If you haven’t read Part 1 or 2 yet, you should know that this series works best when read in order. You will then understand why there are no pictures of the massive evil creatures, and my reason for writing an entire series of spider encounters during my travels in Southeast Asia. You can find part 1 here: https://tracietravels.com/2014/06/arachnophobe-travels-in-southeast-asia-part1/ and part 2 here: https://tracietravels.com/2014/06/arachnophobe-travels-in-southeast-asia-part2/
3. Encounter in MongNgoi –
Having found the best travel companions ever, who just happened to share the exact route plans as me, was a godsend. I never wanted my arachnophobia to interfere with my travel plans, but my friends gave me the extra courage that helped me carry on. From Nong Khiaw we headed to Mong Ngoi, another remote town surrounded by mountains and a persistent smoky fog from agricultural burning. It was a pretty place, despite the heavy fog, and we had fun exploring and tubing down the slow moving river. But eventually, it was time to leave the safety of the non-spidery river and start winding down for the evening.
Sleeping in another tiny village at another bamboo lined guesthouse was not a part of my plan at this point. I had been there, and I had done that, but in Northern Laos this seemed to be inevitable. If I wanted to keep seeing this beautiful region of Laos, I had to keep sleeping in these kinds of places. So, as usual, I convinced myself that the odds of seeing another huge spider were unlikely at this point. Besides, I was sharing a room with my brave companions.
I was determined to stay strong at this place, trying to avoid looking too closely at walls, floors, and ceilings. I didn’t let the mattresses on the floor bother me too much. I was doing well… for a little while.
It was early evening and I was about to walk into our room alone when I caught a glimpse of huge spider legs crawling from the other side of the door frame. Nobody ever finds these things but me, I thought, as I flipped out and ran away to my friends. They immediately took action, but despite the slow crawling of the spider, it had disappeared already. They flipped the room upside down looking for it, but found nothing.
Again I was faced with the thought of sleeping with a spider or staying up all night in the dark. And again I eventually chose the “safety” of my mosquito net, tucked way way underneath of my mattress. This time however, I heard things running around in the night. If you tell me that spiders don’t make any noise, then you are wrong! If a spider is crawling on something that creaks or rustles, then it can be heard. I heard some sort of scurrying all night, eyes wide open for most of the time. At one point I drifted off, but was awoken by a sudden jerky movement beside me. A fallen spider, was all I could imagine in that moment. In retrospect it was probably just my friend moving in her sleep, but I am all to familiar with the nightmare/imagination combo that happens to me when spiders are on the brain, and this was no consolation at the time.
The next morning I awoke groggy from little sleep. I was told about the rats that run across the rafters at night. Even though the evening had already passed, this news was a relief to me. I much prefer rats to spiders! The best news was that we were moving on, my last night in such a place. At least that’s what I thought.
Doreen Pendgracs - Love the pics, Tracie!
And, wow! I could really relate to the spider story. Similar thing happened to me in Ecuador. Went to bed knowing there was a giant spider over top of me on the outside of the mosquito netting. I sure didn’t have a good sleep that night!
traciehowe - Oh no! Could you see it there above you? That is the worst, when you know it is right there!
Susan - Wow Laos is beautiful! I can’t believe you didn’t already sleep with the mosquito net up I would be terrified of a spider within the vicinity of my sleeping arrangements. When I was in Costa Rica I slept with my leggings, tube socks and sweatshirt on in a room with no ac because I saw a roach walking around. Ha ha I lost slept over a fat roach
traciehowe - Oh, I did! I just had to accept the fact that it was my only “protection”. One story I didn’t tell was just after my 2nd sighting in Pai, when I found the better room. I flipped back my pillow (a habit for checking for spiders) and saw a smallish spider crawl into the crack between the mattress and the headboard. That night I stayed up for a while, waiting for it to emerge. Eventually I tucked my socks into my pants and slept with my sleeping bag (foot end towards the headboard) on top of the covers. Fortunately, spiders are the biggest concern for me. Those giant roaches are pretty creepy though! It’s ridiculous what we do, isn’t it? Haha!
Laura - Wow those photos are amazing! Looks like you had fun :)
traciehowe - Thanks, Laura. I did!
The Brave Dame - Glad I’m not the only one. Despite the name, I’m not that brave when it comes to bugs I’m scared of all shapes and sizes, but spiders and roaches are my biggest fears! I admire you for getting some sleep there.
I’m sure you will manage to control your fear of spiders enough to also enjoy the environment :)
traciehowe - Thanks! I hope so. My passion for travel does outweigh my fear of running into spiders occasionally! ;)
col - Love your pics! Don’t think I could cope with the spiders though. I watched a show on Cambodia recently and they were frying and eating them! Guess they are nutritious?
traciehowe - Thanks! I had heard about that before going to Cambodia, so I simply tried not to look very closely at any of the street food… made for pretty boring meals, but you do what you gotta do!
City Sea Country - Beautiful pictures. I totally understand you. When I was in Laos sleeping alone in rooms I had the same worries you had. I was afraid of everything crawling around. Not a nice feeling.
traciehowe - Thank you. No, not a nice feeling at all.
Emily Luxton - Having phobias really does get in the way of travelling! I’m scared of heights – which makes trekking canyons and mountains much more of a challenge for me than others. I’m not arachnophobic but no one likes spiders – my boyfriend told me about the size of the ones in Laos and it really made my skin crawl. Poor you!!
traciehowe - Oh, Emily, I’ve always been thankful that I’m not afraid of heights. I don’t envy you. :( I hope you can conquer that fear for the sake of travel!
Emily Luxton Travel Blog - Having phobias really does get in the way of travelling! I’m scared of heights – which makes trekking canyons and mountains much more of a challenge for me than others. I’m not arachnophobic but no one likes spiders – my boyfriend told me about the size of the ones in Laos and it really made my skin crawl. Poor you!!
Siobhan - Oh no! Poor you. Scary story but beautiful pics. I am completely terrified of rats. Eurgh, give me a hundred spiders over a rat any day
traciehowe - Haha! I’m the opposite. I’ll hang with rats any day of the week! ;)
Brad Frankel - I love your images – they’re gorgeous. Also hate spiders but haven’t encountered to many on my travels, except the incident when i was trapped in a shower in Thailand.
traciehowe - Thanks Brad! My shower incident is in part 4. :)
Dave Cole - Very entertaining travel narrative – those mosquito nets are key to me having a good night’s sleep in any location with a lot of bugs. I really like your shots of the boats and the women at work. The smiles contained in the last photo make for a great capture.
traciehowe - Thanks Dave! You gotta love a good mosquito net!
Surya Bhattacharya - Wow, I’m totally torn between reading your previous posts in these series, and not :P I got tingles all the time I was reading this post. I hate spiders!!! Good on you for making it through the night. I would have probably called my parents and cried and taken the next flight home D:
traciehowe - Haha! Trust me, Surya, I was torn between writing the posts and not! The funny thing about running away from the spiders is that you would still probably have to wait out the night to get whatever transportation back home, since most of these places were out in the boonies of SEA. In the morning, everything is better anyway. ;)
Alli Blair - Love the polaroid pic with the umbrella! I`m glad your fears were conquered by traveling to this region still and enjoying such breathtaking scenery!
traciehowe - Thanks, Alli. My fears were at least faced, if not conquered! Haha!
Elena - Lovely photos! Personally I´m fine with spiders and roaches but mosquitoes and sand-flies are my biggest fear…They love me as much as I hate them!
traciehowe - Those are no fun either! I can’t help but think that spiders seem to love me too, as often as they make themselves known to me.
Chris - I too have been freaked out by the pad of a spider.
Once when I was much younger I kept feeling the wind blowing through my hair, creating a tickling sensation (I could locate the source)
Minutes later as I casually walked to the bathroom, I glanced in a mirror to note a large Huntsman spider sitting on my head (Large menacing looking they are, but not at all dangerous)!
Boy did I freak!
After parts 1 and 2, I’m not surprised this had you freaking again as well!!
traciehowe - That is so not cool! Those things are pretty big and creepy. Every time I feel a tickle when drifting off to sleep, I imagine it is a spider.
Michael Huxley - What’s wrong with spiders? I love them! They keep the much more annoying and nasty insects at bay! ;D So if any friendly spiders want to spin a web in my room when I’m sleeping, go right ahead!
traciehowe - It’s funny to hear what other people think about spiders or other creepy crawly things. I’ll take any other insects over spiders any day.
Jon @ jonistravelling.com - I loved Nong Khiaw! Didn’t get to check out Mongnoi, looks great too though! The fog is really annoying – I was in Pai in Thailand and it was really bad – I’m sure the view was nice but I could hardly see it!
traciehowe - Bummer that you missed the scenery in Pai. I wish I had better Pai photos for that post.
Samantha - Your pictures are lovely! But your post made me squirm! I hate spiders especially big ones! I had a rather large one run across my bare legs in Egypt in the desert and I couldn’t help but scream and wake everyone up! You were very brave to sleep I would of been awake all night looking for it!
traciehowe - Thanks Samantha. That sounds horrible! My worst nightmare, next to having one run across my face! I’ve woken up a person or two in my time because of spiders too.
Bob R - Nice shots. Although that slash and burn is thoroughly depressing.
traciehowe - Yes, that was unfortunate.
Its All Bee - That last photo is just beautiful! I always love seeing smiley locals in pictures.
traciehowe - Thanks! Laos is a very smiley place. :)
Karen Warren - What beautiful pictures! I’m glad you aren’t letting your dislike of spiders stop you from enjoying your travels.
traciehowe - Thanks Karen, I try not to! :)
An Arachnophobe Travels in Southeast Asia | Part 4 - Tracie Travels - […] If you haven’t read Part 1, 2, or 3 yet, you should know that this series works best when read in order. You will then understand why there are no pictures of the massive evil creatures, and my reason for writing an entire series of spider encounters during my travels in Southeast Asia. You can find part 1 here: https://tracietravels.com/2014/06/arachnophobe-travels-in-southeast-asia-part1/ , part 2 here: https://tracietravels.com/2014/06/arachnophobe-travels-in-southeast-asia-part2/ , and part 3 here: https://tracietravels.com/2014/06/arachnophobe-travels-in-southeast-asia-part3/ […]