The Backpacker

January 11th, 2014

The Backpacker is an enjoyable series of interconnected stories that keep you entertained throughout. Reading it makes you want to take the author’s lead by giving up your day job, dropping the pressures of everyday life and to start having some adventures while travelling.

It reminds you that we are only on this planet for a short time and we should see and experience as much of it as we can, while we are here. With that said, do take this book with a pinch of salt as some of the stories seem quite fabricated.

So ‘The Backpacker’ is based on a true story about an Englishman named John Harris, from London who is on holiday in India with his fiancĂ©. She ends up going back home, but John stays on and begins his adventures with his new found fellow travelers, and so his story begins.

After India, John travels to Thailand, after a strange note is sent to him by Rick; an acquaintance whom he met, while still with his fiancĂ©. He is intrigued as the note is written in a different tone to Rick’s normal style and even signed with a ‘Lord’ in the signature.

John and Rick are living the life in Thailand and even add a new member to the team called Dave, an ex US marine that is always up for a good time. From here, the threesome are involved in all sorts of shenanigans, such as, unknowingly hanging out with the Thai mafia, exploring more of Asia where they find and sail a boat around Indonesia, all the while being drunk, partying with women and not having a care in the world.


I really enjoyed the book and found I couldn’t put it down, quite a few times. It is an interesting account of one person’s travels around Asia, if they are true… Which leads me to ask the question, how much of these tales were true or made up? In the book, John basically admits to a few crimes also, which I think the authorities would like to talk to him about?

Also, I cannot find any information about John C Harris online. He has no blog or any real online presence. Is he still living his vagabond lifestyle? Or was this written by a ghostwriter? Anyway, with all that said I think it’s worth a read as it is entertaining and might give you the travel bug.


  1. Yeah, it’s a great yarn. A lot of people have questioned it’s authenticity. Who knows? Like you say there is no substantial info about the author online. Having spent a fair bit of time in South East Asia (Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia) I can say it’s possibly not as far fetched as some people think it is – I have a few tales of my own that few here in UK would believe, but those who’ve spent time in Asia give a knowing wink. Still it’s a great story, and most people who read it can’t put it down. I enjoyed the book a lot. Read it many years ago (2004 I think) – must re-read it before too long. Cheers, Tony

  2. I got given this book years ago but only just picked it up off the bookshelf. Completely agree with everything you say about it, i.e.:
    1. fantastic tale
    2. fantastic read, i.e. an excellent story-teller
    3. unbelievable adventures
    4. hugely entertaining

    It is incredible (and therefore unbelievable) the number of coincidences, chance encounters, luck and opportunities that fell into place for the pair of scoundrels. Even if the tale was only loosely based on fact, it would still be amazing. Whilst I thoroughly doubt all the events and adventures could have happened to these 2 blokes, the accurate details with which he tells them is what makes them almost believable…

    Having said all that, fact or fiction, if I had written and published such confessions, I would also “disappear” or absent myself from the public eye shortly thereafter!

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