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Summary

A gripping adventure that takes the listener on a backpacking trip through South East Asia.

John’s trip to India starts badly when he finds himself looking at the sharp end of a knife in a train station cubicle. His life is saved by the enigmatic Rick, who persuades John to abandon his mundane plans for the future for much, much more.

Fast forward to the Thai island of Koh Pha-Ngan, where they pose as millionaire aristocrats in a hedonistic Eden of beautiful girls, free drugs, and wild beach parties. Soon pursued by the Thai Mafia, they escape to Indonesia, Australia, and Hong Kong, facing danger at every turn.

©2001 John Harris (P)2011 Audible Ltd

What listeners say about The Backpacker

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

wow...not in a good way.

Well I am 2 chapters in and I have wasted a credit. although I can't fault the narrator the author really needs to check himself. He spends a lot of his time talking about poking at dying birds with sticks, and also boasts about throwing stones at stray dogs. the way he describes Indians is frankly racist and overall the book is impossible to listen too. the author tells a self indulgent tale of exactly how not to backpack.

7 people found this helpful

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Totally unexpected

I’ve read lots of travel memoirs before by ‘adventurers’ or hikers taking things seriously so this was completely different from the start. I wondered if it would be typical stories about full moon parties and clubs but it turned out to be so compelling and an almost unbelievable story with lots of twists and turns, countries and situations I never predicted!

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Didn't live up to my expectations or other reviews

A bit tiresome this book, learnt nothing about the interesting countries/culture, just fairly far fetched stories about 'lads abroad' behaving badly.

3 people found this helpful

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Shallow Superficial Fiction

Starts off fine then gets progressively worse in a trail of lies written in the adolescent manner of a selfish immature idiot. I bailed out 5 hours before the end as I very much doubt much if any is true. A better title for this book would be 'The Bulls**t Backpacker'. If you have a low IQ and lower expectations you might enjoy it though

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Total escapism, totally nail biting..... BRILLIANT

I really enjoyed this book. It has everything, exotic cities, drugs, girls, sex, intrigue, deceit, friendship, sun drenched beaches, high seas adventure as well as exploitation, painful loss and new beginnings.
I felt very connected to all the main characters and lived their wonderment and pain with them.
Thoroughly recommend this book!

2 people found this helpful

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Kept me well entertained. Loved it. Twice!

Loved it, all of it including Tom's voiceover was for me equally enjoyable. I have now read it twice and will do so again sometime in the future

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Fantastic

What a brilliant book. Left me with so many questions wanting to know what happened next. I hope there is a follow up. Would love to sit down and spend an afternoon talking with John. He must have some amazing stories.

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Worthy of a listen but no masterpiece.

The draw of this was to reminisce about my time travelling back in the '90s, back when travelling was safe. The descriptions of the places ran pretty true to memory, but one thing that bothered me constantly through-out the book was Dave. First, I don't know any black guy in England who's name is 'Dave', let alone someone from New York! At least get the characterisation of the people right, the other was his associated dialogue. Awful, and completely none authentic. As an easy book to listen to, yes, it was somewhat compelling and I was intrigued enough to find out how John and Rick went from penniless backpackers to riding a Rolls towards a yacht. The best description is that of an OK holiday read.

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Good fun

What this is not, is a sumptuous and evocative tour of other countries which will place you there. It isn't a Michael Palin style documentary. It's a story that doesn't follow a conventional beginning, middle and end, but is a retelling of events for a small group of travellers in Asia. The nature of the book is in the events, not the scenery nor differences in culture. They're young, they do some stupid things as did we all at that age. Some of the detail of the events is sufficiently well-written to have you laughing out loud on occasion, or to build a sense of suspense and tension. The characters are well described. It could have done with some editing to slim it down by perhaps 30%. The narrator is great. I often find myself abandoning very long audiobooks as I have a short attention span, but with this it's possible to dip in and out of it without missing vital elements which make for continuity and I did complete it. It's great escapism and I found it enjoyable.

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favourite audiobook by far

I have listened to this book twice now and can relate to many of their stories. Great book and well read.

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  • bionichands
  • 18-01-12

Gave up

I listened to the entire first half of this book and it just never grabbed me. I just got bored. Too bad really because I love the setting, and The Beach is one of my favorite books. Things happen occasionally, but more often the story is filled with long accounts of not especially exciting train rides, pointless conversations between characters who you are not certain are relevant to the story, and inexplicable decisions on the part of the main character.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-08-14

"A Million Little Pieces" of travel books.

Would you try another book from John Harris and/or Tom Lawrence?

The narrator Tom Lawrence was very good, I would easily listen to another performance. The author John Harris is better at fiction/semi-fiction than reality.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The book is a retelling of a story in that age old pub fashion/fishing story. A small little adventure blossomed into a grand story with the retelling. The teller may think it really happened that way but the reality is likely much more sedate. Much like James Frey and his "A Million Little Pieces", there is a lot of embellishment in a story branded as non-fiction. It is an entertaining read though, just not true to the non fiction travel genre.

What does Tom Lawrence bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Its an all around great performance. His voice matched the mental picture of the protagonist in the story. He is properly emphatic when the story calls for it.

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  • Rick
  • 29-11-11

Very Entertaining and Captivating!

I am not sure if everything is true (I would love to read more interviews from the author), but John Harris is a very descriptive and entertaining writer, that really captures your attention and will bring about a urning for travel and exploration. I will add that his moral compass is not always in check, but at least he seems to realize it! Also, the reader does a fantastic job of sounding different with each character and making the book come alive.