This author writes "By 1492, after trying for 800 years, Ferdinand and Isabella had finally expelled the Moors from Spain." Wow. That and the reference to Japanese "Banzai trees" marks this book as not so much poorly written as poorly edited. No surprise that when I went back to look at the gushing blurb on the cover, I found it was quoted from a soft-porn lad-mag.
This book is candy. It might be interesting to people who have never done this sort of travel, and who are fascinated by the idea of giving it a try. But for the tens of millions of us who having done it for ourselves, the journey this book describes is very ordinary. Here is yet another little band of angry, self-righteous British slackers, who escape work by puking and quarrelling their way across the 3rd world.
And this book is nothing more than the diary of the trip. Episode after episode, one wonders, "what was the point of that little story?" The author at one point ponders splitting off from his two companions, but it is clear why he doesn't: most of this book is about his interactions with them. Without someone to spat with, he would have little to fill the pages.
To give his work gravitas, he follows the formula of interleaving his personal narrative with leftish social-historical-political commentary. He even includes a bibliography of all of 20 books! It is just added gloss on the basic pretension that this trip is some sort of spiritual pilgrimage, an anthropological exploration into recondite psychedelic shamanic practices. He is flattering himself. He and his friends are just a slightly more educated breed of yobs, going where others have gone before.
He could aspire to be a chronicler, at least, of the yob backpacking scene. In a sense, he is. Realising that all the above still doesn't amount to an interesting story, he continues his wanderings until all the risk-taking behavior (dangerous buses, big doses, getting drunk with strangers, etc. etc.) leads to the predictable tears. A tragedy provides the book's climax--and an opportunity to quote Pink Floyd lyrics. In the final paragraph we see him setting off for yet another dangerous country with his remaining companion. Perhaps he will publish a sequel...if only he can manage to kill off just one more traveling companion....