The host had a huge book collection obtained via diplomatic pouches from her friends working at embassies. I managed to pull a book from the jinga-stack, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and spent the day reading it, learning about how large American companies deployed huge development projects and economic debt traps as a means of influence over South East Asia’s governments. Through the author’s experiences, I identified unexpected tourist insights for countries where he worked such as Indonesia, but I didn’t mention these stories to my new Indonesian friend. He left early in the day for meetings, and when he returned, we decided to explore the surrounding area to purchase food. The disorder observed and attention which we received at the 6 Mile Market, named for it’s distance from the city center, surprised me beyond even the African cities I’ve visited, but we were able to find food without issue.
Books provide great frames of reference and context to compare against your own experiences of a place. Lots of subtle detail and history is not directly observable or obvious.