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Under the Holy Lake: A Memoir of Eastern…

Under the Holy Lake: A Memoir of Eastern Bhutan (Wayfarer) (edition 2008)

by Ken Haigh

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Title:Under the Holy Lake: A Memoir of Eastern Bhutan (Wayfarer)
Authors:Ken Haigh
Info:University of Alberta Press (2008), Paperback, 424 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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Under the Holy Lake: A Memoir of Eastern Bhutan (Wayfarer) by Ken Haigh


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The author spent two years teaching English composition at a mission school in eastern Bhutan in the 1980s. Bhutan is a primitive place now; it was even less developed back then. The school was dilapidated, the bureaucracy cumbersome, the principal a tyrant, and the standards of instruction antiquated, mostly rote memorization. Haigh's residence was besieged by rats and other vermin, he came down with dysentery, and he was nearly killed in a bus accident on the mountain roads. But he fell in love with Bhutan and its people nonetheless.

Haigh does not romanticize Bhutan and he notes the poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, disease and other problems he observed there. But his great affection for the country is evident in his delightful descriptions of the polite, kind, generous people he encountered everywhere and the beautiful landscape and the "villages strung along the river like pearls on a thread of silver."

Illustrated with black-and-white photographs, this book is sure to please anyone interested in Bhutan or travel narratives in general. ( )
  meggyweg | Jan 15, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0888644922, Paperback)

Inaccessible for most of its history, the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has long fascinated the West. Today, wealthy travelers are admitted in small groups, but in 1987, when Ken Haigh arrived as a volunteer to teach in a small high school, foreign travelers were as hard to find in the kingdom as telephones or toilet paper. Under the Holy Lake describes a two-year sojourn in the valley of Khaling in eastern Bhutan. Ken learns to cope with leeches, rabid dogs, and culture shock, and in return finds his life transformed. He rents a small cottage next to an old Buddhist monastery and quickly settles into a pattern of existence that is hundreds of years removed from the world he’d known in Canada. He finds his students are polite and eager to learn, his neighbours warm and welcoming. Under the Holy Lake is a love song to a mountain valley and its people, a story of youth, and discovery, and, ultimately, of loss.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:40 -0400)

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