Always check your shoes. – Tales from Issan.

In any country where shoes are left outside, you want to check your shoes. Actually, you NEED to check your shoes. Case in point, my friend and travel companion narrowly avoided putting his foot into a shoe with a toad hiding out in it. Shook the bumpy fellow out and back to it’s pond. The next morning he forgot to check again and ended up with a shock and an unhappy toad. Luckily the toad survived, the shoe wasn’t slimed, and my friend was able to live without the horrible memory of squishing a frog.

I was, on the other hand, less lucky but more lucky. I shake my shoes regularly, but for some reason one day I felt a bump in it. It rolled around a bit as I walked, like a large pea or something. I was wearing thick wool hiking socks. What I like about them is that even in the 90 temp 90 humidity weather that makes up a large part of Thailand they stay cool, comfortable, and protect my feet from blisters. On this occasion, they protected me from something far more sinister… onwards….

I decide to err on the side of caution and remove the shoe and not only give it a good shake but hit it on the ground to shake anything inside loose. A large black insect fell out. Strange looking, it had a half dessicated look to it on the back, but the other body parts were firm and healthy. Immediately a memory in the back of my mind screamed TICK!

Ok, I figured, it’s a Tick. I ran the scenario through my mind quickly. Large, engorged, that means it fed recently. Flabby, not full, that means it had been digesting for the better part of a day. No pain on my feet or legs, and I had been checking for bits pretty regularly, and there were dogs running around, so I thought it was most likely a tick, fat and full, dropped off from a dog and seeking a quiet place to digest before going on the hunt again.

I hit it with my shoe. I was not quite prepared for how much blood was in it. At the bottom of the photo is the tick and the initial splatter. The majority of the blood and guts, however, shot forward about 6-8″ hitting the step and the dripping as a glob slowly down the step. It was like a miniature diorama of a some horror movie. The blood was thick and dark and was slightly coagulated. Pretty disgusting. I’m glad it wasn’t my blood.

When I looked again in a few minutes, the tiny ants that aren’t a bother up there (they run around a lot but never bite) were all over it, eating and presumably carrying away tiny bits of coagulated dog blood and tick carcass.

It didn’t have to be a harmless toad, or a satiated tick. It could have been one of these:

or a poisonous spider, or a snake, or a scorpion..

My friends, always check your shoes.