A Different kind of travel book: 9 Months in Tibet

Photo by: Luke Rajczuk
by Eion Gibbs

After I finished reading 9 Months in Tibet I had a feeling of having lost something.

It is structured so well. From the wide-eyed traveller finding his feet in foreign lands at the beginning to the unassuming mild-mannered chap unavoidably caught up in a dramatic and tumultuous political climax.

The fascinating world of characters encountered and the countries travelled through is wonderfully recorded. Such a range of people too! From the eccentric expats and generous nomads, to the uninspired tourists and vindictive authorities. All of them brought to life on the page due to an unpretentious, easy, flowing style of writing.

If I were a publisher it would be on shelves in a heartbeat!

What struck me was something I’ve never noticed before in a travel book: the value of patience.

Patience is not commonly written about in travel writing, yet it is such an integral part of any great journey. Wolfe Murray becomes the epitome of a patient traveller, trusting in the world, with his account of waiting with Bettina the ravishing German rider outside the homes of Tibetan villagers. He knew that sooner or later they would help, and patience was a key tactic.

Compare that to those others who go by plane and bus, and never dream of anything but arriving, throws into light the unsung virtue of travel. Biding your time. It is the ultimate gift to any slow traveller, it enables them to experience more of everything and everyone they stumble across. The patience to wait and see, to not get frustrated or whizz around like the Tasmanian Devil breed of traveller that is so rife.

Also the tone of honesty I felt was important, unique and appealing. The admittance of not being any sort of clued-up pioneer into the unknown, but rather an open-minded curious and man, tripping through an alien world. He handled it far easier than others because everything came at face value, without an encyclopedia-type knowledge of what everything was and therefore now should be.

Most travellers keep the world around at arm’s length, they glimpse it and see only those things that confirm their ‘knowledge’. Wolfe Murray embraces the world and trusts it.


Video by: Luke Rajczuk

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