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/
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.
Claudia - Love the pictures with the kitties. But… how come you did not snap the spiders? Just kidding. I remember I was in Panama at some point. I went to the bathroom to wash my hands. It was night time and the light was dim. I looked at the floor and though: “oh, what a huge crab WAAAAIT THAT IS A SPIDER!” I ran outside, without washing my hands. I packed my bags and left. OMG!
traciehowe - Haha! Yeah, no spider pics in any of these posts! I’ve heard about those big ones in Panama. Yikes!
Lauren - Eeeeeek! I’m so afraid of bugs and spiders, you are so brave for how you handled that! I don’t think seeing any amount of big bugs could cure my fears either.
traciehowe - I guess I could have left the shower on and slipped out. Apparently I have a fear of wasting water, because it didn’t even occur to me to handle this differently… aside from running out naked!
Sandra @ Tripper - Brave, very brave. I would’ve been the one running away naked lol
traciehowe - Haha! I was seriously very very close!!
Bente Vold Klausen - You have some great pictures and I beleive arachnophobia is a problem and a challenge for many travelers.
traciehowe - Thanks! At least there are other travelers who don’t have this problem so they can take care of the situation for you. :)
Brianna - After seeing the spiders in Costa Rica the ones here at home are no problem!
traciehowe - I hear they are pretty big there too!
Axelle Lot - The spider experiences has made you more courageous when you see a tiny spider at home :) Also, amazing photos!
traciehowe - Thank you! Not really more courageous though… they can still get pretty big here!
Els - Good to see that your fear doesn’t keep you from going places! Last year in Nicaragua, I was staying in a tent in the cloud forest. In the middle of the night I went to the toilet with my eyes close and earplugs in, I really didn’t want to see what was possibly crawling around me!! :-)
traciehowe - I do that too! I try not to look around too much and always sleep with ear plugs. You can hear too many things crawling around!
Dave Cole - Beautiful shots! This area of Laos looks very serene, potential spider encounters aside. I really like the photos of the girls hugging their kittens and the lone bike on the path.
traciehowe - Thanks, Dave. I wish I had been a better photographer back then. As I go through these older photos, I keep thinking of the possibilities of photographing such a place now. It really was one of the best times of my life!
Emily - This place looks gorgeous. Such a shame you were a little on edge at times. I remember doing the Gibbon Experience in Laos, and trying to get to sleep in a tree house we shared with numerous big black tarantulas, some of them plate sized! Had about half an hours sleep that night if I recall!
traciehowe - That sounds like a familiar night! I never saw the black ones though.
City Sea Country - Amazing pictures. I was at the same place a couple of years ago. I didn´t have problems with spiders on my trip but with a green snake with a pink tail. Because they told me it might be a tree snake I was out of the wood as fast as possible…
traciehowe - Oh, weird! Snakes I don’t remember ever seeing on that trip. I think seeing one would make me pretty wary though.
Milosz Zak - I have a fear of snakes, and I conquered that fear in Kom Ombo in Egypt – they just casually placed a cobra over my shoulders, and made me hold its head. Let’s just say travel causes you to rediscover yourself on so many levels. I think travel is by far the best therapy for any and all complexes and fears – plus you get very fit walking about, it’s all-around the best thing for your life.
traciehowe - Good for you, Milosz! I don’t have a fear of snakes (although I might if I ran into poisonous ones enough), but I don’t think I would hold a cobra. I would never ever in a million years hold a spider willingly, so I applaud you.
Karisa - UGH I hate spiders SO MUCH! During my time in Southeast Asia, I somehow escaped the scariest ones!
traciehowe - This is what I heard over and over in SEA! Why me? I kept asking myself!
Mindi Hirsch - Your photos are absolutely stunning. Wow!
Jon @ jonistravelling.com - The 4000 islands is one of my favourite places in Asia, I loved looking through your photos and remembering my time there – I didn’t see any spiders though! Did you stay on Don Det?
traciehowe - Thanks, Jon. Yes, I believe it was Don Det. When were you there? I hope it’s still a little more rugged than the more frequented islands.
Sumit Surai - These experiences have made you braver I hope :) The photos are excellent!
Samantha Hussey - I’m glad you haven’t put any pictures of spiders up and choose to glory us all with your stunning pictures instead. I am normally alright with them when I know where they are! I have been told if you sleep with the light on they stay put! :)
Jenn - Your photos are incredible! I remember when I went to SEASIA, there were kittens and puppies everywhere! The picture with the kids and kittens is so sweet.
traciehowe - Thank you Jenn! Yes, puppies and kittens galore. And awesome kids too!