Tuesday 8 January 2013

Holidays in Tangkahan - Part 5: Creepy Crawlies

Hmmm... I don't like them, don't like them at all!
Snakes are still OK, but everything with more than four legs is just horrible. At home I scream for help, I can't even get close to spiders. So, what was I thinking when I booked a trip to Tangkahan, you might think. Would it all go away just because there are nice elephants?

Honestly? I don't know, I really wanted to see elephants and possibly Orangutans; one takes a lot to make a dream come true. The truth that I found was, that elephants and Orangutans are every single bit as amazing as I expected, and that creepy crawlies are actually quite bearable.

See, if they are coming into my house I consider them intruders, if I meet them in the wilderness and even in the lodge, I respect that we are sharing the same environment.

Leeches, those small ones are more a messy nuisance rather than painful.
My mum had a frog falling off the ceiling just the very moment when she wanted to go to the toilet, the little guy got lucky she hadn't opened the lid yet. At home she might have got a heart attack, now she just got the camera, took a picture and then ran over to my lodge to call me so I could have a look as well... how considerate!

Quite cute even with his big eyes

There is a bush in front of my lodge that seems to be a happy place for all sorts of snakes and lizards. Every time I visit, somebody finds another one in this shrub. Again, first thing is to get the camera out.
Well and spiders are just that tad bit bigger than at home. I guess the encounter that halfway cured my fear was a toilet visit at a camp in the middle of the jungle. As usual the door was hanging halfway open, there was no wall to hold on to - well the palm leaf panels separating the two cabins were already broken when mum tried to lean against it earlier, her fist went straight through... we never told anybody... - and I was not wearing glasses that early in the morning. 

So I was busily minding my business when I realised that some of the bamboo or palm leaf fixings looked funny, kinda more fuzzy than the rest. I decided that the 'open door feature' was actually very re-assuring should a quick exit become necessary, finished quickly, squeezed myself past it, got the camera and there it was revealed: the biggest spider I had ever seen in my life.

I admit that I still get goose-bumps as I write, but I am much better with spiders ever since. On my last trip I even through one out of my lodge all by myself.

Since I am half blind without glasses, and my vision adjusts quite slowly even with glasses on, I really despise of everything fast moving like cockroaches. I don't mind them as long as they are sitting still, but I had one running in my bed and from there into the suitcase and initially I wasn't sure if it were a spider... ah, what a hassle. I decided to get me a bit of help.

I got so used to her sleeping on my legs, I didn't even noticed anymore
A friendly little cat who had been sneaking through the open window and sleeping between my clothes initially ran from me, but got very tame and cuddly. So, I made sure she was around when I went to bed and invited her to join me under the mosquito net - one never knows if creepies might not find a way into and underneath the net, but this little cat was always hungry and I could be sure everything moving would be hunted down by her. 

And I have my trusted torch. It is not very big and not very suitable for nightly hikes, but it has a wrist tie and I always have it attached during sleep. When I have to get up I always check the floor first and if I don't wear flipflops then the shoes as well. There is nothing worse than to hear the crunchy noise of a flattened cockroach during a nightly bathroom trip, or to find a scorpion in your shoe. And I don't like frogs and geckos falling on me either, so I check the ceilings,  very much helped by my little friend who is hoping for prey.

Geckos are the creepies I actually really like. I watched them once trying to catch a moth. They really keep other crawlies at bay. They make funny cackling noises, though. I needed a couple of nights until I realised that such a tiny thing can create such a commotion.

The conclusion of the matter? I still don't really like them, but as soon as I arrive in my lodge I am starting to take things with a grain of salt. I see elephants, I eat wonderful food and I meet great people, it is warm, I hear the river, I see monkeys jumping off the roof while I have my breakfast sitting underneath, and at night, when I have a little rest in my hammock before turning in, the noise of the jungle makes me sleepy and a gazillion fireflies add their light to the stars, and all is good!

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