Epilogue: The Clash of Life-Worlds?

Written by Pak Yeoh
Photo by Youvadee Pareatumbee

Unlike The Hunger Games, the ethos of the “In Search Of” study series is not about student-travellers eliminating their perceived competitors in order to survive. Most certainly, it is not about providing sadistic entertainment for its anonymous audiences. Instead, its “success” pivots on a willingness not only to engage in collaborative teamwork but also to risk broadening, if not challenging, one’s taken-for-granted socio-cultural horizons. Given that student-travellers have to navigate through both facets within the context of a gruelling regime of input sessions and daily reportage for many days, this is no easy task.

I believe what distinguishes this year’s study trip from previous ones are the diverse learning experiences afforded by the contrasting physical and human ecologies of the lowlands and highlands in southern Sulawesi situated on the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. At Makassar, the student travellers enjoyed the accustomed conveniences of a bustling cosmopolitan port city. In the scenic highland setting of the Toraja Regency, they faced off less familiar ones. For some, this has led one student-traveller to coin the deliciously evocative phrase, a “clash of emotions”, to characterise these disturbing encounters.

Despite these formidable assaults to mind and emotions, on balance, I would like to believe that this year’s cohort of student-travellers – an amalgam of talented and articulate individuals from Malaysia, India, Singapore, Maldives, Mauritius, Switzerland and Sri Lanka – have not strayed away from the broad beaten tracks of their seniors. Indeed, they have upheld the “In Search Of” tradition of meeting logistical challenges and unfamiliar life-worlds head-on with intelligence, sensitivity, and youthful fun.

A trip of this nature would be inconceivable without the goodwill and help of friends both old and new. The idea for this year’s study trip was spawned over lunch slightly more than 2 years ago. Pak Dias Pradadimara from the History Department, Universitas Hasanuddin was in Kuala Lumpur for a regional committee meeting of the Nippon Foundation for Asian Public Intellectuals Fellowship. In between laksa and nasi kandar at the hotel restaurant, I asked Dias where he was based. He said Makassar. My mind drew a blank. However, when he went on to enlighten me about the historical and anthropological significance of the region, I was hooked!

In my scoping trip a year later, Mas Wahyu, a former student of Pak Dias, provided valuable assistance in terms of helping me to meet most of the individuals and civil society groups based in Makassar featured in this blog. I was also fortunate to meet up briefly with Dr Stanislaus Sandarupa, a local scholar of Torajan culture and society. Dr Sandarupa later introduced us to Pak Arru, our engaging guide, who facilitated our socio-cultural lessons in the Toraja Regency.

Once again, this year’s student guides hailing from Universitas Hasanuddin have been outstanding. Despite the imminence of year end examinations, Anisa, Iccang, Ihsan, Ilmal and Nurul have attended to our many logistical and translational demands with quiet grace and professional efficiency. More importantly, they have also forged budding friendships with the student-travellers.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the “In Search Of” study trips started in 2004. The first study trip to Georgetown, Penang (Malaysia) only lasted 5 days. By contrast, this year’s study trip is the longest at 14 days. Over the years, based on suggestions from previous student-travellers, successive innovations to the format of the study trip and to adopting new communicational technologies for the collective blog have been made. Be that as it may, the study trips have kept to its signature ethos. In this way, an organic “living tradition” of sorts has permeated each and every study trip – both change and continuity are embraced in equal measure. In a similar manner, I believe that this year’s study trip has provided ample learning points for the student-travellers to better appreciate human beliefs and practices that are locally embedded even as they simultaneously point to more universally shared human aspirations.

A clash of life-worlds

A clash of life-worlds?

“To be yourself, one needs to know and be known”, liberally paraphrasing Foucault. And then again there is Google. – Dr. Yeoh


Sudah Tiba Saatnya Untuk Menutup Toko (The Time Has Come To Close The Shop)

Written by Emily Choong
Photos by Emily Choong

The minute flight AK333 landed in KLIA2, I had less than 24 hours to get as much sleep as I could, pack once again, and visit the doctor.

To sleep as much as I could, because I had an average of 4 hours of sleep each night over the course of 2 weeks (Disclaimer: I knew what I signed up for. This is not a complaint). To pack once again, because I had to catch yet another flight the following night (this time to Adelaide) as I embark on a family holiday. To visit the doctor, because I brought home a stranger with me (mom was not pleased) – a worm-like creature on my inner left thigh in which was absolutely disgusting to look upon. Thankfully, it turned out to be an infection from an insect bite I probably got when we were trekking at Batutumonga in Toraja, and not, say, an incurable tropical disease.

* * * *

Unlike the last study trip “In Search of Iloilo” where we spectated energetic and spectacular performances during the Dinagyang Festival and spent most of our time shadowing Tribu Panayanon, a team which regularly competes at the aforementioned festival, “In Search of Makassar and Toraja” was a buffet spread of various challenging events from a 2-day water shortage at our guesthouse to the never ending battles with mosquitoes, an unfortunate case of snatch theft, and the highly discussed slaughtering of pigs and buffaloes at a funeral ceremony in Tikala. As a second-time traveler of the “In Search Of” series, I discovered that past experience only helped on a minuscule level such as to slightly ease one’s adaptation to new environments. We all knew well that these study trips are no luxury holidays but even as seasoned travelers, what we could not know was how much our hearts and minds were going to be tested beyond our personal limits.

Nevertheless, like how we [should] always carry our school motto “Ancora Imparo”, we are still learning – starting from the people around us, be it family members, friends or even among many odd strangers we are stuck with for 2 weeks. It is on study trips like these where we get to explore beyond the black and white journal articles we are asked to read thoroughly each semester, beyond what the education system has to offer, and lastly, to discover beyond the limits we think we have or do not have while we go through stages of self-development as young travelers of the world.

Tana Toraja

Tana Toraja

Before closing, I’d like to acknowledge a few parties:

To all the sessions’ presenters, for giving us valuable insights to your respective cultures, traditions and causes as you continue to stand strong for them.

To Ms. Yuli, for your connections and assistance; and to Mr. John and Ms. Anna for taking time out from your busy schedules to cater to an interest in coffee a few us of have which was not an official part of the trip’s itinerary. We enjoyed having you enlighten us about the coffee culture in Makassar and Toraja.

To Pak Dias, for being one of the primary reasons behind this study trip as well as for our diskusi-diskusi santai (casual discussions) about coffee and Toraja over meals in Makassar.

This is especially to the chaperone, Helen, who never ceases to be a pot full of sunshine throughout the trip while most of us fell sick; and to Pak Yeoh, our pathfinder, for sending us to fulfill the tasks which are out of our comfort zones because that’s what you do best.

Last but not least, there’s no forgetting the Famous Five: student guides Anisa, Iccang, Ihsan, Ilmal and Nurul from Universitas Hasanuddin who patiently, caringly and professionally catered to the furious demands of these 20 strangers throughout the 2 weeks where they probably wished they were sitting behind the desks in their respective classrooms instead. We have learnt so much from you and we look forward to your much awaited visits to Malaysia, hopefully.

* * * *

Sunset in Makassar

Sunset in Makassar

I spent most of my flight to Adelaide replaying tapes of memories recorded over the past 2 weeks. Like most moments where one would ponder the questions of life, I couldn’t understand how time flew by like a jet stream. As I reflected on the funny thoughts and fearful doubts in which several other travelers and I had during the first leg of the trip, I could only laugh at them now. Upon arrival in Adelaide, it seemed surreal standing in such a place knowing that I was in a completely different environment just 2 days before. I start to miss the sounds of the pete-pete horn in Makassar and the cool breeze of the Toraja highlands while overlooking the view of the green sleeping giants. I then thought, what is it that could further enhance these moments of reminiscence? Only one answer came to mind. Teh Botol.

With reference to the title, the doors now come to a close. This is your editor-in-chief, signing off.

Emily Choong

Emily is a coffee junkie who is mesmerized by the aesthetics of simplicity and extraordinary scenery. Her lifelong dream is to travel around the world and pen down her journeys.

Dear Future ISO Travelers

Written by Ai Lin

Dear Future ISO Travelers,

I’m here to assure you, that it is OK.

  • It is OK to question your decision to sign up and be part of the In Search Of series few nights prior to the trip.
  • It is OK to have a panic attack when you do not know what to pack and start contemplating whether or not you’re bringing important things – extension plugs and mosquito repellent are important.
  • It is OK to not know what to expect.
  • It is definitely OK to start packing 6 hours before the trip, though I would advise you against it based on my experience.
  • It is OK to fear you might not meet anyone with the same frequency as you on this trip.
  • It is OK to worry you might have to spend the entire trip being all alone.

…. And the ‘it is OK’ list goes on.

No worries, friends.

Really, the chances of everything listed above ever happening are close to zero. Even if it does actually happen, the solution is just an arm’s length away.

You are making no mistake at all for signing up because, quoting Sheril, ‘The In Search Of series is the best way you could travel as a student’.

In Search Of Makassar and Toraja 2014 brought me to Makassar and Toraja (whoop, captain obvious!), places I have never heard of, like stepping into the unknown!

True enough, fourteen days and I was in awe every day, especially after Toraja. I no longer know what ‘normal’ is anymore. What is normal to them could be so mind blowing for me. In a tiny place, a 4 hours plane ride away from home, is a whole new world.

So yes, be prepared to open up your mind and take in all the fresh and different norms and cultures. It will be an experience!

Even if you crash emotionally or physically, you will find many pats on your back and hugs coming your way. So, no biggie!

Looking back now, it is not the unknown that scares me (I love it, in fact), it was Pak Yeoh’s feet capabilities. You too, should be prepared for this. Pak Yeoh walks, he walks a lot, and often, he makes us walk with him. Only God knows how much we walked on the second day.

Ah, about getting along with people.

I hopped onto the plane knowing less than half (only four, actually) of the entire crew. By the fourth day, Su Zanne licked my hand. Arina and I were already washing each other’s hair by Day Five. Then Day Seven, I have Anis walking in on me in the toilet wrapped only in my towel and the both of us didn’t even care one bit. After the hike on Day Ten, I found myself keeping Michelle warm by lying on top of her. In Toraja, all of us took our friendship to a whole new level when we spent five days sharing a room without a bathroom door with our roomie. On our last day, I was comfortable enough to sing at the top of my lungs in front of everyone. By then end of the trip, I got off the plane feeling like I have a new family.

There, your reassurance.

But in case, against all the odds, you still can’t click with any Monashians. Fear not, you still have the lovely local student guides. They are like angels, they will be there with you through the sun or rain, in the supermarket or by the street, in sickness and in health … but only for the duration of the trip.

Trust me when I say, the universe will somehow, in its own weird and funny way, whip out something to ease your worries. In words of Paolo Coelho, shared by a 30-year-old trapped in a body of a 22-year-old traveler, “and when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

It is OK.

Have your fears, but watch them slowly disappear as you venture into weeks of fun with (almost) strangers.

The adventure is out there and YOU GOT THIS!

Ai Lin carries bags under her eyes because she thinks she is more productive at night. But is it true, though?

Advice For Future Student Guides

Written by Ikhsanul A. Tajuddin
Photo by Ikhsanul A. Tajuddin

Hello! I see that you have been chosen as a student guide. Or more likely, you applied for this position as a student guide. Nevertheless, here you are. I’m guessing the first thought in your mind when you applied was, what the heck is a student guide? What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to know all about my city? Be a sort of tour guide?

Well, I’m writing this article for you, future student guides, and I’ll be telling you exactly what it is that student guides do and contribute to these study trips. Although I won’t be giving you practical advice, I will at least give you a faint picture of the role you play, which is all based on my experience as a student guide for the awesome ISOMAKTOR crew. The memories of the 14 days I have spent with them that will stay with me forever.

So here goes.

Firstly, being a student guide does not necessarily mean being a tour guide. Let me explain. Tour guides are people who are hired for their expert knowledge on local culture, traditions, their ability to explain them to tourists and travelers alike, as well as giving general ‘do’s and dont’s’ to travelers. This is not what student guides do.

Although yes, you will have to give some sort of general advice about living in your city, and also some level of street smarts will  really help you in your time as student guide, however, it is not our main role. Our main role is to accompany them, not guide them; to experience the  city that you know and love. To act as a source of information, even though you don’t know that much about your city. And if you don’t know that much about your city, like the roads perhaps, then just pretend! They won’t know the difference! (Actually no, this is a bad advice.)

Secondly, get to know your fellow student guides. They will be your backbone, your shoulder to lean on, as well as your worst enemies for the rest of the trip. Now, as a student guide, expect to do a lot of walking, asking questions, as well as doing things you don’t normally do in your city. For example in this year’s trip, we took  the pete-pete; a traditional form of transportation which is in a form of a blue minivan, to the airport – an International airport at that! Now of course it was not our idea to take this sort of transportation to pick up our international guests, but since we were informed that Pak Yeoh requested that we pick them up using pete-pete, we reluctantly obliged. Obviously this sort of transportation was not welcome at the airport, but after half an hour of intense debate and negotiations with the head of airport security, we managed to get the pete-petes through. Despite strange looks from taxi drivers and airport dwellers, we managed to pick up the travelers from the airport. Keep in mind that this was just the first day! Me and the rest of the student guides at that time started thinking to ourselves, what the heck have we gotten ourselves into?

There were many more moments like this where us student guides were left on our own, scratching our heads, at the travelers requests. There were also times where we were so frustrated with each other and the travelers that we contemplated on leaving the travelers to survive by themselves. (Just kidding! Or am I?). But our team pulled through brilliantly until the very last day, and I have to say that without the support and hard work of my fellow guides, there is no way I would have managed to survive the 14 days with these crazy bunch of travelers. So get to know your fellow guides!

Me, Ikhsan, Nurul, Ilmal and Nisa. 'Lima orang yang tidak jelas' (five unsure people)

Me, Ikhsan, Nurul, Ilmal and Nisa. ‘Lima orang yang tidak jelas’ (five unsure people)

Thirdly, always be respectful and keep an open mind. There will be moments during the trip where you will face situations that would be totally different with the things you are used to, may it be from the locals or even the travelers themselves. Maybe it’s a religious thing, or maybe it’s just something that you are not used to in your everyday life. But remember to always be open minded and try to see things from the other persons point of view. There were many cases like this during our trip, especially in Toraja. Toraja, still thick with its traditions and old cultural values makes it one of the few places where even local Indonesians would still be surprised. For example, the buffalo slaughtering ceremony at the funeral definitely took everyone by surprise, even us locals. Even daily and ‘normal’ things will surprise you. A personal example would be not waking up to the Fajr call of prayer, which was definitely a surprise, or seeing pigs and having difficulty finding halal food was something that I find really interesting – having lived in Indonesia, where most of the population is Muslim. But all these experiences definitely made me realize how full of variety my country, Indonesia, really is. So, always remember to be respectful and keep an open mind. At the end of the day, you will be a more cultured and better individual because of it.

Lastly, and this is the most important point… Enjoy it! I can’t stress this point enough! Think of this as a holiday where you get to experience your city in a way you have never experienced before. At the end of the day, you may actually feel like a tourist in  a place where you have lived all your life.  I certainly feel like that after this study trip. There would be moments during the trip where you may feel, ‘why would they want to visit this place?’ or ‘what is there to see here?’. But trust me, everywhere you go during this trip, even to the most mundane places, you will definitely leave with new stories, new experiences and new perspectives on how you view your city and country.

Honestly, in the first few days of being a student guide for these 19 travelers from Monash University Malaysia, I was confused about the basic role of being a student guide. I mean, I knew what I had to do when I was told what to do, like for example when I have to translate during a session, or when I have to accompany one of the travelers to do their soft stories, or explaining where to get ‘tasty chicken wings’ in the area. But after a while, I begun to realize that my role goes beyond these calls of duty. I had the opportunity to learn from these amazing travelers; to see my country and my people in their perspective; to re-experience normal mundane things, like taking the pete-pete where locals like me take for granted and actually enjoy them like someone who has never seen them would. To actually see the place you lived all your life in a brand new set of eyes, and wonder to yourself ‘wow, I’ve never seen it that way before.’ After the trip, you will learn to appreciate your cultural identity and feel proud to be able to share this wonderful country of yours to these travelers.

So, future student guides, pack your bags and don’t forget the Panadol, because this experience will drain you both physically and emotionally but would also take your breath away – all at the same time!

Ikhsanul A. Tajuddin, or more commonly known as Iccang, is yet another IR major, hoping that his degree in international politics would help his lifelong dream to travel the world, in a way he doesn’t yet know.

We say the darnest things: A compilation of all the funny conversations and quotes during ISOMAKTOR!

Contributed by the whole ISOMAKTOR team
Compiled by Jasmine Rajah
Photo by Pak Yeoh


This post is a compilation of all (well, only the best) the funniest and politically-incorrect statements, conversations and quotes shared by travelers and student guides of ‘In Search of Makassar & Toraja’ (ISOMAKTOR). Although I would have loved to compile everything from day one, the idea for this post only came to me on the last few days of the trip. With the help of my friends, we have collected only the best of all the wonderful and funniest moments.



(Overheard during breakfast)
Youvadee: “You’re still peeling the egg?”
Lisa: “Did she say, “Are you feeling the egg?””
Lihini: “I heard, “Are you killing the egg?””


Kay Kay: “Youvadee told me to put my tongue in it.”


(Overheard during our 4-hour hike in Toraja)
Jasmine: “I have a deep and meaningful… wedgie.”


(After the buffalo slaughtering)
Arina: “Rasa macam nak makan burger.” / “I feel like eating a burger.”


(Misheard #2)
Ai Lin: “Do you have any pantyliners?”
Lisa: “Apply for honours?”


(Realization upon arriving at our hotel in Toraja)
Aldo: “We have a curtain in ours.” *grins*


Shawn: “Dr. Yeoh is my favourite lecturer ever.”


(Roommate strategies)
Shawn: “I only poop when Aldo is asleep.”


(Roommate confession)
Jasmine: “Lisa, our friendship has gotten to where no friendships have gotten to before.”


Lisa: “I felt like the egg was invisible.”


(As Falak walks out the kitchen during breakfast)
Lisa: “Falak. Walking with a purpose.”


(Commenting on how tanned Jonathan is)
Lisa: “Brown Jon.”


(Lisa, trying to give a nickname to Jonathan who acts as chef in our hotel in Toraja; Wisma Monton)
Lisa: Chef Jonton! (JON[athan] + [mon]TON)


(Describing Lihini)
Lisa: “Giggly Lihini!”


(Ai Lin, upon seeing Arina and Sheril digging in the mud looking for their lost slippers)
Ai Lin: “Quick Anis! Take the hand sanitizer from my bag!”


(When Ihsan had both his hands drenched in mud to his elbows and Ai Lin quickly responded to his aid)
Ai Lin: “Quick Anis! Give him my hand sanitizer!”


(Shawn to the Internet Gods)
Shawn: “Please let this (post) upload (on the blog).”


(Sarcastically making fun of the slow Internet)
Helen: “Yeah, just e-mail me the list.”


(Di-Anne informing everyone in the Whatsapp group of a very important discovery)
DI-ANNE: “Uh, did anyone else see the giant herd of bees on our ground floor? Because…There’s a giant herd of bees on our ground floor.”


(Ihsan a.k.a. Iccang really wants his mangoes)
Iccang: “Ikhsan, where are my mangoes? I need my mangoes.”


(Helen, the cool chaperone)
Helen: “Holler if anything urgent or if there are more bees or whatever.”


(The Liberal Hijabsters’ many conversations)
Sheril: *flips hair*
Arina: *flips hijab*


(Dealing with cockroaches)
Jasmine: “I can never get why people are so afraid of roaches.”
Di-Anne: “Because they have the potential to fly in your face.”


(Jasmine giving away her blue bucket)
Jasmine: “Iccang or any of the student guides, does anyone want my really cute bucket in remembrance of my body and soul in Makassar and Toraja?”


(When Lisa casually decides to rest on someone)
Jasmine: “Lisa, who said you can put your feet on me?”


(As Falak was cracking her hard-boiled egg forcefully on the table)
Jasmine: “Falak, that egg is dead.”


Ai Lin (a.k.a. Emo Soh): “Cheese Bedebah!”


(While sitting at the back of the pete-pete and Pak Yeoh thought it was going to crash into a car)
Pak Yeoh: (sounding suspiciously similar to a flock of crows cawing) “CAR! CAR! CAR!”


(At the end of Cultural Night)
Shawn: “Jasmine is such a great emcee. She should be on Singapore local TV. She’s funnier than the rest of the comedians there.”


(During his speech for the ‘most likely to travel with again’ award)
Shawn: “…And whenever you come down to Singapore, *pause* SINGAPURA… Please look for me!”


(Post-trip happening featuring traveler, Shawn, which happened in Monash University Malaysia)
Shawn: “You’re one of my favourite lecturers, Callum (Gilmour).” *walks out of Callum’s office*
Dr. Jonathan: “I HEARD THAT.” *with a sad look on his face*

Jasmine has a weird fear of being in a pool of strangers but feels incredibly comfortable being on stage performing for them. Reverse stage fright perhaps? She loves traveling and would love to have a career which involves just that!

Opinion: Comparison between Indonesia and Malaysia

Written by Nuranisa

Bahasa Indonesia:

Cerita ini saya tulis terinspirasi dari diskusi-diskusi kecil atau cerita-cerita lepas yang dilakukan bersama teman-teman dari Monash University di Malaysia. Awalnya saya agak bingung, artikel seperti apa yang akan saya sajikan. Dengan ini saya sudah tiga kali mengubah topik artikel. Artikel pertama dan kedua digugurkan dalam penulisan karena sifatnya yang terlalu faktual. Saya butuh beberapa referensi buku untuk membuat artikel ini menjadi kesatuan yang utuh dan secara layak dapat ditampilkan di blog tanpa ‘mengambil’ dari blog-blog yang ada sebelumnya. Akhirnya diwaktu-waktu terakhir batas pengumpulan artikel, idea ini muncul bagai malaikat penyelamat. Cerita yang saya angkat di sini lebih ke pengamatan dan analisa yang saya ambil hasil dari diskusi dengan teman-teman Monash University terkait bahasa, kebudayaan, agama, sistem pendidikan dan hal-hal umum serta hal remeh temeh lainnya. Melalui artikel ini saya akan mengelaborasi perbedaan-perbedaan maupun persamaan-persamaan antara Indonesia dan Malaysia.

Hal pertama yang saya bahas di sini adalah bahasa. Bahasa resmi Negara Malaysia adalah bahasa Melayu. Sebagian besar dari peserta “In Search of Makassar and Toraja” berkewarganegaraan Malaysia. Namun itu, saat mereka berbicara dengan sesama Malaysia, teman-teman Malaysia dari Monash University tetap berbicara dalam Bahasa Inggris. Kemudian saya berpikir, mereka pasti dari sekolah dasar hingga menengah bersekolah di sekolah internasional, sehingga telah terbiasa menggunakan Bahasa Inggris sebagai bahasa sehari-hari. Kemudian saya bertanya ke salah satu teman Monash, “apakah memang di Malaysia mereka juga menggunakan Bahasa Inggris sebagai bahasa sehari-hari?”. Ternyata hal bahasa saling berkaitan dengan agama dan suku. Mayoritas penduduk Malaysia beragama Islam, namun tidak sedikit juga yang beragama Kristen, Hindu, Buddha dan lain-lain. Malaysia tidak hanya sebagai rumah untuk orang Melayu saja. Ditilik dari sejarahnya, Semenanjung Melayu (yang dipanggil Tanah Melayu) tepatnya Malaka merupakan Bandar niaga internasional pada abad ke-16, sehingga Malaysia dikunjungi oleh pedagang-pedagang Arab, India, Cina, maupun Eropah. Mereka tidak hanya berdagang tapi kemudian tinggal menetap dan kawin mawin dengan penduduk lokal setempat hingga beranak cucu sampai sekarang. Sehingga Malaysia yang sekarang menjadi Negara majemuk yang menjadi tempat bagi warga Negara dari suku-suku bangsa berbeda.

Di Malaysia karena terdiri suku bangsa negara-negara dari seluruh dunia, bahasa yang berkembang kemudian pun terdiri dari bahasa-bahasa internasional. Berbeda hal dengan Indonesia, walaupun beberapa kali dijajah oleh negara luar, contohnya Belanda, Inggris, dan Jepang, akar budaya dan bahasa tidak begitu tertanam. Indonesia sendiri merupakan Negara yang sangat luas dan dengan sifat kedaerahannya yang tinggi. Bahasa daerah di Indonesia berjumlah ratusan, sehingga untuk mengikatnya menjadi satu kesatuan hadirlah bahasa Indonesia sebagai bahasa pemersatu bangsa. Bahkan, walaupun sudah ada sekolah-sekolah internasional, ketika bercakap-cakap dengan sesama Indonesia, mereka akan kembali berbicara bahasa Indonesia. Ambil kasus, jika orang Indonesia bersekolah di luar negeri dan bertemu dengan orang Indonesia lainnya mereka akan sangat antusias dan mereka akan menggunakan bahasa Indonesia walaupun mereka tahu bahasa Inggris untuk berkomunikasi.

Untuk sistem pendidikan antara Malaysia dan Indonesia pada umumnya hampir sama. Kedua negara ini memiliki sekolah negeri dan sekolah swasta. Namun, ada beberapa perbedaan kecil. Di Indonesia kita tidak mempunyai sekolah yang hanya boleh ditempati oleh orang Indonesia pribumi saja, dalam artian di Indonesia kita mempunyai warga keturunan Cina, Arab, India, Eropa dan lain sebagainya dan semuanya mempunyai hak untuk bersekolah di sekolah negeri. Tidak ada larangan atau regulasi dari pemerintah terkait hanya orang Indonesia pribumi yang dapat bersekolah di sekolah negeri. Di Malaysia, penuturan teman Monash University,  terjadi ketimpangan dalam jumlah kuota penerima mahasiswanya, Orang Melayu dan bumiputra lain (orang asli/asal di Malaysia) mendapat kuota lebih besar dibanding orang keturunan lain kerana adanya Malaysian New Economic Plan. Di Malaysia menurut penuturan teman Monash University, sekolah negeri terbagi atas sekolah Melayu dan sekolah Cina dan bahasa penuturnya juga berbeda. Contohnya, Bahasa Cina digunakan untuk mata pelajaran seperti Matematik dan Geografi di sekolah Cina.

Untuk hal-hal umum maupun remeh-temeh lainnya antara kedua Negara ini diantara lain adalah:

  1. Di Malaysia sangat berbahaya bagi orang untuk mengendarai sepeda motor, berbeda dengan di Indonesia, akan sangat mudah melihat pengendara sepeda motor.
  2. Terdapat toko-toko yang antrean pembayarannya dibagi atas perempuan dan laki (mungkin di beberapa negeri di Malaysia). Di Indonesia sejauh ini saya belum pernah menemukan toko seperti itu.
  3. Pada gerbong-gerbong kereta api di Malaysia terdapat khusus untuk wanita. Kita tidak bisa menjumpai keadaan seperti  ini di Indonesia.



The story that you are reading right now was inspired through small discussions that I have done with friends from Monash University in Malaysia. At the very beginning, I found it difficult to think about what kind of story I would like to share to all. This story is my third and final attempt at finally choosing my topic to share as my first and second stories mostly talk about the history of South Sulawesi which I have decided to not proceed further due to lack of references.

As I was not allowed to copy paste directly from blogs on the Internet as it was an act of plagiarism, I then decided to write about my observations instead which are basically collections of stories and experiences between my friends at Monash University and myself. We mostly talk on language, culture, religion, the education system and much more. However, for the purpose of this article, I will seek to compare these few topics between Malaysia and Indonesia.

The first topic that I will discuss is the topic on ‘Language’. The official language in Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia. Most of the participants of ‘In Search of Makassar and Toraja’ are Malaysians, however, the main language they speak with each other are English. When I saw this, I thought to myself that perhaps the students studied in an international school their whole lives, so perhaps they are accustomed to using English as their main language for everyday use.

When I asked a friend from Monash whether it is accustomed for them to use English as their everyday language in Malaysia, I was told that languages are mainly related to religions and ethnicities. Although majority of Malaysia’s population is Muslim, there are also Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and other religions that citizens are free to practice. Same goes to ethnicities. So, Malaysia is not only home for the Malays or Muslims, but many others too. This is perhaps due to Malacca’s role as an international commercial port in the 16th Century (judging from history) where traders come from many places such as Arab, India, China and Europe. Not only do they trade in the then Tanah Melayu, but also settled down and married local villagers. Hence why present Malaysia is rich with citizens of different ethnicities, culture and languages.

Because Malaysia consists of many ethnicities from around the world, the languages spoken in Malaysia are varied. In contrast to Indonesia, although we are occupied several times by foreign countries such as the Dutch, British and Japanese, their cultural and linguistic roots are not embedded within our culture. Indonesia is a big country and the feeling of regionalism, where locals of different parts of Indonesia are mostly prone to speaking their own ‘region dialects’, it was important to bring forth Bahasa Indonesia as a unifying language between all its citizens. In fact, although there are many international schools in Indonesia, many of the students from those schools will still converse in Bahasa Indonesia when they speak to each other. For example, if there are Indonesian students who study abroad and meet other Indonesians there, they would enthusiastically converse in Bahasa Indonesia instead of English, despite being fluent in English.

The education system between Malaysia and Indonesia are about the same. Both countries have public and private schools. However, there are some minor differences. In Indonesia, citizens can attend school freely, especially public schools as they have the right to do so. In Malaysia however, according to my Malaysian friend, public universities are mostly given placement to Malays and Bumiputra due to a quota system as part of the Malaysian New Economic Policy. There are also schools specializing in different languages such as Bahasa Malaysia schools, Chinese schools and Indian schools where its subjects are taught in those languages. For example, Chinese-medium schools use Mandarin for many of its subjects such as Mathematics, Geography and etc…

Other general matters that differ between the two countries:

  • In Malaysia it is very dangerous for people to ride a motorcycle, unlike in Indonesia, where you will see many motorcycles.
  • There are shops where the payment line is divided for men and women (perhaps in some states in Malaysia). In Indonesia, I have never found a store like that thus far.
  • The railway carriages in Malaysia have designated carriages especially for women. There is no such thing here in Indonesia.

Nuranisa is currently a third-year student doing her a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Studies with a major in History in Hasanuddin University, Makassar, Indonesia. On her spare time, you can find her reading novels (especially her favourite, Sherlock Holmes), watching Korean drama and singing Korean songs.

Daily Diary – Day 14

Written by Lihini Ratwatte
Photos by Lihini Ratwatte & Youvadee Pareatumbee

“All good things must come to an end”

“Time flies when you’re having fun”

These are two very overused, yet never-aging phrases that mark the finality of a good time. It is fitting to use these lines to define our emotions on the last day of our study trip.

We were dreading the day as it loomed closer; and as the sun dawned on 7th of December all travellers knew that the end was here. The aura of finality struck us like a lightning bolt, as we stepped out of our vans outside Hasanuddin International Airport and began our goodbyes.

Saying goodbye was hard, especially to our five student guides (From L-R: Iccang, Annisa, Ihsan, Nurul and in front – Ilmal)

Saying goodbye was hard, especially to our five student guides (From L-R: Iccang, Annisa, Ihsan, Nurul and in front – Ilmal)

Saying goodbye to our student guides was the hardest. Having spent time with them for 14 days, most of us developed close bonds and cherished friendships. We hugged each other over and over again while some of us exchanged gifts. Most of us were teary-eyed and wished we had more time left.

Traditional Torajan effigies – a gift from student guide Annisa to me. Thank you.

Traditional Torajan effigies – a gift from student guide Annisa to me. Thank you.

We entered the check-in counter after prolonged farewells but with promises of keeping in touch and with hopes of seeing each other again some-day. After going through the usual airport procedures, we proceeded to the boarding lounge where a few travellers whipped out their laptops and started browsing through pictures – evidently a sign of nostalgia.

Our flight was scheduled at 4.00 p.m., and we started boarding at 3.30 p.m.. It was a quiet flight as the travellers were either catching up on sleep or reminiscing the memories made during the past couple of weeks.

Up, up and away!

Up, up and away!

We landed in KLIA2 at 7.30 p.m. with mixed feelings; tired but happy, and sad but grateful to have undergone such a memorable experience. A few of the travellers left the airport with their families, while the rest took a chartered airport van service to Monash University Malaysia, from where they would disperse to their respective residences.

I was on the van to Monash with fellow travellers Anis, Aldo, Falak, Helen, Jasmine, Jonathan, Shawn and Youvadee. Evidently, we started talking about the trip while recalling unforgettable memories and voicing out the things we missed most about Indonesia. The most popular missed item was the bottled tea drink, Teh Botol.

On our way back, a phrase used by our chaperone Helen, stuck in my mind. “The whole thing was an other-worldly experience” she said. This truly sums up our adventure in a nutshell. It was educational, eye-opening, refreshing and too good be true; all in the span of 14 days. An other-worldly experience indeed.

We reached Monash around 9.30 p.m. and said our goodbyes once more. As I headed back to Sunway Monash Residence, I thought to myself that although the study trip may be over, the memories made, the friendships strengthened and the knowledge gathered will last for a lifetime.

Lihini is an aspiring Monash graduate. Most days, she looks like a dishevelled Princess Merida from Brave, only with square-framed glasses and black curly hair instead of flaming red. Her guiding philosophy in life is: “What you are, is what you have been. What you will be, is what you do now – Lord Buddha.”