Yak Butter and Black Tea: A Journey into Tibetby Wade Brackenbury
Wade Brackenbury wanted an adventure, and he got the journey of a lifetime. Along with a charismatic photographer named Pascal, Wade went seeking the Drung people, a dwindling minority in the vast empire of China, said to live in an obsure valley in Southern Tibet. No Westerner had been to the Drung valley in over a century. Yak Butter & Black Tea is a story of
Wade Brackenbury wanted an adventure, and he got the journey of a lifetime. Along with a charismatic photographer named Pascal, Wade went seeking the Drung people, a dwindling minority in the vast empire of China, said to live in an obsure valley in Southern Tibet. No Westerner had been to the Drung valley in over a century. Yak Butter & Black Tea is a story of daring and adventure, offering a fascinating glimpse into a hidden corner of contemporary China. And it is the account of a young man, driven by a compulsion he doesn't understand, as he tests himself in this dangerous, exotic land. "A remarkable account of exploration and adventure in forbidden lands. Travel writing of the old school at its best."Joe Simpson, author of Dark Shadows Falling and Touch of the Void.
Brackenbury, an experienced mountaineer and survival expert, intrepidly pushes both the physical and bureaucratic envelope in his mission. Existing principally on a diet of assorted yak recipes, the trio of explorers composed of the author, a French photographer named Pascal, and Sophi, a beautiful French-Chinese translator, journey into a region of western China and southeastern Tibet officially off-limits to tourists. They are frequently detained and searched by Chinese policemen; in one harrowing episode, having been assured of their freedom yet held captive on a military base, they effect an escape, only to be hunted down and nearly shot. Thereafter, they are widely known among the Tibetans as those "three bad people." At one time or another, all three suffer gravely from the elements, from the food, and, for the first two-thirds of the narrative, from one another. Pascal, it turns out, is a coward who blames Sophi for his reluctance to proceed over the remote high mountain passes without guides or official permission. Brackenbury finally cuts loose from his companions and treks on alone. His skills as a chiropractor are called on frequently as he "adjusts" the joints of various Tibetan pilgrims, and on the whole he gets on tolerably well with a suspicious and poorly fed people, who grudgingly offer him shelter and, less frequently, food. Finally, Brackenbury reaches his goal, but only after arduously hiking over snow-covered passes and clambering down steep cliffs, and the Drung turn out to be less isolated than the author had imagined.
Occasionally self-indulgent and slow, Brackenbury's memoir is best read for the local color and some chilling, death-defying moments.
- Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.02(w) x 8.46(h) x 0.78(d)
Meet the Author
Wade Brackenbury was born in Idaho and lives in Springville, Utah. He has traveled and climbed widely, worked as a mountain guide, taught wilderness survival courses, and worked as a chiropractor. Recently, he served as expedition doctor on a photographic mission up a tributary of the Congo River in Africa.
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