Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Snakes? Leaches? Dinosaurs?

Posted by angfonz on 13/7/2009 at 18:33

Probably a horribly ignorant question, but can I expect to find any of the above in the various bodies of water that I will be in and around?

We will be traveling from Luang Prabang all the way down to Don Dhet.

#1 angfonz has been a member since 7/7/2009. Posts: 36

Posted by angfonz on 13/7/2009 at 18:34

August - September, if that matters. I know the rains bring some unwanted friends in Indonesia, so perhaps its seasonally relevant.

#2 angfonz has been a member since 7/7/2009. Posts: 36


Posted by SBE on 13/7/2009 at 19:25

No dinosaurs I don't think. Snakes and leaches probably, but you get them everywhere...I've even seen snakes in the klongs around Bangkok. (All snakes can swim BTW).

Nice spiders in Laos too! ;-)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8675349@N06/710093804/

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Posted by MADMAC on 13/7/2009 at 19:26

I doubt you'll have any trouble with dinasours... and if you stay in the boat and then in the cities, you should be bothered with leaches or snakes either.

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Posted by angfonz on 13/7/2009 at 20:03

We aren't going to get horribly off the beaten track, but I assume there will be a lot of time spent in the water around the waterfalls, in and out of caves, and floating around like jerk tourists in VV / Don Dhet.

No foreseeable problems with this?

#5 angfonz has been a member since 7/7/2009. Posts: 36

Posted by SBE on 13/7/2009 at 20:14

Nah. I had to swim in the Mekong when the ferry sank about an hour from Pak Beng... not very nice water for swimming in but no snakes. I also did an all day canoe trip from VV to Vte and we stopped for some swimming en route. Didn't see any snakes then either.

Even if you do see one, do not panic. It's highly unlikely it'll chase after you!

Leeches on the other hand are hungry for blood so you might get a couple of them. But at least they aren't deadly, just annoying because the bites bleed.

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Posted by MADMAC on 13/7/2009 at 20:31

"Never get out of the boat. Never get out of the boat!"

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Posted by amazon_blonde on 14/7/2009 at 00:02

There are leaches around Vang Vieng, but if you're just tubing, you probably won't see any. We only got covered in them when we crossed rice fields to get to climbing crags, after it rained. When it was dry, no leaches. In any event, it was gross but not dangerous. The snakes are definitely around in the jungle, but your chances of seeing them are low.

#8 amazon_blonde has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 116

Posted by smartlyndy on 14/7/2009 at 13:09

Posted from within Vietnam.

DEET repels leeches (sorry Bruce.) Worked a treat when we did some walking in the north. We saw one green snake - they worry me a bit I must say!!
Good luck!

#9 smartlyndy has been a member since 7/5/2009. Posts: 33

Posted by smash on 14/7/2009 at 13:36

Leeches gross me out! What's the best way to try and prevent them getting on you? I've been seriously disturbed by leeches ever since I saw a doco with a guy who got one up his nose. Give me the heeby jeebies just thinking about it!

#10 smash has been a member since 21/6/2009. Posts: 162

Posted by MADMAC on 14/7/2009 at 15:30

Don't go in the water or swamps or the like - places leeches live - and you won't get one on you. I have lived here over two years and I am proud to say I have yet to get a single leech on me!!!

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Posted by busylizzy on 14/7/2009 at 16:10

"I had to swim in the Mekong when the ferry sank about an hour from Pak Beng"

SBE, now that sounds like an interesting story! Is it written up elsewhere here on TF? If not, it probably should be!

#12 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,153
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Posted by BruceMoon on 14/7/2009 at 18:59

Despite what anyone here says, there will be dinasaurs. Another term for dinosaurs is western tourist.

As others have pointed out, waterways are the home of snakes and leeches.

However, most snakes only swim in water if they can't gain access to land. So, in general, snakes won't be a big problem.

As for leeches, these lovely little critters also prefer land over water. Ordinarily, you'll find leeches adjacent to, but not necessarily in, small waterways. Some will be evident alongside larger waterways.

So, leeches can be a problem when entering/departing a waterway, but usually not while in a waterway.

As also suggested here, in the wet season, all manner of critters are swept into the waterways. The environmental impact of this detritus can be worrying to the westerner (dinasoar). but those living in SE Asia don't choose to occupy the waterways

Cheers

#13 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by BruceMoon on 14/7/2009 at 19:10

smartlyndy

Despite the DEET, a green snake is a python and not that much of a problem. At least, nothing like an angry king brown!!!

Ash, leeches aren't really a problem. Yes, they draw blood. But, once they get to their max size they just drop off. I was enjoying the Gibbon Experience earlier this year and at one point I had 14 leeches on me.

For me, leeches are less of a problem than bullticks. After brushcutting my property a few years back, my dick got a bit itchy. Upon perusal I had 12 ticks in the willy-wag. I had to soak it in Turpentine, then with tweezers, remove each. The removal process wasn't a load of fun. But, some days after removal, the site from which bullticks have been extracted become unbelievably itchy. That I was in the public domain and on view meant I coudn't scratch. Now, that was a problem[/i.

Cheers

#14 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by neosho on 14/7/2009 at 21:06

Mine's not big enough to support 12.

#15 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386

Posted by smash on 15/7/2009 at 04:46

LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good story Bruce!

Your Gibbon Ex report is one of the many stories of that activity that have me uber paranoid about leeches. honestly, they repulse me! i just pray the rains come late and skiip mid-May altogether.......

#16 smash has been a member since 21/6/2009. Posts: 162

Posted by BruceMoon on 15/7/2009 at 07:10

Ash

You're probably going to laugh, but one of the best protections against leeches is to wear two pairs of pantyhose.

The knitted nylon of pantyhose can be breeched by a small leech, which then converts itself via your blood to a big leech. But, two pairs of pantyhose right up to your waist will keep you leech free in that area.

The downside is what you think of others' thoughts of your look, and wearing same is exceedingly hot.

40 years ago, when out in the scrub for a few weeks at a time, and exposed to all sorts of waterways, etc., this worked a treat: and they were issued by our superiors.

Also, from time to time check areas near waistbands, sock tops, etc.

Cheers

#17 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by SBE on 15/7/2009 at 07:34

Were you "bushcutting" in the nude when you got into this predicament Bruce? Dip it in TURPENTINE?? Are you 100% sure that a wee dab of DEET wouldn't have been a better idea?

Pantyhose... two pairs...in the tropics. Every heard of fungal rot? No wonder you itch! ;-)

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Posted by SBE on 15/7/2009 at 07:58

PS. Busylizzy, sorry forgot to answer... mental visions of Bruce leaping about in pantyhose in the outback wielding tweezers, bit distracting... yes I think I did already mention the slow boat sinking on the slowboat thread. Here are a couple of pictures of them trying (and failing)to plug the hole in the boat.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8675349@N06/3721554781/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8675349@N06/3721555023/

We had to spend the night on a sandspit in the middle of the Mekong....good job they had a crate or two of Beer Lao in the hold.

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Posted by smash on 15/7/2009 at 08:18

lol... again, gay, but not that kind of gay! :oP will just have to get over my phobia me thinks...

#20 smash has been a member since 21/6/2009. Posts: 162

Posted by BruceMoon on 15/7/2009 at 09:42

SBE

To explain...

I then lived on a large (in some places steep) property, and where I couldn't use a ride-on, I had to brushcut (whipper snipper to some).

Brushcutters with stringlines REQUIRE one not to be in the nude - if for no other reason than the pieces of sticks, etc. being flung at great speed can be painful on the bod. Interstingly, at the time, I did have DEET sprayed onto my heavy woollen (ex army) socks.

The little buggers are small and slow crawlers. They typically travel across ones body till they find a hairy area, and once there they start chewing their way under one's skin.

I learnt years ago that one does NOT extract a live tick from one's body else the site is injected with copious amounts of anti-coagulant and venom. In such cases, the site becomes inflamed and upon recovery is just so itchy for ages and ages.

Even if one kills the tick first, the recovery, while not as tragic as should they be extracted alive, still incurs a period of itchyness.

So, for me, the better outcome is to drown the little buggers with an alcohol type fluid. I didn't have any metho, only turps. As it happened, there were so many I just got a big cup filled it with turps and lay down on it for a few minutes. Then it was a painful tweezers experience. And, as noted, it was bloody itchy for far too long.

Even sex wasn't the same for a while : (


- - -

Yep, we did get 'fungalitis', but it was either that or be covered in leeches.

I learnt a great remedy for fungal infections - especially those under toenails, etc.

Hydrogen Peroxide. It is also the best remedy for mouth ulcers.

Cheap n cheerful.

Cheers

#21 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by MADMAC on 15/7/2009 at 12:04

1983 I am on a training exercise at Ft Bragg, North Carolina. My battle buddy and I were on the land navigation course through the pines and swamps of Carloina when I he stops and I hear "Mac! Mac, I've got a tick on my dick!" I said to him "Well what do you want me to do about it? Take it off."

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Posted by BruceMoon on 15/7/2009 at 12:11

John

Did you do the 'buddy' thing and oblige?

Cheers

#23 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by MADMAC on 15/7/2009 at 14:04

Hell no! He was on his own on that one.

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Posted by BruceMoon on 15/7/2009 at 14:14

John

That's what I can never understand about US grunts, they never know when they'll owe their life to their buddy. But when the chips are down he isn't a worth that special extra effort.

Mmmmm!!!!

#25 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by MADMAC on 15/7/2009 at 14:47

Hey, if it was serious, I'd have called a medic to handle it. As it was, he was able to deal with it on his own.

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Posted by SBE on 15/7/2009 at 21:18

Well I wasn't going to mention this in case there were people of a sensitive nature reading this but I might as well now we've had all those gory details from Bruce and Madmac.

During the week or two I was on Pulau Weh (Indonesia) I saw two local people with ticks on their upper eyelids. Their eyes swelled up horribly and it was quite painful. They just had to wait till the ticks fell off. Soaking your eyelids in things like ether or turpentine isn't really a good idea and as Bruce says, if you squash them when try to pull them off it makes things a lot worse.

"They typically travel across ones body till they find a hairy area, and once there they start chewing their way under one's skin."

The ticks on Pulau Weh probably dropped from the trees (it was quite jungly where we stayed). They must have crawled through a quite lot of hair before reaching the eyelids...you sure about that theory Bruce?

I've made a mental note to dress up as a bank robber next time I go back there anyway! Ticks are also vectors for rather a lot of rather nasty diseases ... AFAIK leeches aren't.

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Posted by BruceMoon on 15/7/2009 at 21:56

SBE

I'm no expert on ticks. I've only endured a couple of hundred or so over the years.

The pattern I know is that ticks are on vegetation cause they are awaiting a mammal.

In my locality, mammals normally occur at grass high (eg kangaroo, wallaby, potaroo, bandicoot, etc). So, ticks tend to gather on the leg area.

Yes, some have had ticks on eyelids, ear canals, etc. But, generally, they tend to go for hairy areas: groin, armpit, base of scalp, etc.

In some respects, leeches are less of a problem than ticks: especially grass ticks as they never really get big. Aside from the paralysis aspect, at least a bull ticks is easier to remove. Do you know the bull tick?

For a list of our ticks, see:

http://www.tickalert.org.au/ixholdet.htm

I think I prefer leeches as they just swell up, and once they are large, one can easily flick them off.

But, I suppose I'm used to vermin as I grew up with same. I'd rather deal with ticks & leeches than Taipan or king brown or death adder...

http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/features/snakes/dangerous/index.asp

Anyway...

Cheers

#28 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by MADMAC on 15/7/2009 at 23:17

Ticks like warm, moist parts of the body, so not surprisingly they are drawn to the groin. However, clothes usually restrict access, so they bore in on where they can.

And yes, hair gives them something to hold onto while boring...

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Posted by Intrepid82 on 23/7/2009 at 09:38

Forget leeches and snakes.....I would be far more concerned about water borne parasites......ewwww

#30 Intrepid82 has been a member since 21/4/2009. Posts: 33

Posted by MADMAC on 23/7/2009 at 12:32

"I would be far more concerned about water borne parasites"

Indeed - we're back to "never get out of the boat".

#31 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by laos_info on 26/7/2009 at 11:10

Dinosaurs are only found in Savannakhet - biggest problem is likely to be bumping into the awful statues they seem very keen on putting up around the place.

#32 laos_info has been a member since 19/1/2009. Location: Laos. Posts: 13


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