Yesterday afternoon, Schapelle Corby emerged from her near-decade-long stint as a guest of the Indonesian prison system. There's no doubting she had it rough inside Kerobokan jail.

We won't hear her tell her own story for a few years yet; Corby's parole conditions mean she can't leave Indonesia until 2017 and, if she's learnt anything over the past 10 years, she'll have learnt not to piss off the Indonesian authorities by speaking out about prison conditions or arguing the case for her innocence.

Corby's crime - she was caught trying to import 4.2kg of cannabis into Denpasar airport - dwarves the misdeeds of most of us. But there's a universal lesson there for young western travellers: don't play fast and loose with another country's legal system.

In parts of Southeast Asia, young travellers behave in ways they would never countenance in their homeland. Long days in the sun combined with generous amounts of alcohol and the heady rush of a tropical holiday away from the prurient eyes of home can over-stimulate the hedonism glands in young backpackers.


The phone call Corby's parents received ("Mum, I'm in a prison in Bali") is one the parents of any young traveller dread.

Many in the west assumed Corby to have been set up. It can't be a real court, the thinking seemed to go, after all, it's only Indonesia.

The court was real enough. The sentence, too. Let's be careful out there.