Book Talk: Dreams of the Peaceful Dragon

Earlier this year while preparing for my Bhutan trip, I stumbled upon this narrative written by British travel writer Katie Hickman on her journey through Bhutan spanned over a few weeks. Her travel memoirs to Bhutan have been relatively popular in the European travel circles.

A Journey through Bhutan by Katie Hickman

A Journey through Bhutan by Katie Hickman

Back in early 1970s, she happened to be one of the few known European travellers to be allowed an entrance into Eastern Bhutan. Internationally, first published in 1987, the India edition of the book was made public much later in 2012 by Timeless Books. In about 190 pages, the author chirpily writes about the routine tussles between her adventurous self and her discoveries or findings upon landing in an area.

Before 1974 when tourism in Bhutan was formally opened for foreigners, the only non-nationals permitted in were guests of the royal family. Katie chanced to be one of the very few visitors who could manage an invite by the royal family. Initially permitted for a week, the queen not only generously extended her stay by a few weeks but provided her with a guide and related paraphernalia to visit the tribes of Eastern Bhutan.

Partly on four wheels, in part on ponies and the remainder on foot, she along with her photographer travel-companion Tom Owens travelled east from Thimphu to Bumthang and Tashigang. Their journey maxed out at the far eastern villages of Mera and Sakteng dominated by the bragpa tribe. Her memoirs provide a casual insight into this region that was, until recently, relatively untouched by the outside world.

An insert in the book maps her travels through Bhutan

An insert in the book maps her travels through Bhutan

Be it the evocative images of phallus, the talks about yeti, continuous torture of blood sucking leeches, the performance of the weed consuming horse, jitters created by the homely lama or the welcoming bragpas, her ingenuous account leaves the reader with an interesting as well as pleasant imagery of the mystic Himalayan land. As she wisecracks in the beginning, โ€œWe do not only travel to find the truth, but also to rediscover the mysteries that are in life. Ours is a world in which few stones remain unturnedโ€. Bhutan is a country that every traveller dreams of.

Yet, on the downside, despite the fact that her travels were supported by the Queen, in her attempt to present the hidden treasures of the Land of Thunder Dragon to the world outside, I feel that Katie has, like a babe in the woods, missed the boat in bringing forward the serenity and beauty of the raw countryside of Bhutan. Considering it was a maiden interface for both, one would expect a lot of treasure trove in the form of knowledge and first hand raw information on the region. Downheartedly, her narration has simply been condensed to her personal experience against the observed handicap of her prior lack of awareness about the traditions of the region specifically pertaining to religion, customs, Himalayan life and geography.

For a travel-fiction fanatic, the book is full of adventurous as well as necessary information and anecdotes to support the flow. All in all, if you are looking to buy just one informative read on the region, this one might not be able to foot the bill and in case you have the luxury to access some more than donโ€™t miss this one. Overly priced at Rs 495, the book, nevertheless, makes for an interesting and candid read.

You can buy the book online at Flipkart.

18 Comments on “Book Talk: Dreams of the Peaceful Dragon

  1. Bhutan is truly captivating! I read another book called The Dragon Finds its Voice! Thought I would share the name with you.

    • O yes, indeed it is. I came across many more meaningful books and travel logs. I plan to share all those someday soon. Keep visiting bNomadic. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hello admin, I am glad you liked my post. Hope you’d find other posts useful too. Keep visiting bNomadic ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Your pixs are quite stunning! It’s nice to see places where we haven’t been, especially as beautiful as what you photograph. Interesting book review as well. (Thanks for “liking” my blog.)

    • Thanks for stopping by my blog and showering it with appreciation. Hope you’d want to visit again. Keep travelling ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I love travel books. I enjoyed your descriptive and candid commentary, and have jotted this down as a ‘must read’.

  4. Thankyou for liking my post (“How it feels to die on a mountain”). Cheers and a happy new year!

  5. Bhutan is a wonderful country…. must visit ๐Ÿ™‚
    the memories are still fresh from my trip… you can check out my blog ‘Bhutan on Bike’ …

    • Thanks admin for stopping by my blog. Bhutan is one of the most scenic regions of the Himalayas. I’ll surely visit your blog once I am home. Keep visiting bNomadic for more

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