The Beach "Alex Garland" The Khao San Road, Bangkok--first stop for the hordes of rootless young Westerners traveling in Southeast Asia. On Richard's first night there, in a low-budget guest house, a fellow traveler slashes his wrists, bequeathing to Richard a meticulously drawn map to "the Beach."
The Beach, as Richard has come to learn, is the subject of a legend among young travelers in Asia: a lagoon hidden from the sea, with white sand and coral gardens, freshwater falls surrounded by jungle, plants untouched for a thousand years. There, it is rumored, a carefully selected international few have settled in a communal Eden. Haunted by the figure of Mr. Duck--the name by which the Thai police have identified the dead man--and his own obsession with Vietnam movies, Richard sets off with a young French couple to an island hidden away in an archipelago forbidden to tourists. They discover the Beach, and it is as beautiful and idyllic as it is reputed to be. Yet over time it becomes clear that Beach culture, as Richard calls it, has troubling, even deadly, undercurrents.
"The Ko Sahn Road was backpacker land. Almost all of the buildings had been converted to guest houses, there were long-distance telephone booths with air-con, the cafes showed brand-new Hollywood films on video, and you couldn't walk ten feet without passing a bootleg tape stall. The main function of the street was as a decompression chamber for all those about to leave Thailand; a halfway house between the East and the West." excerpt from "The Beach"
Are You Experienced? "William Sutcliffe" this hilarious account of a young traveller's misadventures in India became an instant success among the backpacker generation who clearly identified with both the characters and the situations they found themselves in. Liz goes to India on her year off to find spiritual enlightenment. Dave goes with her because he thinks he might be able to get her into bed. It doesn't take Dave long to realize that he can't stand the place and that he has made a big mistake. He hates the food, the heat, the poverty, and he absolutely, totally completely loathes his fellow travellers. There's Jeremy, who "belongs to India as much as his native land", Jonah, who hasn't worn shoes in a decade, and worst of all, Fee and Caz, who have just finished a three-month stint washing lepers in Udaipur. But for Dave there's no going back and as he lurches from disaster to disaster, he gradually makes the transformation from Dave the mediocre north London schoolboy to Dave the Traveller. Sutcliffe admits that Are You Experienced? is largely based on his own trip to India. "I myself was a culprit of every one of the classic backpacker sins as a middle-class 19-year-old on a Year Off in India," he says. "Although I am pleased that I did the trip, I feel deeply sorry for the people who had to put up with me, not to mention nauseous with embarrassment
Backpack "Emily Barr" It's New Year's Day and the year isn't kicking off well for Tansy: her mother's dead, she's a cocaine addict and her boyfriend has just left her. A trip around the world seems like the only option except that she's not interested in seeing the world, just escaping from it, and the last people she wants to hang out with are backpackers. Like a lot of travellers on the Lonely-Planet-led Asian Grand Tour, Tansy is intensely irritating at first. Always on the look out for the "real" Vietnam--the one in which she can walk around "like a model, fanning myself gently, strolling into ancient temples and learning about inner peace"--she is opinionated, narrow-minded and remarkably naive. Once she has shrugged off her addiction to lines of coke, skinny lattes and Nicole Fahri jumpers, she becomes more appealing. So by the time she's fallen for Max, a fellow traveller, she'll have won you over and you'll be just as worried as she is about the serial killer who appears to be on her trail. Emily Barr homepage
The Backpacker "John Harris" John's three-week holiday in India starts badly. After his girlfriend falls ill with a severe case of 'Delhi belly' and returns home alone, he finds himself looking at the sharp end of a knife in a train station latrine. But such is the stuff of backpacking and his life is saved - and turned upside down - by Rick, an enigmatic, streetwise traveller, who persuades John to throw a future of mundane security to the wind and embark upon a series of increasingly bizarre journeys. On the island of Koh Pha-Ngan, John, Rick and Dave pose as millionaire aristocrats in a hedonistic Eden of beautiful girls, free drugs and wild beach parties. But all is not as it seems and eventually their new world comes crashing around their ears as they become embroiled in the politics of the Thai Mafia, stolen passports and arson attacks. Narrowly escaping with their lives (and a stolen yacht) they head for Bali, but tragedy strikes and the unexpected follows them through Indonesia, Australia and Hong Kong changing the direction of their lives once again . . . This is not travel for the faint-hearted: some backpackers never return.
Losing Gemma "Katy Gardner" Two girls went travelling in search of adventure, in search of 'real life'. Only one came back... Six years later, Esther returns to India, and the strange shrine they visited there at Agun Mazir, to find out the truth about what happened to her best friend; to put the dreadful ghosts of their time there to rest. Was Gemma taken from her in the chaos, heat and confusion of a foreign land, a place where she was no longer in control? Or was she actually lost to Esther long before?
Go "Simon Lewis" From cheesy London nightclubs to Christmas in Goa, inner city tower blocks to Hong Kong karaoke bars, sleepy Welsh villages to jaded Chinese towns, Lee, Sol and Vix are all fleeing their own personal demons. All on the run. But how far do you have to go to get away