Yak Butter Blues
Brandon Wilson
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Buy *Yak Butter Blues: A Tibetan Trek of Faith* by Brandon Wilson online

Yak Butter Blues: A Tibetan Trek of Faith
Brandon Wilson
Pilgrim's Tales
280 pages
November 2005
rated 5 of 5 possible stars
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Told with vivid freshness and an inspiring sense of wonder, Yak Butter Blues is the real-life story of the likely 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—with local villagers and monks, in potato patches, tack rooms, freezing hotel rooms. They survive on Yak butter tea, hot chai, 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. Amid 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 marvelous 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.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Mayra Calvani, 2006

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