Why is it that cockroaches can grow so big in Hong Kong? Is it the Chinese food?
In the summer of 1997 I was a student staying in the ultra-clean, super-duper Anne Black Guest House YMCA in Yau Ma Tei. If you ever want to stay in budget accommodation in Hong Kong this is the place to be. But in this hygenic environment I had my first encounter with a fabulously big specimen.
I was taking a shower when I saw it - it was the size of a small rat - coming at me. I screamed, wrapped myself in a towel and called the reception desk.
"There's a cockroach here!"
I shouted in panic. The reaction of the staff was suitably over-the-top - within minutes I heard footsteps and two men turned up, neither of them even taking a second to eye me up in my towel. One of them was clad in Ghostbuster-style pest extermination gear.
"Where is the cockroach?"
They had the wild-eyed look of hunters - they spotted their target and promptly started exclaiming in Chinese at its size. I was trembling at the thought of it coming any nearer to us.
And here's the worst part - when the two men tried to stamp it to death, it screamed. There was also a massive crunching sound.
I saw one on the way in to work today - it just gives me the shivers thinking about it.