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Asking for directions in Indonesia



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Story submitted by Dave 9th July 2009

I have been giving so many dodgy directions by people in Indonesia. Many times it seems that if you ask someone how to get somewhere, and they do not know, they will just point in any directions rather than saying that they do not know. I've found it is better to ask 4 or 5 people how to get somewhere and choose the directions that match from a few different people.

Here are a few examples of the dodgy directions I have received:

Bali - I traveled there with my girlfriend. She had been to Bali before and had bought some really nice cushion covers. She even brought some with her to make it easier to find the correct ones as she wanted to take some home to sell and she couldn't remember where she had bought them.

We hired a car and driver in Kuta. She had shown him the cushion covers and asked do you know where we can buy these? He didn't hesitate in saying he knew exactly where we could buy these cheaply.

He took us to Denpasar and drove into a street that was lined with fabric shops. He just pointed at the street and said we could buy them here. We went into the first shop and asked if they had these cushion covers. They showed us some nice fabrics but not ready made cushion covers. We asked them if they knew where we could buy cushion covers like the ones they had. The didn't hesitate to point us down the street to the other end.

We walked down the street looking for any signs of cushion covers though all these shops looked identical - just full of rolls of fabrics. We went into another shop and asked if they had cushion covers like the ones we had. They showed us some nice fabrics but no cushions covers. We asked them if they knew where we could buy cushion covers. And they didn't hesitate to point us back up the street from where we had just come.

We tried a few other shops with similar results. Each one pointing us in a different direction, and none of them giving exact details of any shop. Finally a lady we showed looked at the cushion covers and straight away said "ah these are made in Lombok, not in Bali!'

The pointing in any direction seems to be a common theme. General pointing is another one even when they do know where something is. In a hotel I stayed in Kalimantan I asked where there was a money changer. The lady at reception pointed out of the hotel across the road and said there is one there. I looked outside and could not see a money changer across the street.

I asked again where it was and she pointed across the street again and said it is over there. I looked again and the money changer had not materialised. I said where is it I cant see it? She said OK go outside turn left, walk down the road and then turn right and it is a few hundred meters up that road on the left. Sure enough it was where she had described. A bit different from where she had pointed.

A similar pointing incident happened in Tangkahan Sumatra. I was staying at the wonderful Jungle Lodge and asked one of the staff where the hot springs where. I had heard they were very close to Jungle Lodge. The staff member had his back to the river and just waved his hand in the air in the general direction of the river and said it's over there. I pointed directly across from where we were standing and said 'What over there?' He didn't look back and just waved his hand in the air and said it is over there. I asked where again and he just said Tomorrow I take you there.

Next day I went down to the river right in front Jungle Lodge. Some people pointed across the river and said have you tried the hot springs? They were directly across from the Jungle Lodge. Why was it is hard for this guy to point across the river and say just there. I just don't get it.


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Contributed 9th July 2009































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