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To a Mountain in Tibet – By Colin Thubron

May 10, 2013

Most travel writers are eloquent, but few authors are as articulate as Colin Thubron when it comes to expressing exactly what the human psyche feels when we travel. His book “To a Mountain in Tibet” is my current read and I find myself transported to the Himalayas when reading his prose. I walk alongside him, seeing things he sees, hearing sounds he describes, feeling what he feels. I’m half-way through the book, and a lot of his writing – like the following snippets – makes me nod my head vigorously in agreement. I know exactly what he means. You will too.

Excerpts from the book To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron:

“In the restless night – the village dogs howling from the rubbish heaps – I have a dream whose memory fades on waking, leaving an aftermath of celebration, so that I try to re-enter it but can barely retrieve it’s last, faltering images.”


“We leave the hostel without regret, pitch our tents in rough ground among ruins in Hilsa’s outskirts, and wait. The prospect of the trekkers touches me with foreboding. These past days I have felt a stressless self-diffusion, as if my own culture were growing lighter on my shoulders. I will not welcome its return in others. I have too much imagined these mountains as mine.”

Context for the second snippet – Colin has been trekking with a few locals on the trail from India and Nepal to Mt. Kailas in the Himalayas. He is going to join a group of British trekkers the next morning, so they can all enter as a group into Chinese-controlled Tibet. The paragraph puts into words something I’ve felt often when traveling but never found the words to describe. When we live and talk with the locals, we ourselves become one of them. Seeing only through the lens of our own culture, or with preconceived notions from our own past takes away from the place and experience. How articulately he describes that feeling! And again, I nod my head in agreement.


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