Monday, October 27, 2014

Bugs, Slugs and Creepy Crawlies...

Halloween Treat - Bugs, Slugs, Bats and Creepy Crawlies

Big Spider in Angkor Wat Cambodia
As we close in on Halloween, I started thinking about some of the bugs and other critters I've come across in my travels and thought this would be a good time to share. I have posted a few of these pics, but not all by a long shot. I often get asked what is the biggest, baddest, creepiest bug I've ever encountered and that one is no contest at all. Unfortunately I do not have a photo of it, but I will tell you the tale and you can find plenty of pics and videos with a quick Google search.

It was about a year ago (October 2013) when I was attending Yoga Teacher Training in Northern Thailand and we were observing evening Satsang in the dark up on the raised platform at the Ashram. I was sitting in the back next to one of my room-mates Sutham, a really wonderful and seriously fit Thai guy. So there I am, eyes closed in the silent darkness and listening to the sounds of the jungle all around us. It's beatific. I feel a funny tickling sensation and some indication of size running across my feet as I sit cross-legged in Padmasana on my mat. I open my eyes and look slowly down. What I see in the gloom slightly freaks me out, but somehow have the presence of mind to stay perfectly still. It's a giant centipede approximately 11-12 inches long creeping slowly across my feet and mat. It's effing huge and I've never seen an insect like it. I remembered that either centipedes or millipedes were fairly poisonous and extremely aggressive, but couldn't remember which.

Once it was off my feet and heading toward Sutham, I nudged him and pointed it out to him. I was hoping to warn him, but also ask if this kind was poisonous or dangerous. I figured since he was Thai, he'd probably know how to tell one from another. I got my answer a couple of seconds later when his eyes adjusted and he saw it. Holy Fire Engine Pants Ablaze Get the Hell Out and Head for the Exits Batman!!! He 's airborne just like that and yelling warnings to everyone at the same time he grabs a rolled up yoga mat and begins whacking at it feverishly. So I got my answer then I guess.

As soon as he takes his first swing, just missing, Battle Centipede Galactica puts on the afterburners and just... flies warp speed fast into the mass of people sitting quietly in front of us. I had no idea something like that could move so flipping fast and be so agile. It was just... everywhere all at once. The lights go on and people are yelling and panicking. Most don't see it or know what they're escaping from, but they do know there is something dangerous among us. The instructors are trying hard to maintain the quiet civility of Satsang Meditation, but they don't see the monster among us. Eventually we manage to sort of sweep it off the raised platform and back out into the jungle, but man, I've never seen anything like it. I watched some YouTube videos much later after I returned home and those suckers are tough, aggressive and will eat just about anything including birds and small mammals. In fights with just about anything even remotely their size including snakes, scorpions, spiders and whatnot they always and I mean always won. I did see centipedes as big as 6 inches again (a couple of times in my hut), but nothing to equal that one. Whew.
Fairly large scorpion meets hand... 
I have seen some large spiders here and there, but nothing as big as the colossal Bird Eating Spider or these guys supposedly as big as a dinner plate in the jungles of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia etc. I was half hoping to see a Cobra in the wild (and half hoping not), but only saw one in Tonsai as part of this sort of snake charmer, fire juggler act. Big snake for sure but not in the wild. Here are some other pics of other things..

Giant Fruit Bats. Very docile and harmless though.

Cockroach companions for lunch..

Yeah who knows...

Scorpion Nest. How... cozy...

Fog of Death just outside my window in Chiang Rai
 The picture above is from my room in the beautiful jungle retreat I stayed at the last night before going on to the Ashram and dorm style accommodation. Gorgeous place. Early the next morning I hear the sounds of little leaf-blower engines and then the world goes all cloudy white smoke outside. It turns out they are spraying for malaria carrying mosquitoes, but this super eerie special effects smog just envelopes my hut so you can't see anything. Then with doors and windows shut tight it seeps into the room and suddenly I'm breathing clouds of insecticide. Oh yay.


Jumbo Cambodian Cockroach. See tale below...
So the giant Cockroach in the picture above was waiting for me in the room at my hotel in Siem Reap Cambodia when I got there. It was about 5 inches long and very fast. Small room so I did manage to corner the little f*cker and then just hammered it with my sandal, the 44 Olu-Kai, Apparently they're tough little suckers because that hardly even phased it and the blow was spot on. So I had at it a couple more good whacks... Still alive... Are you kidding me?? At that point I managed to toss it into the toilet and send it far away. Oddly enough I never saw another one in my room there. Big boys in Cambodia.
Big Fruit Bat. Very cool actually.

Me and the Boa..

Beautiful outside bathroom in Bali, but leave a light on nearby and you get this in the sink at night. Fun cleanup.. not.

Big Gecko roomies in many places around SE Asia. They can be pretty vocal at times but otherwise cute..

Large Jewel Spider in Hawaii. Just gorgeous but kept vibrating so I couldn't get a sharp picture.

This snail was about 5-6 inches long and quite striking looking.


Fairly large Iguana and friends in Bali, Indonesia

Saw this guy on a wall in Laos. No idea what it was except it was really big...


Cockroach coming up for a share of the luncheon buffet. Oh Hello...


Big Spider on Bali Coffee plantation

It's hard to tell, this wasp was humongous.. Really beautiful though.

Some sort of LadyBug dude in Northern Thailand. I Love LadyBugs!!

Large snail in Bali

Giant Daddy LongLegs in NC - small body but legs about 6 inches across. Cute.
 That's all for now. I hope you enjoyed the pics and have a Happy Halloween. Boo!!