I started walking back to my room at the Chongzuo EcoPark the other evening after watching the langurs come down the mountain to roost.
I'd stayed watching them settle into their cliff face caves a bit longer than usual and by the time I began hiking back to the reserve's headquarters, it was already dark.
I hadn't bothered to pack a flashlight as I knew the path fairly well and preferred to let the moonlight guide me.
Then, I started thinking about all the warning signs plastered along the park's paths warning hikers about cobras.
I flipped open my cell phone for what little light it offered and grabbed the first stick I could find.
After a couple minutes of fumbling around, Jintong, one of the reserve's staff, drove towards me driving an electric cart. He said he'd just run over a snake and proceeded to unfurl a very recently deceased, very large king cobra.
Jintong hit the snake on the path I was about to walk down, about 100 meters from my room.
Then, before I thought to ask for a ride-anywhere!-he drove on. I froze, convinced every branch and twig I saw on the path before me was a snake.
Pan told me afterwards that I needed to be especially careful this time of year. The temperature here on the edge of the tropics was just starting to rise and snakes were beginning to come out in the evenings to lie in open paths warmed by the sun.
My wife would later tell me it snowed again in Boston and that sounded pretty nice to me.