Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Colin Thubron

Colin Thubron is an acknowledged master of travel writing. His first books were about the Middle East—Damascus, Lebanon, and Cyprus. In 1982 he traveled in the Soviet Union, pursued by the KGB. From these early experiences developed his great travel books on the landmass that makes up Russia and Asia: Among the Russians; Behind the Wall: A Journey through China; The Lost Heart of Asia; In Siberia; Shadow of the Silk Road; and most recently, To a Mountain in Tibet.

From his Q & A at the Guardian:

How did you come to write To a Mountain in Tibet?

Uniquely for me, it originated in mourning. With my mother's death, the last of my family had gone, and I wanted to embark on something slow and contemplative. I chose to walk to Mount Kailas, the holy mountain in Tibet. It was an irrational instinct, a kind of secular pilgrimage. I didn't even know if I'd write about it.

What was most difficult about it?

The fear of altitude sickness. I was going up to 18,600 feet.

What did you most enjoy?

The sheer beauty of the land. I was following the valley of the Karnali river in Nepal, the highest source of the Ganges; then over the border onto the plateaux of Tibet, which have a strange, empty beauty – a frozen desert three miles above sea level.

How long did it take?

The whole journey (from Kathmandu) took...[read on]
See Colin Thubron's 6 favorite books about Asia.

--Marshal Zeringue