Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Nepal Research Project - At the Bangkok Airport
I recently posted two podcasts about a research project that I have started in Nepal. Those posts can be found at http://TravelGeography.info. This blog entry was written enroute to Nepal.
1 Jan 07
I am sitting at gate C5 at the
The passengers are a diverse population of East Asians, South Asians, and Euro-Americans. Many are wearing hiking boots, as I am, and several are reading through their
I am typing this blog with my thumbs on my HTC/Audiovox XV6700, rather than turning on my computer. Speaking of computers, I was very dissatisfied with the quality of high-speed Internet access at the hotel that I stayed in last night (the Concorde Inn KLIA) (KLIA =
The problem might be related to the earthquake south of
I wonder how common this is: As boarding time approached, the waiting room in
Am I a bad traveler? Although I wrote a fairly lengthy research proposal on the topic of environmental and social change in
So I have a tinge of guilt -- like I somehow cheated on my homework. On the other hand, if I was going to
I created two podcasts that have discussed our
I currently think this research is going to be both highly informative and fun to do. I am sure there will be some challenges, and unanticipated turns in the research agenda. But I have a good feeling about this and I think the ultimate results will be very successful.
Dawa Sherpa met me at the airport. The
At the Hotel Tibet I met Karl Swingle, the documentary film maker who is going to be traveling with us and will be videotaping some of our interviews. Karl had caught some kind of stomach bug and was not feeling that well – though he was in better shape that I was when that happened to me in Hong Kong last September. I had a fever, was unable to leave my hotel room for several days, and lost 10 pounds! Dawa went back to the airport to get Kevin and the both of them arrived back at the hotel a couple hours later. Kevin took me to the Thamel District, which is a major tourist shopping area where we had sandwiches for dinner at Sandwich Point – possibly the best shop of its kind in all of
the first hut-to-hut system in Nepal. In the region during the worst
storm in memory, I was appalled by world press coverage of the foreigners
who died with no mention of the Sherpas who also perished. A librarian,
I researched the major data bases and discovered that while many
anthropologists had studied the tribe, no one had dramatized their lives in
fiction. I returned home to write their story.
Beyond the Summit is unique in being the first fiction about Sherpas.
Set in the Everest region in 1968 four years after Sir Edmund Hillary
built a landing strip at Lukla, the story shows the impact of tourism on
a culture still living in the Middle Ages. Young Dorje wants what the
foreigners bring while his father resents their intrusion in the realm
of the gods. The Sherpa culture and Buddhist religion are interwoven in
an adventure and romance in the high Himalayas. The story has something
for everyone: an expedition from the porter’s point of view, Tibetan
refugees, conflict between generations as tourism and the modern world
challenge traditions, a love affair between an American journalist and
Sherpa guide. Readers consistently comment on how much they learned about
a tribe they formerly knew very little about.
Beyond the Summit was released on May 29, 2006—the anniversary of Sir
Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent of Everest because he has devoted much
of his life to helping the Sherpa tribe. Because it is so unique, the
novel has generated a great deal of excitement. A week after its
release, an NBC affiliate invited me for a live TV interview and Colorado PUblic radio also interviewed me. Because the book is so unusual, it immediately generated a great deal of interest. A week after it came out, a Denver affiliate of NBC invited for a live TV appearance and I was interviewed on Colorado Public Radio. While I was in northern CA, I was interviewed for a one-hour program, A Novel Idea, on KRCB in Rohnert Park, CA; the Pat Thurston Show on KSRO in Santa Rosa; CA and the Morning show on KSVY in Sonoma, CA.
The International Porter Protection group has endorsed my book saying it is beautifully written and goes right to the life of a porter. They have asked me to be a representative for their association.
Barnes and Noble Review
Average Rating: *****
"Best book on Nepal ever... This is the book to read before you embark on your pilgrimage to Nepal. The author knows and loves the people and the country, and makes you feel the cold thin air, the hard rocks of the mountains, the tough life of the Sherpa guides, and you learn to love them too. This is a higly literate, but also very readable book. Highly recommended."
-- John (college professor)
Below are selections from reviews. To read the complete ones and excerpts go to www.beyondthesummit-novel.com
A hard-hitting blend of adventure and romance which deserves a spot in any serious fiction collection. Midwest Book Review
LeBlanc is equally adept at describing complex, elusive emotions and the beautiful, terrifying aspect of the Himalayan Mountains. Boulder Daily Camera
LeBlanc's vivid description of the Himalayas and the climbing culture makes this a powerful read. Rocky Mt News Pick of the Week
A rich adventure into the heart of the Himalayan Kingdom. Fantastic story-telling from one who has been there. USABookNews.com
A gripping, gut-twisting expedition through the eyes of a porter reveals the heart and soul of Sherpas living in the shadows of Everest. EverestNews.com
Memorable characters and harrowing encounters with the mountains keep the action moving with a vibrant balance of vivid description and dialogue. Literary Cafe Host, Healdsburg, CA
This superbly-crafted novel will land you in a world of unimaginable beauty, adventure, and romance. The love story will keep you awake at night with its vibrant tension and deep rich longing. Wick Downing, author of nine novels
The book is available from amazon.com, chesslerbooks.com, Barnes & Noble and Borders Stores, and the web site for an autographed copy.