Beneath Blossom Rain

Beneath Blossom Rain

Discovering Bhutan on the Toughest Trek in the World

Book - 2011
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In a remote kingdom hidden in the Himalayas, there is a trail said to be the toughest trek in the world--twenty-four days, 216 miles, eleven 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 thirty-three, at a turning point in life, and figured the best way to go 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.

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Publisher: Lincoln, NB : University of Nebraska Press, c2011.
ISBN: 9780803234338
0803234333
Branch Call Number: 915.498 GRANGE
Characteristics: 336 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm.

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gomez7
Aug 12, 2017

At dinner, as everyone laughed and conversed, I tilted back in my chair, savoring the scene, and tried to capture the moment by thinking up little bantus in my brain. A bantu is a two-line poem created by the Bantu tribe in Africa. The first line of the poem presents an image, and the second line ‘answers’ that image. Traditionally, the poem is created by two people: one person throws out the first line, and another person riffs off it like a jazz improvisation. That night, I thought
Larry laughs / Thunder claps. Snow pigeons soar across the sky / The monk tosses rice.
Then, when I saw Sonam sitting in the corner of the dining tent, mumbling mantras from his well-worn, pocket-sized book of Buddhist prayers, I thought: Sonam reads Sutras / A flower leans to the light.

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gomez7
Aug 12, 2017

Sir Charles eliot, an eminent Buddhist scholar in the 1930s, interpreted Indra’s Net and the Avatamsaka Sutra by saying, ‘In the heaven of Indra there is said to be a network of pearls so arranged that if you look at one you see all the others reflected in it.’
“Later, in the Avatamsaka Sutra, a Buddhist student asks his teacher how Indra’s jeweled net is possible, and the teacher says if you put a dot on one jewel, there are dots on all the jewels. While this explanation was sufficient, I had trouble with the word ‘dot,’ which suggested a blemish or flaw. Instead, I preferred to think that the ‘shine’ of one jewel was reflected in all the others. For as I looked up and saw Peter smiling as he told a joke, followed by all the others smiling with him, soon it was impossible to tell who started the joke. I only knew all were shining with laughter.

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gomez7
Aug 12, 2017

I found a smooth, softball-sized rock, and as I spun it in my hand, my mind painted seven continents and seven seas. I walked over to the shoulder-high cairn, set my rock down, and stepped back to admire my handiwork. On top of this magical mound pointing to the sky, the rock seemed to radiate like a precious gem.
As I gazed at the cairn, I was struck by its similarity in shape to the pyramids and the conical shape of the Laya hats. I also thougt about Omphalos stones of Greece. According to legend, the Omphalos stones were draped with a knotted net, meant to resemble a beehive, as bees symbolized death and resurrection during the Bronze Age. With the draped and knotted net, the Omphalos stones looked strangely like a cairn and vice versa. Was this a case of the kind of cross-cultural, collective unconscious and mythology Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell spoke of?

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gomez7
Aug 12, 2017

As I found myself increasingly winded, I decided to try the Tibetan breathing meditation called Tonglen in which you pick someone, inhale their sufferings, and then exhale happiness, healing, and compassion to them.

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gomez7
Aug 12, 2017

I found these kinds of unexpected, but eternally welcomed, moments happened a lot. I’d be cursing life, and then suddenly magic happened. I’d see a crashing waterfall, magical strands of moss dripping down from a tree, or just a single leaf floating down from the sky directly in front of me, as if for me. These moments made [life] worthwhile.

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gomez7
Aug 12, 2017

With nothing to do and nowhere to go, I had relinquished my attachment to fear or desire, such that I could now reside in my natural state – boundless joy.

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gomez7
Aug 12, 2017

The difference between richer and poorer countries is that in poorer countries, people want to be rich in the absolute sense – they want to get their basic needs met. In richer countries, people want to be rich in the relative sense – in relation to someone else. In addition to this competition with our neighbors, we’re constantly bombarded by the media reminding us of everything we lack – the perfect car, the perfect body, and the perfect house. Given aspirations we can never achieve, it’s only natural that anxiety and depression result.”

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gomez7
Aug 12, 2017

An excellent book due to its having a good clear voice, good pace, a mix of chronology, strong and interesting characters. A mountaineering travel book wherein the author shares his insights into such things as the importance of the right (appropriate) clothing as well as his philosophical insights about appreciating the moment. See comments section herein.

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dirtbag1
Jul 12, 2016

The only book I've read about The Dragon Kingdom, Bhutan, and the Snowman Trek. A country that measures its well being in Gross National Happiness and is the last Buddhist Kingdom in the Himalayas. People pay dearly for this adventure. A life changing account of a 26 hike across the mountains of Bhutan.

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ejblake
Jul 13, 2013

In Beneath Blossom Rain, Kevin Grange shares his adventure of hiking the Snowman Trek in Bhutan. His frank description of the mental challenge of trekking this 25 day, high-altitude hike, along with positive and often humorous accounts of the difficulties along the way, makes this a must read for the adventurer hiding in all of us.

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