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Blue Sky Kingdom: An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya

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4.49  ·  Rating details ·  85 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A warm and unforgettable portrait of a family letting go of the known world to encounter an unfamiliar one filled with rich possibilities and new understandings. 

Bruce Kirkby had fallen into a pattern of looking mindlessly at his phone for hours, flipping between emails and social media, ignoring his children and wife and everything alive in his world, when a thought struc
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 6th 2020 by Pegasus Books
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Average rating 4.49  · 
Rating details
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Luanne Ollivier
I've been an armchair traveller for many years, even more so in these uncertain times. I'm in awe of those who make it a life goal to see the world. Bruce Kirkby - and his family - most definitely fall into that adventurous category.

In 2014, Bruce, his wife Christine and their sons Bodi (7) and Taj (3) set off on an amazing six month journey with living in a remote Buddhist monastery high in the Himalayas as a goal and destination. Why, you ask? "One morning at breakfast, while gawking at his ph
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Nick Harrison
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is complex, yet wonderfully easy to read. It is equal parts inspiring and honest. It tells the story of one family’s journey while simultaneously telling the stories of countless countries, villages and individuals around the world. Kirkby provides fascinating snippets of history that give ample context without launching into a textbook narrative. The story isn’t lost but rather is heightened among these educational interludes. Blue Sky Kingdom is an enlightening study in Asian history ...more
Dave Butler
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an enchanting, heart-warming story, at times funny, at times deeply thoughtful and soul-searching. For those who watched the TV series 'Big Crazy Family Adventure,' this is the untold story of the three months that author Bruce Kirkby, his wife Christine, and their sons Bodi and Taj spent at the Karsha Gompa monastery in the Zanskar Valley in the Himalayas. This, after traveling from their home in Kimberley, BC by way of container ship, bus, train, horse, and river boat.

It's a story not
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Karen K.
One of my favorite books of the year. Bruce Kirkby, his wife Christine, and their sons aged 7 and 3, leave their real lives behind and commit to a six-month journey from Canada to Ladakh. They live as guests in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery entirely off the grid. The journey is complicated by the fact that the children are so young, and Bodi, 7, is on the autism spectrum with unpredictable behavior. The first section of the journey is also being filmed by the Travel Channel, and this causes some ...more
Katelyn
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Bruce Kirkby and Christine Pitkanen realized they needed a change of pace. Like we all have, they'd been sucked into phones and modern technology to the detriment of their family's unity, peace and contentment. Unlike the rest of us, they decided to take a dream trip. They had always traveled with their two children (3 and 7), but this would be a longer trip. They left Canada for a weeks long trip to the Himalayas, traveling by canoe, container ship and train. Then they spent three months in the ...more
Helen
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gobbled up this book in a couple of days all the while being magically transported to the Himalayas in the company of this wonderful family. Bruce Kirkby melds a fascinating story about a family journey to live in an ancient Buddhist monastery for several months with a 3 and 7 year old in tow with vivid descriptions of the rarefied mountain landscape and the people who call it home. The story is enhanced with a generous number of stunning photos - among his many talents Kirkby is also an accom ...more
Pitrat
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. Bruce's book seems to weave three stories in one: a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into the making of a TV series; the discoveries and relationships formed during his time living with the Lamas in Zanskar Valley; and the deeply personal story of a family learning and growing together, far away from their home in British Columbia.

I've read some of Bruce's work in the past, but this is the first of his full-length books I've had the chance to read. I devoured it from cove
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Taryn Eyton
Bruce is a Kimberly, BC-based adventurer with a wife, two kids and a freelance writing career. But he feels distracted and disconnected from his life and his family. So they take the bold step of heading to a Tibetan buddhist monastery for a few months. Blue Sky Kingdom is a memoir tells the story of their overland journey to the Zanskar valley as well as their time at the monastery. I read this book in just a few days while on a backpacking trip and Bruce’s self-aware telling of the story reall ...more
Deb
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Deb by: The Bookclub Cook Book
Could I travel to the Himalayas and not travel by plane? Could I live without showers, flushing toilets and even America's simplest food groups? These are the questions I asked myself with every turn of the page. Would I be able to be flexible with two small children in tow? I admire the courage and determination of this family. Bruce writes an enlightening novel that explores culture, Buddhism, new and not forgotten friendships through an epic family adventure. This book will stay with you long ...more
Andrena
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable story told by a truly gifted storyteller! It’s hard to imagine going on this kind of adventure with young children but this might be the next best thing – such an intimate yet lighthearted recounting of a truly extraordinary journey; the struggles, triumphs, laughter and tears. The connections made with family, friends and the people along the way are palpable serving as a quiet reminder of how important it is to “disconnect” from time to time. I loved the way that culture and histo ...more
Ina Salter
Dec 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
I ordered this and was looking forward to reading it over the holidays. I am surprised that I found it so dull. It ticks all the boxes: adventure, mysticism, travel, family. And yet, I found that it painted an all too familiar picture of the exotic east and the inevitable disappointment a western may feel when they realise that not all monks are the Dalai Lama.
But it wasn’t just that— despite all the discourse on Bodi’s mental state and the difficulty the parents have had raising him, I never fe
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Kim Letson
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During a six month journey, a Canadian family rediscovers and redefines relationships with themselves while encountering enduring friendships in an ancient, remote Buddhist monastery in Zanskar. This is a page-turner, the author’s gentle humour inviting the reader into the joys and frustrations of an epic family adventure. We are introduced to a rare culture surviving and thriving despite an ever increasing threat of modernity. A compelling, beautifully written book, Blue Sky Kimgdon is destined ...more
Kathy See
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Endlessly fascinating and more than a very rewarding travel/adventure tale. Bruce Kirkby asks all the important questions about our values, modernization, family, autism, globalization and the homogenization of the world. He tries to answer these questions with complete honesty - not afraid to show vulnerability - soul-searching - heartbreaking. I do hope that his son Bodi is wrong and the book will make it to the New York Times bestseller list. Well done Bruce Kirkby.
Kerry
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book
Such a wonderful book....loved it! Great writing that was sincere and heartfelt and painted a picture of an adventure that was memorable and life changing. I am always reminded when travelling to other countries that we are all the same. We may speak a different language, look a little different, have interesting traditions but at the core of that we are all human and our opinions of others can sometimes be based on our ignorance or preconceived notions
Noni Belland
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I absolutely Love this book! Bruce Kirkby writes with such honesty and candor about his family's adventures, on the path to the Himalayas and at home in Kimberley, BC. I highly recommend this book to all who love to read about real people and real lives..strengths and weaknesses and always about Love..
...more
Terrill
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
"Family leaves their life behind and travels around the world" is one of my favorite genres. This book was different from others I've read in that category in that this family spends three months at a Buddhist monastery in the Indian Himalayas. The part of the book I found most interesting was the descriptions of life in the monastery and in the rural villages of the himalayas. ...more
April Grippo
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved the Travel Channel show about this family, which left off when they arrived at the monastery. It was awesome to read about the family’s time there and the impact it has on their current life. I’m inspired to travel more with my own children. A great, insightful read!
Bernadette McDonald
What a story. Heartwarming and heartbreaking at once. His descriptions of landscape and place are so vivid and the family is truly inspirational – full of strength and resilience and love for one another.
Caprice
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bruce lead me on an adventure to lands I will never see and to a culture I will never experience first hand. His descriptive words and vivid ways transported from the first page to the last. Read this book.
Sarah Fingarson
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this one slowly. It’s an incredible read and I undoubtedly will pick it up again after having a family of my own to trek on a similar adventure or three.
Laura Duffield Biegger
Wow! Really like this book (Hoopla style). Travel, family, autism spectrum, different culture (wrinkled nose a few times). Learned a lot.
Kathy
Blue Sky Kingdom is so much more than a travelogue, and miles beyond any “How We Found Ourselves” story.

Get ready to be inspired and transported to a buried place in your heart as Canadian writer-adventurer, Bruce Kirkby takes you with him on his family’s quest to flee the constant noise and pressures of society and slow the pace in a Himalayan Buddhist temple.

Addicted to scrolling the vast Social Media wasteland and drained from their oldest son, Bodi’s, autism spectrum diagnosis and treatment
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Bruce Kirkby is a writer, photographer and adventurer whose journeys span 80 countries, and include crossing Arabia by camel, Mongolia by horse, and Iceland on foot. He’s been shot at in Borneo, taken hostage in Ethiopia, and captured by Myanmar’s army while on assignment. A travel columnist for the Globe & Mail, and former contributing editor for Explore Magazine, Bruce’s writing has appeared in ...more

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