Merantau-ing Across the Equator
To ‘merantau’, in the Indonesian language, means to leave the area where one had grown up, in order to seek out a living and/or acquire experience and knowledge. Practiced by various ethnic groups in Indonesia, it is especially evident among the Minangkabau ethnic group, in which it is customary that males aged between 20-30 years undertake such a journey. Although the pilot voyage ‘Across The Equator’ would be too short in duration to count as a typical merantau in the traditional sense, living on a boat and sailing through a part of the Indonesian archipelago on a schooner has allowed me the opportunity to experience, observe, and reflect on many issues, whether related to Southeast Asian Studies, or in a broader sense. This pilot voyage, with the opportunity of exploring the islands south of Batam through boat, has been a merantau to me. This report is structured into three areas comprising, first, activities related to Southeast Asian Studies conducted in relation to the pilot voyage, second, possible future projects in relation to Southeast Asian Studies, and third, my personal reflections on the pilot voyage.