In the West Lake region is the Desheng nunnery. Stacked high outside the back door of the nunnery are hundreds of coffins. I stayed there for a while on my travels and when I asked a nun if they had ever been troubled by ghosts, she said, "No, it's peaceful here because all the ghosts in this area are quite wealthy."
I was rather puzzled by this reply and asked, "There can't possibly be so many rich people in this region. How can you have such rich ghosts when there aren't so many rich people? Besides, these coffins are just stacked here, still unburied, so they can't possibly be from rich families."
The nun replied, "When I said they were rich I didn't mean that they were rich when they were alive. They are rich ghosts because they have plenty of offerings and ghost money burned for them now that they are dead.
"It is true that we have over a thousand coffins stored here unburied, but we nuns are vigilant about observing the correct rituals and making generous offerings all year round.
"We have a huge ceremony on the fifteenth of July for Ghost Festival day. Thousands and thousands in ghost money are burned on that one day. We also make sure there is plenty of food and drink available, because if the ghosts are well fed they have no reason to harbor resentment against anyone.
"You must have noticed, sir, that whenever there is crime--cheating or robbery, for instance--there is hunger. Have you also not observed that sick people often see ghosts and describe them as being well dressed and well fed? The ghosts that haunt people are the povertystricken ones with disheveled hair, rotten, jutting teeth, and torn clothes."
The nun's explanation seemed plausible to me, and sure enough, although I stayed there with quite a number of my servants for over a month, none of us heard any ghostly, ghoulish noises during the night.