Updated: 30 Jan 2011
BE KIND TO SPIDERS
Sometimes Singaporean tourists get surprises when they visit rural areas of Myanmar for the first time. If you see small spiders on the bed of the waterfront villas of Golden Cottage Island Cottages at Lake Inle, what do you do?
In this 2008 visit to Inle Lake, Julia was extremely upset as she was worried about spiders crawling onto her at night. She complained to the service staff. She did not expect to see spiders on the bed's mosquito net and on the walls in a hotel accommodation. These were tiny light brown spiders. Harmless creatures I would say. But everybody has phobias and Julia's was a fear of insects. The tour guide had already booked us into this hotel. What should I do? Was there anything I could do at this late hour?
Soon, the hotel girl brought in a large long greenish insecticide can. It looked like a Bayer insecticide spray can. An Economy can.
"What do you use this can for?" I asked the hotel girl as she entered the room, all ready to kill the spiders. It was a stupid question.
"This can is used for cockroaches," she said to me. I shook my head. How could she spray against the small spiders on the bed. "The whole bed will be smelling of insecticide spray," I said. "Please do not spray. I will catch the spiders." I asked Julia to leave the room.
If you see small spiders and their cobwebs on the bed, use a tissue paper and catch them. Release them outside the hut. No need to kill them.
I heard some scattering running noises on the thatched roof. Where's my Jack Russell? He is good at catching rats. Now, the noises on the thatched roof meant one thing - rats. Julia would be afraid of rats. I had a problem now. Would the rats be quiet during night-time or would they dash above the roof?
How to resolve the rats' problems in Golden Island Cottages? There would be no pest controllers as in Singapore. In any case, evening had come.
I was at a loss. If you believe in Divine Powers, the divine solution came in my sight as the boat ride back to the hotel passed another hotel. It was the Myanmar Treasure Resort. Its facade looked impressive under the glow of the fading golden sunset mingled in the dark clouds and it looked a luxury hotel compared to Golden Island Cottages and I assumed that house-keeping would be much better here. I was judging a book by its cover. In this case, it was the facade of the hotel! First impressions matter and would I be correct in assuming that this hotel would have no spiders and rats?
"Please make a
booking for me," I said to the tour guide who was in
the same boat with me. "Negotiate for a 50% discount
as the hotel looks empty."
"It is not possible to ask for such a large discount," she replied.
"The hotel looks deserted. If you don't ask, how do you know?" I said. I could have done it myself but that would deprive the tour guide of her commission. Besides, I don't speak the lingo. "The hotel looks as if it is 100% vacant. At 50% discount, the manager can earn money from 4 Singaporean tourists. Why would he not take the money?
The tour guide approached the front desk lady and spoke in their Myanmar language. The lady made a phone call to the manager. "It is OK," the tour guide said to me. "I will go back to Golden Island Cottages by boat and see you tomorrow."
So, the Singaporeans shifted hotel. I inspected the rooms for creepy crawlies and insects. Not a spider or a cobweb in sight. No sounds of the pattering of rat's feet inside the ceiling board. We had an excellent dinner at the hotel's exterior space under the starlight. There was no surprisingly no mosquito although a mosquito coil was smoking.