Enjoy fast, FREE delivery, exclusive deals and award-winning movies & TV shows with Prime
Try Prime and start saving today with Fast, FREE Delivery
FREE delivery: Friday, June 9 on orders over $25.00 shipped by Amazon.
Ships from: Amazon.com Sold by: Amazon.com
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
87% positive over last 12 months
Usually ships within 2 to 3 days.
Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle for Web.
Using your mobile phone camera - scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Follow the Author
Hearing Birds Fly Paperback – January 23, 2003
Purchase options and add-ons
HEARING BIRDS FLY is Louisa Waugh's passionately written account of her time in a remote Mongolian village. Frustrated by the increasingly bland character of the capital city of Ulan Bator, she yearned for the real Mongolia and got the chance when she was summoned by the village head to go to Tsengel far away in the west, near the Kazakh border. Her story completely transports the reader to feel the glacial cold and to see the wonders of the Seven Kings as they steadily emerge from the horizon.
Through her we sense their trials as well as their joys, rivalries and even hostilities, many of which the author shared or knew about. Her time in the village was marked by coming to terms with the harshness of climate and also by how she faced up to new feelings towards the treatment of animals, death, solitude and real loneliness, and the constant struggle to censor her reactions as an outsider. Above all, Louisa Waugh involves us with the locals' lives in such a way that we come to know them and care for their fates.
Frequently bought together
Her great strength is telling the villager s' stories, which she does with an engaging blend of charm, directness, humour and awe at the power of nature... It is a mark of Waugh's success that the romantic terra incognita she describes, helped by unsentime―TLS
An elegy to a remarkable part of the world.―SUNDAY TIMES
Waugh has captured the starkly beautiful landscapes in restrained descriptive passages, but the most fascinating aspect of her narrative is her portrayal of the villagers and the nomads she meets higher up the mountains... HEARING BIRDS FLY is an extraordi―OBSERVER
From the Publisher
- Publisher : Abacus; Illustrated edition (January 23, 2003)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 034911580X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0349115801
- Item Weight : 8.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.75 x 7.88 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #522,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #252 in General Asia Travel Books
- #809 in Travel Writing Reference
- #1,574 in Travelogues & Travel Essays
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Arriving with just a few backpacks of personal items, Louisa is quickly & surprisingly welcomed into the family fold of some of the most generous, kind, and happy people that exist on this planet. This is the 4th book I've read about the warm and jovial Mongolian people, and it remains consistent through all that I've read about them, that they love all visitors to their land, and believe in sharing and caring for anyone that shows up knocking at their door. Minutes after her arrival she is welcomed with open arms by the town priest, and shown to her own ger, a nomadic canvas tent that might not look like much on the outside, but can be lavishly decorated with thick carpets, comfy furniture and a warm stove for heating and cooking on the inside. Unpacking her meager belongings of a few changes of clothes, cases of toilet paper, stacks of books and emergency medicine, Louisa falls in love with these smiling practical people who literally live day by day in survival mode with next to nothing to call their own, yet spend each night laughing, cooking, eating and drinking after their daily chores are done. Every act of daily life is spent working together, all efforts a joint teamwork experience. In some ways, while reading of Louisa's stay in Tsengel, the life style reminded me of the communal Amish experience.
Life is harsh on the Mongolian plains, the men are hard working shepherds that prize their flocks of sheep, goats, camels and horses; their only means of survival for food, drink, and warm clothing. Louisa's stomach rebels on a diet of mutton, horsemeat, marmot and butter salted tea, and finds the weekly slaughter of animals a heart-wrenching affair that causes her much turmoil. Weather is severe, frigid winters have you up at dawn to crack the ice in your buckets to get water to drink, no running faucets here. Trench-style outhouses for bathrooms slick with ice can have you skating to the loo in the middle of the night to pee, and skinning marmot pelts and sheering sheep for cashmere and felt are back breaking jobs when it's below zero and one hasn't much food or sustenance to keep the body fat and warm. The luxury of electricity is absent, only a few community buildings are wired for it, and even then it is only turned on between 6 and 9PM in the winter hours. This is a land without luxury yet Louisa finds it appealing.
Reading and teaching by candlelight and woodstove fires are the norm, as Louisa spends her year learning the gifts of love, friendship and family. She finds the joys of solitude and calmness amidst people that come to love her as their own. Birthing babies, burying the dead, battling bubonic plague, birthday celebrations & weddings rituals, weekend jaunts to the disco, and learning how to distill vodka are just some of the thrills of the Mongolian nomad life. Observing the sport of hunting with eagles while horseback riding in the mountains has Louisa enthralled with this precious country and wondering if she will ever be able to return to the hustle and bustle of London, when all she wants to do is sit on the Mongolian plain where it is so quiet you can hear the birds fly.
This a sensational memoir of a courageous woman with the spirit of adventure as she learns how spoiled, greedy and closed minded most of the world is, and how she became a new woman with a whole new attitude on life after spending the best year of her life in another world on the other side of the globe.
Louisa Waugh has a great writing style--lyrical, but she doesn't waste words. It's rare that a memoir is a page-turner, but this one kept me up until the wee hours of the morning.
Top reviews from other countries
Like most people who love to travel, Louisa wanted an insight into the real life and culture of the country, and to do that, she had to travel beyond the beaten track, to a place where you wouldn't have been able to communicate to a single soul unless you at least spoke Mongolian. Of course, most of us can't, and in any case wouldn't have the strength of mind to live in a village where you can freeze to death in the winter if you don't make your fire properly (there's no electricity or central heating), and where the people don't only not speak your language, but are culturally different, and consistently eye you with suspicion and distrust. Louisa's isolated in this alien world, where phoning home isn't even an option, and you can't help but admire her strength of will and determination to simply survive the day-to-day. Just waking up and making a cup of tea is a struggle.
It's in this way that Louisa takes the romanticism out of travel, and brings your head-in-the-clouds back down to earth with a welcome smack of reality, making you realise that if you truly want to experience what a different culture is, it will take at least a year, and you will spend most of that time lonely, wretched and surviving. You won't be taking reams of photos to put on Facebook, you'll be hungrily scraping together your next meal, and besides, there's no electricity to charge your camera.
Yet, there is beauty within the bleak. In fact, because of the extreme effort Louisa puts in month after month, to slowly get to know these people and her uninviting environment, it rewards her tenfold. There's a poignant moment when in the depths of one of the harshest winters known to humanity, she treks with a group from the village to see a family who live in a cave in the mountains, of which one is sick and needs medical treatment. She steals a moment for herself amidst the strained hope and intimate reminiscences, and goes out of the cave just as dawn is breaking. The way Louisa describes this precious moment in one of the world's most isolated places, is as if she's the explorer of a new planet, privileged to see something hardly any other human has, and you get the feeling all the hardships have been worth it just for that.
So if you truly want to go to Mongolia, then first take your 2-week trip there, then read this book, as it'll enrich your experience and take you deep into one of the world's most fascinating countries. Alternatively, just read this book on a beach somewhere, and let Louisa be the true traveller.