When signing up for working at the Holiday Inn in Lhasa, Tibet, Alec Le Sueur was excited. This is mainly a memoir from Alec’s five years in Tibet working at the most outpost hotel in the world, and not so much about Tibetan culture or political aspects (as the author also states in the epilogue). This makes for a quite easy read, which I rather enjoyed.
Throughout this book we meet a lot of funny people, there’s a whole lot of insane co-workers and visitors at the Holiday Inn, businessmen from China, Miss Tibet-contestants, munks, Tibetans and a whole bunch of yaks. I snorted out loudly several times, Alec writes in a funny way. Sadly, Alec does not know a lot of Tibetans, which I think could have added more to the story.
The book made me both really interested to visit Tibet, and at the same time made me not want to go there. The feeling of wanting to go/not wanting to go would change every now and then through the book. Alec is not trying to sell Tibet as something it’s not. There’s the challenge of having to deal with Chinese Communist party-businessmen, language barriers, weird mix-ups and misunderstandings, frustration and a lot of rather hilarious moments. This is not a romantic novel about finding yourself in the wilderness of the Tibetan mountains, but more about hard work in a challenging surroundings. Alec is not trying to paint an idyllic portrait of Lhasa, and some of the descriptions are rather disgusting, but at the same time, you can tell Alec loves Tibet. There’s a sense of humour and of love all through the book, of accomplishment as impossible tasks somehow gets solved, and even love for the poor customers who’s lining up to complain about whatever it might be that’s currently wrong at the hotel.
Thomas recommended me this book, and as an easy, fun read I definitely think it’s worth flicking through the 300 pages, so I’ll pass on the recommendation to you. Read it, and let me know if you would want to visit Tibet or not after finishing it (I do!)