Subject: Himalayan hamsters (or travel books to survive in these troubled times)
Hello Ziners,

sometime in November, I remember one Ziner asking for our favourite travel books.

I donīt know exactly how we began to buy them, probably we began with one of the railway books by Paul Theroux or maybe the Balkans book of Robert D. Kaplan, and continue from then. Until 5, 8 years ago, there wasnīt many travel books in Spain, but nowadays there are literary prizes, and the foreign books get translated sooner as before. Last year, having a look at my favourite bookshop (it is really dangerous, because itīs a shortcut to get to my french lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays, and almost every week I get out with a new book), I saw a book whose spanish title was something like The best hotel in the Himalayas - How to survive 5 years in Lhasa (the english title is Running a hotel in the roof of the world). The writer was an englishman from the Channel Islands, Alec Le Sueur, who happened to work from the late Eighties to the early Nineties at the Holiday Inn in Lhasa. A really funny history, between the problems encountered with the chinese burocracy, his views of the Tibetan people, and the fact that after an invasion of rats in the hotel, they decided to call them himalayan hamsters, just to keep the tourists quiet ... Tibet is in my list of places to visit, but after reading this very funny account, I think that I would have loved to stay at that hotel. I need to know what happened to the himalayan hamsters :) He has a webpage about the book :

Other writer that I have grown to admire is William Dalrymple. An Scotsman, his first book is called In Xanadu, a history of his travel by land to China when he was just out of the University. The years has made him better, and the last two books I have read of him City of Djinns - A year in Delhi and From the Holy Mountain, are really impressive, both in writing style, descriptions and all the information he gives. The first one is a story of his time living for a year in Delhi, a city you can feel he really loves, an amazing mixture between daily life and the history of the Moghuls, the British Raj, the ancient times... The second book describes his travel from Mount Athos to Egipt, following a book by a bizantine pilgrim monk during the 5th century. He tried to stay in old monasteries, and it is an amazing description of how everything has changed and still remains the same during the centuries.

I have got a few more favourites, including spanish ones, but I think this is enough for the moment.

Bye, Covadonga in Bilbao - Spain