Sick of producing the picturesque bromides of the professional travel writer, Lawrence Osborne decided to explore the psychological underpinnings of tourism itself by taking a six-month journey down the so-called "Asian Highway"--a swath of Southeast Asia that, since the Victorian era, has seduced generations of tourists with its manufactured dreams of the exotic Orient. And like many a lost soul on this same route, he ends up in the harrowing forests of Papua, searching for a people who have never seen a tourist.
What, Osborne asks, are millions of affluent itinerants from the West looking for as they wade through endless resorts, hotels, cosmetic-surgery packages, spas, spiritual retreats, sex clubs, and "back to nature" trips? What does tourism, the world's single largest business, have to sell? The Naked Tourist is a travelogue into that heart of darkness known as the Western mind.