An Arachnophobe Travels in Southeast Asia | Part 1

During my travels in Southeast Asia I was one of the few people to encounter a hand-sized spider. I know this, because I asked just about every traveler that I had more than 5 minutes to chat with… it was on my mind a lot. I found this odd, especially considering the sheer quantity that I encountered during my time there. The number of humongous spiders that I saw given my time there is ridiculous, and even comical to me looking back. I will recount each terrifyingly creepy moment in this series, in the order that they happened.  I hope you will follow along, thanking your lucky stars if you have never had to deal with this in your lifetime, arachnophobe or not!

There may be a small percentage of my audience who are now getting excited about the prospect of seeing photos of impressively large spiders within this series of  posts, but I’m afraid you will be disappointed. The level of arachnophobia that I have does not allow me to view, let alone take photos of spiders, which would result in some serious physiological repercussions. So, instead, you will find random photos from the regions in Southeast Asia in which I have encountered said giant spiders. I hope that will suffice. :)

1. Encounter outside of Chaing Mai –

Travels in southeast Asia - Chiang Mai sunset

In Chiang Mai, before my first inevitable spider encounter.

Only about a week or so after flying into Thailand, I found myself on one of Chiang Mai’s popular hill tribe treks. I opted for the 2 day option, which included 2 days of hiking, river rafting, an elephant ride, and a night in a hill tribe village. The overnight in the village was something I had been dreading, simply because of my fear of spiders, something that sadly holds me back from many decisions that I make in life. Somehow though, I had convinced myself that I could do this, probably just so I could hang out with an elephant the next day. Imagining the more familiar Seattle-sized wolf spiders as my only threat, I figured I could handle one night in a semi-open air hut.

After an exhausting full day of hiking, I was tired enough to let my guard down a little bit. So, tromping into our long bamboo-walled shelter, I carelessly threw myself down in the first sleeping spot that wasn’t already claimed. I lay down on my back and looked up to see the biggest spider I had ever witnessed in person, not 6 feet directly above my head! I shot straight up and ran screaming out of the hut, leaving the locals laughing and confused at my behavior.

Chiang Mai trek hut

The home of the spider(s) and my sleeping quarters.

I reported my sighting to anyone who would listen, some of whom confirmed that the spider was gone from above my bed. This news, however, was worse than knowing where it was, because I didn’t know where it had gone off to. Perhaps under my pillow? Into my bag? I had help checking my surroundings, as thoroughly as possible, but the spider had disappeared. My only consolation was knowing that it wasn’t already under my pillow or in my bag, and that it would have to crawl under my carefully tucked mosquito net to get to me that evening.

I would have stayed up all night to avoid that spider if I had enough light and an enclosed room to feel safe in while I waited for daylight. However, with everyone else gone to sleep, a fading fire, and no such room to speak of, I felt that my mosquito net covered mattress was the next safest option. Needless to say, that night was rough, but I did try to sleep, if only to save me from my own imagination. At least I had river rafting and elephant riding to look forward to the next day!

Travels in Southeast Asia - raftingChiang Mai trek


* These posts go out to Matias and Julia for saving me from the monsters. :) *

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