Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Undress Me In The Temple Of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman
In 1986, fresh out of college, Susan Jane Gilman and a college friend, Claire, decided to embark on a grand adventure. Before they took up a life of jobs and marriage, why not take the chance to travel the world and see lands and sights they had never seen before? They bought world-wide air tickets, and decided to start their journey in China.
Naive and armed only with academic knowledge, they were knocked aback by the reality of traveling in a primitive country like China. The trip occurred in the early years of China being opened for travel to Westerners, and there were still multiple governmental restrictions. The stark reality of waking up in a place where you knew absolutely no one, and where even the street signs were in a foreign language unknown to you, overwhelmed the girls. They didn't even know each other that well, and quickly discovered that they were not good traveling mates. They were totally unprepared for the lonliness and isolation they encountered.
There were also great times. They were stunned at the friendliness of the Chinese people. There were other backpackers around, and the backpacking world was one of instant camaraderie. There was gorgeous scenery, and ancient wonders that they could hardly believe they were seeing in person.
This book is recommended for travel writing lovers and for any readers looking for an interesting read. Gilman has opened a world of the other side of travel; not just gorgeous sights and new experiences but lonliness and fear. It is a fascinating story and recommended for anyone anticipating such a trip.