Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Mighty Spider Battler

The town of Vang Vieng, Laos is rapidly developing into a beloved backpacker stop on the Southeast Asia circuit. A haven for outdoor sports enthusiasts, Vang Vieng is a perfect place to pretend that that you will eventually get off your hammock and go biking, rock climbing or hiking. But in reality all that anyone can really muster up the energy for here is tubing. The pristine blue green river that runs through town is lined with sandy beaches and surrounded by intimidating crags and cliffs.

The natural beauty of the place has only been enhanced by the arrival of the myriad riverside bars each sporting a stack of 3000 watt speakers, blaring everything from metal to Marley, and Lao bartenders pushing free shots of Lao Lao, the local rice whiskey. Visitors rent tubes and a tuk-tuk in town to haul them up river and spend the day drifting and drinking their way back towards town. For those who drink up the courage, each bar has a rope swing or zip line to launch themselves gracelessly into the water from rickety wooden platforms built to absurd heights. Clearly this place was totally awesome.

Arriving in town in the early afternoon I find myself a charming little bungalow by the river. The behemoth speakers on either side of my room are pumping out bad Asian pop, bad European dance music and, mysteriously, bad Christmas tunes, but at least it masks the inescapable clamor of construction. All in all, a lovely place to base my adventures in Vang Vieng considering the price of five dollars a night. Or so I thought. Then I discovered Vang Vieng's dark secret...

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Coming home late one afternoon to freshen up after tubing I enter the bathroom of my bungalow. I notice something moving on the wall by the ceiling and look up to see a spider the size of a small bear looking down at me with eight beady little eyes and salivating. Seeing me, he sprints down the wall and across the bathroom floor in my direction. He's fast as a cheetah. I begin evasive maneuvers immediately and recite something along the lines of "holy %@#& *$%# that spider is the %$@ing %$@ing size of a small %$# &@*$ bear." He charges from the bathroom into the bedroom. I leap out of the way and hope that he will circumnavigate the mattress on the floor and continue towards the open door, but presumably I look too delicious to pass up. He climbs onto the mattress and hides inside pair of my shorts strewn across the middle of the bed.

Normally maintaining a Buddha-like peace with all living creatures, there are two places that I am not willing to tolerate giant deadly insects and those are, A) in my bed and, B) in my pants. This massive man-eating monster of an arachnid was currently disregarding both stipulations. This was war. A swift kick sends my shorts sailing towards the door, but the spider manages to shed them in mid air and he flies into the wall, cracking the plaster and landing on the floor by the foot of the bed with a loud thud. He is stunned momentarily and seeing my opportunity I toss a towel over top of him and begin expertly to smash at it with my guitar, making sure to mash every inch.

But as I walk triumphantly out onto the porch to cast his remains to the ground below, his corpse is nowhere to be found in the folds of the towel. Panic stricken I turn back to the bedroom where I scan the length of the wall incredulous at his Houdinian escape, but he has disappeared. Astonished that he could have survived this brutal onslaught, there was nothing left to do now but burn the bungalow and all my possessions with it. This spider clearly has a super-human cunning and I should be content to flee with my life.

But as I turn to locate gasoline and a pack of matches, I see my clever enemy perched over the bed atop the crest of the crumpled blanket like a mighty lion surveying his lands from the mountainside. He is completely unharmed and sports a wide hungry grin. But I'm in luck. While he is crafty he is too proud to conceal himself. He has lost the element of surprise and his hubris will surely be his undoing. Our eyes meet. The potential energy hangs in the air, palpable, as we remain frozen, staring.

Then the charge. As he sprints down the blanket ridge with his mandibles poised for attack I quickly crouch and fold the corner of the blanket over top of him. I deal a mighty blow and then throw the blanket through the door. His writhing body flies free from the shroud onto the porch and I boot him down the stairs, his remains tumble to the earth below where he dies a twitching and writhing death.
I return to my room a conquering hero to enjoy a well deserved shower.

My slain foe next to a small bear for the purpose of comparison.


Linda said...


Anonymous said...

I have had the worst day at work today, I needed that laugh so thank you.

Anonymous said...

Head up North a ways. I, too, have a jungle-esque arachnid, who currently resides just above my garage. He must be slain, and soon might I add. He is utterly terrifying.

PS- This is quite an impressive website, my dear friend. I imagine it would more than suffice as say, a resume of sorts.

Are you picking up what I'm throwing down?


Courtnie Blake said...

This was a brilliant read - thank you so much for not only sharing my view on spiders but for writing in such a way that you have completely picked up my Monday afternoon!

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