Here in Indonesia, we have a proverb saying “tak kenal maka tak sayang”. That means, you can’t be sure about the good and the bad of something (or someone) before you really know it (her/him/them) in person. We had been introduced to this proverb since we were kids. Unfortunately, most of us did not embrace this proverb closely in our heart. We easily fall to judge ones even when we don’t have a proper understanding about them yet. We are unconsciously fast to believe about bad rumours than the good ones. We sometimes effortlessly express the hostility towards the things or the ones that we don’t even know personally. In fact, hostility comes from fear and keeping that fear will risk retaining the misconceptions forever. This is fatal because we are afraid of or hate the things because someone says it is bad. The world full of misconception is the world full of hatred.
So how do we know that what we heard is what’s real or just a misconception? Common sense and secondly, at least for me, don’t accept and trust the information easily before we have confirmed with several trusted sources, not only a single source, or proved it by ourselves. Then what is the most efficient approach to deal with this fatality? Face the fear. Go see by ourselves, travel!
These days I have been collecting some stories from some friends, colleagues, families and my very own self, who find that travelling has enlarged our vision and proved some misconceptions wrong. So these are the stories.
1. Misconception about Dressing Rules
Constitutionally speaking, the state religion of Malaysia is Islam but also allowing the freedom of religion for non-Muslim. However, knowing that Malaysia is Islamic country, prior to visit to Malaysia I imagined that Malaysia will be so strict about how women dress. In my thought, the people’s reaction about women wearing a short skirt or pants would be worse than what I got in our country, Indonesia. You know, here people would not stop starring at us for dressing so short. I supposed that the reaction was based on the fact that the most population in our country is Muslim and Muslim women shall wear hijab so it is an automatic reaction for the majority to stare at the women wearing short. So with that thought in mind, I went to Malaysia wearing clothes that covered my shoulders and legs.
As I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, I was completely stunned; the women were just fine wearing short skirts or pants walking around the city with no eyes staring at them like a psycho. But guys, this is Muslim country, why don’t you stare at those uncovered legs? Yes, it was surprisingly hassle-free to wear such shorts for women in Islam country. The next times I go to Malaysia, I will never worry about the dress-code thing.
(Story from Yessi and Lia, Indonesian)
2. Misconception about Discrimination towards Indonesian
It was in 2012 when I had an interview in one of the American company based in Jakarta. The interviewer looked quite happy with my session and the moment before I left the room we were chatting about something lighter. He was asking what my vision is for the future in term of carrier. I told him that I would like to work overseas, south-east Asia could be a good start for me. He asked further, which country is my preference for starter, I answered Malaysia. Then he was telling me a story about this country.
According to his experience of working in Malaysia, Malaysian is racist to Indonesian. They are calling Indonesian as “Indon” and that is considered as racist. Honestly, as an Indonesian I didn’t even know that such call is considered as racist. I went through Google to understand what is wrong with this “Indon” word, why is it so negative for us. In fact our government is also against the use of “Indon” word for the same reason. Personally for me, if the word “Indon” is such a racist expression, we need to reflect to what words we use to call foreigners too. I mean, we call Western people “Bule” most of the time, I found that people are still calling our African friends “Negro” and call Chinese “Singkek”, aren’t those words also racist? So anyway, he emphasized that Malaysian is not welcome to Indonesian, they don’t like Indonesian and they are racist to Indonesian.
For some times that information was blocking me from wanting to visit Malaysia but in 2013 I was finally thinking, why not. Long story short, the first city that I visited in Malaysia was the capital, Kuala Lumpur and I faced no issue. In 2014, Kuala Lumpur had become my frequent weekend escape destination because, in fact, I like the city and I feel comfortable there. Then I extended my visit to some other places in Malaysia like Penang and Langkawi. The people’s behaviour is totally the opposite of what I heard during interview. They are nice to me, Indonesian, and somehow I can sense that they feel that we are born from the same root. They like to talk to me in Bahasa just to understand how far the similarities between Bahasa and Melayu language are. There is no such race discrimination towards me at all.
(Story from me, Indonesian)
Wow, what a dangerous way of life if we believe all what we heard or read about something without minding to see the actual condition. Do you have similar stories about the misconception that is proven wrong after travelling? I would be more than happy to hear and share it on my blog.
Feel free to drop me your story here and I will get in touch with you for the details.
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