TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — For those who happen to be traveling during Ghost Month (鬼月), which starts on Wednesday (Aug. 19), there are a number of do's and dont's to follow when staying in hotels to avoid uninvited ghoulish guests.
Taiwan's Ghost Month is observed in the seventh month of the lunar calendar and this year runs from Aug. 19 to Sept. 16. During this period, Taoists and Buddhists believe that the gates of hell are opened for "hungry ghosts" to roam the world of the living in search of food, money, entertainment, and possibly souls.
A "hungry ghost" is a being that has been sent to the underworld to suffer an eternal state of hunger for their misdeeds or because they were not given a proper burial. The terms "Good Brothers" (好兄弟) and "Good Sisters" (好姐妹) are considered the preferable terms to politely refer to lost souls, as opposed to "ghosts," to avoid offending them.
On Aug. 12, one week before the start of Ghost Month, well-known Taiwanese numerologist Eiffel (艾菲爾) on his Facebook page "Tarot Teacher Eiffel" (塔羅牌老師艾菲爾) posted six taboos to keep in mind to avoid random roommates when staying in hotels during this perilous period.
6. Don't take a room at the end of the hall
Hotels rarely fill up completely and when allocating rooms to guests, the staff usually starts by placing customers near the elevator lobby. The reason is to concentrate the guests closer together to expedite room service and make it more convenient to clean the room after checkout.
Relatively speaking, rooms at the end of the corridor are less popular and have a lower occupancy rate, thus yang energy (陽氣) will be insufficient, making them more prone to attracting yin spirits (陰靈). If a guest finds themself assigned to a room at the end of the hall, it is recommended that they change to a more centrally located room if circumstances permit.
5. Greet any residual residents before entering
If there is a doorbell, ring it first before entering. If there is no doorbell, knock on the outside door three times.
When entering, step in sideways to show respect for the ethereal occupants. After entering, greet any spirits present by saying "I'm sorry to interrupt, we are going to be borrowing the room for one night [or however many nights]." This will inform the Good Brothers that there will be guests that evening.
4. Turn on the lights to indicate someone has checked in
After entering the room, turn on all the lights. To let the spirts know there are new guests, flush the toilet, lift the sheets, and pat the pillows.
However, remember not to open all the closets and drawers immediately to avoiding harassing the Good Brothers and to give them a chance to adjust to the new visitors.
3. Flush the toilet before using
If there "dirty things" have been left behind from the spirit realm, flushing the toilet once before using it will wash away unworldly waste left behind by accident.
2. Do not take photos inside a room at night or cut nails
After entering the hotel room, it is especially taboo to take photos in the middle of the night, particularly with pictures hanging on the wall of the room as the background. Also, avoid taking photos in the elevator.
It is also particularly taboo to cut one's nails in the room in the middle of the night.
1. Adhere to proper etiquette before going to bed
Before going to sleep, do not turn off all the lights in the room; leave at least one on. This will leave a little bit of Yang energy to give one a sense of security.
In addition, shoes should not be neatly placed next to the bed to prevent Good Brothers from trying them on at night. It is best to place one shoe up and one down.
Another option is the place them in the shape of the Chinese character for the number "eight" (八). The number eight symbolizes the Taoist talisman the Bagua (八卦) which represents the harmony of yin and yang and wards off evil and negative energy.