Now that’s what I call an Orb Weaver. This female was so enormous that when we released her later, she had trouble navigating and actually walking with that huge abdomen. We had found her in a large web built between two trees nearly 5 feet apart. She was as shy as a virgin bride and hunched every time we pet her through the bag. Petting spiders is a scientific procedure performed by trained arachnidologists and should definitely be tried at home. Pet the top part, not the fang part.
The site was also teeming with Argiope spiders with newly hatched young and they are some businesslike parents. We spent at least an hour watching one feed her wee spiderlings right over the top of our water cooler.
Confession: A couple weeks ago I talked to one of the other students I was traveling with in Taiwan and admitted I had sprayed the entire perimeter of my dorm room entrance with DEET on the day we arrived. For your information, spiders are unimpressed by DEET.