Yak Butter Blues

( 3 )

Overview

What does it take to survive? More than you could fathom. "YAK BUTTER BLUES: A Tibetan Trek of Faith" (an IPPY award winner), is an inspiring true story. Join a tenacious man, woman and their Tibetan horse as they set off to become the first Western couple to trek an ancient 1000-kilometer trail across the wilds of Tibet. Their incredible odyssey provides a riveting tale of human endurance and an intimate first-hand look at the valiant struggle of the Tibetan culture to survive – as well as at the humanity ...
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Yak Butter Blues

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Overview

What does it take to survive? More than you could fathom. "YAK BUTTER BLUES: A Tibetan Trek of Faith" (an IPPY award winner), is an inspiring true story. Join a tenacious man, woman and their Tibetan horse as they set off to become the first Western couple to trek an ancient 1000-kilometer trail across the wilds of Tibet. Their incredible odyssey provides a riveting tale of human endurance and an intimate first-hand look at the valiant struggle of the Tibetan culture to survive – as well as at the humanity connecting us all.

"Wilson observes the impact of the Chinese occupation on the daily lives of Tibetans... Recommended for adventure travel and Tibetan culture collections." ~ LIBRARY JOURNAL

"An engrossing, fascinating read sure to be relished by those readers interested in adventure travel and the Tibetan culture. It is also a highly spiritual story of faith which reminds us that nothing is really impossible..." ~ MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

"A hair-raising yarn...a high-altitude tale of synchronicity, divine providence, begging monks, trigger-happy Chinese soldiers and dehydration." ~ PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE

"You can almost smell the dust and feel the blisters. Worth a read by any adventure or travel-trekking novel enthusiast." ~ BACKPACKING LIGHT MAGAZINE

"A true pilgrimage, one that plumbs the heart of troubled Tibet..." ~ HONOLULU ADVERTISER

"A wonderful and wild read...charged, alive, and a little threatening. Yak Butter Blues flickers insistently like a flashbulb afterimage in the mind long after the book is tucked away." ~ Richard Bangs, adventurer/Producer Richard Bangs ADVENTURES

"A soaring travel diary. It places the reader in the thick of the action every bit as well as Marco Polo transported Italians to China and, as it seems to me, better than Lowell Thomas led readers in the dust of Lawrence of Arabia." ~ Joseph W. Bean, MAUI WEEKLY

"Told with humor and insight, this vivid narrative allows you to vicariously experience life at true Tibetan pace, one step at a time: so close, you can almost smell the yak butter." ~ Michael Buckley, author, TIBET: THE BRADT TRAVEL GUIDE

"Inspiring, Engaging, Compassionate! This book is a treasure to the Tibetan people and to the rest of the world. It gives us a true glimpse of Tibet and captures a beautiful land and culture that may not be around in years to come. Well done!" ~ Naomi C. Rose, author, TIBETAN TALES FOR LITTLE BUDDHAS

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Editorial Reviews

Marilis Hornidge
"..an awesome (in that old-fashioned use of the word) tale..Brave believing people on both sides of this trek..and a tale that deserves the telling."
The Courier-Gazette (Maine)
Richard Bangs
A wonderful and wild read...Brandon Wilson treats the distant worlds of Tibet as places that exist not only in the mathematics of geography, but also in the terra incognita of our imaginations. His writing is charged, alive, and a little threatening. Yak Butter Blues flickers insistently like a flashbulb afterimage in the mind long after the book is tucked away....
Executive Producer/Director of Great Escapes MSNBC, author, adventurer and co-founder of Mountain Travel/Sobek
Joseph W. Bean
...a soaring travel diary. It places the reader in the thick of the action every bit as well as Marco Polo transported Italians to China and, as it seems to me, better than Lowell Thomas led readers in the dust of Lawrence of Arabia... Not one reader in a million will ever make the trek, but I don't think any reader - regardless of age or physical ability - will ever read this book without dreaming of the whole trip. Travel books of the usual sort have no place on the 21st century book shelf, but you'll be glad you made room for this one.
Book Reviewer, Maui Weekly
Midwest Book Review
Their journey put their endurance to the test, and even brought them into an encounter with the Chinese Army, but also showed them the wonder and beauty of the land itself, and the remnants of a gentle Buddhist culture on the verge of extinction, evidenced in the kindness of strangers who share yak-butter tea. A moving and emotional testimony, and a travelogue that is the next most vivid experience to hiking upon the trail oneself.
Wanda Adams
"..A true pilgrimage, one that plumbs the heart of troubled Tibet and teaches impatient and stubborn Westerners to slow down and appreciate this amazing planet."
Honolulu Advertiser (Gannett)
Reiko Matsumoto
...a mesmerizing read. This remarkable tale of one of the first trekkers' survival while "traveling deliberately," one-step-at-a-time, on an incredible odyssey across the vast and lonely country will fill readers with awe and respect.
Travel Writer Marketletter
Rebekah Scott
"high-altitude tale of synchronicity, divine providence, begging monks, trigger-happy Chinese soldiers and dehydration."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)
Liz Janes-Brown
"the compelling story of single footsteps through a harsh landscape. It's also the story of the Tibetan people - shy, simple rural folk who shared what they had with two foreigners and their pack horse, Sadhu."
The Maui News (Hawaii)
Library Journal
Recent changes in travel restrictions on the China/Nepal border allowed Wilson and his wife to make the 1000-kilometer Tibetan pilgrimage between Kathmandu and Lhasa, becoming some of the first Westerners to accomplish this feat. They chose to make the trip on foot, though they quickly purchased a horse to accompany them. Here, Wilson takes readers through the hardships of late-season trekking and into the homes of the Tibetan people, on whom he and his wife were dependent for basic survival. With few language skills and many items of value to the materially poor locals, the couple engaged in a series of charades and cross-cultural bargaining that brought humor and no small amount of suspense to an otherwise difficult journey. Wilson observes the impact of the Chinese occupation on the daily lives of Tibetans, which distinguishes his book from Heinrich Harrer's classic Seven Years in Tibet, which took place before the invasion of China and the fleeing of the Dalai Lama. Recommended for adventurer travel and Tibetan culture collections.-Sheila Kasperek, North Hall Lib., Mansfield Univ., PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
world-class adventurer/co-founder of Mountain Travel Sobek/author and host of the PBS TV series Adventures With Purpose - Richard Bangs
"A wonderful and wild read...charged, alive, and a little threatening. Yak Butter Blues flickers insistently like a flashbulb afterimage in the mind long after the book is tucked away..."
Library Journal - Sheila Kasparek
"Recommended for adventure travel and Tibetan culture collections."
Midwest Book Review - Mayra Calvani
"An engrossing, fascinating read sure to be relished by those readers interested in adventure travel and Tibetan culture. It is also a highly spiritual story of faith which reminds us that nothing is really impossible, that obstacles are often magnified in the human mind, and that the journey is far more important than the destination itself."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Rebekah Scott
"A hair-raising yarn...a high-altitude tale of synchronicity, divine providence, begging monks, trigger-happy Chinese soldiers and dehydration."
Maui Weekly - Joseph Bean
"A soaring travel diary. It places the reader in the thick of the action every bit as well as Marco Polo transported Italians to China and, as it seems to me, better than Lowell Thomas led readers in the dust of Lawrence of Arabia."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780977053674
  • Publisher: Pilgrim's Tales
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

BRANDON WILSON is an author and photographer, explorer and adventure travel writer. His books in this travel series include: "Along the Templar Trail," a Lowell Thomas Gold Award-winner for Best Travel Book, "Over the Top & Back Again," ForeWord Book of the Year Bronze Award-winner, "Dead Men Don't Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa," and "Yak Butter Blues," an IPPY Award-winner.

His story about a year spent living in the Arctic, Life When Hell Freezes Over, appeared in "They Lived to Tell the Tale: True Stories of Adventure from the Legendary Explorers Club."

His photos have won awards from National Geographic Traveler and Islands magazines. His pictorial essay was featured in "Naive and Abroad: Spain: Limping 600 Miles Through History" by Marcus Wilder.

A voracious explorer of more than one hundred countries, over decades he has trekked many long-distance trails, including: the Camino de Santiago across Spain, the Via de la Plata, and St. Olav’s Way across Norway. In 1992, Brandon and his wife Cheryl were the first Western couple to complete the 1100-kilometer trail from Lhasa, Tibet to Kathmandu, and he was the first American to traverse the 1850-kilometer Via Francigena from England to Rome. In 2006, he and his French friend re-blazed the 4500-kilometer Templar Trail from France to Jerusalem to establish it as a path of peace.

Wilson is a member of the prestigious Explorers Club and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For more information, visit: http://www.pilgrimstales.com/ or visit his Facebook page.
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Table of Contents

Regional Map ii
Tibet Route Map iv
Introduction 1
Chapter I             Never Say Impossible 3
Chapter II           A Hundred Yak Butter Lamps 13
Chapter III          So Long, Shangri-La 25
Chapter IV          If Wishes Were Horses… 39
Chapter V           A Crooked Little Finger 51
Chapter VI          The Road Less Taken 65
Chapter VII         Showdown in Shigatse 77
Chapter VIII        Village Of Fear 89
Chapter IX           Passes And Passages 107
Chapter X            Keeping the Faith 135
Chapter XI           Zen Answers 151
Chapter XII          In Quest of Mount Everest 167
Chapter XIII         A Simple Act of Defi ance 181
Chapter XIV        Words Of Hope 191
Chapter XV         The Snowy Road to Hell 209
Chapter XVI        A Bridge to Freedom 219
Chapter XVII       “Ghoda! Ghoda! Ghoda!” 231
Chapter XVIII      Flags Of Solidarity 245
Epilogue                                        257
Afterword                                     259
To Become Involved                     261
Suggested Reading                        263
About the Author                          265
Special Thanks                              267
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2006

    From Lhasa to Kathmandu

    ¿¿Look, you two, I don¿t think this has ever been done before¿and there must be more than one good reason why.¿¿It¿s a good thing author Brandon Wilson and his wife, Cheryl, didn¿t take these words to heart or I wouldn¿t have been able to go along with them on their adventure from Lhasa to Kathmandu. While I may never get there in person, I feel as though I have met the people of Tibet and seen everything they did while staying out of the freezing cold. I read this book, slowly, savoring from the first ¿Tashi Delek!¿ to the last ¿Namaste¿. I came to love Sadhu, the wandering holy man, so much that I was close to tears near the end of the story. Traveling with Brandon and Cheryl, and the people they meet along the way and share their adventure with, for 650 miles across an ancient pilgrim¿s trail is exhilarating. You will enjoy the way things open up to them as minor successes happen to allow them to trek across Tibet, visiting beautiful Buddhist monasteries and passing out pictures of the Dalai Lama to those who helped them along the way. While experiencing much success, they also experienced getting shot at, getting caught in a blizzard and a sandstorm, not having enough to eat or drink, getting lost, Cheryl getting bitten by a dog, and much more. The one thing that stayed constant, besides their determination, was the Yak Butter the book is named for. ¿Like Henry David Thoreau¿s noble quest to ¿live life deliberately¿...¿Yak Butter Blues author, Brandon Wilson, teaches us just that¿open your life to adventure, seek it out, find something that suits you and jump in with both feet¿don¿t stop to think or to over-plan. If you do, your logic could take over and you would miss all the fun! Pick up two copies of this book¿one for yourself and another for a friend. You will both be glad you did. Thank you Brandon and Cheryl for sharing a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2006

    TCM Reviews

    Told with vivid freshness and an inspiring sense of wonder, Yak Butter Blues is the real-life story of probably the first Western couple to have hiked across Tibet. Their journey begins in Lhasa and ends 1,000 kilometers and about 40 days later in Kathmandu, Nepal. Many obstacles face Brandon and Cheryl from the start. In fact, the journey itself seems impossible, but nothing gets in the way of their determination and admirable spirit of adventure. Crossing the Himalayas with their benevolent horse Sadhu, they challenge hunger, ferocious winds, stifling and freezing temperatures, and torturous high altitudes. They sleep wherever the night takes them¿to local villagers, monks, potato patches, tack rooms, freezing hotel rooms. They survive on Yak butter tea, hot cha, and 761 bars. They¿re shot at, attacked by wild dogs, and afflicted with chest colds that split their ribs each time they cough, but they move on propelled by faith and sheer willpower. Amidst the hostility of the Tibetan land and its strange people they also find surprising beauty and heart-warming generosity. Spiced with a touch of humor, Wilson¿s prose flows beautifully and captures the reader¿s imagination and emotions. ¿We trudged and stumbled like drunken fools in that infernal heat all day, motivated by the dream of food, hatred of each other, disgust with ourselves and a raw will to live,¿ writes the author. Their journey is as much physical as it is spiritual and throughout the book there is a marvellous sense of fate, optimism and great purpose. ¿Struggling up its torturous switchbacks, we finally neared the crest. As our leaden bodies ached and groaned, our spirits soared in the wind. Reaching those faded, tattered prayer flags fluttering amidst the transparent, block printed prayer sheets atop that craggy summit, our eyes uncontrollably welled-up in divine gratitude./And with that triumphant rapture, along with the thrill of success came the awesome realization that the crest wasn¿t nearly as daunting as the obstacle created in our minds.¿ Often during the trip their suffering becomes transcendental. As Wilson and his partner strain up a mountain pass, brutal barrenness all around them, ferocious winds whipping their bodies, ¿throbbing ice-pick pains¿ hurting their lungs due to the heights, ¿¿ a soothing magic surrounded and bathed us. It made us ignore the pain, forget our bodies and ourselves. We shuffled in silent meditation, lost in deep circumspection. Trekking turned transcendental. Strangely enough, the wind, the cold, the height didn¿t matter anymore. For once, I stopped thinking of my needs, my life. They were as transient as the dust.¿ Recipient of an Independent Publisher IPPY Award, Yak Butter Blues is an engrossing, fascinating read sure to be relished by those readers interested in adventure travel and the Tibetan culture. It is also a highly spiritual story of faith which reminds us that nothing is really impossible, that obstacles are often magnified in the human mind, and that the journey is far more important than the destination itself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

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