|*Disclaimer* A story NOT for the faint-hearted.
Our worst creepy crawlie encounter yet occurred 2 nights ago in a Bangkok guest house. To be fair on the owners, I think they were as annoyed and surprised about it all as we were.
We'd noticed a few of the rot-eating critters the night before (And Ashley saw 3 or 4 scurrying around at 2 a.m as he happily watched France plough through Portugal in the World Cup semi-final). They'd generally been on walls, in a cardboard box full of empty drinks bottles or crawlibg up a tree, but no more than we'd worry about. We've seen cockroaches in every country and are pretty much used to it. At least there were none in our room anyway.
Or so we thought.
Ashley was woken at around 8 a.m by a sort of shocked, muffled yelp as Fiona realised the horrible truth that the tickling on her back wasn't the lovely little fairy sitting on her shoulder in her dream, but was in fact a disease-feeding, disgusting cockroach. And it was a big one too. They all were...
Flicked off Fiona's back and onto a wall, the roach fell down the side of Fiona's single bed, out of sight and far from out-of-mind. How the hell did we know where it went? It could be anywhere! Feeling suitably disgusted, Fiona joined Ashley to try and find safety in numbers (2). The sleep, and safety, was short-lived. About half an hour later, the two were woken by more terror. Another sharp jolt and an instinctual brushing-off-the-horrible-insect motion from Fiona signalled that another critter had been found, once again, crawling all over us. This time, we decided not to return to our slumber, but try and guage the gravity of the situation.
It was worse than we'd thought...
We saw the thing that had just been smashed off us, and also the one from half an hour earlier, crawling all over Fiona's vacant bed. Then we saw that one's friend, enjoying our backpacks. Then I think the mother and father of that one came crawling in through the gap under our door. Some other distant relatives and their friends then emerged to say hello too. The ones who weren't afraid of heights enjoyed our high ceiling. We soon realised a worse horror - Some of them could fly.
After the 10th sighting inside our room, we knew the only answer, get the hell out of there! The door was only 2-3 metres away. The doors were closed, but that wouldn't be too much of an obstruction. Just a simple bolt to slide across, and then the fresh, cool outside air would wash over us and cleanse us from the filth of our room which was now positively crawling. Just as we were about to make our move, thoughts started clouding our judgement. Questions we wanted answers to. How many were in our room? How long had they been there? Had they been there all night? Had they been crawling over us...?
The main thing which we should have thought about as we ran out in our pyjamas was that if there were cockroaches all over our room, there were probably more outside.
A lot more as it turned out.
The manoeuvre* went well. Fiona led the way, unbolting the door quickly and efficiently and we were both out of the room in 2 strides. However, it was kind of like stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire. There were LOTS of cockroaches outside. LOTS of cockroaches. To our surprise, we didn't turn that many heads (People were sitting outside having breakfast) considering we'd just run screaming out of our room wearing just our underwear! For half an hour we stood rooted to the same spot watching the owners of the guest house wage war with the colony that had now converged onto the floor of their business. Shoes and slippers were brandished and used with merciless ferocity and spray cans tried to stem the attack from a chemical angle. Even the resident cats and kittens were in on the action, chasing the little play things around the place. We feared for the future of the little ones though, having to bear witness to such a horrific battle at such a tender age. Plus all that toxic spray too...
After most of them were dead, the bloodshed ended (Apart from the occasional smack of shoe on floor). Still scantily clad and terrified, we timidly asked the apologetic staff if they could go into our room and fetch our things out for us. They obliged and offered us another room to get dressed in before we left. Even this room wasn't safe though. We had occasional visits from one survivor of the war (Sort out the gaps under the doors seriously!), but not too much bother.
The story doesn't end there though...
We were on edge all day. Blowing leaves to us looked like another infestation. A hole in the pavement was a predator waiting to feed on our fear. These scares were just our paranoia playing games with us. But on some occasions, the fears were justified.
We checked into our next hotel: A re-assuringly 3rd story, very clean and totally insect-free hotel. As we unpacked our bags, Ashley, who was just getting out a bag of clothes from his backpack, began to discuss with Fiona what they should do with the remainder of the day. "What shall we do now then? We could go on our website and tell everyone about our cockroach experiAAAAHHHHH!!!!!" Ashley dropped the bag. No blowing leaf could have found it's way into his clothes bag. No hole in no pavement was present here. This was surely a soldier from earlier who had fled battle and hidden in a dark, soft place.
Ten minutes passed. Eyes never left the bag. Heads were scratched. Plans were discussed. The plan which prevailed was one where the bag would be thrust out of the open door onto the landing outside, then kicked and poked around until the offending creature was revealed. Then, not wanting to kill the thing because neither of us wanted to feel the squish of such a large, putrid insect under our feet, we would trap it inside our bin using a pad of writing paper which Fiona had bought, and then throw it out of the window onto the heads of the people below. Oh well.
Stage one went very well with Fiona, the 'Whyte Knight', excelling herself by plucking up the courage to not only scoop the bag out of the door (As Ashley would have done), but to actually carry it and drop it outside, thus removing any chance that the scoop might have gone wrong allowing the cockroach to escape into our room. Once the bag was outside, a joint effort was made to un-earth (or un-clothe) the creepy criminal. I say a 'joint effort', but once Ashley's pathetic 2 kicks of the bag reaped fruitless rewards, Fiona decided it was time to do the bold thing - Turn the bag upside down. I may also add that she was a doubter at this point, thinking that maybe Ashley had just imagined this thing out of some now-deep-seated psychological disturbance. Proved wrong was she when, sitting on top of a blue shirt (Which I've now thrown away. Not because of the cockroach, but because it was actually mouldy...) was the cockroach; A smaller one than the ones earlier, but a cockroach nonetheless. The couple from next door had come out to see what all the screaming was about. When the cockroach was revealed, it scrambled to the corner of the hallway. The man removed a shoe, walked briskly over to it, crushed it with a loud smack, wrapped it up in tissue and took it downstairs. That was the end of that then.
Rather less long-winded was last night when we were walking down a dark alley and something wriggled its way over Ashley's toes. Kicking and shivering, he got it off. We never saw what it was, but Mr. Cockroach was suspect number 1. If we hated cockroaches before, we'd now rather see World War 3 than another one.
Unfortunately we were too scared at the time to take any photos (If anyone is morbid enough to want to see one), but we'll put up some other photos soon of the backpacker-central 'Khao San Road', an ENORMOUS Buddha, The King of Thailand, funny trees and some really cute kittens.
Ciao for now (We've got to go and have dinner quickly as we're getting a bus to Ko Pha-Ngan later).
Love scaredy-cat Ashley and brave, brave Fiona.
*We had to go onto a DRIVING website to find out how to spell that!