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  • Nowadays, we take curiosity for granted.

  • We believe that if we put in the hard work,

  • we might one day stand before the pyramids,

  • discover a new species of flower,

  • or even go to the moon.

  • But, in the 18th and 19th century,

  • female eyes gazed out windows

  • at a world they were unlikely to ever explore.

  • Life for women in the time of Queen Victoria

  • was largely relegated to house chores and gossip.

  • And, although they devoured books on exotic travel,

  • most would never would leave the places

  • in which they were born.

  • However, there were a few Victorian women, who,

  • through privilege,

  • endurance,

  • and not taking "no" for an answer,

  • did set sail for wilder shores.

  • In 1860, Marianne North,

  • an amateur gardener and painter,

  • crossed the ocean to America

  • with letters of introduction,

  • an easel,

  • and a love of flowers.

  • She went on to travel to Jamaica,

  • Peru,

  • Japan,

  • India,

  • Australia.

  • In fact, she went to every continent except Antarctica

  • in pursuit of new flowers to paint.

  • "I was overwhelmed with the amount

  • of subjects to be painted," she wrote.

  • "The hills were marvelously blue,

  • piled one over the other beyond them.

  • I never saw such abundance of pure color."

  • With no planes or automobiles

  • and rarely a paved street,

  • North rode donkeys,

  • scaled cliffs,

  • and crossed swamps

  • to reach the plants she wanted.

  • And all this in the customary dress of her day,

  • floor-length gowns.

  • As photography had not yet been perfected,

  • Marianne's paintings gave botanists back in Europe

  • their first glimpses of some of the world's most unusual plants,

  • like the giant pitcher plant of Borneo,

  • the African torch lily,

  • and the many other species named for her

  • as she was the first European to catalog them in the wild.

  • Meanwhile, back in London,

  • Miss Mary Kingsley was the sheltered daughter

  • of a traveling doctor

  • who loved hearing her father's tales

  • of native customs in Africa.

  • Midway through writing a book on the subject,

  • her father fell ill and died.

  • So, Kingsley decided she would finish the book for him.

  • Peers of her father advised her not to go,

  • showing her maps of tropical diseases,

  • but she went anyhow,

  • landing in modern-day Sierra Leone in 1896

  • with two large suitcases and a phrase book.

  • Traveling into the jungle,

  • she was able to confirm the existence

  • of a then-mythical creature,

  • the gorilla.

  • She recalls fighting with crocodiles,

  • being caught in a tornado,

  • and tickling a hippopotamus with her umbrella

  • so that he'd leave the side of her canoe.

  • Falling into a spiky pit,

  • she was saved from harm by her thick petticoat.

  • "A good snake properly cooked

  • is one of the best meals one gets out here," she wrote.

  • Think Indiana Jones was resourceful?

  • Kingsley could out-survive him any day!

  • But when it comes to breaking rules,

  • perhaps no female traveler was

  • as daring as Alexandra David-Neel.

  • Alexandra, who had studied Eastern religions

  • at home in France,

  • wanted desperately to prove herself

  • to Parisian scholars of the day,

  • all of whom were men.

  • She decided the only way to be taken seriously

  • was to visit the fabled city of Lhasa

  • in the mountains of Tibet.

  • "People will have to say,

  • 'This woman lived among the things she's talking about.

  • She touched them and she saw them alive,'" she wrote.

  • When she arrived at the border from India,

  • she was forbidden to cross.

  • So, she disguised herself as a Tibetan man.

  • Dressed in a yak fur coat

  • and a necklace of carved skulls,

  • she hiked through the barren Himilayas

  • all the way to Lhasa,

  • where she was subsequently arrested.

  • She learned that the harder the journey,

  • the better the story,

  • and went on to write many books on Tibetan religion,

  • which not only made a splash back in Paris

  • but remain important today.

  • These brave women, and others like them,

  • went all over the world to prove

  • that the desire to see for oneself

  • not only changes the course of human knowledge,

  • it changes the very idea of what is possible.

  • They used the power of curiosity

  • to try and understand the viewpoints

  • and peculiarities of other places,

  • perhaps because they, themselves,

  • were seen as so unusual in their own societies.

  • But their journeys revealed to them

  • something more than the ways of foreign lands,

  • they revealed something only they, themselves, could find:

  • a sense of their own self.

Nowadays, we take curiosity for granted.

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B1 TED-Ed kingsley alexandra marianne tibetan female

【TED-Ed】The contributions of female explorers - Courtney Stephens

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    陳劭杰 posted on 2013/10/05
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