The very aptly named Mr Pong had the kind of breath that could stun at over ten feet… This wasn’t just bad – there was something rotten down there. Something had crawled in and died. Gunter howled with laughter as he saw the look of horror on my face. It was the best entertainment he had seen since he had watched Chef chasing yaks through the kitchens.
Few foreigners are lucky enough to set foot on Tibetan soil, but Alec Le Sueur spent five extraordinary years there, working in the unlikeliest Holiday Inn in the world. Against the breath taking beauty of the Himalayas unfolds a highly amusing and enlightening account of his experiences. Fly infestations at state banquets, unexpected deliveries of live snakes, a predominance of yaks and everything yak-related, the unbelievable Miss Tibet competition, insurmountable communication problems and a dead guest are just some of the entertainments to be found at the ‘Fawlty Towers’ of Lhasa.
Le Sueur, the only Westerner since the days of Heinrich Harrer to spend so long in Tibet, examines the country’s intriguing cultural background, providing a fascinating insight into a country that was only just opening up to the outside world.
©2003 Alec Le Sueur (P)2013 Audible Ltd
“...offers lucid details about living in a place that westerners tend to misunderstand.” (Time Magazine)
“An hillarious account of a clash of cultures...a comparison with Fawlty Towers is inevitable, but this is funnier.” (Mail on Sunday)
“Imagine moving Faulty Towers from Torquay to Tibet...Le Sueur has distilled five years of real anecdotes into one hilarious volume...unbelievably true.” (Focus Magazine)
Tashi, his explanation that he is Tashi. Tashi Delek.
The funeral. Having been China this is something I could see a guide doing.
The entire book is very funny. I laughed out load at several points.
I have been to China on several occasions’ both as a tourist (with China Spree), and while on business. China is a very unique place with an amazing culture. But, to our western way of life a lot of this culture is truly bizarre. This book demonstrates some of this culture, while still showing that we are all one tribe. We all generally want the same things out of life.
This is one of the best fish out of water stories that I have ever read… or been read. If you like humor like the Hitchhiker Guide or Monty Python you will love this book.
"Imperfect people living interesting lives"
I haven't read the print version but always feel that a well read audio book stirs both the left and right side of the brain ... therefore making it way more alive and valuable. It's a hard person to find who doesn't enjoy a book being read to them! This book is very well read with great impersonations. I'll definitely listen to it a few times over.
It stands alone but if I had to compare it to a variety of travel books - or even books in the humurous category - I'd say it would come out tops.
His impersonations were excellent. He brings the characters to life with ease.
I laughed quite a few times, and felt their frustrations a few times too.
Excellent book. Well worth listening to ... especially for travel readers who like to be taken to a lesser-known corner of the earth.
"The best audiobook I have listened to"
The story is brilliant, the narrator gave the book a perfect flippancy and captured the situation perfectly. I have listened to this book several times and is performance is the best of any audiobook.
The description of the Chinese airline and the onboard magazine made me laugh out loud.
I haven't unfortunately
They make running a hotel look easy...
Funny and thoughtful. I felt like I was there with him and shared in his experience. Can't recommend highly enough.
This is a very witty and amusing book which depicts unusual characters in a way that makes you feel that you know them too. The enjoyment not judgement that the author conveys in his descriptions and stories around the clash of cultures is hugely entertaining.
The only other travel books I have read have been Bill Bryson's, whose humour is more gentle and whose journeys are not so far afield. I loved listening to the problems that arose due to the very different cultures mismatch of expectations - both staff & visitors.
His reading matched the style of the book and had just the right tone and inflection to maximise the comic moments.
Very enjoyable but breaks were needed as I I felt I had to concentrate to take in all the information. No bad thing in any book.
I also worked in a hotel like Fawlty Towers so found this book funny and enjoyable and it brought back many memories.
The descriptions of the different characters that work in the hotel, and of course interesting facts about Tibet.
"Very funny story - well read"
Yes - a really good read I would recommend to anyone. Very Funny
No read anything else - but would like to know if there is one
Well told and easy to identify the characters
Laugh out loud...lots
looking forward to listening again with my husband... and stay in the hotel.
"Slow start but worth persevering"
Both author and narrator took a couple of chapters to get into their stride, I almost gave up in the first five minutes as the narration was so bad...but eventually things improved and I enjoyed the book immensely.
Steven Kynman narrated this book in such a way as to make it very enjoyable. A very funny account of the authors experiences in Tibet. Not the austere and bleak country you would imagine. Really good in my opinion.
"Must listen to this if you are going to Tibet"
No idea! What a silly question!
The author, it is mainly autobiographical.
Very very good insight into Tibet. Made me less nervous about going!
"Interesting and funny book"
My wife has a habit of choosing books which I wouldn't normally have given a second glance. On this occasion she was spot on.
The book is a little slow to get started but once you grasp the idea that this is a book about a "Fawlty Towers" type hotel, only much, much larger, and run by a committee of professional hoteliers and wannsbees with no idea then you are in for a great read.
Occasionally political, this book is one that I think I will come back to and will listen to again each year. The portrayal of the local people is excellent as you start to get an understanding of the culture.
I am confident that at some point you will recognise a character as someone who you know.
Give the book a try and you won't be disappointed.
"Made me giggle"
Seven years in Tibet would be the obvious one although they are very different.
The Italian manager Barber, I was laughing though almost every line of his dialogue.
Probably the Tibetan funeral scene
This was hilariously funny and absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend this so just about anyone. The internal workings of the hotel and inextricably linked with the political situation in the country, it's a situation which the author handles with care, someone managing to write one of the funniest books I have ever listen to without being insensitive. I actually had to pause the book a few times to keep from laughing like a crazy person while alone in public, I just couldn't stop myself!
It's a truly unique glimpse into daily life in Lhasa, its highs, lows, the spectacular and the mundane.
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