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The Hotel on the Roof of the World

Five Years in Tibet
Narrated by: Steven Kynman
Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (234 ratings)

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Summary

The very aptly named Mr Pong had the kind of breath that could stun at over 10 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 breathtaking 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

Critic reviews

“...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)
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Imperfect people living interesting lives

Would you consider the audio edition of The Hotel on the Roof of the World to be better than the print version?

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.

What other book might you compare The Hotel on the Roof of the World to, and why?

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.

What about Steven Kynman’s performance did you like?

His impersonations were excellent. He brings the characters to life with ease.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed quite a few times, and felt their frustrations a few times too.

Any additional comments?

Excellent book. Well worth listening to ... especially for travel readers who like to be taken to a lesser-known corner of the earth.

8 people found this helpful

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The best audiobook I have listened to

What made the experience of listening to The Hotel on the Roof of the World the most enjoyable?

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.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Hotel on the Roof of the World?

The description of the Chinese airline and the onboard magazine made me laugh out loud.

Have you listened to any of Steven Kynman’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I haven't unfortunately

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

They make running a hotel look easy...

Any additional comments?

Funny and thoughtful. I felt like I was there with him and shared in his experience. Can't recommend highly enough.

5 people found this helpful

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Very entertaining

What made the experience of listening to The Hotel on the Roof of the World the most enjoyable?

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.

What other book might you compare The Hotel on the Roof of the World to, and why?

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.

What about Steven Kynman’s performance did you like?

His reading matched the style of the book and had just the right tone and inflection to maximise the comic moments.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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.

5 people found this helpful

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Humerous

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I also worked in a hotel like Fawlty Towers so found this book funny and enjoyable and it brought back many memories.

What did you like best about this story?

The descriptions of the different characters that work in the hotel, and of course interesting facts about Tibet.

5 people found this helpful

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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Very funny story - well read

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes - a really good read I would recommend to anyone. Very Funny

What other book might you compare The Hotel on the Roof of the World to, and why?

No read anything else - but would like to know if there is one

What does Steven Kynman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Well told and easy to identify the characters

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laugh out loud...lots

Any additional comments?

looking forward to listening again with my husband... and stay in the hotel.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Any additional comments?

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.

2 people found this helpful

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Very well read, enjoyable tale

This was a very well read, enjoyable tale. I would recommend to anyone for a light hearted fun tale.

1 person found this helpful

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Not to be missed!

Such a brilliant book and it’s nice to have a narrator without an annoying voice!

A fantastic mix of humour, history and great insight into this unlikely hotel. It is one of my favourite books ever. If read this before when I came across a paperback in India, but listening to it has been even better. Brilliant accents and good descriptions with correct pronunciations for the Tibetan villages and historic landmarks have made this even more enjoyable.

I’ll never forget sky burials, Himalayan hamsters and the hard yak cafe!

A must read for all. Especially those wanting a humorous, yet sensitive and informative adventure. I just wish there was an audiobook version of Alec’s Belgian adventures too.

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Fantastic book!

Amazing story, very humorous and well read!
Really recommend this audiobook if you want to hear about day to day life in Lhasa from a foreigner.

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  • mz
  • 03-01-20

Hilarious nonstop laughter

If you're looking for a relaxed book to learn about Tibetan culture and landscape in a time closer to today, after Communists' "peaceful liberation," this book is great entertainment.

From a Westerner's point of view, it describes less of how the locals traditionally live than in The Noodlemaker of Kalimpong by Gyalo Thondup, more details about the present-day (late 1980s, early 1990s) culture than the high almighty Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer, and very sarcastic about the current Chinese rule over Tibet. The cruel true events are covered, as well as ironic politics and corruption that is so true in every part of modern-day China. I enjoyed this book much more than Harrer's.

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  • K. Zellmer
  • 18-11-15

only wish it was longer

An entertaining and funny story in a country where stories are usually spiritual or depicting oppression.

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  • David
  • 24-05-13

Very funny and very insightful

If you could sum up The Hotel on the Roof of the World in three words, what would they be?

Funny
Poignant
True

Who was your favorite character and why?

Tashi, his explanation that he is Tashi. Tashi Delek.

Which scene was your favorite?

The funeral. Having been China this is something I could see a guide doing.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The entire book is very funny. I laughed out load at several points.

Any additional comments?

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.

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  • smlr
  • 27-07-18

good book, questionable narration

The content is great. The racist appropriation of Asian accents by the narrator is offensive and demeaning.