Lost in translation – Kidnapping scare/ misunderstanding in Makassar (Sulawesi)

I left Lombok after managing to miss my original flight (which I had booked for the wrong date), and since I couldn’t get the website in English I just decided to try my luck at the airport.

I did eventually (after hours of waiting and being pointed to go around the airport in circles) manage to get a flight ticket to Makassar and booked one night of accommodation.

Upon arriving at the airport, I asked the lady at the information desk how much a taxi would be to the hostel.

I then went over to the currency exchange counter and the lady who worked there told me her relative was a cab driver and that he could drive me to the hostel for a little less than a cab.

She was really lovely and we sat and chatted and had a cup of tea and cake.

It turns out her old uncle (who turned up in a clapped out old car, NOT a cab) did not speak any English.

She assured me, after reading my instructions and looking at my map, that she had explained to him where I was staying.

I took a photo of the licence plate and put my luggage in the back.

At one point, I did genuinely start to worry I might have been kidnapped.

It was now dark, and having done a U-turn on the main road that we were supposed to take, this guy was driving passed these empty fields which looked like the perfect place to murder someone and hide the body.

I already planned in my head my counter attack should he try anything and had reached into my bag to sift around for my swiss army knife.

Then he stopped the car. There was total darkness and nothing around apart from what looked like a few dimly lit shacks.

He didn’t move or glance in my direction.

MY heart started to hammer in my chest and I glanced from one window to the other, trying to see what was happening outside.

A lady started walking towards us through the darkness.

I braced myself, my body went stiff, and my hand clasped over my swiss army knife.

Where they going to attack me? Demand money? As she got closer, it looked like she had a baby in her arms. Were they going to try and force me to buy their baby?!

I really wasn’t sure what was happening and my surroundings seemed less than desirable.

I let out a sigh of relief when she held out a plastic identity card for him to wrap around his neck, he rolled down the window, took the card and we were on our way again.

The next obstacle to occur was that he pulled up outside the wrong hotel.

I could have got out and walked but it was late at night, I was not really sure how far away I was from my booked accommodation, I had all my luggage with me, I did not really like the look of the city, and men were peering through the windows at me with a look I did not appreciate.

I tried not to loose my temper as I repeatedly explained this was the wrong place.

He called his niece who insisted that it was, but I told her she must have read my instructions wrong because it was definitely not correct and I wouldn’t be paying to be dropped off somewhere completely different.

The uncle drove around, taking my phone with the map and asking random people on the street.

Just when I had my head in my hands, short of bursting into tears, we pulled up at the hostel and I could have cried with happiness.

As I climbed out of the cab, I did feel a little bad for suspecting the old guy of any wrongdoings. He had a big relieved grin on his face that we had finally got to the correct destination, he thanked me and drove off smiling.

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Freelance writer who loves reading, cooking & travelling. Rarely spotted without red lipstick. Penchant for whiskey on the rocks.

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