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Leaving the blinding sand for the cool shade of the trees, I walked carefully through the undergrowth to where Dave, using two twigs as chopsticks, was picking up a freshly severed human finger . . .' 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.