Alexandra David-Néel

Overall Rating: 5
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Author: Alexandra David-Néel
Title: My Journey to Lhasa
Time: 1921-1924
Destination: Tibet
Length: 3 years
Type: mostly walking
Rating: 5/10

The macho lady

[Note: I’ve been reading a German translation.]

The story: ADN is already over fifty years old when she embarks on a trip to Lhasa in the early 1920s. She takes a Tibetan monk along (whom she apparently adopted), and they start from the province Yunnan, making it to Lhasa and back. Since Central Tibet is off-limits to foreigners back then, she disguises herself as a Tibetan panhandler, and the journey thus needs to be made on foot.

Alexandra David-Néel parading the trophy

I have to admit I expected way more from this book. I thought the writing and the story were both okay, but I just couldn’t stand ADN’s voice. She seemed to be parading the whole journey like a trophy, and she sounded like she was totally full of herself and her own manly toughness. Sometimes I thought she actually did sound like a macho. Now, if you are interested in an account by a female traveler, I think that Ella Maillart is a lot more worthy of your time.

interesting stories about Tibet

If you are interested in Tibet however, then this book might actually be of some value. I thought those were really the best parts: when ADN wasn’t trying to make you feel her immense toughness, but rather just painting a picture of the Tibetan population and their views on life. So all in all, this one is a 5. I don’t particularly recommend it as a piece of travel literature, but if you are into Tibet, then check it out anyway.


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