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Among the Tibetans

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  178 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Isabella Bird writes of her adventures in a manner that captivates her readers Isabella L Bird (1831 - 1904) was a 19th century British traveler and writer. Since her father was a Church of England priest the family moved many times during her childhood. Bird traveled to Colorado when she heard the air was very healthy. She covered the 800 miles on horseback riding like a ...more
Paperback, 72 pages
Published February 2nd 2009 by Book Jungle (first published 1894)
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Average rating 3.47  · 
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First Second Books
I already adored "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" and this one is even crazier than that one. Lucy is an incredibly strong writer and/but obviously writing for herself first and foremost. I was amused that she begins this book with an accounting of the recent colonial history of Southeast Asia so brief and careless as to be nearly offensive before launching into a several-pages-long paean to the wonderful horse she bought and traveled with on her journey. ...more

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Opening: The Vale of Kashmir is too well known to require description. It is the 'happy hunting-ground' of the Anglo-Indian sportsman and tourist, the resort of artists and invalids, the home of pashm shawls and exquisitely embroidered fabrics, and the land of Lalla Rookh. Its inhabitants, chiefly Moslems, infamously governed by Hindus, are a feeble race, attracting little interest, valuable to travellers as 'coolies' or porters, and repulsive to them from the mingled cunning and obseq
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel, 2014
Imagine travelling back in time, to 1890 or thereabouts, and accompanying a 60-year-old Victorian lady on her travels in Tibet. A lady famous for travelling on her own and riding 'frontwards' instead of using a lady saddle, and who seems utterly fearless when it comes to traversing mountain passes and fierce rivers. Bizarrely, this woman was a very sickly child, and she still falls ill whenever she spends any amount of time back home in Scotland. Her books were usually compiled from the letters ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it
“Among the Tibetians” is a Victorian traveller diary on landscapes, culture, religion, people and circumstances of isolation of Tibet. Unfortunately much has been lost, but Lucy has greatly revealed the characteristics and culture the Land holds that is true through times. Kind, compassionate, with sometimes cruel nature around, Tibet is reflected in vivid detail. Lovely journey to follow through.
Anna Urbanek
Jul 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
The author was probably the least likable person in the universe at some point. Maybe if she didn't focus that much on how all the natives bowed to her, appreciated her, and stretched their 'ugly oriental faces' in smiles when 'the first European woman arrived at their village', I'd have learnt something about the Tibetans from this book. As the author mentions multiple times that the 'natives' were walking by her horse when she was leaving their village 'for hours', I am positive they did it on ...more
Aug 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
I was looking forward to reading a travelogue by a Victorian era Englishwoman who travelled all over the world. Although much is made of her travelling "alone", she always had a large entourage with her, which is to be expected. I was very disappointed in this book, for two reasons: First, Miss Bird apparently spent much of her time sketching, and refers to her sketches frequently in the book to illustrate her point. Alas, the sketches are not reproduced in the edition I read, which is pictured ...more
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
There is a certain amount of Victorian dryness which can be off-putting, but when it is employed to make light of near-death experiences from which a little old lady emerges with busted ribs and her composure unruffled, it really works. This is a beautifully written account of a Tibet that no longer exists, and that alone makes it worthwhile. Bird's strong authorial voice and the extraordinary adventures she meets make it incredible. I am intensely interested in her earlier works about Colorado ...more
Dec 24, 2010 rated it liked it
"The Vale of Kashmir is too well known to require description. It is the 'happy hunting-ground of the Anglo-Indian sportsman and tourist, the resort of artists and invalids, the home of pashm shawls and exquisitely embroidered fabrics, and the land of Lalla Rookh." Thus begins Ms. Bird her account of her travels through a now long-lost Tibet. As always, she records her impressions with a keen eye for beauty and total candor. Fascinating look at a culture of the past. ...more
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a few of Isabella Bird's books and this did not disappointment me. She can have you riding the camel with her, the way she describes the people, their culture, the weather, the land and all the dangers, along with the celebrations that she experienced. Isabella at the time was probably the only female explorer to venture into Tibet and the Himalayan mountains. It was a very interesting read. ...more
This is an interesting recounting of an unusual solo woman traveler who in the late nineteenth century braved the wilds of Kashmir, Ladakh, and southern Tibet. Her observations and descriptions of travel and people are colorful and astute, even if they are embedded in assumptions of another century. Other trips that she took and wrote about include into the wilds of the Rocky Mountains.
Jun 29, 2012 rated it liked it
A great view of Tibetan culture such that we'll not see it now. Add to that an explorer who gives great descriptions of the people, places and culture as seen through the eyes of a woman. I'll be reading her adventures in the west next.

Mar 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intrepid. That's the word that best fits this amazing, independent Victorian traveller. She explored the world, solo, with a keen eye for observation, and a warm sense of compassion for fellow humans. ...more
Ameya Warde
This felt shorter and less interesting than most of Bird's books, but it was still a very quick and interesting-enough read about the Tibetan area of what is now mostly Jammu & Kashmir at the end of the 19th century. ...more
Matt D
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very thorough accounting of travel into Tibet, though rife with the racism and ethnocentrism of the 1800s.
Jun 18, 2013 marked it as to-read
epub version
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Realy loving the detail and age of this one.
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am so impressed with Isabella Bird! Her stamina, her grit, her tenacity in reaching remote places, and her descriptions of it all fascinated me. I thought this book was one of her best.
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Liked it, quaint , interesting, would have loved to meet the author in person, she must have been quite a lady!
Aug 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
She gives good scenery, with plenty of plant names, but doesn't give a good sense of how the people lived. She's too focused on the spread of Christianity. ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
written well before the communist take over a rich and spiritual culture Isabella Bird was an adventure in herself and her memoir is an eye opener to a way of life that is now gone from the planet.
Aug 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: english, travel, history
This writing by a 60-year-old Englishwoman traveling in India, Kashmir and into Tibet in 1889, places where few men dared to go though she seems to have a large entourage with her is amazing but with strange and curious parts that made me question whether they are due to her Victorian frame of mind or her own. She describes her journey in detail, the natural surroundings, and the inhabitants often very harshly. She does not mention taking any written notes, which befuddles the reader on how she ...more
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
The travel adventures of the Victorians, especially when they're as intrepid as Isabella Bird, are delightful and provide an astonishing glimpse into another era. Ms Bird thinks nothing of fording a river, rushing with melting glacial flow, sitting precariously on a horse that has already fallen in the water a couple of times that trip. She breaks a rib when the horse, predictably, falls in again, and is only saved by the quick actions of her guide from drowning. She says nothing of the rib beca ...more
Dec 12, 2020 rated it liked it
My husband read this to me. I must say, it is not nearly as good as the author’s other books we have read - it is short, ends abruptly, and has no interesting characters to speak of. Two things are constant: one, the author is fearless and never complains, even after nearly drowning when fording a river. And two, her attention to detail and the ability to describe natural beauty is impeccable. Plus I learned that Tibet is loaded with apricots! Who knew:)
a chance to experience the fascinating, colorful world of 19th century Central Asia through the travel diary of a 60-year-old Englishwoman. Her account, however, is not blessed with modern sensitivity
Subrat Mohanty
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
A vivid description of the author's journey across Kashmir and Tibet. The book takes you back to those times with it's meticulous narration. ...more
Hristina Ivanova
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
A brief, yet interesting account of the author's time in the area. Nice and quick read. ...more
Sherri Brown
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Isabella Lucy Bird is an inspirational British Victorian woman--a well-educated, erudite and eloquent writer who, with great temerity, traveled in remote parts of the world in the late 19th century with only letters of introduction to assist her in her expeditions. Her only traveling companions were guides, porters and translators she hired locally once she arrived at a starting point for her adventures. Her descriptions of everything she observed and experienced--the terrain and geographical fe ...more
Isabella Bird had a couple of really entertaining mishaps and adventures that she describes in this book, and travels with some pretty intriguing companions. I'm not sure how I feel about her though. Some of her descriptions of Tibet and it's people are really well done, and others are really...well, unflattering. Still, it's a interesting look at Tibet in the late 1800s, and I can't help but admire Bird's pluck! ...more
Oct 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
You really can't go wrong with an Isabella Bird book! This one is another winner! ...more
rated it really liked it
Mar 07, 2017
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Isabella Lucy Bird (October 15, 1831 – October 7, 1904) was a nineteenth-century English traveller, writer, and a natural historian.

* The Englishwoman in America (1856)
* Pen and Pencil Sketches Among The Outer Hebrides (published in The Leisure Hour) (1866)
* The Hawaiian Archipelago (1875)
* The Two Atlantics (published in The Leisure Hour) (1876)
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