Reflections on Nepal – Life in a Tearoom

No one expected elegance on our ten-day trek to Imja Tse, a snow-capped peak in the shadow of Everest and Lhotse.  Even so, when I learned we’d be lodging in “tearooms,” I imagined cozy spots with country curtains and something deliciously sweet to nibble on.

That would not be a tearoom in the Himalayas.  Think instead of a hostel, with rooms warmed only by the breathing of the trekkers snuggled into sleeping bags.  

Our first night on the trail, our accommodations seemed primitive — a truly Spartan room, not much larger than 8×10, with two beds and a pedestal toilet that did not accept toilet paper.  But each room had a “private” bath with a warm-ish shower.  The common room, lovely and bright, looked out over the roaring Dudh Koshi River.

That soon came to seem the height of luxury.  In the following days, we often had to share “elephant ear” toilets, ranging from the relatively “modern” (a ground-level porcelain frame that accepted bodily waste and water, but never toilet paper!) to simple holes in the ground.  Some tearooms had no hot water and no showers, shared or otherwise.  When we got above the tree line, the common rooms were heated with fuel made out of dried yak-dung, causing your eyes and throat to burn.

But those common rooms were the central feature of our trek.  They all offered hot tea. They often offered a sunny spot with large windows that offered breath-taking views of the glacier-laden peaks.  A common room where we all gathered for breakfast and dinner.  A common room where we could loll, often on carpet-covered benches lining the walls, to swap to war stories and sing along with Justin and his guitar.  

In retrospect, those tearooms seemed quite cozy indeed!


  1. Suzanne Link says

    I couldn’t agree more! Loved it Mary!

    • Suzanne, you must know that you were one of the things that made the common room so “cozy” …. your indomitable spirit and humor were a tonic to us all!

  2. June Collins says

    Loved this! So few of those countries have toilets which accept toilet paper – I learned to my dismay and other people’s annoyance.

  3. Mary Gottschalk says

    Thanks June … we Americans tend to take our way of life for granted … It’s good to see life through other’s people’s eyes!

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