Some people have been held at gunpoint–others have been held at knifepoint–but I had never heard of anyone, until a year ago, who was held at frogpoint. As my family was unfortunate enough to discover, a grumpy amphibian staring you down is far from pleasant.
Our vacation to Kanchanaburi, Thailand, began with a relaxing road trip (the emergency bathroom stops don’t count). My parents had rented a beautiful little cabin called Bamboo House, which was an eight-hour drive from our home in Chiang Mai. When we arrived, my two younger sisters and I explored the building from top to bottom, announcing each new, exciting discovery at the top of our lungs as we went. It looked like the perfect vacation spot, and we couldn’t be happier.
It wasn’t until the evening, when the sun went down, that we realized the inconveniences of having numerous holes in the log walls. Quite a few unwelcome visitors wanted to join our movie-night. First it was a swarm of flying ants–one of them fell into our popcorn bowl, and we never did find it. As the night went on, we battled vicious mosquitoes using the single (rather insufficient) handheld zapper. Shouting and screaming, my sisters scrambled all over the furniture trying to smash the invaders while I wielded the zapper. In the midst of an enthusiastic leap, I almost landed on a very large, very freakish-looking (and probably very harmless) millipede making its way slowly across the floor. It was an undignified moment for me, I’m afraid. There was quite a bit of screaming and flailing and scrambling onto the nearest piece of furniture, as well as a zapper accidentally flung across the room. But I felt justified later in our stay when, upon discovering several more giant millipedes, my sisters and mom reacted similarly.
Each day brought a new adventure. The flying ants once again invaded the cabin, and we soon realized that they had established a bug city underneath the kitchen flooring. Whenever we turned our backs, they would flood out all over the tiles. I never knew so many bothersome critters could exist in one place. There were platoons of moths, battalions of beetles, armies of geckos—and wave upon wave of industrious little red ants. On the ceiling we found giant lizards. In the backyard we found wild pigs. In every bowl and cup in the kitchen, there was some creepy creature lurking.
Every morning, I was the last one to wake up…usually to the sound of someone screaming. The first time it was because a large frog had taken up residence in the silverware drawer and chose to make a notably less-than-graceful exit just when my mom wanted a fork. After that, we saw the bothersome amphibian all over the place. He seemed to take great pleasure in jumping out from unexpected places, giving us his most intimidating Glare of Death, and abruptly vanishing again. On the third morning, he caused quite a stir by hiding inside one of the toilets. My sister Emma was unfortunate enough to find him, and she was scared almost out of her wits when he suddenly came flying into the air. After that incident, we named the little troublemaker Ogg, the Frog of Death.
By the fifth day, everyone was jumpy. Conversations would frequently be interrupted by one conversant shrieking and leaping off their chair, shaking something or other out of their sleeve or pantleg. One evening, as I was stepping into the shower, I freaked out because a spider jumped at me. My sister Madeline scolded me from the other side of the six-foot wall separating us, reminding me that I shouldn’t be a “scaredy-cat”. She followed this remark by shrieking piercingly and thumping around for several seconds—then ominous silence. When I asked with concern what had happened, Madeline replied in a subdued tone, “Abby, you do not want to know what a praying-mantis bite feels like.”
After a week, we all had renewed thankfulness for our relatively bug-free house in Chiang Mai. Fortunately, even though that part of our vacation almost completely shredded our nerves, we were still able to enjoy the experience and laugh about each new fright–after it was over, of course. Even still, I think my sisters and I would have felt a little less safe in Bamboo House had we known the whole story about what inhabited the cabin. It wasn’t until we were driving away that my parents sheepishly admitted they had come across some other creatures of the monster-scorpion and rodent variety during the night…