Judith Wilkes, an Australian photojournalist travels back to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ten years after the riots of 1969, to research the story of the Vietnamese refugees landing at Turtle Beach. The boat people, as they have come to be called, are trying to find a temporary home in Malaysia, before being allowed to leave for the United States, Australia, or any place that will take them. All of them -- men, women, and children -- suffer violent treatment at the hands of the Malays, who savagely slaughter them as they dive into the water before the boats land. Intermixed with this horror story, is the equally pathetic story of Minou, a former Saigon call girl who has married an Australian ambassador in the vain hope that his power will help get her own children safely out of Vietnam and into Malaysia. However, his refusal forces her to enlist Judith's aid instead, along with Judith's lover, Kanan, a friend of Minou's, and their attempts bring about a shattering climax to the entire affair.