Solo Backpacking to Toraja 1.0: First Makassar, Then Rantepao!

   "Okay sis, I gotta go, bye!"
    "Wait, what is that on the sofa?"
    "Oh shit, that's my online boarding pass."

...and that's how my first solo travelling stories began. I said goodbye to my sister because I need to hurry to go to airport and the Grab Car's driver has been waiting for me, and then I just realized that I almost forgot my boarding pass. My sis reminded me, actually.

      Being mature is about upgrading our ability to survive. Being mature is about being stable, being responsible, and be confident to face all of the problems we have. Moreover, being mature is about know who we really are. Therefore, get lost alone could be a perfect way to know ourselves, to upgrading our ability to survive, more precisely get lost alone could be a perfect transition for our maturity. That's why sometimes when we travelling alone we could find the level of our brilliance with all of the new insights that we got.

My first 'solo travelling' experience was last week or more precisely one fine day after I finished my final exam for this 4th semester, I flew to Makassar. It isn't too late to travelling alone at age of 20, right? 20 supposed to be a perfect transition for maturity. I travelled alone to Toraja for my first solo travelling experience. I flew to Makassar first from Jakarta, and then went to Toraja by bus from Makassar to Rantepao (North Toraja) for 8 hours.

My great plan wasn't Toraja at the first. It should be Vietnam, but my mom won't allowed me to get there 'alone' because of 'crime rate' and we got some serious debate about that.. I've tried my best to lobbied her but I lost. Sometimes, parental approval could be the hardest thing to get for our travelling agenda. Rather than it becomes a win-lose solution, I was just thinking to make it a win-win solution for both sides. I still want to travel alone, but I'll change the destination, to Toraja. Soon after I changed my plan, I got that parental approval. Ah, goodbye my Vietnam itineray.. It's just about time, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh city. It really is.  

It wasn't tough for me to chose Toraja as my destination. Toraja is very culturally rich, historically awesome, and the most important thing is it's kind of antimainstream because I don't think people around me have been there before. I don't really remember when the first time I heard about Toraja, but if I don't get it wrong it should be my primary school teacher who introduced Toraja to me. She once said in front of the class like, "If she has much money, she wanted to go to Toraja so bad". Yeah, back when I was in primary school, there weren't cheap flights like now. And then a few years later I saw Toraja on some tourism news, and then 'Filosofi Kopi 2' took place at Toraja, and I knew Toraja is a really great and potential tourist destination. Since Bali is really beautiful but toooooo mainstream, or Raja Ampat which is beautiful as well but too expensive, Toraja should be a perfect escape for me. 

stuffs 1
stuffs 2
To deepen my essence of travelling solo, I chose to became backpacker. Since I didn't use that 20kg free plan baggage, I would love to call it as 'solo backpacking' rather than traveling. But I wasn't 'gembel' enough to became backpacker, because my mom (again) was forcing me to stay in a comfortable hotel. My solo trip to Toraja itself was a 5 day 4 nights trip, so I won't carried too many clothes and things.  For the outfit, since I'm a grey lover I was just brought all grey for top, with some denims.

I've traveled by plane maybe around more than 20 times, my mom always take care of everything back then. So when I was traveled alone.. I was pretty confused to did some procedural things. Online check in, Gate, etc, hahaha. But that was cool enough. My flight from Jakarta to Makassar took 2 hours without any delays.

Soon after I arrived at Makassar at 12 pm WITA (Indonesia Timezone for its central region), I went outside to queue up at taxi queue. But the things is, there were some aggrsive taxi drivers at the airport and I knew it would be a scam. My first destination was the representative office of Primadona Bus, because I wanted to print my ticket which I've booked it online. It isn't really far from the airport to the representative office, but the taxi price was just crazy. I was stubborn enough to against them, ordered online transportation and got the half price of the taxi prices. 

Soon after arrving at the representative office, I printed 2 tickets Makassar-Toraja and Toraja-Makassar for July 18th and July 21th. So, since it's an 8 hours trip from Makassar to Toraja or vica versa, my plan for spend the night was: 18th July sleep at bus -> 19th-21th July check in at hotel in Toraja -> 21th the bus will pick me up to come back to Makassar at night and I will spend one more night at the bus -> 22th July arrived at Makassar around 5 am, and fly to Jakarta at 10 am. What a comprehensive strategy.

Makassar-Toraja, Toraja-Makassar online Bus Tickets
Makassar was really hot and tough, whether for the weather or... the love story. Makassar has just welcoming me with a tragic love story by the online transportation driver. Uang Panaik, what a tough pra-marriage tradition from Bugis tribe.  

The interesting part when I was in Makassar is I got a humble communicative online transportation driver, and he's a Bugis. So, Makassar itself is a well known hometown for 'Bugis' tribe. The driver told me about one of Bugis traditions which called 'Uang Panaik'. So before a marriage between a man and woman, the man must be able to pay the parents of the woman as much as the parents want. If the man unable to pay, then there's no a marriage. This driver told me his 'tragic' love story, when he and his ex-girlfriend were failed to get in a marriage because he can't afford what his ex girlfriend parents want.

   "My ex girlfriend is a master degree (s2/strata 2) from UGM (Gajah Mada University), and we've been together for 6 years." he said.

    "Wow, 6 years, that's quite long." I replied.

    "Yeah, when we wanted to get in the marriage, her parents wanted Rp. 200 million and I only got Rp. 100 million and then we broke up." he began to sound upset. What a tragic love story.

It's around 1.30 pm in Makassar while my bus will depart on 8.30 pm. Then I chose to went to Fort Rotterdam, one of Makassar's famous destinations. Fort rotterdam is a Dutch heritage fort.

Fort Rotterdam

Mari, suk-suk genggam hair nya
Well I was expecting more than just what I saw in Fort Rotterdam. When I heard Fort Rotterdam, I was thinking about old city of Melaka in Malaysia. I've been there once, and I loved the architecture. Since Fort Rotterdam is a dutch heritage too just like Melaka, I hope they have a good similarities. But.. I don't think I liked Fort Rotterdam. Although it's free to enter, but it was just.. too simple. I don't know, but it was like nothing really special. It was look like a school building for me and the architecture of the fortress wasn't really.. unique.

It took only half an hour for me to be at Fort Rotterdam. And then I went to Trans Studio Mall Makassar, the largest mall there. Well the mall is great, but it wasn't really crowded, because it's wenesday and it's still noon. I was there for around 4 hours. Surrounded the mall, drank coffee and free wifi, surrounded the mall, free wifi again, read book, then I ordered a Grab and went to the representative office of the bus at 6 pm and arrived there at 7.

There were some people too at the representative office, waiting for the bus. The buses were arrived there at 8 pm, and then the buses just picked up passenger luggage, then they went to the terminal near the representative office. The passengers were picked up by a van car to the terminal, waiting for our bus then step into our bus in accordance with the tickets.

sleep tight, my bag
The bus was more comfortable than I thought. The grateful condition was there weren't many people at the bus. There was only my backpack next to me, and I can easily backed up my seat. It was like.. only around 15-17 people at the bus with the capacity of 30 people.  It was just so... comfortable. My stop should be Rantepao, but I didn't really know where. I mean, the bus has many stop points at Rantepao and I think I will see the circumstances to get off from the bus at what stop points. 

Although the bus was so comfortable, it wasn't easy for me to sleep. Maybe I was excited, or scared, whatever. I slept maybe for 2-3 hours at the bus until I woke up and realized something.  


  1. I traveled through Europe by myself for a month! It's such a cool experience :)

  2. Lol. I had my first solo in April and my mum didn't like it at first but ah well. I'm over 20 and she cannot force me (only through emotional blackmail). Lol.

  3. Solo Backpacking trips have their own excitement. Like it when you say "being mature is about know who we really are" and we totally agree as all out slow travels have really helped us getting here and it is still work in progress!

  4. I love solo traveling! It's a great experience because you can move at your own pace. What did you realize when you woke up?

    1. I realized that.. I was.. I was.. I was............

      oh God, I can't hold it anymore.

      Read the part 2 :))

  5. You're so lucky that you have first solo backpacking experience to South Sulawesi.
    Meanwhile, I also had my first experience to travel alone at 20, but it was Tangerang - Blok M Jakarta T.T

    1. Well.... I'm not sure you can recgonize Jakarta - Tanggerang as 'tavelling' :"))

  6. Umur segitu, aku blm cinta traveling :p. Jd ga kepikiran pergi sendiri. Skr pas udh suka banget jalan2 pun, ttp aja ga bisa travel sendiri. Nth napa ga ga bisa enjoy akunya. Minimal hrs ada 1 yg nemenin.

    Eh benteng rotterdam aku setuju Sih, ga menarik. Pas ke makasar dulu, aku jg ga tertarik kluar bis meliat2. Mana panas :p

  7. I haven't tried backpacking, and I admire many of you who can do it with ease. Awesome post and lovely story.