Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Friday, June 24, 2022

The haunted forest

Thanks to a loyal reader of Skeptophilia, I now have a new travel destination to add to my list.

Like I need one.  I'm always saying things to my wife like, "Honey, can we set aside a little money from each paycheck?  I'd like to go to Madagascar."  Fortunately, having a wife who is amazingly tolerant of my various eccentricities, I've gotten to fulfill a lot of this wanderlust, and have been to places as exotic as Iceland, Malaysia, Trinidad, Ecuador, and Estonia.

But not Madagascar yet.  I'm working on it.

And neither have I visited Romania, home to the vacation site suggestion I received a couple of days ago.  Romania is, of course, the site of Transylvania, of Dracula fame, but is also where you can visit a place called the Hoia-Baciu Forest, which sounds like a must-see.

It's in northwest-central Romania, and was set aside some years ago for recreation and outdoor activities. There are biking and hiking trails, a rugged and beautiful valley called Cheile Baciului where there are picturesque rock formations and a lake for swimming and canoeing, and tracts set aside for paintball games and archery.  The whole thing sounds awesome, and even more so when you find out that Hoia Baciu Forest is...

... haunted.

And not just by ghosts.  This place is home to every paranormal phenomenon you can think of.  There have been UFO sightings, mysterious disappearances, orb-like apparitions, disembodied voices, visitors experiencing time slips... you name it.  It sounds like your one-stop shop for woo-woo-ism of all brands.

Hoia-Baciu Forest and the town of Grigorescu, Romania [Image is in the Public Domain]

According to the tourism promotional site I linked above:
The Hoia-Baciu Forest (World’s Most Haunted Forest) is situated near Cluj-Napoca, Romania covers an area of ​​over 250 hectares and is often referred to as the Bermuda Triangle of the country.  Hoia-Baciu Forest (World's Most Haunted Forest) has a reputation for intense paranormal activity and unexplained events.  Reports have included, ghost sightings, unexplained apparitions, faces appearing in photographs that were not visible with the naked eye, and in the 1970s, UFO sightings were reported.
Visitors to the forest often report intense feelings of anxiety and the feeling of being constantly watched.  Moreover, the local vegetation is somehow bizarre in appearance, like something out of a make-believe story with strangely shaped trees, and unexplained charring on tree stumps and branches...  Many of the locals who have been brave enough to venture into the forest complained of physical harm, including rashes, nausea, vomiting, migraines, burns, scratches, anxiety, and other unusual sensations.
Yes!  Unexplained intense anxiety, vomiting, and migraines!  That's what I want in a vacation spot!

But the weirdness doesn't end there:
Some people believe that the forest is a gateway to another dimension.  Within the dark interior of Hoia-Baciu Forest (World’s Most Haunted Forest), people have been known to disappear, strange lights have been seen, the wind seems to speak.  Several stories tell of people entering the forest and experiencing missing time.  Some have known to be missing for quite some time with no recollection of how they had spent that time.  One such story focuses on a 5-year-old girl who wandered into the woods and got lost.  The story goes that she emerged from the forest 5 years later, wearing the same untarnished clothes that she wore on the day she disappeared with no memory of where had happened in that interval of time.
And worse still, through all of this you might get laughed at by invisible women:
People also report hearing disembodied female voices breaking the heavy silence, giggling and even apparitions,  There are many cases of people reportedly being scratched.  All these things happen with no reasonable explanation.
Well, all I can say is these people really need some advice about how to write a travel website.  For one thing, you don't need to tell us every single time that it's the "World's Most Haunted Forest."  We remember, okay?  Also, you might dream up a better sales pitch than, "Please come visit us!  We have archery, paintball, hiking, and disembodied female voices making fun of you!  Spend your days swimming and cycling, when you're not puking!  Try not to disappear for five years!"

Of course, maybe they have the right idea.  Paranormal travel is becoming quite a thing, and I'll bet people go there solely to experience all of the aforementioned attractions.  I have to admit that if I go to Romania, I'm going to make a point of visiting Hoia-Baciu Forest (World's Most Haunted Forest), if for no other reason, to see what all the buzz is about.  I'm still struggling with my disappointment over not getting to visit the ruins of Borley Rectory when I was in England, so I wouldn't want to miss this one.  I'll just make sure to bring along my migraine meds.

So, many thanks to the loyal reader who sent me the link about Hoia-Baciu Forest (World's Most Haunted Forest).  It's now on my list.  Right behind Madagascar.  I'll see what Carol has to say about setting aside a little more money in our travel fund.


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