No this is not a haunted house, but a chapel that served at least three generations of Catholics in the town of Kuala Krai in Kelantan, East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia.
This year we spent Good Friday at this old dilapidated chapel along Jalan Geale located along the Kelantan River near the Bradley steps (also known as Tangga Krai).
The steps are a flood assessing point for the water level of the Kelantan river – especially during the monsoon season.
Kuala Krai was founded in 1909 and the development of the town was attributed to the Duff Development Corporation and also the rail services.
In the early part of the 19th century the rail line from Gemas terminated at Kuala Krai -which is how it flourished as a trading post for Hulu Kelantan.
Kuala Krai acted as a gathering point for rubber and gold trading in particular.
The produce was brought in via the Kelantan river and up Bradley steps to the trading houses along the road before being loaded into the train.
The old traditional Kampung (village) house which the chapel occupies, used to be owned by Dr Hughes who donated it to the Catholic community in Kuala Krai when he and his family returned to Australia in the late 1950s.
This upper floor of this rustic kampung house was then converted into the St Joseph’s chapel and the ground floor into the Fatima Kindergarten that served the local community including the kampung (village) folk in the area.
The chapel served Catholic families made up of plantation employees and their families, professionals and civil servants stationed in Kuala Krai and the surrounding areas.
Over the years, the Catholic community dwindled, because most of the youth moved away seeking job opportunities elsewhere.
The number of people attending mass at the chapel dropped – from about 30 families at its peak to about three families now.
Nowadays, the chapel still hosts community gatherings like week before last week’s Way of the Cross.
However, for weekly masses one has to endure a one hour drive to the Fatima Church in the state capital Kota Bharu (pix below)
The St Joseph’s chapel has undergone repairs several times over the years, particularly because it is located in a low lying flood prone area.
It was recently treated to prevent termites from attacking the wood.
The future of this chapel in a village is unclear but for now it continues to be a gathering point for what’s left of the Catholic community in Kuala Krai, which at last count was just under 10 people.
It is this small group of people who are keeping the legacy of this chapel alive and in a way thwarting what seems to be an imminent closure of this quait place of reverence – if the congregation’s numbers continue to dwindle.