Beware of Javanese Bearing Maps! By Darren Adams

I’m a sucker for maps, so when the English speaking Javanese who sat next to me on the Mutiara Seletan from Solo to Badung pulled out a travel guide and offered it to me, I accepted.

My natural caution was damaged by exhaustion brought about by worry for my wife and 12 years old son, who were suffering from Bali Belly for 5 days now, as we travelled overland by bus and train on our journey from Denpasar to Jakarta, staying in losmen accommodation using vouchers issued from our Australian travel agent. Tickets we found to be dodgy and of little use.

So when we arrived in Bandung and the taxi took us to the accommodation listed for that city's voucher, I wasn’t too surprised to find our room was in an army barracks with squat toilets shared with dozens of commandos. We moved on quickly to try two other vouchered accommodations, both of which were of similar low standard.

Finally we accepted the taxi driver’s recommendation of a 3 star hotel. We had just gotten to sleep when were woken by the front desk informing us we had a visitor. It was the stranger from the train, asking if he could have his guide map back and would we also like him to arrange a tour to the local volcano tomorrow?

Did he follow us? How did he find which taxi to trace where were staying particularly as the taxi had no radio?

The mystery of the Suharto era Javanese intelligence system eludes me to this day!

I now provide my own maps.


in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

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Sensei. Sensemaker. Speaker. Darren speaks on Making Sense and Taking Action for Personal & Professional Success.

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