Vanessa Skilton

How many of us have an absolute fear?

A fear that makes your heart race uncontrollably and irrational thoughts when facing this fear?

On my last journey to Cambodia, I decided to try and conquer my fear of spiders, with one of the biggest of them all, a Tarantula!

In September 2019 I visited one of my new favourite countries, Cambodia. This is the second visit for me as a tour host, and yet again it was an amazing journey meeting new people and learning more incredible stories from the locals.

In 2018, on my first visit to Cambodia, we stopped at a village renowned for cooking and eating a delicacy; Tarantula. Now anyone who knows me well, knows that a) I am from Australia who have a multitude of spiders and b) have an absolute fear of one particularly big hairy spider called Sparassidae, aka Huntsman Spider.

When we rocked up to this village, I was prepared to see some frizzled spiders laid out on trays for our group to try if they might. What I was NOT prepared for, was a swag of kids standing outside the door of our coach with live Tarantula in their hands. After a quick photo opportunity, I backtracked and decided the bus was the safest place to be.

Once we left, I felt sad that I had this quite irrational fear of these big hairy oafs. I told one of the guys on the trip that I wish I didn’t have a fear and one day I need to try to conquer it.

Fast forward to September 2019. We arrived into the same town again, this time I knew there would be some disheveled kids hanging half a metre from the bus with these pets hanging out on their hats, which didn’t necessarily make the experience any more pleasant to face.

After maybe a couple of minutes, and to the shock of some of the ladies on the bus, I decided to get off to take a closer look. I quietly asked our guide, Raty, if he would help me try and pat one of the furry creatures. So with his help, I did. I’m not sure what made me decide to do the next step, I said to the group of 9 on the bus watching me, “someone needs to have their camera ready.”

“someone needs to have their camera ready”.

After quite a few deep breaths, Raty then put a spider in his hand and I gave him the nod to put it on my hand.  So there, right there, is one of my biggest fears, Sitting in my hand. Innocently looking at me and wanting to just chill and make me feel ok. It’s feet felt like it had little kitten paws, and we all know I like felines!  I know I only held this ENORMOUS spider for maybe a couple of minutes, however the pride I felt afterward was just astonishing.

Although I can’t guarantee that I won’t squirm when I see another big hairy spider, I can say that I was able to conquer a HUGE fear of mine.  Raty reckons next year I must try and eat one.  I’m not so sure about that!