Walking the Gobi
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It is so refreshing to read an adventure tale from a woman's point of view. Helen's voice is authentic and down-to-earth. Yes, she can walk 1600 miles through the desert with the best of them, despite a serious hip and leg injury, but she also frets about the animal carcasses she sees along the way, wondering about the creatures' painful last moments. She worries about the plight of the nomad families they meet, but also recognizes and appreciates their quiet strength and close connection to the land. She'll make you laugh at the antics she and her husband go through to avoid eating some of the food and drink given to them by the warm and welcoming Mongolians. And you may find yourself in tears as their once-in-a-lifetime journey draws to an end. A wonderful adventure tale!
If you're reading this review, I'm sure you've read the synopsis: two people over age 60 decide to walk across 1500 miles of one of the least-studied deserts in the world. And they do it in the summer.
When Helen Thayer sat down to write this real-life adventure story, she must have known that she had something good. After all, the idea itself is impressive; it tugs at the ear and challenges the imagination. But Thayer does much more in Walking the Gobi than recount a long trek in a string of stories or patronize the reader by giving only summary and analysis of the journey's meaning.
Thayer's descriptions are careful and organized, educated and intuitive. She gives us the gift of recreating each day so we can experience them with her. Each day is numbered and recorded with useful detail- pointing out the unique moments that set it apart from the rest and reinforcing the monotonous heat, wind, and regional dangers that made the journey long and at times overwhelming.
Helen Thayer accomplished a truly great feat when she crossed the Gobi, but what's even better is that she wrote a book about it.
These are the questions Helen Thayer is asked by the people she meets in Mongolia's Gobi Desert.
The answer to the first question is--walking across the Gobi Desert from west to east at its widest spot. One thousand six hundred miles in 81 days, to be exact.
The answer to the second question is more difficult to answer:
Because it's never been done before.
Because Mongolia has at last been opened to travelers, after nearly 80 years of isolation under Soviet rule.
Because there is no better way to challenge yourself (at age 63) or your husband (at age 74).
Because the Gobi is one of the least hospitable places on earth.
Because its people, few as they are, are among the MOST hospitable on earth.
Already established as one of the greatest explorer-adventurers of our time, Helen Thayer, with her husband Bill, travel across the world's second-largest desert with only two intransigent camels as companions. No radio contact, no support team; just a single local pilot whom they must meet at pre-established coordinates every twenty days for resupply. Over 81 days of hiking, they must encounter border guards, smugglers, wolves, thirst, scorpions, giant spiders, and sandstorms. In return, they meet perhaps the kindest and most gentle people on earth, who are more than willing to share what little they have with strangers.
Alternately sad, incisive, moving, and exciting, Helen's narrative keeps you turning the pages until--too soon--the journey is over.
Now what do we do? Go there ourselves?--no, few of us could survive that. So we do the next-best thing and read her older books--and eagerly await her next one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Since I was in Mongolia last Sept. - Sept.2014 - and spent time on the Gobi Desert - rode my camel etrc - this book was a MUST for anybody who travels and enjoys adventures... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Hopeful
This was a book club selection and I liked it so much, I bought it for a friend of mine who is a seasoned travellor. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Robin V. Schenck
This is an amazing story! A fantastic adventure and an absolute must read! Helen Thayer and her husband are some of the most impressive explorers and adventurers today!Published 23 months ago by Sabrina Oesterle
It was an interesting read and certainly gave an insight into the perils of that vast and desolate and barren land.Published on January 26, 2014 by dale campbell
Very inspiring book about two people in their 60s and 70s crossing the Gobi desert on foot. Very good read.Published on March 23, 2013 by jason j johnson
Helen and Bill Thayer are either slightly insane or extremely determined and disciplined or...maybe a little of both. Read morePublished on December 15, 2011 by jill farris
Great book. A real adventure type story in a place there isn't much written about. Well, not much written about that you would actually "want" to read. Read morePublished on February 23, 2011 by Happypoppeye
What an amazing story and read this one was! What an amazing woman this author is. I seldom pick up a book and find it interesting, exciting, informative, and inspirational and... Read morePublished on December 11, 2009 by D. Blankenship
Walking the Gobi is an interesting adventure into the unknown. I think most everyone has heard of Mongolia and maybe, the Gobi Desert, but few of us know much about the history and... Read morePublished on September 17, 2009 by Amazon Customer