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Karjam's "Drashi" on new Compilation CD

Friend and belly dance sensation April Rose compiled a CD of new music to do belly dance to~ check it out!

Tibet from the Heart
author: Tommy Tran
At first glance the casual browser of music may dismiss this as yet another one among mountains of hackneyed New Age yoga pop sitar strumming, but right from the start in the first track "Teacher and Student," like a good teacher Karjam Saeji immediately dispels such illusions. What the listener is presented with is a truly frank and humble expression of the singer's ancestral homeland of Tibet. The performance is at the same time both professional and down-to-earth. The rhythms throughout the album are for the most part steady and easy, allowing the listener to take in the atmosphere as he or she follows Karjam Saeji along into a Himalayan landscape in audio. In addition to being an expression of the singer's Tibetan heritage, the album also appears (or I should say "sounds") like dialogues between an identity anchored in the highlands of Tibet and the status of a global citizen, traditional conventions and contemporary reinterpretations, and the rich wisdom of Tibet with the cultures of the world. While the track "Lopez Island" brings Tibet to the shores of the North American West Coast with its juxtaposition of a contemporary Western guitar and Tibetan musical expression, "Lihged Tangsem" brilliantly melds the vigorous Tibetan vocals and traditional strings with the nasal hum of the Korean haegeum instrument. The greatest strength of this album is that it does not pretend to be more than it is. It delivers precisely what the title says. Even with the track "Gesar," which is a reference to a great legendary figure in Tibetan lore, we are not presented a fantastical Shangri-la of glistening palaces but rather the narrow, winding weather-beaten paths of the roads on which the story was carried across an ancient landscape. Despite the lyrics being entirely in Tibetan, Karjam Saeji's composed yet soulful performance successfully overcomes the linguistic barriers and collapses the distance with the listener.

Roots and Branches, vol. 2: Live from the 2010 Northwest Folklife Festival. 2010. Northwest Folklife Recordings.

I’m a completely biased source to review this recording, because I helped restart the Northwest Folklife Recordings label a few years ago when I worked for the organization. But that also means that I know how tricky it can be to produce a CD of live festival recordings. It takes careful mastering and even more careful choosing of the material, and with a festival the size of Folklife (800+ bands, 25+ stages, 200,000+ people in attendance) this task can be overwhelming. So kudos to producer and festival coordinator Kelli Faryar for working so hard after the Festival to put this fun compilation together.

There are plenty of solid folk music performances and a handful of stand-out, amazing tracks on this compilation. Just like the Festival itself, this album lets you browse the many performers who play every year and lets you choose your own favorites. And like Folklife, there’s a surprise or a new favorite band around each corner. The biggest surprise for me was Tibetan singer Karsangjamtso “Karjam” Saeji, now living on Lopez Island. Tibetan singing is otherworldly and transcendent, and Karjam’s voice floats like a prayer flag in the air. Karjam Saeji is a huge talent in our region and a new discovery to me.

I was also pleasantly surprised by young folk duo The Parlour Hoppers, who turned in a powerful version of “Wild Bill Jones.” I really shouldn’t be surprised by this, since mandolinist and singer Ethan Lawton is one of the best roots musicians in Seattle (and one of our best-kept secrets). In fact it’s something of a tradition for him to be featured on a Northwest Folklife recording. He’s been on the past three (including this one), though no one realized this until recently. He’s just so good that he kept popping up on our list of best recordings from each festival!

Karjam Saeji - Pilgrimage
2007, Karjam Saeji

Karsangjamtso (Karjam) Saeji is a singer/songwriter and dancer originally from the grasslands near Maqu in China's Gansu Province. He has been actively performing since 1991, relocating to the United States in 2007. That year he recorded his first album as a solo performer, Pilgrimage, which won a 2009 Just Plain Folks award for Best Asian Album (he was also nominated for Best Asian Song). Saeji is known for his strong, clear voice and a tendency toward a Cappella singing. Saeji was also invited to play at the 2008 World Festival Of Sacred Music in Los Angeles. Saeji follows somewhat in the footsteps of Kelsang Metok, imbuing his songs with elements of Chinese Music and Western Pop.

Pilgrimage opens with Danlih, a catchy-but-gentle song that reminded me strongly of Iroquois Indian chants I heard at a Council Of The Nations event when I was young. Ga-Ik Lihji is a thing of beauty, fleshed out by an absolutely haunting flute part that will stick with you after the CD has stopped playing. Banchen Danlih has an arrangement that's heavily influenced by the West. Oddly enough this hybrid brings an almost Celtic flavor out in the music. This isn't surprising as Banchen Danlih is fairly typical of the strong Bardic style present in Tibetan popular music (which is also prevalent in the Celtic tradition). Saeji slips into gar style forTserjih Tsomo, flying primarily a Capella throughout while performing vocal gymnastics that make Mariah Carey sound plain.

Saeji turns Westward again for Poem Of The Sixth Dalai Lama, opting for more of a free-form, bardic style of storytelling in song. The arrangement isn't overly complex and is exceedingly pleasant.Manglih returns to the glottal gar style, this time entirely a Cappella. I entered this experience with no hope of understanding what Saeji was singing, and yet Manglih was moving and powerful in its simplicity. The Tibetan Alphabet Song is helped along by a children's chorus exchanging lines with Kaeji, call and response style. It's a pleasant listen. Pilgrimage is sung in both Tibetan and English, a Cappella with bells, and is a powerful experience. As a western listener, Saeji takes a bit of getting used to, but his voice is strong and clear. Once you get used to some of the glottal turns and stops, there's a ruddy beauty to his voice you're likely to appreciate. Saeji closes out with Drashi, a rhythmic chant that once again brings to mind Native American chants.

Karjam Saeji is very much outside of my usual musical experiences, infusing Chinese and Western Popular music styles into Tibetan chants and story songs. The resulting album, Pilgrimage brings both a strident reserve and a sort of quiet grace that is rare. Make sure to check out Pilgrimage and Karjam Saeji. This might be a little bit out of your usual frame of reference, but Pilgrimage is definitely worth the detour.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Karjam Saeji at or You can purchase Pilgrimage as either a CD or Download






Karjam Saeji wins “Best Asian Album” award



The Just Plain Folks Music Awards show held on August 29, 2009 at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, Tenn. celebrates “the other 98%” of the music produced in the world. Forty-two thousand CDs from 163 countries with over half a million songs were screened by a small army of judges over several months through five rounds of judging before the show last Saturday.

Karsangjamtso “Karjam” Saeji was nominated for the Best Asian Album for his release “Pilgrimage” and had two nominations for Best Asian Song for “Danlih” and “Nehnijih Lirang.” At the awards show it was announced that he captured the Best Asian Album Award and was the first runner-up for best song with “Danlih.” Veteran San Francisco-based Tibetan performer Techung was also a runner-up with his song from the “Tibet Fest” CD, “Prayer Song.”

Karsangjamtso is from Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province. His entire family still lives in the beautiful grasslands outside Maqu (Machu) herding yaks and sheep. He performed with the Gannan Tibetan Performance Troupe from 1991 until he moved to America in 2007. “Pilgrimage” is a mix of original compositions, such as the song “Danlih” which celebrates Karsangjamtso’s family, and traditional Tibetan folk songs.








Tibetan singer wins "Best Asian Album" award

The Just Plain Folks Music Awards show held on 29 August 2009 at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, Tennessee, celebrates "the other 98%" of the music produced in the world. An estimated 42,000 CDs from 163 countries with over half a million songs were screened by a small army of judges over several months through five rounds of judging before the show last Saturday.

Karsangjamtso "Karjam" Saeji was nominated for the Best Asian Album for his release "Pilgrimage" and had two nominations for Best Asian Song for "Danlih" and "Nehnijih Lirang." At the awards show it was announced that he captured the Best Asian Album Award and was the first runner-up for best song with "Danlih." Veteran San Francisco-based Tibetan performer Techung was also a runner-up with his song from the "Tibet Fest" CD — "Prayer Song."

Karsangjamtso is from Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province. His entire family still lives in the beautiful grasslands outside Machu herding yaks and sheep.

He performed with the Gannan Tibetan Performance Troupe from 1991 until he moved to America in 2007. "Pilgrimage" is a mix of original compositions, such as the song "Danlih" which celebrates Karjam's family, and traditional Tibetan folk songs.

The album was created through "Lopez Artists Advance" a project of Lenedra Carroll. Carroll shared the Executive Producer position with music-lovers Michele and Steve Heller. The CD was produced by veteran guitarist Ralf Illenberger. In addition to Karjam's bouzouki and voice, musical tracks were provided by Illenberger and drummer Jaime Cordova. A dozen different people contributed back-up vocals.

Just Plain Folks was founded in 1998 with 60 members and has grown to over 50,000 members worldwide. The organisation supports grassroots songwriters and musicians through networking, education, promotional support and a friendly nudge when needed. Membership is free as are their local chapters, showcases and workshops in cities around the world.

For more information contact:

Visit Karjam Saeji's website

Karjam Saeji in a file photo

Karjam Saeji in a file photoPhoto by CedarBough Saeji

Two Tibetan albums nominated for awards in US

Two Tibetan musical albums "Tibet Fest" a live concert recording and "Pilgrimage" by Karjam Saeji are nominated in the Asian Album of the Year category in the 2009 Just Plain Folks music awards.

Both the artistes living in California, have been nominated in more categories. Two of Techung's songs are in the A Cappella Performance and Asian Song nominees.

Danlih by Karjam Saeji has been nominated in the Asian Song category.

The awards presentation ceremony will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, the Mecca of the country music, on 29 August.

The "Tibet Fest" album is a live recording of the Drepung Gomang monks, Techung, Nawang Khechok, Phurbu T Namgyal and Penpa Tsering at the 2006 TibetFest, an annual Tibetan festival in Connecticut.

Karjam Saeji (full name, Karsang Jamtso Saeji) grew up in Yunnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. His album "Pilgrimage" is produced by Lenedra Carroll, Michele and Steve Heller and Ralf Illenberger.

Just Plain Folks is a community of over 51,500 Songwriters, Recording Artists and Music Industry Professionals and about every other type of member of the Music Industry, host to the world's largest independent music awards. The organisation was created to provide a network of cooporation and inclusion for musicians.

Website of Just Plain Folks Just Plain Folks

Two Tibetan albums nominated for awards in US

Albums: TibetFest and PilgrimageCourtesy of the artistes

Charlie Gillett   honored Karjam by including his music on the program of January 12th to 18th.  Charlie Gillett’s program, “Charlie Gillett’s World of Music” is broadcast on BBC’s World Service and picked up around the world by other radio stations.


World Tracks



An archive of playlists for Charlie Gillett's World of Music.


Tracks played in the programme broadcast Sat 12 Jan - Fri 18 Jan:

Country: USA
Title: Cristobal
Artist: Devendra Banhart
CD Title: Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
Label: XL
Cat. Number: XLCD 283

Country: Brazil
Title: Deixa Comigo
Artist: Carmen Miranda
CD Title: Brazil: 1914- 1945
Label: Fremeaux
Cat. Number: FA 077

Country: Russia
Title: Pomol
Artist: Volga
CD Title: Pomol
Label: Manas
Cat. Number: MR 7016

Country: France/Lebanon
Title: Diaspora
Artist: Ibrahim Maalouf
CD Title: Diasporas
Label: Discograph
Cat. Number: IBM1

Country: Tibet/USA
Title: Danlih
Artist: Karjam Saeji
CD Title: Pilgrimage
Label: Saeji
Cat. Number: 2007

Country: UK
Title: Hong Kong
Artist: Gorillaz
CD Title: D Sides
Label: Parlophone
Cat. Number: 50999 510545 2


This is what Charlie posted about Karjam on his website:

Karjam Saeji

Karjam Saeji is a Tibetan musician based in the United States, who made contact via my MySpace profile [ ]. Attracted by the sound of the samples on his site, I asked him to send his album and am pleased to present a song from it. So much music with the same ingredients slips into the deep black hole called New Age Music, but somehow Karjam safely skirts around the edge of the precipice without ever falling into the pit.



From the Sea to the Sky
Music from Indonesia, Tibet and USA

Sunday, September 14 ~ 2pm

Pacific Asia Museum
46 N. Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101
Go Metro

$10 Museum members; $12 General Public.
Includes admission to all Galleries
Tickets and info: (626) 449-2742 ext. 31


Enfold your spirit in music that will sweep you over the mountains of Tibet and across the lush paddy fields of Indonesia. This afternoon concert opens with Karsang Jamtso Saeji (known as “Karjam”), the son of nomadic yak herders in eastern Tibet, trained with the prestigious Gannan Tibetan Music and Dance Troupe.  The pure, sweet tenor voice he developed as a young boy during the long hours tending the family yak herd will be offered a cappella on traditional songs evoking the beauty of his Tibetan grassland home. Karjam will accompany himself on the bouzouki while performing original songs, which celebrate love and honor family. 


Asmarandana is a collaboration between the American jazz guitarist Rob Levit and Emiko Susilo from Indonesia- a classical vocalist of extraordinary grace and depth.  The duo takes its name from a type of traditional Javanese poetic form—sung rather than recited--used for storytelling.  The word Asmarandana can be interpreted as “the fire of passion,” “the price of love,” or “to give love,” but however you translate it, what you will hear is marked by longing or sadness . . . and always by a spirit of deep, abiding tenderness.

Produced by Pacific Asia Museum


Special Events






Sunday, September 14, 2pm
Festival of Sacred Music Performance- “From the Sea to the Sky” Enjoy a unique performance blending the traditions of many lands: Karsang Jamtso Saeji’s inspiration comes from Tibetan Buddhism, his family and the grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau. Asmarandana’s Rob Levit and Emiko Susilo use ancient and contemporary Javanese and Balinese melodies fused with western harmonies to connect two distinct traditions of creativity. $10 for museum members: call ext. 31 to RSVP.

Oct 02 2007
Tibet comes to LIFE for school travel program

By Michele Heller
The Lopez Center will be the venue for a richly textured look at Tibet through the lens of photographer and world explorer Don Gurewitz, with a special performance by Tibetan singer, Karjam Saeji, winner of the Lopez Artist Advance.

The LIFE Travel Program at the Lopez School will be the beneficiary, along with the community, in another wonderful Lopez potluck dinner and slide show at 6:30PM, Saturday evening, October 6th.

LIFE (Lopez Island Foreign Exchange) Travel Program transports high school students from the Lopez School to the far corners of the globe including Europe, Central America and Asia

The travel program began through the efforts of Lopez schoolteachers Greg Ewert, Pat Burleson and Richard Tetu with help and inspiration from Susan Corbin, Cynthia Dilling, Jane Werntz. Richard and Debbie Tetu began by taking students on trips to France and Quebec, as part of the French language program.

Middle school teacher Greg Ewert, who has taken students on service trips to Nicaragua with the help of Dandy Porter, described the early history of the LIFE travel program, "Our first travel outside France was to Russia in 1991, in collaboration with the Lakeside School, followed by a student traveling to Greece. LIFE Foundation for travel was founded to help raise money for continuing these trips."

With generous donations from Sally Bill, Mary LaPorte and another Lopez family, and support from many others, LIFE travel programs have been able to continue, with money provided by families of participants and fundraising by the students as well.

Travel to Asia has been with teachers Kurt Jacobs and Pat Burleson, who lead a two-week trip to experience Japanese culture. Ieshima, an island off the coast of Japan, is the location of a reciprocal home stay program that is now in its seventh year. Students from Ieshema visited Lopez last week in a memorable event with students at the Lopez School. Funding for the program is provided by The Freeman Foundation.

"To be able to offer these opportunities to our students is remarkable, and it has been through the commitment of the school and a lot of generosity, that it has been possible," reflected Mr. Ewert, "We are really grateful that our kids have been able to experience other cultures."

"A Trek to the Tibetan Kingdom of Mustang" on October 6th, is free and everyone is invited. All donations will benefit LIFE Foundation, a 501c(3) charity. For more information about LIFE Travel, call Greg Ewert or Richard Tetu at the Lopez School.

© Copyright 2007 Islands Weekly

Sep 25 2007
A trek to the Tibetan Kingdom of Mustang




photo courtesy of

One of Don Gurewitzs photos from inside the Kingdom of Mustang.

The Kingdom of Mustang is a semi-feudal, semi-independent and semi-secret region of Nepal, nestled in the Himalayas at 13,000 feet on the border with Tibet.

Photographer Don Gurewitz was given access to the Kingdom, and will be sharing what he saw during a slide lecture, "Mustang: The Lost Tibetan Kingdom," on Saturday, October 6, 6:30 p.m. at Lopez Center. It will be a potluck as well, so bring your favorite dish.

Don is an internationally recognized photographer who has traveled to over 50 countries and exhibited his work throughout the world.

To reach and photograph Mustang's capital -- the medieval walled city of Lo Manthang -- Gurewitz trekked for five days through the deepest canyon in the world.

Once inside this ancient kingdom, Don was able to capture a rare and fragile portrait of an historic culture.

The Kingdom of Mustang was closed to the outside world until the early 1990s, and, even today, special permission is needed to enter. It is the only surviving continuous Tibetan monarchy, and because of this, and its near-total isolation for so long, it is perhaps the "purest" surviving Tibetan culture in the world.

Take a glimpse at the people, villages, farms, monasteries, and celebrations of this unique and ancient culture, and the wild, remote, and starkly beautiful Himalayan landscape that has shaped it.

Donations at the door will benefit Lopez Island Foreign Exchange (LIFE) Travel Program at Lopez School. There will information about LIFE during the event.

"Don will talk about the many benefits of travel in the education of students, and the importance of travel in creating and maintaining a society that values the richness of cultural diversity, and the promotion of peace through global citizenship," said Michele Heller, who helped coordinate Don's appearance on Lopez.

There will also be a special performance from Tibetan Singer Karjam Saeji.

For more information go to

© Copyright 2007 Islands Weekly

Oct 02 2007
Lopez Artist Advance winners to share fruits of their labor





Jean-Jacques Ttu, Ralf Illenberger, Karjam Saeji, and Lenedra Carroll

By Colleen Smith
Two Lopez musicians spent their summer recording full-length CDs.

Karjam Saeji and Jean-Jacques Tetu, winners of the Lopez Artist Advance auditions, worked with renowned music producer Ralf Illenberger. The two musicians will perform their work at a CD release concert on October 13, 7:30 p.m. in Lopez Center.

Each artist had the opportunity to work with Lopez resident Lenedra Carroll, a music industry professional who manages singer-songwriter Jewel, among others. Carroll helped Tetu and Saeji with artist development and options for the next steps in their careers. The whole project was funded by Lopezians Michele and Steve Heller.

"I was very inspired by the caliber of talent we had at the auditions. I'm so excited by the resulting music that I intend to help both artists move these CDs as far ahead as we can," said Carroll. Both musicians have MySpace sites and their music will be on CD Baby and iTunes.

"Working with Ralf was such a privilege; he's a gifted producer and I am very pleased and excited about the work he did with my songs," said Saeji, who is a Tibetan singer, songwriter, and dancer. He has titled his CD "Pilgrimage."

"Karjam is an extraordinary singer and writer and it was a privilege to work with him. His awesome voice and music allowed for a lush cinematic production that manages to be soothing, moving and awe-inspiring," remarked Carroll. "I'm thrilled with this CD and want to try to place songs for soundtracks and see if we can get a Grammy nomination for it."

For Tetu, a musician known locally for performing blues covers, the goal was to focus on his own original songs and develop his individual style. His CD is titled "The Lopez Sessions," and expanded from five songs to include six acoustic songs as well.

"Jean-Jacques took to the recording process with such ease, we had time to add the acoustic tracks too, resulting in a very well-rounded, full length CD that provides an excellent sense of the talent of this impressive young artist," said Illenberger.

Carroll commented that "Jean-Jacques has the talent to have an excellent career in music. He has a terrific voice and his songs are full of fire and sincerity. And they are really 'hooky' -- once you hear them, you can't get them out of your head."

The community will have a chance to hear the results during the CD release party. Both artists will perform their new material, and Illenberger, also a well-known guitarist and singer, will perform a few tracks of his own.

CDs will be available for sale, and proceeds from the door will benefit Lopez School's music department. Tickets are by donation at the door -- $10 adults, $5 students.

On Monday, October 8, Carroll will spend time with local artists of any genre who are interested in sharing information and asking questions about furthering their careers in the arts. The session will be held in the music room at Lopez Elementary School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

© Copyright 2007 Islands Weekly

May 23 2007
Saeji and Tetu win Lopez Artist Advance




Ann Marie Fischer / Contributed photo

Jean-Jacques Tetu during their auditions.

By Colleen Smith
When Lopez Artist Advance was founded this past winter, its aim was to create opportunities for career development for Lopez artists of all genres and ages.

After auditions at the end of April, two local musicians have been chosen to work with a top music industry professional as well as record a CD with highly regarded music producer Ralf Illenberger. Tibetan singer Karjam Saeji and blues guitarist and vocalist Jean-Jacques Tetu will enter the recording studio in June.

Lopez Artist Advance (LAA), which was created by Lenedra Carroll, will also provide ongoing mentoring to selected audition participants, present a one-day workshop for any local artists who wish to attend, and hold a benefit concert presenting top musical talent from the auditions. The organization received financial support from Carroll, Steve and Michele Heller, and Illenberger. Lopez School music teacher Ann Marie Fischer "was the backbone of the auditions," said Carroll.

"There were two artists who stood out in every one of the criteria. They were each so exceptional that it was difficult to choose between them. Ultimately, working again with Michele and Steve Heller, we made the decision to procure funds for both Tetu and Saeji to have the opportunity, since LAA is not about only one winner anyway," said Carroll.

Saeji is from Tibet and married to Lopezian Cedar Bough. He will do a recording that includes traditional Tibetan songs, a cappella songs, and his own original compositions. "When I heard him sing, I knew immediately that this was an exceptional talent," said Illenberger. "I am very excited to make a CD with him that takes his recording to the level of his talent."

Tetu, who graduated from Lopez High School and recently moved back to the island with his wife Katie after graduating from college, will also record a CD.

"We'll make a shorter CD of his best songs, with the aim of helping him with songwriting, and fully defining and refining his own sound. He will also work with me to understand the steps for development and career advancement. This young man is really an exceptional local talent and has the potential -- with support, guidance, and opportunity -- to go very far with his career, even to the top. Ralf and I, along with Steve and Michele, wanted to get him started on that path," said Carroll.

Both artists will receive help from Carroll in setting up websites, distribution, and "learning where and how to place their music to create visibility and opportunities for themselves."

All artists who participated in the auditions are invited to be part of the ongoing Lopez Artist Advance Group. "We will look at talent and career development together, and prepare for the community concert in the fall that is also the CD release party. If we can raise additional funds, we would like to do a compilation CD with many of these other participants, and release it at the same time. We'd love to expand the project in that way, since the aim of LAA is to create opportunities for as many artists as possible," said Carroll.

© Copyright 2007 Islands Weekly

Apr 24 2007
Potluck and Tibetan cultural event

In the spring of 2006, The Weekly ran an article about the upcoming pilgrimage that Lopezian Cedar Bough and her husband Karsangjamtso (Karjam) Saeji were planning on the Tibetan Plateau.

The couple began walking from Karjam's hometown in late June, and three months and 1,615 miles later they arrived in Lhasa, exhausted and elated. Hurrying to the most holy site of Tibetan Buddhism, the Jokhang Temple, they performed prostrations on the smoothed stones before looking around for a hotel room.

As they journeyed they were welcomed warmly by communities along the way. Once a twelve-year-old boy came to their rescue as they were descending an almost impassable gorge.

On Friday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m., Karjam and Cedar Bough have planned a potluck, slide show, and live music event at Lopez Center. After sharing food with new and old friends, their loose idea is to have an introduction to their pilgrimage with maps and basic information about Buddhist pilgrimages in Tibetan culture, then Cedar Bough will alternate reading passages from the book she's writing about their journey with showing slides. The slides and stories will be less than an hour in length. Karjam is planning to demonstrate Tibetan traditional dance as well as sing a selection of songs, both traditional and his own original compositions.

They request that people bring utensils and plates or bowls to cut down on potluck waste.

© Copyright 2007 Islands Weekly

May 02 2006
Lopez Native to Walk 2,600 Kilometers on the Tibetan Plateau





Cedar Bough and Karjam Saeji

In the summer of 2006 Karjam and Cedar Bough Saeji will walk from the geographic center of China, a bit south of Lanzhou, Gansu Province, for three months, to Lhasa, the fabled city on the rooftop of the world.

Karjam comes from a family of nomadic herders, leaving his hometown to became a traditional Tibetan singer and dancer with three recordings. Cedar is a Koreanist (a scholar on Korea) and a photographer. They met in Korea in 2000 and were married in 2005.

Cedar Bough had a head start on preparing for this trip, growing up on Lopez Island. Her parents, Gregg Blomberg and Edi Blomberg, were the first of the "back to the land" young people who moved to Lopez to pursue a more idealistic and natural life. They moved to Lopez in the late 1960s, farmed, raised animals and built their own house. Cedar Bough was born in 1972.

"It will take us three months to walk from Ahwencang, my husband's hometown, to Lhasa, and during that time we will never descend below 3,000 meters above sea level. There will be 5,000 meter high passes to cross, gorges to skirt, and rivers to ford. This will not be easy. There is danger, from the elements, from food and water issues, and even from bandit attack in this vast and untamed expanse. With the exception of the first and last bits of our trek there will be no access to medicine or stores where we can replenish supplies. For the greater portion of the trip, any additional food that we need will have to be traded for from the nomadic people we encounter. There are stretches along this route where we may not meet a single person for five days or more," said Cedar Bough.

Karjam and Cedar Bough have started to search out sponsors, and have gotten a wonderful response from Sierra Designs and Sherpa Adventure Gear. They are hopeful this is just the tip of the iceberg--or should that be the hair on the yak's ears?

© Copyright 2006 Islands Weekly