That time in Indonesia when my path crossed with a self-prclaimed ex-convict….
The hotel was purple, with two stories and full of balconies overlooking rolling green. Picturesque. The staff were sweet locals, whom shared not only travel tips but also personal stories with us. Hot as hell, we decided to come back to our hotel after a morning of walking around the local area.
The owners son, we’ll call Ja, offered to take us to a nice view point one afternoon and we were happy to accept. He explained that a new hotel was being built by a foreigner, and soon the road to the view point would be private; so he was happy to bring guests to the view point while still able.
On route to the view point, our new friend began sharing that he used to be a tour guide going from Bali to Komodo National Park weekly. As we drove by the new hotels’ construction site, our friend waved to another truck passing by and then said, “he’s also an ex-convict”. Not positive if I heard correctly, I hesitated to ask, “Sorry, did you say ex-convict?. To my surprise, we had heard Ja correctly and he proceeded to share more details without any reservation.
Turns out Ja liked to gamble, and while working as a guide, had got addicted to internet gambling that led to a loss of most of his personal items. As such, he orchestrated a scam to essentially trick people into thinking they were paying for a trip with the company that he worked with as a guide. However, the money was being sent to him.
Jaeventually got caught and was,“on the run and living on the streets for about 2 years”. When Ja was caught he said that his dad could have helped him stay out of prison for a cost, but his dad refused and told Ja that he needed to repay his debts. (Side note: I just finished reading Dan Browns’ Lost Symbol, and thankfully this story does not end the same.) Continuing on, Ja said that prison was not as bad as he would have thought and he was glad to have this experience and chance to turn his life around. Upon getting out of jail only a few months prior to this conversation, Ja’s dad offered him to work at their small hotel (which I will leave nameless), in order to pay back his debts. Ja told us that even though he served prison time, he feels morally responsible to pay back his debts to the company. From what he told us, the company honoured the people that were scammed so all the money Ja owes is actually to his previous employer.
More stories to come as I cross paths with strangers.