Tag: living overseas

Fighting the cockroach invasion

Fighting the cockroach invasion

It’s the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen. Its black body and wriggling antennae jolt me out of the stupor of taking a two am pee.

I can’t scream. If I scream, it’ll scuttle away into my apartment and I might never see it again. But I’ll know it’s there, watching me.

I need to finish peeing and not make any sudden movements. Not taking my eyes off of it as I stand slowly and pull my pyjama bottoms back up, I watch it walk on the edge of my bookcase, just past the bathroom doorway.

It must be aware of me, but contentedly moves its feelers about, possibly eating the press board at the back of my bookcase: apparently they eat everything. Pressing myself against the opposite side of the door frame, I move as fluidly as I can to get out of the bathroom.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen cockroaches in my apartment. From what I understand โ€“ and in Korea, this sometimes isn’t much โ€“ the building is infested. Before this, however, the sightings were rare and the bugs were tiny and yellowish.

Tonight though, this bug is as long as my thumb and looks capable of biting or procreating. Wanting to keep the biting and the procreating in my apartment to a minimum, something will have to be done.

Once through the doorway, I walk quickly toward the bottle of RAID that Michael, the teacher who lived here before me, thoughtfully left behind. I creep back to the cockroach, half-afraid it’ll be gone.

It isn’t.

I shudder, then aim the RAID and spray. The body drops to the ground, its legs moving wildly and I shriek once, but keep spraying. I don’t stop until its legs stop twitching.

Its overturned body appears half the size it did two minutes ago. Staring in disgust, I can’t bring myself to pick it up, not even with tissues. It could be playing dead. Hesitating, I leave the light on as I go back to bed.

Spending the rest of the night reading about the habits and life cycle of Asian cockroaches, I go back every twenty minutes to make sure it’s still there.

It is.

After the sun comes up, I finally fall asleep, exhausted. Letting it serve as a warning to others, I decide to leave the body there. Let all cockroaches know: if we’re going to share this apartment, they’d better be a lot better at hiding than this fool.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Anil Jadhav.

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There’s bravery…

There’s bravery…

We’re on a mission requiring bravery in the face of both terror and disgust and not everyone is going to make it. But I intend to last to the bitter, slimy end.

We arrive at Wolmido after work on a Tuesday evening, and other people rush to the flashier, better-painted Viking ships. But we know better. The one closest to the water, the ugliest of the the three is the one to go and test your mettle. We head there immediately.

Facing each other from across the ship, we fill the seats on either end. Purses placed on the side, lights are starting to come on as the sun goes down. Slinging the strap over our shoulders as an extra safety precaution, we pull the metal bar down over our laps.

Slowly the ship starts to swing, and we smile. The first time I get butterflies in my stomach on a downward swing, I cry out laughing.

This is the carnival ride I remember from teenage years, finding some excitement in a place eight hours from the nearest amusement park. I let go of the bar for an extra thrill.

When the ship is completely vertical, I hold the bar with one hand. I’m glad the strap is on, but I wish I’d checked to make sure that it wasn’t frayed or loose before the ride started.

The bar wobbles, though it never lets go. I imagine the faces of my friends on the opposite side if it did, our bodies flying toward their terrified grins.

The Vikings brutally killed their enemies and I can hear a sadistic edge to the carnie’s voice as he calls out in Korean words I can’t understand. We scream as the ship goes past vertical and tilts us upside down.

Gripping the bar with both hands while we’re frozen in the air, Emile starts screaming in real terror. Our fear is only blunted by the pure joy of survival. If this bar lets go, I hope I’ll be unconscious before I hit anything on the downward swing.

Swinging down and back up, we watch our friends’ frozen smiles above us as they hang from their straps.

Slowing down, the ride returns to vertical and gradually horizontal positions, filling us with relief and disappointment. I both want to do it again right away and never again in my entire life.

Pulling the strap off me, my legs wobbling, I’m still stunned as we walk past the batting cages to the water. We made it through this first challenge, but I’m not sure if we can all live up to the next. Still reeling, muscles shaking, we begin our search for a restaurant serving live octopus.