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Monk Chants

Recorded on August 20, 1995, at the Rinchenpung Monastery. Symbolically Vajrayogini’s naval, the gompa houses a statue of Rang Rig Gyapo - the king of self-awareness and the wrathful emanation of Padmasambhava. The monk chants are an invocation to this meditation deity to protect all sentient beings from the consequences of their own misguided behavior.

103 gillenwaterThe “Paradise” of Beyul Pemako (The Hidden Land of the Blossoming Lotus) 

It can be heaven or it can be hell…

Either way, be prepared to lose 25 pounds and be under constant siege of blood sucking leeches.

Well, the countdown is on…. I leave on January 2nd to escape to my generously donated beach cottage on Whidbey Island to begin my book. Over the last few months I have been busy gathering notes, digitizing slides and phone conversations, and reading the wealth of information that has been written on the “Hidden Lands of the Blossoming Lotus” and its exploration since our trips in 1994, 1995 & 1997. In fact, the “Gillenwater Brothers” and our expeditions are discussed in each of the nine subsequent books listed below.

I find it interesting that each book has its own agenda and many times, self-serving claims. I’m starting to understand that this is the nature of exploration and its concomitant rewards. And it is the grasping nature of the human mind - a flaw endlessly addressed in the Tibetan Buddhist teachings. What an odd paradox for this most sacred landscape!

On the other hand, on our journeys we weren’t seeking fame or financial gain or a place to conquer. We had only one agenda. As one of the most spiritual and last unexplored places on the planet, our expeditions were motivated by a life-long interest in Tibetan Buddhism and a lust for the adventure and magic of the natural world. And I believe it was traveling with this intention that compelled the “Hidden Lands” to uniquely reveal themselves to us.

After 20 years it’s our turn to tell our story.

And what a story it is!


Earth’s Mystical Grand Canyons
Richard D. Fisher – 1995

The Last River: The Tragic Race for Shangri-la
Todd Balf – 2000

Courting the Diamond Sow: A Whitewater Expedition on Tibet’s Forbidden River
Wickliffe W. Walker – 2000

Frank Kingdon Ward’s Riddle of The Tsangpo Gorges: Retracing the Epic Journey of 1924-25
Edited by Kenneth Cox – 2001

The Siege of Shangri~La: The Quest for Tibet’s Legendary Hidden Paradise
Michael McRae – 2002

Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River
Peter Heller – 2004

The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet's Lost Paradise
Ian Baker – 2006

Last Seen in Lhasa: The story of an extraordinary friendship in modern Tibet
Claire Scobie – 2006

Tibet Wild: A Naturalist’s Journeys to the Roof of the World
George B. Schaller – 2012

In addition to many articles, the following books and films provide updated information on the area.

Namche Barwa Grand Canyon: Revealing the Secrets of a Green Canyon
Sichuan Fine Arts Publishing House – 1998

Secrets of the Tsangpo Gorge - A National Geographic Special for National Geographic TV
(Film) Bryan Harvey, Producer – 1999

Into the Tsangpo Gorge: The epic first descent of the Everest of rivers…
(Film) Outside Television – 2002

The Yarlung Tsangpo Great Canyon: The Last Secret World
Zhang Jimin - 2006

Water: Asia's New Battleground
Brahma Chellaney – 2013


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