John L. Murphy has completed a mammoth review of just about every book written on Bhutan. He understands the value of a book written by locals and residents.
There are many more books about this amazing country than I knew of, and I’m delighted to see he rated some of my favourites highly – see Beyond the Sky and the Earth and Treasures of the Thunder Dragon. I wondered how he missed Bold Bhutan Beckons, but then I realised that, like my publisher, CopyRight Publishing is an independent publisher. I’m even more honoured, then, that Murphy found and took the time to read Dragon Bones. While it’s not mentioned until about halfway through the article, it’s clear that he valued the depth of experience that went into writing it.
‘Like his compatriot Launsell Taudevin’s With a Dzong in My Heart memoir set in 1988, Murray Gunn finds that advising the locals about Western methods clashes with rank-pulling bureaucrats, a more lackadaisical work ethic than he expected, and a series of culture clashes mixed with awe at the kingdom’s beauty, Buddhist traditions, and courtly atmosphere. While Gunn repeats many of the trekking adventures others do in his account, unique to what I’ve read in other versions, he listens to his guide: “This is our life. We have to come up here no matter what the weather’s like and we do the same trails over and over until our feet are sore. And we can never go anywhere else. There’s no holiday for us.”’
I love the line he chose to quote and his reason for doing so. For me, the trek was fascinating because of the attitude and companionship of the locals who helped us on the journey.