Book

Arita Baaijens

Looking for Paradise

Truth and reality in the heart of Central Asia

About landscape, spirit and soul

Arita Baaijens’ twenty-year obsession with the African desert has been dis- placed by her search for Shambhala, the mythical earthly paradise somewhere in the immense Altai. As she travelled through the rough mountainous region, she discovered paradise – not so much in the Altai as in herself. Looking for Paradise is her account of her travels, both within and without herself.

The Altai crosses the borders of Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and Russia, and is one of the last places on earth where nature is still pure and unsullied, barely touched by tourism. Shepherds and shamans believe that nature in the Altai is imbued with a life force. Baaijens, a down-to-earth Dutchwoman, doesn’t believe in ghosts, yet she was so carried away by the natural landscape there that even she became aware of this force which, at a volcano in Mongolia, overwhelmed her to tears.
‘I am convinced,’ she wrote, ‘that my tears are about the blank patches on the scientific map, the undiscovered regions, the immensity of which our minds, even after three hundred years of Enlightenment, cannot grasp.’

She longs for ‘a less chilly world, one where there is room for the unsayable, the wild, the untamed and the miraculous.’ That longing is what drives her quest for paradise: ‘The quest for paradise is about longing, about something we once had and lost.’

She begins to see that there is another reality for which our language has no words. In the Altai there are, for instance, more than fifteen words for ‘soul’, each with a different, specific meaning. She discovers that things are often not what they seem, that there are other ways of observing and other ways of being aware. We can experience existence in the same way that we experience beauty, comfort, the glow from music; such experience is beyond our understanding, and yet is no less real for that.

Looking for Paradise is a finely written, important plea for a way of living that involves feeling, intuition, fantasy and instinct, a way of experiencing a deeper reality.

A beautiful, impressive book about an extraordinary journey.

VPRO Boeken

Fine, enthusiastic travel writing and an empirical search for the mutual influence of landscape and spirit.

NRC Handelsblad

Arita Baaijens

Arita Baaijens (b. 1956), biologist and internationally renowned travel writer, has made more than twenty-five journeys to the desert, and her many books about her travels of discovery have garnered her the Women of Discovery Award in 2014 and the Traveller of the Year award. She earlier published…

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Details

Zoektocht naar het paradijs. Een onderzoek naar waarheid en werkelijkheid in het hart van Centraal-Azië (2016). Non-fiction, 280 pages.
Words: 82,500
Copies sold: 14,000

English sample available

Themes: travel

Publisher

Atlas Contact

Prinsengracht 911-915
NL - 1017 KD Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 524 98 00
Fax: +31 20 627 68 51

E-mail:
hdeinum@atlascontact.nl
Website:
http://www.atlascontact.nl

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