Stealth Mozzies

Mosquitos in Europe can be nasty little critters, but with one saving grace; at least when you’re awake, you can generally hear them zinging about the room. Plus even if you don’t have 20/20 vision, you can usually spot them in hover mode, waiting to pounce. In this part of the world however, they seem to have at least one mutant variety, henceforth baptised the ‘stealth mosquito’.

Thai mozzies apparently come equipped with special stealth technology. Simple really – they just don’t make any noise. These stealth mozzies also seem to come in various sizes, from XXL down to microscopic (ie invisible to the naked eye). Irrespective of size, they also seem to have developed a further weapon for their arsenal – the itch delay mechanism. This can be set for anything from a couple of minutes to several hours, thereby ensuring the mozzie with a healthy appetite can feast on its unsuspecting victim at its leisure. The entomologically-inclined may beg to differ, but I’d bet those that do haven’t met the Thai mosquito.

It also seems to be intellectually superior to its Western equivalent. They avoid hiding on white walls, make themselves completely scarce when fully gorged, and seem to know to lie in wait for unsuspecting tourists in shorts in areas where food supply is plentiful (ie in the roadside gutters beside pavement bars and restaurants). Defensive methods in your home are limited to scorched air tactics – firmly closing all windows while you spray the entire building with Thai mosquito killer, something that smells like neat DDT and is capable of asphyxiating the unwary if you re-enter a room within several hours of treatment. The smell can persist for days.

… This is one good reason to learn not only basic spoken, but also written Thai, in fact. Yes - virtually everything is very cheap here, in comparison with the West. But often instructions and explanations will be in Thai only, or at best translated by a non-English speaker into our native tongue, with mixed results ranging from simple incomprehensibility to a complete travesty of the original meaning. (On a related topic, if you happen to find yourself in a bathroom in a Thai person’s home, and grab a flower-decorated gel-shaped bottle of ‘Essence’ – the only word in English on the container not written in miniature font size – don’t. It is NOT shower gel. It is in fact a laundry detergent, whose cleansing properties cause red blotches and painful swollen spots on any parts of the body with which it comes in contact. These only emerge some minutes after a scrub-down, leaving you ample time to cover your entire body with the offending product. On the positive side, the pain dies down within 24 hours, the spotty rash taking two or three days more to subside, but eventually disappearing altogether…)

Back on the subject of the neat DDT mosquito deterrents… if you think the resultant risk of dying from cancer is considerably greater than contracting dengue fever or malaria, you can opt for the less effective but far more satisfying hand-held zapper – a tennis racket-shaped, rechargeable contraption that not only gives off a resounding electric ‘crack’ when coming into contact with a zigzagging bogey, but then proceeds to barbecue the nasty critter, giving off a plume of smoke, until it is literally fried to a crisp. (Maybe I’ve some little way to go before achieving a meaningful level of metta meditation practice… ;)

You can buy various types of repellent for the times you venture out into the open air, but once again you should make sure that you are not dousing yourself with a product containing considerably more carcinogenic substances that would be permitted back home. Not an easy task, given the language difficulties, as well as the lax levels of quality control that appears to extend through so many areas of Thai life. Alternatively you can always wear jeans and socks... despite the 38 degrees and 95% humidity. Not an easy choice …

No comments: