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Then there was a strange turn of events. Simone Short spent six weeks studying in Padang, Indonesia. OUR taxi pulled into the university campus and came to a standstill, with the headlights coming to rest on a group of soldiers from the army barracks across the road. When I embarked on an intensive summer language program in Indonesia, I imagined a quiet six weeks studying, embracing the culture and trying the local cuisine.
You can imagine my surprise when I found myself catching a taxi home from a nightclub with a prostitute. Padang, the capital of West Sumatra has a prominent Islamic population — around 97 per cent of its ,odd locals are conservative Muslims. It suffered a devastating earthquake only three months prior to our arrival, and was near void of Western visitors. The few modern perks we were expecting, such as shopping centres and swimming pools, were closed for the duration of our visit.
Simone Short studied abroad in Padang, Indonesia, for six weeks. Picture: Simone Short Source:Supplied. Warm bottles of Bintang were the only alcoholic beverages available at local supermarkets. Entering the nightclubs, we felt like prudes with culturally-appropriate clothing covering our shoulders and knees.
The girls inside donned full-body fishnets that did little to cover the glorified underwear they wore while dancing to Bon Jovi and Robbie Williams. The city was conservative by day, but it was a completely different story by night. One nightclub in particular was like a rabbit warren. In the early hours of one particular morning, we rolled out of the club around 2am and headed outside to catch a taxi home. One after another pulled up, but to our confusion, every single one was already occupied by a woman in the front seat.
Every taxi was taken, and it was a long walk home, so we eventually jumped in with the driver and his passenger; the expat sharing the front seat with her, with myself and two other students in the back. Swerving back and forth across the road, the driver was even kind enough to share with us his own black plastic bag of bootleg alcohol, which we happily took turns sipping despite having no idea what it contained.