Travels Among the Tourists

Taras's second book involved a gruelling (ahem) nine-month journey by foot, rented Renault, India railway 2A sleeper, and túk-túk, from one End of the Earth (Finisterre in Galicia) to the other (Tianya Haijiao, the End of the Earth in Hainan, China). An exploration of the origins and impacts of mass tourism, The End of Elsewhere saw Taras walking from west to east along a thousand-year-old east-to-west pilgrimage route, stuffing his belly on a cruise ship from Venice to Istanbul, and observing the antics of sex tourists in the flesh-pots of Thailand. It was nominated for a national Writers' Trust Award, and was then published to great critical acclaim in England by Serpent's Tail.

"Travel writers tend to seek out the world's ever-diminishing pockets of authenticity," Grescoe writes, announcing his perverse decision to "make a point of going exactly where the tourist ruts have been plowed the deepest," by following itineraries that have become generic—the pilgrimage to Santiago (he walks away from Santiago, in order to meet more tourists), sex tourism in Thailand (as a non-participant), the Michelin-guided motor tour of provincial France. En route, he taxonomizes such tourist types as the "budget travel snob," and provides a gloriously trivia-strewn history of tourism. A bus tour of Europe leads to a discussion of the life of Thomas Cook, whose temperance outings grew into the world's first travel agency, while modern European rail-pass tours recall the Grand Tours of the eighteenth century, this ostensible goal of cultural enrichment providing a front for "unsupervised sex and boisterous partying." —The New Yorker

“The End of Elsewhere is a kind of post-millennium Heart of Darkness, with Grescoe’s Marlowe on the trail of a hypothetical camera-toting, Hawaiian-shirted Kurtz . . . A powerful indictment of contemporary tourism and, more fundamentally, it’s a cry against the West’s exploitation of the Third world in the era of globalization.” —Quill & Quire

"The End of Elsewhere is the only kind of travel book possible today: at once enchanting and disenchanting. With rich and pungent prose, and a bite behind his smile, Taras Grescoe lays bare the highs and lows of wanderlust on our shrinking theme-park planet with an empathic scalpel." —Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis