Checked into a (Travelfish recommended) guesthouse in Khao Sok today, and after I turned out the lights I discovered i was being attacked by a large number of bedbugs. I'm a middle-aged woman traveling alone for the first time in Asia and had never encountered them before. Told the owner (late at night) who verified the problem and had me pack up and move to another room. I have no faith that when I turn off the lights again, a new swarm of bedbugs won't come out over here. So I will probably stay up all night with lights on.
My questions are: (1) I need to move on tomorrow, am just too creeped out and also don't care for the frat party scene around here. I've always been the type to plan lodging way in advance, and have a room reserved in Krabi this Saturday before I catch the ferry to the islands. But nothing now for Thursday and Friday nights. I just wrote to the Krabi place asking if I could come early, but at this hour probably no one is reading emails and they're probably full. If that doesn't work, how do I find a comfortable flashpacker type room on such short notice? Forgot to mention my phone is broken, so that just leaves email. Ugh.
Question #2 is about the bedbugs themselves. Is it likely they're in my belongings now, and what do I do about that? Also I guess I should avoid telling other guesthouses what happened or they'll think I'm Typhoid Mary. Honestly I'm a little panicked and will be very grateful for any constructive advice!
Ah that's not exactly good news. I have heard that it is excessively difficult to get rid of bed bugs. I haven't had any personal experience with them but I do not believe they are easy to get rid of once they are in your luggage. If you were wearing anything I would think about discarding it. Instead of mixing it in with "clean" luggage. I believe they are attracted to carbon
Dioxide, but could be wrong. Check along seams of clothing for signs of the bugs and always keep your stuff off the floor when possie. Tables or the luggage racks are ideal. When I look
For bed bugs I remove the sheets and check the bed for blood
Like droplets (from people squishing the bugs when they roll in their sleep).
#2 Brute has been a member since 16/12/2012. Posts: 36
Oh dear, sorry to hear that.
Don't panic about finding alternative accommodation - it is really easy in most places. Go for a walk, and when you see a guesthouse that looks okay from the outside, stop in and ask if they have any rooms available, and how much. If it sounds good, ask to see the room - then check the bedding and area around the bed carefully for telltale signs (as Brute mentioned, small bloodstains or tiny black spots on the sheets/mattress, shed shells around the bed frame and between the bed frame and the wall). You'll be able to quickly get an idea of the room and whether it will suit you.
It's possible some have tried to hitch a ride on your clothes or in your luggage - check the seams of what you were wearing carefully, as well as any clothes lying near the bed/on the floor/etc. The adults are easily visible, although the eggs are harder to spot (although it sounds like you noticed the problem quickly, which will reduce the chances of any laying eggs).
If clothes have become infested, wash them at 60Âº or put them in a dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes to kill the bugs. Any guesthouse should be able to arrange to have things properly laundered for you. And don't be embarased about feeling like a Typhoid Mary - these infestations are not uncommon, and any guesthouse owner will know it's not your fault.
Not sure where you are staying because I didn't see anywhere in Khao Sok that even closely resembled a "frat party scene". Walk down to Smiley's Bungalows and rent a brick bungalow. They are cheap, nice and clean and things are quiet there.
Most important thing to learn from this is check your mattresses, especially if you question the cleanliness etc of the room/guesthouse. Pick up the mattress corner and check seams etc for bedbugs and or black spots/other signs of them. If you see anything ask for a different room or go somewhere else(tell the owner about the bugs as well too).
"If you are planning at staying at the lakehouse, please double check with the owner that you will not be staying the same night as the organised Canadian party tour (unless you want to join in of course)!!! I was surprised and shocked when arriving at the lakehouse in the middle of the national park to find very loud music, 30 very drunk backpackers and piles of sick ... and this was at 2pm! Not quite what I was expecting when I booked a floating bungalow on a national park lake. This only got worse throughout the evening and we spent the whole evening hearing the sound of dance music, vomitting into the lake and "attempted" sex right outside our door. When I spoke to the staff at the lake house, they mentioned that the organised party tour visits the lake house 2-3 times a month. When I asked the owner why she had failed to warn us that there was an organised party tour at the bungalows the night we were staying, she replied in the rudest way "What do you want me to do about it?" She never apologised or said I should of told you about the party. Finally, when we asked for our money back, the owner and her male colleague physically tried to put our bags and us into their car so they could take us to the "police station". This was shocking!! I stayed only at the lake house and this has nothing to do with the quality of the accomodation, location or food. However, the owner's attitude and apparent money grabbing customer service was disgraceful!!!"
from another site talking about Smiley's
That is too bad. I really liked Smiley's and Khao Sok in general. Being there when a large tour and getting a room with bed bugs is definitely bad luck. They keep things quite clean from what I remember but unfortunately all it takes is one infested tourist for bed bugs to get hold. Make sure you take the advice of others so hopefully you don't go spreading bed bugs around other places now.
Leonard, that is exactly what happened to me. I arranged way in advance ago to do the overnight lakehouse thing and reconfirmed twice. I had chosen Smiley specifically bc their lakehouse seemed to be a cut above, and I told them so. No one ever told me I would be the only person not from Free and Easy, whose members are very proud of their rowdiness. When I checked in yesterday I was informed that the lakehouse experience would be very very loud and I should stay somewhere much more basic if I wanted quiet. So I switched to the day tour. That was before the midnight bedbug fiasco. I was moved to a different room but have now seen bedbugs there as well. This may sound unethical, but I plan to leave stealthily today and head for Krabi. I do not want to pay for this nightmare and I certainly don't want to get in an argument about it.
Good luck. Be careful though, some Thais flip out about money. I once tried on a shirt in Chiang Rai and then handed it back and said I didn't want it and the woman was angry because I tried it on but didn't buy. Not all Thais are that rude but some are and they can spit the dummy.
Can I ask what the room costs are?
They don't have a passport copy, just my email address, but you have a good point about the low cost. So I will pay if they insist, though it wouldn't be right to pay for a room I couldn't sleep in bc of bedbugs! Anyway, thanks so much.
You mentioned "Typhoid Mary" so I assume you might be from the States: New York is one of the most bed bug infested places on the planet!
Bed bugs aren't nice and their bites are very very itchy but there is no proof that they transmit infectious diseases. It's basically the grossness factor and the itchiness.
I remember one hotel in China where a legion of them came to the side of the bed I was on and I walked around to the other side and they turned around and started heading over there! Yes, as Brute says, they are attracted to the CO2 so if you are breathing they will find you! A change of sheets and loads of insect spray helped that night. To be honest though, I probably did myself more harm from the insect spray.
Some hotels won't use blood-stained sheets so another thing to look out for is the amount of wooden furniture in the room. That is where they live. A cheaper, sparsely decorated room is less likely to have them than a room with a big wooden bed frame and headboard, bedside cabinets and wooden wardrobes.
I'm pretty sure that you won't meet them again this holiday and I'm sure they didn't get in your luggage!
Thanks for your kind words, Tennouji. Actually in the week since the incident, I've spotted several stragglers, so I do think they got into my bags. It's reassuring to know they don't spread disease. What worries me sick is the possibility of my belongings infesting my condo when I get home (near San Francisco) this weekend. It will be clear to my landlord that I brought them back from Thailand and I'll have to pay for the extermination(s). Worse, my lease ends this summer and I very strongly want to stay in the same community, but I doubt any of my neighbors would want to rent to me knowing about this. So I'm taking a lot of precautions before I reenter the condo. Wish me luck!
Otherwise, my trip to Thailand has been a dream, thanks in large part to the Travelfish community!
-- Bedbug Laurie
Karibou I as well as others can't wish you luck in a situation like that. You were given the information required to deal with the situation and instead have likely spread bed bugs in every place you have stayed since leading to the future infestation of many other tourists. No serious offense meant by this but it is people like yourself that cause bed bugs to be spread in the first place. Quit worrying about yourself and take the proper steps to mitigate the issue. Ironically you also won't have to worry about yourself after that either...
With regards to the bedbugs ...
Their thermal death-point is, theoretically, 48C-50C, which is not very hot. This will, however, kill all life stages of the insect ... adults, nymphs, and eggs. I believe it can get hotter than that in a car with its windows rolled up in the summertime. The best way to expose your stuff to this temperature range is to wash everything in hot water and then tumble dry on high heat, and do this the day before you get onto the plane. Then, just to make sure, bag your clothes, and everything else you are taking home with you, and seal them very tightly. In fact, do this with everything. Don't leave anything loose in your baggage.
If you've noticed hitchhikers, then you should consider ditching your bag and getting a new, cheap one. Keep it well away from the bed and your other bag and pack it just before heading to the airport, and then throw it away when you get home. In the meantime, keep the bag you're using now in a tightly sealed plastic bag when you're staying in one spot for a while in order to NOT spread the infestation.
If you cannot get your stuff washed, or if you have clothes/items that won't handle a hot wash and/or dry cycle, either ditch them or throw them into sturdy plastic bags and throw in a few busted mosquito coils (also in a plastic bag with holes poked in it), then seal the bags TIGHTLY. The active ingredient in most mosquito coils is usually pyrethrum/pyrethroid, or a derivative of it, which is one of the main weapons used against bedbugs. In Canada it is the only chemical that can be legally used. Unfortunately, there is a high degree of resistance to the compounds but some are still susceptible to it. When you get home, if you can, pop the stuff that can't be washed into a freezer (preferably a chest/deep freezer.) Someone mentioned above that this will kill them. It will, but you need to expose your stuff to a temperature of -10C or colder for up to 5 consecutive days. Overnight won't do it and definitely won't kill any eggs that might have been laid.
Just to clarify a couple of things ...
- Spotting on sheets, mattresses, and walls are sometimes a result of them being squashed by people, but usually the spots are caused by them "leaking" blood after they feed. Sometimes they overfeed and in order to make room in the gut some of the ingested blood has to be evacuated and is forced out the anus. Some spots are also formed when their fecal material gets wet. It's just digested, dried-up blood after all. This is why you find spotting in areas on a mattress/box spring, and on sheets in areas where people wouldn't normally see them. Some of those blood spots on the walls are from squashed mosquitoes, as well.
- They are attracted to CO2, but also by body heat.
- Eggs, when laid, are "cemented" into place and can't typically be shaken from clothing, luggage, or anything else they are laid in. Eggs are also not effected by chemical treatments.
- Only heat is 100% effective at killing all lifestages of the insect.
- Bedbugs are not fans of metal and prefer to stay hidden during the daytime in non-metallic, dark, undisturbed places. As mentioned above, they prefer wood to metal, but have no problem hiding in any place or thing that is quiet and close to their food source. So, unlikely you're going to find them in, for example, a bathroom, which would make a bathroom a good place to keep your things at night.
You may have to make a small investment of time and money to make sure you don't bring any back with you. Trust me, it will be worth it. Having a house or apartment treated can be financially crippling, not to mention disruptive, taxing, and stigmatizing for some. Chemical treatments are the least expensive, usually require 2-4 individual treatments, and are the least effective.
If you have any specific questions about them, PM me.
Enjoy Koh Jum. I was there in 1993 for about a month and loved it.
Tilapia, I can't thank you enough for your expertise and well wishes. Geer, no need to be mean -- I've done everything all of you advised except ditch my backpack, which I now know I should do. Some of us don't have experience with these things and that's why we turn to Travelfish for help.
If you can't find a laundrette before coming home (and if you hand things in to be washed, it may well be done in cold water) could you spread your things out all day on some kind of balcony or roof garden of your hotel? You often see cheaper bungalows placing the matresses of unoccupied rooms out in the sun all day to kill any bedbugs. Perhaps behind a window or something that would generate more heat. It's pretty hot in Thailand now, right?!
Then, seal everything as Tilapia suggests and as soon as you get home leave your stuff at the door and carry everything straight to the washing machine.
If you buy a cheap new bag just for bringing everything home, you don't need to bring it into your appartment: seal it and think about how you dispose of it so any bugs don't reinfest someone else.
Hi, I 'm the OP writing to follow up on this matter. After reading the above posts I threw out as much as I could bear to lose (like books and paperwork), securing it tightly in plastic bags. The remaining clothes went to a commercial laundry in Krabi, which probably didn't do much to help but made me feel a little better. I came home a little over 2 weeks ago, quarantining literally everything that was still left, in garbage bags on the side of my porch. The clothes I was wearing got stripped off outside and immediately thrown into a hot dryer for 3 hours. Eventually everything else that could be washed got the same treatment, including the backpacks, which survived amazingly well. Everything that couldn't go in the washer/dryer (like binoculars) went into the freezer, where it still is. So far I haven't seen any signs of bugs or eggs since Krabi, but I'm still hyper vigilant anytime I feel a sensation on my skin or imagine something moving out of the corner of my eye. Still not sure when I can safely unload the freezer stuff and when I should be able to tell that the coast is entirely clear. This nightmare has had some psychological effects that will hopefully ease with time. Anyway, thanks for helping me get through it with minimal spread of bugs to my condo and fellow travelers.
Glad you got home bedbug free.
It sounds like you did everything right so I'd take that stuff out of the freezer and try to relax and forget about it now!
It's always good to read reports of recent trips so post away!
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#34 sampitter has been a member since 23/4/2014. Posts: 3