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The Manaslu Circuit Trek is the best all round tea-house hike in Nepal on the Great Himalaya Trail; the new Annapurna Circuit. No camping needed.

Pre-trek reading: Tibetan Diary by Geoff Childs

It’s always good to prepare well before you go on a trek. Most people will think that means being in a shop buying trekking boots and thick pairs of socks. An often neglected and equally important preparation is to read about the area you’re going to visit. For Manaslu that turns out to be quite tricky with few up to date guidebooks and equally few anthropology studies.

Geoff Childs

The one that stands out is Geoff Childs’ Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and Beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal. The UC Press states:

In this rich and deeply personal account of life in the highlands of Nepal, Geoff Childs chronicles the daily existence of a range of people, from venerated lamas to humble householders. Offering insights into the complex dynamics of the ethnically Tibetan enclave of Nubri, Childs provides a vivid and compelling portrait of the ebb and flow of life and death, of communal harmony and discord, and of personal conflicts and social resolutions. Part ethnography, part travelogue, and part biography, Tibetan Diary is a one-of-a-kind book that conveys the tangled intricacies of a Tibetan society.

Childs’s immensely readable and informative narrative incorporates contemporary observations as well as vignettes culled from first-person testaments including oral histories and autobiographies. Examining the tensions between cultural ideals and individual aspirations, he explores certain junctures in the course of life: how the desire to attain religious knowledge or to secure a caretaker in old age contrasts with social expectations and familial obligation, for example. The result is a vivid and unparalleled view of the quest for both spiritual meaning and mundane survival that typifies life in an unpredictable Himalayan environment.

It’s reviewed here also by the Digital Himalaya Team. You can order it in Kathmandu from the famous Vajra Bookshop in Thamel. More reviews and articles are available on Geoff Childs’ website.

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