I’ve lived in Florida most of my life. Spiders generally don’t bother me. In fact, I keep a designated “spider cup” and junk mail envelopes handy for humanely relocating arachnid friends from our home to our garden. I like to imagine they appreciate my assistance reuniting them with their kin.

Naked and dripping wet from a shower, I was not, however, expecting to find a spider sharing our Khao Sok lodge, Smiley Bungalow. I should have. We were staying deep within Thailand’s Khao Sok jungle, after all, home to macaque monkeys, wild (if seldom spotted) elephants and creepy crawlies of all kinds. But this crawly had a thorax the size of a dime, and boy could he jump. He helpfully demonstrated this ability when I attempted to slide the rest of my luggage across the linoleum, away from the bag of bananas he had commandeered.


The last known photograph of The Spider.

I dressed quickly all the while keeping my eyes on his furry form.

“Does Thailand have poisonous spiders?” I wondered. I had no idea.

For cockroach removal or more complicated insect maneuvers, I often rely on my “Pest Management” expert, but Him was using the WiFi signal in the hotel dining area to Skype his father. Mosquitos were rampant, contracting malaria a possibility and Him had the bug spray. I wasn’t interested in making a mad dash across the elevated walkway to fetch Him. Instead, I armed myself with my camera monopod, crouched in the opposite corner and prepared to wait it out.

In the end, it took a post on Him’s Facebook wall to summon Him. By that time, I had a flashlight aimed directly at the spider, the resulting spotlight casting a terrific, elongated shadow on the brick wall. Both the spider and Him were prepared to perform. One jumped and dodged as the other flung furniture and shoes. Aid solicited from the hotel management arrived in the form of a rusty can of insect repellant. I assisted by offering unsolicited logistical advice and tips from my corner.

“Maybe you shouldn’t kill him,” I said. “I think killing spiders is bad luck.”

“So what would you like me to do with it?”

At this point, I figured suggesting the “cup method” was unwise. I shut up, offering only a feeble protest when my monopod was reallocated from defense to offense tool. I did, however, insist a plastic bag be commissioned to protect my new, $75 stick from the ensuing slaughter.

That night, I slept cocooned in my sleep sheet, pressed up as close as possible to Him’s back. The sanctity of our room had been raped. We would go on to enjoy Khao Sok’s peaceful jungle hikes (200 Baht each to get into the park) and a longtail cruise on the Cheow Lan Lake, but I’d never again feel a stray hair strand tickle my arm without bolting straight out of that hotel bed.

TIP: The best restaurant in Khao Sok — possibly all of Thailand — is Pawn’s Restaurant. We certainly had our favorite meals of the country at this small, unassuming family-run eatery. I say “meals” because Pawn’s green curry and tofu fried rice were so tasty we ate dinner there two night in a row. We weren’t the only ones either. A German couple with a strange habit of watching their toddler run around the kitchen and into the dirt road as they dined did so both nights we were there.