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Inaccessible for most of its history, the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has long fascinated the West. Today, wealthy travelers are admitted in small groups, but in 1987, when Ken Haigh arrived as a volunteer to teach in a small high school, foreign travelers were as hard to find in the kingdom as telephones or toilet paper. Under the Holy Lake describes a two-year sojourn in the valley of Khaling in eastern Bhutan. Ken learns to cope with leeches, rabid dogs, and culture shock, and in return finds his life transformed. He rents a small cottage next to an old Buddhist monastery and quickly settles into a pattern of existence that is hundreds of years removed from the world he’d known in Canada. He finds his students are polite and eager to learn, his neighbours warm and welcoming. Under the Holy Lake is a love song to a mountain valley and its people, a story of youth, and discovery, and, ultimately, of loss.

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