Reading a travel memoir is always such a huge treat for me—I’ve been slowly collecting a number of them to have in my library. There’s nothing I like more than curling up with a good book, especially if the book happens to be about a particular journey. A few weeks ago, I cracked open Among Warriors: A Woman Martial Artist in Tibet by Pamela Logan. Written in the 90s, I was curious to see how the author portrayed solo travel for women before there had been a big boom.
Logan starts the book out with a goal to visit the Khampa warriors in Tibet. Most of the book consists of the author combatting the strict laws set by the Chinese in the 90s that made it almost impossible to visit certain sites. It was entertaining to read about Logan’s exploits as she stowed away in trucks as a foreigner, how she communicated with others, and the connections she made along the way. Logan had some beautiful phrases tucked into her narrative, including:
Outside, the wind gusted and wailed. Sitting miserably on my thin mattress, huddled by the stove, I wondered how many more storms might cross my path on all those roads I had yet to conquer.”
The book started out with a great setup—I loved the goal the author had and how she tried so hard to make her dream of meeting the Khampa warriors happen. However, about two-thirds into the book, her goal doesn’t seem like enough. Instead of becoming a complete narrative, the book starts to take a turn for the observational. While some of these insights are interesting, others feel tedious and redundant. I felt as though the book could have ended before the last hundred pages, or it could have been expanded much longer. It almost would have been better as two books with one half as the author’s experiences in Tibet, and the second in Nepal.
Also, the ties with martial arts at some points seemed strained. As Logan got farther and farther away from her original intent, she would insert “routines” that her martial arts colleagues would have been participating in at her home in California. While it was great that she recognized that her story had become a little disjointed, the connections she made between her home and Nepal were a little stretched.
Overall, the observations were what kept me reading and her gusty experience as a woman abroad. I was incredibly impressed how she took this venture on—learning two languages and biking across China in order to do so.
Read any good travel books lately?