Frank Palmos and Pat Price 1976
“Guide books… should be regarded a perishable good and not something lasting. After many years they attain a certain historical value and sometimes it’s good to look back at the beauty of a now destroyed place, or the cheapness of a tour through Java in days past.” So wrote Australian journalist and historian Frank Palmos in the prescient introduction to his irreverent and insightful guidebook to Indonesia.
It’s nearly impossible to find a copy these days. Lonely Planet’s Across Asia on the
Cheap was first published in 1975 and spawned an empire of travel guidebooks. Bill Dalton’s detailed Indonesia Handbook first appeared in 1977 and remains well known. But the most entertaining book in the category is Indonesia Do-It-Yourself.
Palmos and his then-wife Pat Price tell us exactly what Indonesia was like in the 1970s: the sex, drugs, gambling, politics, lousy accommodation and so much more. A Jakarta hotel is described as “a moving garbage heap” but the review then states the owner claims to be “improving the place and offers discounts to those carrying this book.” With a bit of luck, this book will be republished as an Indonesian classic.
Dr Frank Palmos (centre) with East Java Governor H Soekarwo and Western Australian Trade Officer Martin Newbery at the thesis handover (Image taken from INDONESIA NOW with Duncan Graham: indonesianow.blogspot.com)