192 Maps

Albert Korzybski once said, "The map is not the territory". Well, it's a quote on semantics, and of how language relates to the object itself. Like how the word "chair" denotes a piece of furniture you sit on, but doesn't exactly describe everything about any particular chair, based on the analogy that a map doesn't exactly describe a place. But, he may not have meant for that to be taken literally, but in this post, I will show how real maps are not the territory, and show that too many maps may spoil the broth for the cartographically challenged.

Now, I want to know how to get from the bus terminal to the Syahbandar Jetty in Kuala Terengganu. There's only one map that reads JETTY, and I'm not even sure whether that's the Syahbandar Jetty, or the jetty to some fisherman's house, or the place to get a good bargain on sotong for that matter.

Exhibit A: A map provided on some hotel's website

Much to my unhappiness, the bus station shown on the map is not the Terminal Bas Baru MPKT, the one that we're alighting at. The MPKT terminal is on Jalan Masjid Abidin (Jalan Masjid, on this map), and neither bus stations indicated on the map are located along that road. And, I later found out that this map is the most inaccurate, due to the difference in the positions of certain landmarks.

Exhibit B: A map from a travel brochure

Note the differences between Exhibit A and B. Firstly, the position of the Tourist Information Centre and the Istana Maziah are different. In A, the both are to the east of Jalan Tok Lam, and in B, they are to the west. There's an unaccounted Jalan Paya Bunga in exhibit B, and there's no jetty marked in B. We can assume that the unnamed road directly west of the Bus Station is Jalan Masjid Abidin, since it matches the orientation of the "Jalan Masjid" in A and has a landmark marked Abidin mosque along that road. To convince myself that B is more accurate than A, I had to find another map.

Exhibit C: Yet another map of Kuala Terengganu

The location of most landmarks match comparing B and C, i.e the General Post Office, Bukit Puteri, Istana Maziah and Masjid Abidin, although some squinting is required. So, map B/C can be accurately used for determining the positions of landmarks. But still there's no good information regarding the jetty. So, I Googled Syahbandar Jetty, and guess what? No maps, but some sketchy directions, such as next to the Central Market, and opposite the Post Office. Putting all the information from the three maps together, we now know that map A is more or less correct about the location of the Syahbandar Jetty, based on the position of the landmarks on maps B and C. There's one more thing left to do, plan the route by searching for the fastest way from point A to point B, and luckily there's Google Maps, the most accurate road map along with scale to see whether walking is possible (the roads in these three are too small, and inaccurate for my liking). But there's a problem:

Exhibit D: Google Maps

Google Maps doesn't indicate landmarks at all, just roads, so I need to place all the landmarks onto the blank areas on that map. And to make matters worse, all of a sudden, there are a dozen other roads unaccounted for in the Google Map, based on all the other maps... and the road orientation differs a lot when the maps were simplified for the tourist. We know that the Bus Station is somewhere between Jalan Tok Lam and Jalan Masjid Abidin, but exactly where? My guess is that it's somewhere between Jalan Sultan Sulaiman and Jalan Syed Hussin. The Syahbandar Jetty is somewhere along Jalan Sultan Zainal Abidin, on the left side of the intersection between Jalan Masjid Abidin and Jalan Sultan Zainal Abidin, directly opposite the Post Office, and to the right of the Central Market, making it a walk of about 300 - 400 metres, north along Jalan Masjid Abidin. All that, after taking almost an hour finding and analysing four separate maps. But seriously, people, a 400 metre cab ride?

PS: I must admit, I'm a little obsessive - compulsive when it comes to maps. I'm apologise for that.