Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mosquito Night

I got my first mosquito bite on my third day back in Korea, and as bites go it turned out to be rather a painful one for some reason. I've never got on with these insects, and they regularly disturbed my sleep back in the one-room apartment I used to live in. While I have been known to chase 'mogis' around at 3am for as long as 30 minutes at a time, the 'one room' at least had the advantage of being universally decorated in a plain beige colour - which made spotting the offending insects relatively easy. By contrast the apartment we live in now has patterned ceilings and a lot of dark wood, making it much easier for them to blend in.

While it's certainly the case in my experience that most Koreans just put up with the nightly blood-sucking during the mosquito season, we had at least one friend with netting over her bed. It was quite a simple affair hanging from a screw in the ceiling, but it seemed to do the job. So I thought we had to find our own solution rather than being constantly attacked at night, so now we are here permanently it seemed high time to look for a solution to the mosquito problem. We found a website selling various netting and netted enclosures which promised in English to be "Practical use in your trivial round of daily life" - which certainly sounded as though they had my existence figured out.

Because I'd left my wife to do the research and the purchasing, I only saw some brief images of frame-based tent-like structures which I believed would take a little assembly. There was nothing to dispel that impression when the package arrived on Saturday, but I was taken aback when I happened to turn around for a few seconds as she unpacked it, and turned back to see the device had exploded into position on our bed. The whole process couldn't have taken much more than five seconds, though more work was involved in trying to fit it to the bed properly - a task we ultimately didn't quite succeed in accomplishing due to bed being slightly larger than a standard size. It fits well enough though - and certain enough to be effective. They call it a 'Speed Tent' on the cover and they aren't wrong.

Access to and from the bed is now made via a zip on one side of the tent, which takes a little getting used to, but once inside one can hopefully sleep without that sudden middle-of-the-night buzzing near the ear which signals a mosquito honing in on its target. It won't need to be on the bed all year round - just during mosquito season - but in my experience this can actually extend from May until as late as December, so the tent now seems like a vital piece of equipment. I can't say how effective it will prove under combat conditions, but it has already proven quite effective with Evil Korean Dog - who now bounces harmlessly off the side of the tent instead of jumping all over me when I am resting. What price a secure and peaceful night's sleep? Around 20,450 won (£11/$17), and for what it's worth, it came with a mosquito patch and repellent spray for good measure.

So it was with much anticipation that at 1am Sunday morning I looked forward to my first good night's sleep since I returned to Korea. I was of course awoken at 6.55am by the sound of hammering on the walls of a neighbouring apartment, the occupant of which was evidently intent on continuing the DIY job of the previous day which had involved some very loud drilling. I'd probably get quite angry about this kind of thing in the UK, but after being woken up regularly by a Korean salt-seller with a loudspeaker right outside my window at 5.30am for a while last time I was here, I figure that anything goes in a country that apparently never sleeps, and my expectations of neighbourly behaviour are very low. I know we have the legal right to peace and quiet at night in the UK, I know of no such laws in Korea, so perhaps I'm more prepared to accept it due to my ignorance. For now, we have at least solved the night-time mosquito problem - and that's progress - later we'll see about buying a net big enough to deal with our neighbour.


Mosher said...

If we have a legal right to peace and quiet at night in the UK I've yet to have anyone tell me how it can be legally enforced - to whit my chav neighbours forcing me to sleep in friend's houses for nights on end.

I've seen "proper" tents of that design being used at festivals and the like. They're a piece of cake to put up and take down but they're bloody useless for camping. They "fold" into a ring about 2' across so you can't get them into any known rucksack!

Jan said...

I've got a sunhat of the same design. Mercifully less in diameter than the tents. Goes easily into a suitcase and covers half of Sardinia when open!

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