February 14, 2015

Facing the Leech!

Mel: Part of our Southeast Asia adventure in 2013 was a three day jungle zip-line trek in Laos. The man who organized the trek, Thor, wrote us this email beforehand:

Dear Kate,
Regarding the tree top explorer, it would be good for you to get the leech socks as on the way we trek approximately 1,5 km you will face the leech. However, beginning of May is still in dry season so there will be fewer leech.

Kate: Thor! I'm still a little sad that he wasn't our actual guide after all our emails. I pictured him leading us through the jungle with his giant hammer. Though our actual guide Mr. Bahn made up for it with his pocket-sized hotness.

hot Mr. Bahn helping Kate
Kate: I love how panic-stricken we were about those leeches and in the end, you got one leech on your neck and didn't even notice until it had already fallen off.

Mel: Umm, hold up.

I was so panic-stricken that I ordered leech socks from a company in Malaysia, Endemic Guides, before the trip.  So I had socks sent to me in California from Malaysia, only to turn around and bring them with me to Southeast Asia - I must have been super freaked for that to make sense at the time. And if Thor's warning was not enough, the images on the Endemic Guides website was enough to give me nightmares.

As for your level of leech anxiety before the trip, you wrote in one of many emails about leech socks to me:

the countdown has officially begun! here are the things i have left to do. let me know if you can think of anything else...

still need leech socks (might be able to borrow from a friend)

do we need hiking boots or will sneakers suffice? 

want to print everything out and send itinerary to some folks in case i die in a leech attack

I think you were staying pretty calm though until you started watching leech YouTube videos the night before we left for the trek. That was enough to convince you to go to the local shopping mall in Pakse Laos to buy long tube socks and salt for us to slather on our legs.

Kate: I also think all those Chang beers we consumed while watching the YouTube videos added to my paranoia.

Mel: I kind of feel like looking up leech attack videos on YouTube is like trying to self-diagnose on WebMD; you just can't help yourself but it's really NEVER a good idea.

Kate: OMG do you remember the one that burrowed through that man's hiking boot?!? Just thinking about it makes me want to check my shoes. 

Mel: Exactly! Thor wasn't playing around when he warned us.

Kate's "leech socks" and Mel's legit leech socks
Mel: I'm glad we got that photo if only because you wrote in an email before the trip:
just emailed thor to ask if we need leech socks. i'm secretly hoping we have to get them, if only for the amazing photos!

Mel inspecting her legs for leeches (and hot Mr. Bahn on the right)
Mel: This photo was taken about an hour into the hike. I wasn't tired enough yet at this point to stop caring about the leeches.

As it turns out, I only ended up facing one leech on the trek. One leech on my neck. Luckily, one of our guides removed it with his thumb before I even knew it was there. The blood was gross, but I was mostly just curious as to how I got a leech on my neck?!

leech removal from Mel's neck was a success!
Mel: So I got one leech on the neck and you were leech-free the whole time. I guess the leech socks and all the salt might have been a little overkill?

Kate: Maybe, but I think the prostitute on our trip got bit a couple times. Those short-shorts probably weren't a great idea.

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