Being a volunteer in a country like Vietnam means that there are so many different things to get used to as well as adjusting to working with a new team of people. One of the things is the general wildlife – the insects and other creatures you encounter. I am living in a room in the “yellow bungalow ” for my stay – it’s not really a bungalow but it does have a yellow tiled floor so presumably that’s why it’s so named. I have a room to myself but the kitchen is a communal area and the shower room/toilet doubles as a laundry. It is also occupied by at least two frogs! This makes every visit into a mini search – where are the frogs THIS time?
The first time I used the toilet it was at night and the shower room was dimly lit, so when I saw a dark mass at the bottom of the toilet bowl that seemed to move, I wasn’t sure whether it was my imagination, or even whether it was just “inefficient flushing”. So I flushed anyway, just to be on the safe side, and the darkness disappeared – phew! I had once watched a video of a rat coming up a toilet and I am not sure how I would feel if I was confronted with that in real life.
I was now alert to the possibility of movement in the toilet, so with the next visit I peered in carefully before I sat down… nothing – great. But then when I flushed, a little spindly body with legs flailing went swooshing round the bend! Clearly he had been hiding under the rim and had been flushed out. This happened for several days – not every time I flushed but a lot of the time. If I had my camera ready to film the flush he wasn’t there, if I didn’t he usually was. Then he decided that he would just be swimming in the bowl when I went into the room but if I peered in he would swim away.
Other times he would bring a friend and one would be in the water while the other was just above the water line, probably shouting encouragement. Occasionally one would be in the bowl and one in the shower. So many choices. Fortunately the Vietnamese toilet frog is small and extremely cute because it is making my trips to the toilet (especially those half asleep night time ones) very entertaining!
The yellow bungalow is also home to a few geckos – I have no idea how many because they are so fast and they scuttle behind the fridge or washing machine as soon as you switch the light on. I can also hear them calling outside – there are at least two species because they have very different calls but I have yet to catch a glimpse of one.
Before my trip I had Googled spiders and snakes, thinking these would be commonly encountered but so far no snakes and only one spider. It was high up in its web between two trees but impressive all the same. I don’t mind spiders at home but I like to know what I am dealing with so I would need to find out whether it would eat mosquitoes or not before welcoming it into the yellow bungalow!
If you want to keep up to date with the other great work Animal Asia are doing please follow the links below:-