CHIANG MAI: At some point in their lives, most people are likely to have had some pretty unpleasant bus trips, whether on a crowded Greyhound Bus in the States or a steaming hot, jam-packed third-class “Orange Crush” hurtling though the Thai countryside.

If you think your bus journeys have been hell, consider the case of one passenger from Khon Kaen who, while taking a grubby coach to start a new job in Chiang Mai, awoke to find a cockroach burrowing into his inner ear.

On November 5, young Kittiphong Damkhong walked into Phuphing Police Station in Muang District to file a rather odd complaint. On meeting the Duty Inspector Chachan Saengbun, Mr Kittiphong pulled out a plastic bag and presented the officer with a rather waxy dead cockroach, which he claimed had crawled into his ear while he was riding on a Phu Luang Tours coach on the night of November 3.

Kittiphong, 23, explained to the officer that after boarding the coach at 10pm in Khon Kaen, he had fallen fast asleep. When he awoke, he felt something crawling round his left earlobe. As he tried to brush it off, it took refuge by diving deep into his ear hole. Despite his best attempts, he could not get the bug out and had to sit there with it in his ear until the coach made a rest stop in Phitsanuloke, he said.

At the service station, he rushed off to find some cotton buds and then raced to the toilet to try and dislodge the insect. After much poking and prodding, the cockroach, now dead, fell out. Still shocked, Mr Kittiphong decided to keep the insect as evidence, he said.

The following morning when he arrived in Chiang Mai, Mr Kittiphong noticed that he was having difficulty hearing in his left ear. He went to Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital to get it checked out. Two days after the incident he still couldn’t hear properly and there was a risk of infection, he was told. Fearing mounting medical costs, he kept the doctor’s certificate as evidence – along with the corpse of the cockroach.

“After considering what happened, I realized it could have happen to anyone. The coach company should take responsibility for letting cockroaches live in the bus. Where were the cleanliness standards on the coach? What would have happened if it had been a venomous bug that had got in? It could have killed or injured passengers. Who will take responsibility if I go deaf from infection? I decided to report the incident so there will be evidence if my condition gets worse and I need to appeal to the relevant authorities,” said Mr Kittiphong.

The experience of having had a cockroach temporarily living in his head had obviously not diminished the young man’s ability for rational thought.

Ketkaow Thammaraksa, Deputy Manager of Phu Luang Tours, said that in the many years the company had been operating she had never heard of an incident like this.

She added that if the victim could bring a doctor’s note or receipt for any treatment costs the company would be happy to reimburse him as all passengers are covered under the company’s compulsory insurance.

However, she said that the company had not yet heard from Mr Kittiphong.