What if I were to tell you that I, the world travelling, strong-willed, kick-ass woman that I like to claim I am, have a crippling phobia of…
Yes, me. I’m absolutely petrified of them. I can’t even look at pictures of roaches (even the word is ew) without getting the icks. I’m officially the world’s worst backpacker! Then again, our experience in Sapa is also testimony to that.
I’m terrified of them to the extent that I’d rather spend a night in solitary confinement with nothing else other than a dayglo poster of Dave Cameron to keep me company than be anywhere near one (and Dave terrifies me too, although for completely different reasons). So certain events over the last 10 days have been pretty traumatic for me (and there’s nothing dramatic about this statement, okay?).
We’re currently staying in a lovely apartment in D1 of Saigon, Vietnam – and it really is lovely. We’re not slumming it. We have a shiny new kitchen, hot water, A/C, an actual dining table, the works! But upon moving in, we quickly realised that we were misled. We’re not alone here. We have some unwanted housemates. Actually, we appear to have several of them (and counting).
Within a few days of being here, I found the first cockroach. Upon coming home one evening, I saw it scurrying up the wall and disappearing to God knows where. I screamed. I jumped. I cried. I declared that I would never set foot in the kitchen again. And since then, we’ve continued to find these disgusting creatures every other day.
And may I add here that we’re not dealing with cockroaches of the teeny tiny variety, like you find in Dubai. We’re dealing with a mutant strain of mouse-sized cockroaches, people. They’re not pretty. At all.
The worst surprise visit came one morning when I had just woken up. I sleepily walked into the kitchen, excited by the prospect of eggs and freshly brewed coffee for breakfast. I went to grab a bowl that was overturned on the side of the sink, and as I lifted it, a cockroach of the mutant variety made a quick dash for it across the kitchen surface.
“Urghhhhhhhhhhharghghhhhhhhhhh!!!” I yelled as I jumped around like a lunatic. This was followed by repeat renditions of a song that I’ve composed. You might like it:
Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ewwwwwww. EW!
We’re now on our fifth sighting. Our landlady – a sweet Vietnamese lady who understands English but can’t speak it very well – seems to be amused by our daily text messages that regale our experiences. We’ve asked her to do something to deal with the situation. The situation, at present, is still not dealt with.
Today she sent us a message asking us if we’d seen anymore of them since her staff had come and sprayed the place. By spraying, I must add here, she means take a can of Raid, and spray it down the drain for five minutes. Now why hadn’t we thought of that!
So we told her we saw one more since then, and she proceeded to send the following:
“I think they like to see foreigners more than Vietnamese :-)”
She smiley faced us! I really think that we must sound ridiculous to her with our Western phobias. So, in short, she’s not taking us seriously, therefore I’ve had to come up with my own ways to deal with our houseguests.
Here are my tips on how you should deal with the problem if you ever encounter it:
1. Before entering any room, throw the door open and then proceed to jump back three metres. From there, observe whether there are any brown beasts lurking in viewpoint. If it’s clear to proceed, take a few steps forward and observe further. If in doubt, call your partner over for him/her to have a look while you repeatedly ask “what about over there?”
2. When peeing, leave the door wide open in case you have to make a quick exit at any given point. Don’t sit fully to ensure quicker exit times.
3. When washing up, stand as far away from the sink as humanly possible. This will also allow you to quickly exit the area should any of our brown beasts make an unwelcome appearance among the suds.
4. Better still, refuse to cook or ever enter the kitchen again. Most of them tend to hang out there.
5. If your partner finally gets sick and tired of having to cook because you refuse to enter the kitchen, tell them you’ll happily oblige should he/she first go in and inspect the area. This involves overturning all bowls that are drying on the side to ensure that there are no nasty surprises lurking there, opening all the cupboards, and looking around the bin area.
6. At night, leave all the lights on. I do this on the basis of the theory that they don’t like light much.
7. Then remember that you’ve seen plenty of them lurking outside on the well-lit streets, and spend most the night awake because you’re too freaked out to close your eyes. One might run across your face, you know.
8. Compulsively take out the bin every time you put some rubbish in it. They love dirt. Don’t leave any of it lying around. With this fact in mind, also yell at your partner every time he/she spills any crumbs on the floor.
9. If all else fails, pack your bags and declare that you’re quitting your travels and going back to England because it’s cold so there are no cockroaches there. Then remember that the aforementioned Dave Cameron still runs the country, proceed to unpack your backpack, and do the sensible thing of asking your landlady to get pest control in instead.
What travel-induced phobias do you have?