Abandoned, dilapidated, wasted. This is the common state of hundreds of villas in Vietnam's famous hill resort Da Lat.
Locals say another thing that is common about these stately buildings in the capital city of the Central Highlands Province of Lam Dong is that they are haunted.
The villa on the Prenn pass in the city’s ward 3 is one of these.
Built in the 1920s, the “haunted villa," as locals call it, has stood neglected for years, and stories abound about many mysterious happenings around it.
It is said that the place is haunted by ghosts of a young woman whose body was thrown into the well in the villa after she was raped and killed, of another young woman who was strangled to death here, as also two children who were killed there.
It is said that late in the night, a girl appears on the villa, asking for a ride, but when the car stops, she just disappears. Such stories have most drivers scared about driving through that section at night.
From outside the gate, the building seems intact, but inside, it has ben severely damaged.
Most of its doors and windows are gone, the outside walls are all covered with moss while the inside walls carry miscellaneous drawings and writings.
Its reputation has actually attracted many visitors to the vill. Some places in the villa have been turned into altars where flowers and incense are offered. Similar offerings can be seen at a shrine about 10 meters from the villa.
In July 2010, the city authorities were informed about the sudden appearance of three new graves right next to the villa.
Two months later, excavations showed the graves were fake, authorities said.
They said the person who was in charge of protecting the villa then had admitted to putting up the graves himself so passersby would leave money there as offerings to the dead.
Duong Hai Long, a Ward 3 official, said there was no one taking care of the villa now.
There was a time when it had been given to some investor to develop the place for tourists, but it has been taken back, he said, without giving further details.
In response to a query from Thanh Nien about awarding a license to manage the villa as part of efforts to develop tourism in the city, Nguyen Van Huong, director of the Lam Dong Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said he has not thought of it yet, but will consider it later.
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