Entering the ‘haunted house’ in Little Saigon for the first time

Ngoc Lan enters the "haunted house." (Photo: Dan Huynh/Nguoi-Viet)

Ngọc Lan & Ðằng Giao/Người Việt

Translation: Titi Mary Tran

Editor’s note: Nguoi Viet News reporters Ngoc Lan and Đằng Giao set out to answer the questions regarding the property, and the house, at the corner of Euclid Street and Hazard Avenue in Santa Ana, Calif. Is it really haunted? What are the creepy apparitions? This Halloween season, they tell their story over six days. Today: Part 4.

SANTA ANA, Calif. – Ngoc Lan was consumed by a headache on the August day she first stepped into the front yard of the “haunted house” in Little Saigon.

It was one of the hottest days of the month, and Đằng Giao said he didn’t feel “lucky” that day, so the two reporters decided to return at another time.

Arriving in the newsroom, Ngoc sent the address of the second house that shares the piece of land with “the haunted house” to a real estate friend to look up its history.

Less than 15 minutes later, Ngoc had the information she wanted.

The second house has Hazard Avenue as a street address; the haunted house has Euclid Street. In May 2002, Dr. Pung Navann and his wife, Julie Pung, sold this land to Access Vina. Inc for $265,000.

After that, the land was divided into Lot 1 and Lot 2. The “haunted house” was built on Lot 2 in 2005.

The previous year, in January, Access Vina Inc. sold the land for $250,000. In October 2004, the house construction on Lot 1 started. It is believed the couple who bought the lot and built the home still live there.

Returning to the two houses on the old land – Ngoc

It was past 7 p.m. on Aug. 15 when I finished all of my work in the newsroom and was done looking at all the paperwork about the haunted house. My headache was gone; the sun had not set. I thought, “Why don’t I ask Đằng to return to the neighbors’ (house)?; they might be home from their work now.”

Đằng agreed, and we parked on North Hurley Street. However, instead of stopping at the neighbors’ house, as we had intended, we saw a car parked in front of the “haunted house,” and a young man walked out of the house and got into his car.

“Hey, there’s someone; run over and ask him questions first,” I urged Đằng, who walked in front of me.

By the time I reached that person, Đằng already had his head by the man’s car window. I arrived just in time to hear, “You live here?”

The young man nodded his head in agreement.

We continued: “We’re from the Nguoi Viet Daily News.” The young man smiled and said, “I already know why you have come here.”

“We wanted to find out the truth,” we said. “We’re really happy to see you here. I know the owner of this house is … Nguyễn. That person is …”

“It’s me,” the man answered.

Ngoc Lan interviewed the current owner of the house. (Photo: Dan Huynh/Nguoi-Viet)

Ngọc prepared to step inside the “haunted house,” and my eyes opened wide with surprise.

“Oh my, I thought (the owner was) your dad. This morning when I drove by, I saw a man sweeping the front yard. Can I chat with you? Are you on your way somewhere?”

The young man was well-mannered. “I was just going to get some dinner,” he said.

Then he stepped out of this car and told a boy sitting in his car, “Wait for me a bit.”

I asked Nguyễn the reason he bought the house, and he said he initially wasn’t aware of the rumors of it being haunted.

Very courteously, he said, “I’m not from around here. When I was looking for houses to buy, I really liked this one when I saw it. It’s so beautiful. And the price was very cheap. Not until I came home and searched on the internet did I learn the house is famous.”

Nguyễn continued: “At first I was curious, but to say I don’t believe it is not true. But I told myself that I have not done anything wrong, so there is nothing to be afraid of. People who have something to hide, they would be afraid. So I decided to participate in the auction, and I got it.”

According to Nguyễn, the original auction price was $598,000.

“A lot of people came to the auction day. Finally, I bid on $700,000 and I got it,” he said.

“Have you moved in?” I asked.

Nguyễn smiled and said: “I’ve been living here for two weeks already.”

I asked an odd question, but I had to: “Have you seen anything?”

“No, ma’am. Do you see that I’m healthy; do I have something?” the owner jokingly answered.

Then I said: “Can I have a look at the house?”

“Of course,” Nguyễn said without hesitation.

I turned toward Đằng, who was standing nearby with a victorious look in his eyes.

Đằng steps into the famous house for the first time

While Ngọc was talking with the owner non-stop, I was still quietly praying for Nguyễn to tell us to get out. I couldn’t believe he happily allowed her to enter the house.

I didn’t know if Ngoc felt anything; I only saw her talking, walking and looking around, happily.

But as for me … Just as I stepped inside the house, I got goosebumps, and chills came all over my body.

I asked Nguyễn immediately, “Have you prayed or made any tributes to the ancestors since you’ve gotten here?”

Nguyễn was honest: “Some people advised me to do that, but I don’t know much about it nor how.”

An upstairs corner of the “Haunted house.” (Photo: Dan Huynh/Nguoi-Viet)


Nguyễn was quite hospitable while taking us around the house.

“See, now you understand why I like this house from the very beginning. So spacious and comfortable,” he said. “Four bedrooms, five baths.”

And 2,506 square feet.

“Kitchen, heater, I like everything,” Nguyễn said. “You can see, no way one can buy a nice house like this for $700,000 around here.”

The house was a little messy, but in general, it was nothing like the rumors had suggested. But let me say this: I believe in ghosts. I believe the world of the living and the world of the dead exist in parallel, and I have a “blessing” to feel the invisible world very clearly.

Looking at the fireplace in another room, my eyes blurred and I felt hot flashes and had difficulty breathing. Slowly stepping backward, I heard Ngoc remind me to take pictures, an automatic thing for any reporter. My ears were ringing; everything around me sounded as if it were from a faraway place.

Nguyễn then invited us upstairs to see the master bedroom. Looking at the closet, the mirror and the window with open curtains, I felt a white pair of eyes staring at us.

I remembered Nguyễn mentioning he wanted to go to the city to ask about the history of this house, to see if someone had died here or if any murder had occurred in the house or on the land the house was built on.

“(Our newspaper) also was intending to go to the Santa Ana Police Department to ask about that. Once we have the result, we’ll let you know too,” Ngoc said.

Every corner of the house became deep and distant, preparing to swallow me. It was just my thought, and I didn’t say a word.

On the way downstairs, I held tightly to the wooden stair panel, fearing evil spirits could push me down the stairs if they wanted to.

The stairs, why were they so long?

Ngọc: ‘I don’t see anything strange’

I am afraid of ghosts, though I have never seen one. Since the day I started to report on this house, I have wondered whether we would bother the owner, and if those weird, horrifying ghost stories had made me change my habits and go to sleep early instead of late as usual.

But I entered the “haunted house” in a very calm — even strangely happy — manner.

I tried to step into the fireplace room because many people who saw pictures taken inside the house when it was listed said the fireplace looked more like an altar than a normal fireplace. So I looked straight at the firepit to see if something “abnormal” came to me. A pair of eyes? A white face? A waving hand?

But nothing. No feeling. The only thing I noticed was that the corners of the fireplace were made with wood and engraved with flowery arts. That’s it.

The fireplace that many people says it looks like an altar. (Photo: Dan Huynh/Nguoi-Viet)

Overhearing Đằng ask Nguyễn about the altar, I added: “Why don’t you ask your parents to show you?”

“Maybe I’ll talk to my dad but not my mom because it would worry her,” Nguyễn replied.

I continued, “So does anyone in your family know the rumors about this house?”

“No one knows yet,” Nguyễn said, adding: “Let me take you to all of the rooms — upstairs, too. I have to say this house is very, very beautiful.”

Đằng asked, “Upstairs? Take off the shoes?”

I looked at Đằng without knowing he was filled with fear, then said: “You want to damage their carpet?”

On our tour upstairs, Đằng suddenly said, “You know, I was hesitant when I saw your car because Ngoc said she saw an elderly man in the morning, and now you’re so young.”

It turns out that an elderly couple lives in the house with Nguyễn and his brother.

Then, saying goodbye, I added, “Have you met the next-door neighbor?”

“Oh, yes, they are very nice; they invited us to come over for dinner this weekend,” Nguyễn said.

Next: Part 5

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