Hanging with bats by Erin Craig

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Bat-Tree

 

Erin Craig is a 1999 graduate of the West Bend High Schools. She’s on a fabulous adventure writing travel articles for bbc.com, Roads & Kingdoms, Get Lost magazine, and Wanderlust magazine  in countries such as South Korea, Thailand, Myanmar and currently she, and husband Sam, are “bumming around Vietnam.”

I’ve been following her travel blog with envy and since she has a strong tie to West Bend (her mom is Ann Marie Craig, owner of Century Farmhouse Soaps) I decided to share some of her posts and what better way to start than her encounter with bats – thousands and thousands of bats.

Hanging with bats by Erin Craig

The pair of enormous trees curled over us like umbrellas. And every single branch dripped with bats.

Sam and I were on a tuk tuk tour of the area around Battambang, Cambodia. We’d stopped at a monastery an hour’s drive south of town, famous for now obvious reasons. I was discovering that I shared many qualities with the Dark Knight – fear of bats being a big one. (Also, a husky voice and an insatiable need to catch the Joker.)  Yes, I know bats are mosquito-eating machines and deserve a humanitarian award. And in Cambodian lore, vampirism is genetic,* so no worries there.

But fear still pricked at the back of my mind. What if we got bit? What if we caught rabies?

There are a lot of shots involved in traveling the world. Hepatitis A and B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis – we’d been pincushioned these last few years. But we neglected the rabies vaccine for several well-considered reasons (or so they seemed at the time). The vaccination process takes nearly a month. Chances of getting rabies on the tourist trail are remote. Even if we were bitten, the vaccine isn’t wholly effective. We’d need another round of injections anyway.

But the biggest deterrent was expense. Our last round of injections happened in South Korea, where rabies shots are really, really expensive. Getting vaccinated would have cost more than all Sam’s hospital bills last year. This is because rabies is so rare in Korea that they don’t need to stock much of the vaccine.

But Southeast Asia is lousy with the disease, so shots here are super cheap. Hooray! (Wait…)

So we didn’t get immunized, figuring we’d cross that bridge if we came to it. And just across the Iron Bridge, surrounded by bald monks and touristy vendors, I was staring up into my day of reckoning.

To read the rest of Erin’s post – including this gem, “Their meat is delicious.”

I blinked. “Their meat? People eat the bats? That’s the problem?”

“Oh, yes,” he nodded. “The villagers are not supposed to kill the bats, but sometimes… because the animals eat fruit all the time, they are very sweet…”

More of the story by clicking on the link below.

Hanging With Bats

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  1. Posted by judith ann morarty

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