Information about the Informant
My informant is a freelance editor and translator living in Taiwan. She was born in Taiwan and has lived there essentially her whole life, except for a few years in America. She told me about a ghost story that she heard from one of her college classmates that he actually supposedly experienced.
“The first one is our class—my undergraduate classmate told me this. He’s one of those—he belonged to a club for…for—mountain climbing kind of stuff—a hiking club. So, they went to the tallest mountain in Taiwan—that mountain’s called Yu Mountain. ‘Yu’ is for like ‘jade.’ Jade Mountain. Although if you just pronounce it, it’s just Yu Mountain.’ So they went to the place that was just…just very remote, with no one around. So they—some people would build little huts for their—so that they could all be together. Sleeping. So they were all sleeping at night. Then—because Yu Mountain counts as a…um…a—lots of people who go there to climb have accidents, that kind of mountain, so there are a lot of ghost stories. So their…their hut, so people say, used to be some people—because Taiwan during springtime sometimes has times when it suddenly gets really cold, and it seems some people don’t bring enough clothes there, so they froze to death. So…so…that hut people said was haunted.
So my classmate, his team had a total of about twenty people. Both guys and girls. He said at night, he’d been sleeping till late at night, he…he…maybe it was early morning or midnight, he felt that there was a girl trying to wake him up. Telling him, ‘I’m cold.’ She borrowed from him a pair of socks. And so he just kept sleeping like that, half-awake, walked over to his sack, and got a pair of socks for that girl, and that, dong, fell asleep again. And then—and then, the next morning he woke up, he suddenly remembered this event, and so…and so he began to ask all the girls on the team, ‘Last night, did one of you come and borrow a pair of socks from me?’ Everyone denied it. So he went to look at his socks and, sure enough, he was missing a pair. And so…so they began to be very scared. And everyone went to check their pairs of socks—everyone went to check if they had—who had slept—because, you know, when you get tired on high mountains—to see if one of them had in a drunken-like state stolen his pair of socks. Everyone—no one’s socks had his—his pair of socks. No one’s sack had his pair of socks.
[laughs] They were so scared that they hurriedly packed up and quickly ran away from that part! And when he got back, he told us this ghost story.”
This is an interesting piece for me as the story strongly resembles a variant of the Western “Vanishing Hitchhiker story. In the Western version, a driver picks up a hitchhiker and, because it is cold, the hitchhiker borrows a piece of clothing, usually a jacket or a coat, from the driver. The driver drops the hitchhiker off at his or her destination, which is usually a cemetery. One way or another, the driver will meet with someone who knew the hitchhiker after this incident and the person will reveal that the hitchhiker has been dead for years. In the variant that this account by my informant reminds me of, the driver then goes to the cemetery and finds the gravestone bearing the name of the hitchhiker, with the borrowed piece of clothing draped over it. I was surprised that, in this case that my informant told me about, there was no ending where the borrowed socks made a reappearance in a cemetery or some area associated with the deceased, but then as the ending of this purportedly real experience had all those involved run away in fear, that would not have been possible if they never returned to the site. It is interesting the resemblance this bears to the Western hitchhiker story though, so much so that I am almost inclined to suspect some tampering, either someone setting up the situation deliberately such that it was similar or some changing of details after the fact. But if true, then this would be a strong case of a memorate, where someone’s actual experience becomes part of an established folkloric culture.
For more about “The Vanishing Hitchhiker,” visit:
Brunvand, Jan Harold. “The Vanishing Hitchhiker.” Uploader. Bernd Weschner. 1981. <http://bernd.wechner.info/Hitchhiking/vanish.html>.
“第一個是我們班上—我 undergraduate 的那個同學講的. 他是那種—就是belong一個 club 就是那種…那個—就是 mountain climbing 的那種—hiking 的 club，那個人就去爬我們台灣的山，那是台灣最高的山，叫玉山，玉就是jade那個玉，就是jade mountain，如果是for pronunciation，就是yu。然後他們就去climb that mountain，那個地方很remote，都沒有人。所以有一些人就會蓋一些little hut，讓大家可以擠在一起睡覺，晚上睡覺用的。因為玉山算是很那個─for 那些去climb的人，很容易有accident的山，所以玉山有很多鬼故事。然後他們那個hut，聽說，就是說，以前人家都說在那個hut有人就是在那種，因為Taiwan在那種spring time的時候，會突然變很冷，如果有人帶衣服不夠多去，就冷死了，然後人家就說那個hut是haunted。然後我那個同學他們那個team總共有二十幾個人，有男生有女生。他就說晚上睡覺的時候，很晚的時候，可能是early morning 或midnight，他覺得有一個女生在wake 他up，跟他講說「我會冷」，要跟他借a pair of 厚socks，他就這樣 [imitates half-asleep behavior] awaken，去他的sack拿a pair of socks 給那個女生，最後又 “dong” 睡覺下去了。然後第二天起來的時候，他就突然想到這件事情，然後他就開始問他們整個team的女生說：「你們昨天有沒有來跟我借a pair of 厚 socks？」每一個人都denied。然後他就去看他的socks，裡面真的少了a pair of socks。所以他們就開始很害怕，他們每一個人都去check他們的socks，每個人都去check，去看是不是說誰是，你知道那種climb mountain，都是很累，都是那種，偷偷的像那種jerk那樣去偷了他的socks。沒有人的sacks裡面有他的a pair of socks。所以他們趕快背了背包，就趕快跑。[laughs] 因為他們說太可怕了。然後回來他就講給我們聽這個鬼故事。”