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Eating Smoke: One Man's Descent Into Crystal Meth Psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad Heartland

(Eating Smoke #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  585 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find fortune in Hong Kong, but following a bizarre series of jobs ended up homeless and in psychosis from crystal meth.

He began working for the 14K, a notorious crime syndicate, as a nightclub doorman in the Wan Chai red-light district, where he uncovered a vast global conspiracy and the 'Foreign Triad' - a secretive expat clique in
Paperback, 420 pages
Published September 16th 2011 by Blacksmith Books (first published September 15th 2011)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  585 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Start your review of Eating Smoke: One Man's Descent Into Crystal Meth Psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad Heartland
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Chris Thrall’s memoir Eating Smoke (sensationally subtitled One Man’s Descent Into Drug Psychosis In Hong Kong’s Triad Heartland) was published in 2011 but resparked buzz last year when the book was adapted into a radio dramatization for Hong Kong’s RTHK station.

The memoir is about Thrall’s time in Hong Kong in the 90s when he found himself addicted to ice—that is, methamphetamine—and indeed written in the style one would expect while on speed.

It is a dazzling ride, full of flowing neon and
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, true-story
I rarely pre-order books due to an incident a while ago involving a dodgy publisher...BUT...I pre-ordered this book and I couldn't wait for it to be delivered to my Kindle.

I've heard how Meth destroys peoples lives and I tend to enjoy reading about real life, gangs, the underworld and so forth...Sooooo, when I was browsing Amazon one day I stumbled onto this book and was highly intrigued about the title "Eating Smoke".

Sometimes it's hard to believe what people do during their life and how they
Collette Scott
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
When Chris Thrall left England for Hong Kong in search of his fortune and fame, the outcome he received was most likely not the one that he had hoped for. Leaving a career in the military, he hurried out to Hong Kong to capitalize on a booming business, ready to entertain the wealthy and make a fortune. While he found a fun-loving group of friends, he also found the potent and dangerous drug, crystal meth. This blunt and entertaining read is the story of Mr.Thrall’s coming of age the hard way, ...more
Jonathan Chamberlain
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Chris Thrall is a young man with extraordinary gifts - gifts that I hope have survived the terrible psychotic breakdown that he experienced after living on little else but drugs, it would seem, for a year in Hong Kong. Other reviewers have mentioned the humour, but what, for me, was the most remarkable part of this tale was the way reality and paranoia merged. The slip from normality to madness was extremely well portrayed. I will throw books away after a few chapters if they don't grab me - ...more
Jeremy Blum
Feb 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Decent story about an ex-military gweilo who comes to Hong Kong, falls into some rough times in Wanchai and gets hooked on crystal meth while working as a bar bouncer. If you've ever spent time as a foreigner in the Pearl of the Orient, you'll be able to relate to a lot of what Chris is describing here. The rough and tumble, gotta-make-money-or-die-trying nature of Hong Kong, the greasy expats that spend way too much time in dirty bars hitting on local girls and Filipinas, the way so many ...more
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Chris Thrall’s “Eating Smoke” is a fascinating, beautifully written account of a British Royal Marine’s descent into methamphetamine addiction. Thrall is adept at description -- the hustle and bustle of the city of Hong Kong, and the dope fiends and hard-drinking expats he hung out with come alive as the story unfolds. Chris is so likeable and funny that readers will find themselves spinning out with him, but clinging desperately to the hope that he will get his head straight. The author has ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chris Thrall. Should be Chris Thrill.

A Brilliant book. Once I started it I couldn't put it down.

It has exemplary pacing, is completely engaging and The tone he writes in is honest, sometimes sad, and sometimes humoursous, and it has a wealth of winning detail.

Chris uses such verve, enthusiasm and faultless comic timing that it is hard not to be swept along.

Sometimes when a person comes close to death, they find their soul.

Chris Thrall shows us his in what is bound to be a best seller.

Completely gripping read about the transition between reality and a drug induced psychosis. Told with humour and honesty you can't help feeling sympathy with Chris and the path he took in Hong Kong in Clubland. Its a brave thing to be so honest about making some bad choices and skill to allow you to experience that shift in reality to the mental breakdown caused by crystal meth. It was actually really informative too about the Hong Kong psyche and complex social rules that govern the triads.
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An hallucinating journey fantastically written! Congratulations Chris, on your talent, and your courage!
Andrew Carter
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazon Review from Andrew Carter

I read Eating Smoke when I was living in Hong Kong so it had that added interest for me . At the time it was doing the rounds among my friends and colleagues and I'd only heard good things so picked up a copy.

I finished it over a weekend. Chris Thrall writes with such clever pacing and wit that you are immediately drawn in.The start of the book is interesting in itself; a twenty something marine starting a new chapter in his life by moving to Hong Kong in the mid
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
I understand this is the author's first writing, so have to cut Chris some slack, but I didn't find this to be well written at all, and just couldn't get past some of the glaring deficiencies, so it fell flat for me. I felt Chris pretty much got what he deserved, as he self-destructed by making many poor choices in his life, so he wasn't a sympathetic protagonist either. Parts also rang untrue or as if they were embellished beyond reality, ala James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. I'm not saying ...more
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
What a fabulous read. This book definitely leads you into the descent into drug psychosis as you watch helplessly as Chris Thrall spirals out of control and is seemingly unaware of his ability to grasp reality. It all starts swimmingly for Chris Thrall who is forever optimistic when he heads to Hong Kong to become wealthy off a business venture only a young and naive individual would think would be successful. When this unsurprisingly fails, Chris (or Quiss as his Chinese or Filipino friends ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book works on so many levels. For starters, Chris Thrall's character is very sympathetic throughout the book: on his first two trips to Hong Kong, at the end of his seven-year career in the Royal Marines, and during his roller-coaster ride through Hong Kong during the bulk of his story.

Not since Richard Mason’s The World of Suzie Wong (Collins, 1957) and Han Bangqing’s The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai (Columbia University Press, 2005 [first published in 1892]) has a writer taken such an
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book came to my attention via social media. After several days of seeing it show up on Twitter and Facebook I decided to purchase a copy.

I was expecting a sad tale, as I have seen crystal meth addicts on television on their death bed and trying to warn others not to go down this road.

The book was informative about the mindset of the author during his stay in Hong Kong, but more than that it was funny. I have never taken drugs or been to Hong Kong, nor have I served in the military. However,
Constance Markarian

I've read many books on drugs and drug addicts; some good, some not. This book happens to be great. This is the true story of a young man who moves to Hong Kong, hoping to make his fortune. Instead, he discovers crystal meth, and pretty much becomes immediately addicted. Anyone who has ever been addicted to meth knows that it pretty much gets a hold of you almost immediately. Chris Thrall, the author of this book, was no exception. He holds back nothing on his roller coaster ride of
Dec 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trey by: Tom Carter
A former Royal Marine trying to find his place in life. Running to Hong Kong using all of the resources on the table would've been my same thought if I were in the same position.

Ultimately, circumstances didnt work out as planned and his experience slipped into the realm of paranoia from drug psychosis.

What hooked me was I could relate to it as it seemed similar to my own life. I may not be a marine as they wouldnt accept a cancer survivor into their ranks, but I understand how hard it is to
Kathleen Kelly
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Eating Smoke is a gritty true story of a young man who leaves the Royal Army for a better life in Hong Kong, or so he thought. Chris Thrall finds that life in Hong Kong is full of drugs, prostitution and the Triads and is not a particularly great place to be. As his addiction to crystal meth leaps out of control, he finds himself homeless, doing more and more meth, not taking care of his body and becoming extremely paranoid. I found this story to be sad, emotional and happy at the same time. Sad ...more
Lucy Nichol
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could NOT put this book down. A gripping read that takes you through some bizarre and terrifying events as psychosis takes hold and becomes more and more intense. I have read numerous books about personal experiences of addiction and mental illness, most of which I have found immensely brave and raw, but no other memoir has unnerved me quite as much as this. You were right in the middle of the madness in a far away land just willing him to get help. Combining addiction, mental illness and the ...more
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book had a very unexpected effect; while reading it I actually had the most bizarre sensation of speeding on some sort of substance stronger than my usual caffeine. This continued throughout the book, causing me to feel oddly at home in this frightening world where the author lived and very nearly died.

This is more than a cautionary tale. This book is an amazing bird's eye view into a world that hopefully you will never go. You may find, like I, that you want to know more once you finish
Christopher Clifford
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As a former Hong Kong expat myself, I found this book to be a highly entertaining read and and a very accurate portrayal of the side of Hong Kong that most tourist never see ... One of my all time favorites !
Heather Mackins
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent insight into the real life drug world, excellent.
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fabulous book. More insight into a collectivist culture than any anthropological study. Similar to Shantaram but much much better.
Tommy Clam
Nov 25, 2013 rated it liked it
well written and overall a good read but I did find myself losing interest at times
Bob Finlay
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this one.
Alexander McLeese
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the funnest and at times disturbing true reads. Well worth it.
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What just might be the funniest if not first autobiography ever penned by a drug-addicted foreigner in China, Chris Thrall's "Eating Smoke" contains more spiritual pollution than all of the titles on the Communist Party's banned books list combined.

In a country whose history was irrevocably altered for the worst by the scourge of foreign-imported opium throughout the 19th century, it is no wonder that today's China has one of the world's least-tolerant anti-drug laws - including executions for
Sep 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
Hello, goodbye, hello, goodbye, hello, goodbye.

These words perfectly summarize Thrall's novel. Every page is packed with new characters constantly being introduced, only to leave in the next paragraph and never be heard from again. A typical chapter has the main character going to a job where he meets new co-workers, all of which are vehemently described in both their appearance and characteristics. At one point he introduces 5 new people at once, and reading it I thought I better pay attention
Nov 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: author-t, read-2018
It seemed to take forever for me to receive this book and I actually thought I was never going to. But it did arrive and I was surprised to find it actually came from Hong Kong. I found the book to be a very engaging account of the authors life dealing with drug addiction. Very well worth the read and the wait it took to get to me. Memoirs are among the top three of my favorite genres to read. Author does an excellent job taking the reader and putting them right there with him. Thumbs up on this ...more
Rei Avocado
pretty entertaining and vivid but the annoying feeling of white adverturist in a weird wacky world never leaves. hes an ex british soldier who clearly writes from the perspective of a white man in hong kong and it gets really old the way he describes every single chinese person. we get it, youre white.

im a sucker for a good drug memoir, though, and its not that relentlessly racist--some of the people in the book are even treated like people, sometimes. its worth a read if youve got nothing
unsure how to rate this...
positives: descriptions (of spiraling paranoia, scenes, personalities, drug effects)
negatives: an anticlimactic account of events that didn't need to happen, the inclusion of "embarrassing" poetry, skittering writing style (intentional?)
it's not rubbish, but it's not particularly uh enthralling either.
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Chris Thrall was born in South-East London. A former Royal Marines Commando, he served in the Northern Ireland Conflict and trained in parachuting and Arctic warfare and survival. In 2011, Chris wrote the bestselling memoir Eating Smoke, detailing his descent into crystal meth psychosis while working as a nightclub doorman for the Hong Kong triads. A qualified pilot, skydiver and keen snowboarder, ...more

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