Literally Lost: 15

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The Independent Travel
The following excerpt has been taken from a classic work of travel literature. Readers are invited to tell us: a) where is the action taking place? b) who is the author? Blackwell's Bookshops will supply pounds 30-worth of book tokens each week to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, `Independent on Sunday', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Usual Newspaper Publishing competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by Thursday 8 January.

Bulcsu and I had been whiling away a Saturday afternoon searching his room for evidence of surveillance. The staff at the British Embassy had told us that our telephone lines were certainly tapped and that there were probably various other bugs somewhere in our rooms. Our suspicion had been further aroused a day or two before, when we found the "floor hostess" from our landing supposedly cleaning our rooms, a previously unheard-of task for someone in her elevated position.

Our search was conducted in a rather lighthearted mood. Bulcsu was no stranger to the atmosphere of East European espionage, having heard numerous horror stories from his Hungarian parents, but he dismissed them since we were British subjects and unlikely to come across anything more unnerving than a tapped telephone. But at the same time neither of us was totally complacent since we had both read stories of innocent victims of such regimes who had no doubt started out with the same confident attitude. Nevertheless, it was difficult to take a State militia seriously when it was headed by a character called Batman.

We had moved all the furniture to the middle of the room and started to look underneath the carpets when Bulcsu's telephone rang.

"It's probably the secret police asking us to check the connections when we do find the bugs," Bulcsu quipped. He picked up the receiver.

Literally Lost 13:

The extract came from `The Spice Islands Voyage' by Tim Severin. The action took place in Indonesia.

The winner was Ms G Rae-Walker, Glasgow

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