in Gonjiam, Korea. I told my friends in Korea that I was quite surprised that I have been to Gonjiam a few times (but not the haunted house), yet they have never told me about this place. When they heard, they told me that the house was well-known. The film became a hit because the storyline was based on an actual abandoned psychiatric hospital, and it was named the “freakiest places around the world” by CNN travel in 2012. The 7 freakiest places (cited CNN, authentically and unintentionally weird, macabre, and mysterious), in order, are:
- Chernobyl Amusement Park, Ukraine
- Sedlec Ossuary (Bone Church), Czech Republic
- Aokigahara Forest, Mount Fuji
- Akodessewa Fetish Market, Lome, Togo
- La Isla de las Muñecas (Island of the “Dolls), Mexico
- Gunkanjima (Battleship Island), Nagasaki, Japan
- Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital, Gyeonggi, Korea
The beautiful Gonjiam resort and foliage
While you might want to visit these freaky sites. Technically, only the Bone Church in Czech is located in a town and actually “tourist-friendly”. While Akodessewa Fetish Market is open, Togo may be quite difficult to get to. Somehow, I have been to one of the sites myself, and it is named the second place on the list, the Gunkanjima (Battleship Island).
I wanted to visit Gunkanjima because I have heard about this abandoned island from the Internet. I didn’t know that it was named one of the freakiest places by CNN back then. In fact, the island was one of the shooting locations of the movie “Skyfall” in 2012 (The movie was shot in Glencoe as well, check out: The Unique Existence of Highlands).
Gunkanjima (meaning “Battleship Island” as the island resembles a warship), also known as Hashima, is a 60,000-square-meter cluster of concrete ruins in the sea of Nagasaki, Japan. In the 1950s it was the bustling home of 6,000 coal mine workers, and the island has been abandoned since 1974 when the coal mines shut down. Hashima was entirely closed off until 2009, travelers are allowed to visit now with a boat tour in Nagasaki. The site also became a UNESCO heritage site in 2015, too!
I guess the island was named a freaky place because of its isolation and tragic history: The coal mine workers were enslaved and tortured when the island was operating, many of them died on the island and the Korean called it “prison island” in the past.
We joined the Black Diamond tour when we were in Nagasaki. The tour was about 3 hours that includes Hashima, and Takashima. We checked in at the reception at 2pm at the pier and we headed to the Coal Museum and Statue of Yataro Iwasaki on Takashima before we went further to Hashima.
Before we landed, we had a good look at the island from the sea – and I could already feel the “sinister” vibe with deserted islands. The island was fully developed at one point and now there is nothing but rubbles. The island has a designated route and the guide walked us through the route, filled with history and stories, in about 50-minutes.
It was a unique experience, as I have never been to such freaky places in the past. The bost trip was fun and overall I had a good experience with the company, although I wish we could spend a little bit more time on the island as I thought the itinerary was a bit rush. 🙂