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: http://tracietravels.com/2014/06/arachnophobe-travels-in-southeast-asia-part1/ , part 2 here: http://tracietravels.com/2014/06/arachnophobe-travels-in-southeast-asia-part2/ , and part 3 here: http://tracietravels.com/2014/06/arachnophobe-travels-in-southeast-asia-part3/
4. Encounter in 4000 Islands – As this point, nearing the end of my travels in Southeast Asia, I was sick and tired of running into humongous spiders. Vietnam was a relief, but I was there for a short time. My next destination took me to the 4000 islands of Southern Laos, and the island of my choice was quiet, remote, and beautiful.
Ever reminding myself that the chances of yet another giant spider were getting slimmer each time I saw one, I felt almost confident that this next place would have none. Of course, the very limited options for accommodations spoiled my temporary delusions of safety, especially when I saw the tiny bamboo-walled cabins of the guesthouse that we had found. Choosing the newest of the cabins, the only one with solid walls, was my only consolation despite it’s hefty price of $5 ($2.50 per person). The luxury in peace of mind made it worth the price though, even if there was not a lot of peace present.
I managed to sleep a few nights in the bed there, if a little on edge. Sometimes I would move to the hammock outside, because I imagined that the ropes were too narrow for giant spiders to crawl on. Those nights were almost as restless because of the little spiders that lived on our porch, but the anxiety they gave me was not even comparable to the others.
I was getting fairly comfortable there, not having had a large spider sighting in weeks. I was enjoying one of the best times of my life, there in a tropical paradise surrounded by happy kids and amusing animals, relaxing at my tiny waterfront cabin with my own personal hammock. But, as soon as I started to feel safe, another one found me. This time, as luck would have it (depending on your definition of luck), I found it not in my room, but in the shower with me!
I have to admit that this encounter was the least terrifying of all of the previous ones. First, because it was a little smaller, like a teenage version of the same kind of spider I had been seeing everywhere else. Still, by anyone’s standards, it was big! Second, it was not in my room, therefore not as much of a creepy-crawling/nightmare inducing threat for me. Finally, I had almost finished my shower before I saw it. Right by the shower handle, it was just sitting there, probably preparing to jump on me if I were to stay any longer. I seriously considered running out of the shower right then and there, totally naked down the long dirt path to my cabin. However, given my modesty and all of my previous reasons for being only slightly less scared this time, I finished up and slowly reached to turn off the water. I’m sure that I was ever so slightly desensitized by my other encounters, but I’m still amazed that I was ever able to do this.
Fortunately I escaped the shower and Southeast Asia without anymore traumatizing, spider related things happening to me. You may wonder if these encounters served to cure my arachnophobia, but I hate to say that they did not. I still have nightmares where giant spiders float toward my face in the middle of the night, and I still avoid the cracks and crevices of the basement when I have to go down there. One good thing did come out of my experiences though – when I do see a big spider here, I can appreciate that it is still small enough to be sucked up by a vacuum extension hose.