Not To Scale

When Lonely Planet tells you to buy a map, buy a map.

Do not attempt to navigate using their map.

Do not attempt to navigate using a map you got at the train station, even if it says "BEST SELLER!!" .

Especially do not attempt to navigate using half-memories of a map provided by your guesthouse when you don't have it in front of you.

Getting to the weekend markets was traumatic enough. After two dramatic navigation failures, we hop a taxi (for the equivalent of just under two dollars). 0n the way back, we're convinced we can use the skytrain.

We're wrong. We get off at what we think is the right station, and wander around for about half an hour. The heat is murderous. We duck into a shopping center for a cold drink, and to look more closely at the map.

I finally spot "Suttisarn", our street, on a section we hadn't looked at before. But it can't be right. It's miles away.

We step outside the shopping center and wander around some more. We find an internet cafe, where we print out the guesthouse's extremely detailed map.

It's terrible. There's no north orientation, half the streets aren't labelled, and the scale is so badly distorted that "three skytrain stations away" looks like "just around the corner[1]".

Lyn stares at it for twenty minutes, concludes that the guesthouse is miles away, and she doesn't know exactly where, and gives up. A student of economic rationalism rather than navigational bloody-mindedness, I'd given up long ago.

Defeated, we start walking in the general direction of our guesthouse, keeping an eye out for taxis. We flag one down, hop in, and give our destination.

The driver immediately pulls a U-turn.



fn1. Captain Obvious' First Law Of Maps:

"If it only makes sense after you've been there, the map is useless."

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