In a remote kingdom hidden in the Himalayas, there is a trail said to be the toughest trek in the world—24 days, 216 miles, 11 mountain passes, and enough ghost stories to scare an exorcist. In 2007 Kevin Grange decided to acquaint himself with the country of Bhutan by taking on this infamous trail, the Snowman Trek. He was 33, at a turning point in life, and figured the best way to go when at a crossroad was up.
Against a backdrop of Buddhist monasteries and soaring mountains, Grange ventured beyond the mapped world to visit time-lost villages and sacred valleys. In the process, recounted here with a blend of laugh-out-loud humor, heartfelt insight, and acute observation, he tested the limits of physical endurance, met a fascinating assortment of characters, and discovered truths about faith, hope, and the shrouded secret of blossom rain.
Beneath Blossom Rain, Grange’s account of his journey, packs an adventure story, a romantic twist, and a celebration of group travel into a single entertaining book. The result is the ultimate journey for any traveler, armchair or otherwise. Along with high adventure, it delivers an engaging look at Bhutan—a country that governs by a policy of Gross National Happiness and that many regard as the last Shangri-La.
©2011 Kevin Grange (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I got this book because I was planning a trip to Bhutan. I really wanted to like it, but....I just couldn't. First, the narrator is simply not a good reader. I understand he is the author, but this is just another example about why professional readers are just that- professionals. When I spend money to purchase an audiobook I do not want a DIY version. After hearing the sample I would not have bought this book, except I REALLY wanted to "read" another book about Bhutan. I also have a fair amount of outdoor/wilderness experience so I thought that would be interesting.
Unfortunately, all in all I was disappointed. The author seems to make a mountain out of a molehill for so many things. It is true that the Snowman Trek requires a certain level of fitness (although it was made by a senior citizen in his group and the mother of his "love interest") but he basically was a tourist on a packaged excursion. He did not have to plan anything other than packing his own bag back at home. All decisions were made by the professionals, and there was an army of staff to set up camp, serve tea in bed, prepare and serve dinners in a dining tent, not to mention a guide with a satellite radio lest there be an emergency. There is really nothing more for him to talk about except for a sore back from sleeping on the ground, or having to watch his step on steep trails- nothing different than hiking anywhere. He only had to carry a daypack- the 30 horses carried the gear for his group. All this is much less demanding than even a local backpacking trip where you are truly responsible for all your food, water, equipment, finding campsites etc. I did not feel any of the adventure that comes from a journey full of unexpected challenges. Arriving every day at the campsite chosen for you, with your tent all set up and someone handing you a cup of tea, is not exactly my idea of an adventure story.
Another mountain out of a molehill was his "love interest"- He went on and on and on, agonizing about simply walking over to the neighboring group to say hello and have tea. The whole Ingrid subplot was juvenile at best and never went anywhere. You'd think this adult male had never spoken to a female before in his life.
I read half the book before going to Bhutan, and I thought the bits about Bhutanese culture and history were interesting, although none of it was very deep. I finished the book after my own trip to Bhutan, which made me realize how much of Bhutan and the culture he missed.
The writing style, as mentioned by another reviewer, was sophomoric. His "inner critic" was mostly annoying. One might wonder why he wrote this book, but you find out why at the end- which I will not give away in case you still decide get it after reading the reviews and listening to the sample.
This is worth a listen if you are intersted in travel and bhutan. the author did a very good job writing it....some may say, as my wife did, it's a bit sophmorish but an A+ sophmore. The author at times would list his companion names and that really wasn't necessary even though you should review at times during writing as to not lose the reader but the story about the travelers could have done that just as well - here it became redundant overall and done far too much (although one could see it as a shout-out to his fellow companions but still). it gives a good insight to the life in bhutan.I pretty much think the author shouldn't be the narrator - it's never worked for me. he also sounded like a kid which diminished the narration a bit but not much.
Adventure and travel
hard to get inspired at all, with the narration, disappointment would be good
I have been a regular listener for many years, this is one of the first books that I was disappointed with the narration. So much so, that I have found it difficult to continue with the book and probably won't.
"Maybe a different reader"
I was very interested in this subject, in Bhutan and was glad to find this book. I should have bought a paper copy. I found the reader (who I discovered was the author himself) very tedious to listen to. The voice is depressed and monotone. I had to keep switching it off because the voice puts your brain in sleepy state. There is a reason for professional readers, if you ever doubted this — play a sample and imagine hours and hours.
"Story passable, narration mechanical"
To begin with I was impressed that the author was also the narrator for this audio book, as it lends credibility and validates the first person narrative style. However, after a minute or so, the endless use of lists and almost mechanical intonation used gets tiresome. The story itself has the potential to be inspirational and adventurous, however the self-reflexive narrator is constantly asking the listener to be in awe and inspired, which ironically has the opposite effect.
If you're looking for an informative guide to Bhutan or hiking in the Himalayas generally, then this works; there is historical, political and social information divulged over the course of the narrative. Unfortunately, the author is also intent upon making tenuous literary links and creating self-indulgent similes.
It's not a book which consumes you and makes you want to drive around the block one more time or go to bed early to listen to one more paragraph.
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