This story is over 5 years old.


We Hired a Ghost Hunter to Find Out How Haunted Our New Office Really Is

We all wish we could avoid the ground floor.
Illustration by Farraz Tandjoeng

VICE Indonesia's new office is haunted.

Well, our old one was full of spirits too — at least according to some of us who have worked late nights. Those spirits had a lot of fun there I think. They liked to randomly turn the office lights off, play with our laptop keyboards. Once, a staff member who claimed to be able to see the unseen told me that there were children running around next to our oblivious selves.


We moved into a new building 100 meters away not because we're bothered by the ghosts — the majority of us weren't even aware of those spirits. As our team grew, we ran out of desks and chairs. So we thought it was best for us to move to a bigger place and start anew.

I was excited not to have to sit elbow to elbow next to my coworkers. We're each getting our own desk! Plus a rooftop! But when we moved in here, we quickly learned that we're not alone.

Some of the construction workers, who stuck around to do some final touches to the renovated building, told us that some spirits were messing with them. Then one day, our office boy, during a smoke break on the rooftop, saw a woman he didn't recognize. When he turned around for a double take, she was gone. He also told us that the automatic doors on the ground floor often open and close on their own.

Watch: Conjuring the Dead at Venezuela's Fire Ceremony

I've always been, ahem, more sensitive to these things. And I've noticed that the vibe on our ground floor is… off. It's chilly, even when the AC is turned off. And unlike the other floors, the lighting there is dim.

One day the editor-in-chief, who doesn't believe in ghosts, told me to find someone who could point out exactly where the spirits are. Seeing is believing, so I was excited when I finally got a hold of Iwan Setiawan, a 50-year-old ghost hunter who's actually pretty famous here in the ghost hunting scene in Indonesia. He's been doing this since he was 10 and has appeared in a number of ghost hunting reality TV shows (yes, we have multiple), so he must be pretty legit.


He agreed to pay our office a visit a couple of weeks ago. As soon as he entered through the front door, he smiled. I brought him to the third floor where we sat on the couch, near the area he said some of the spirits usually hang out.

"The ghosts here won't bother you, unlike the ones in the previous office," Iwan told me. "Here, they just want you to know they exist."

Next, we checked out the bathroom on the ground floor. Earlier, our own graphic designer had a curious interaction with this alleged spirit who allegedly hangs out on this floor. He had just finished washing his tumbler in the bathroom when lo and behold, the tumbler moved an inch.

Iwan said some prayers and encouraged my colleague to communicate with whoever was teasing him, but nothing happened because he was too nervous, Iwan said. To be honest, I was growing a little skeptical at this point.

"This spirit is a woman and she’s afraid of the one wearing a red t-shirt," he told me. "She wants to try to communicate.”

I looked around and realized he meant me. What does this ghost want, I wonder? Iwan asked me to close my eyes and try to visualize her, so I did. I saw a woman with long, curly hair. She's wearing a worn green and white dress. At the same time, a name I have never heard came to me.

"Are you Anna Maria?" I asked. After that, it became difficult to communicate further.

Iwan told me that Anna Maria, a woman of Dutch and Chinese descent, has been in the building for centuries. She's the dominant spirit in this office, but she's not a bad spirit. She just wants to be here. Plus, after some time, Iwan concluded that it wasn't her who teased my colleague earlier that day. It was a group of younger spirits — children who like to play with the automatic doors.


The children apparently love the fourth floor the most. It's where our video department is, and the spirits often play around with the cameras and other equipments kept in the studio. Unfortunately for them, I guess, the video team never tries to communicate with them. But it's not their fault they're too busy to play with child ghosts!

The last place Iwan checked was the fifth floor, where some construction workers said they saw weird stuff happening, like hearing the sound of the shower turned on when the bathroom hadn't been fixed yet.

"You could say that this building is a crossing path for spirits who are traveling from the north to the south, and from the east to the west," Iwan said. "This is their playground, but they won't stay."

Before he stepped out of our building for his next appointment, Iwan told me again that the spirits in our new office are chillin'. They're not here with bad intentions. This was terrific news for my colleagues though of course, some of them remain unconvinced that the spirits exist in the first place. It's possible that Iwan made everything up. But who knows?

That night after throwing up twice at my kost, I felt restless in my sleep. At 4 AM, I closed my eyes again and tried my hardest to fall asleep. That's when I saw four children asking me to play with them near the entrance to the office building. I told them, "I'm tired and sleepy. Don't ask me to play once I'm home!" They didn't respond, and I fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning, I believed that that interaction was just a dream. But when I called Iwan, he told me that it was more than that. The spirits were really trying to communicate with me. "They trust you," he said.

What he said next was more surprising to me. "I see something more in you," he said. "You're indigo. You have what it takes if you want to explore this gift further like we do, but that means you have to quit your job."

I considered this path for a while as I sat on my desk thinking about all the deadlines I have to meet and all the articles I have to pitch. Being a journalist isn't always easy, but in the end I'd rather live my life without communicating with women from the Dutch colonial era or worse, babysitting child ghosts who only want to play all day.