Lindy's Feedback on 4-Day China Tour
|Client: Lindy Ask Lindy about her/his experience||Age: Unknown||Nationality: United States|
|Tour Date: January 11, 2014 - January 14, 2014|
|FeedBack Date: December 30, 2013|
|Itinerary: 12 Days Beijing, Shanghai, Xuzhou, Chongqing, Yangtze, Yichang Tour|
Dear Elaine and Whitney,
I wanted to make sure to let you know how our two week tour in China went. It was an absolutel wonderful experience, and I am so impressed with China Highlights' service. Whitney's initial work to organize the tour allowed us to fit an amazing number and diversity of events into a short period of time. The travel arrangements were very well planned and very well executed. Everything worked smoothly and efficiently. (If I had to do it again on my own I would probably slow down to have more time in one place, but we were constrained by family members schedules and desires to see many things, so Whitney's plan was an excellent compromise.) I am sure this was an extremely challenging trip to coordinate, as we wanted to do many things not on a typical tour. Whitney was able to arrange for local staff in Shanghai to find a former family residence, saving lots of time for us. She was able to coordinate with local contacts in Xuzhou and Chongqing to help us visit spots important to the family. All these arrangements would have taken us days, if not weeks, to try to do on our own, but with Whitney's help we were able to meet with local historians, etc. immediately upon arrival. Having busses/vans for our family group so we could all stay together in one vehicle was so helpful as well. It made the travel time enjoyable and interesting, and prevented delays. With so many on the trip coming from different places, and most not having carefully read the information China Highlights provided before arriving, there was some confusion and complaint, often about things that I know were our fault and not China Highlights' fault. Regardless, Whitney worked to quickly resolve the issues. She dealt promptly and effectively with problems such as one family member forgetting an ipad in the hotel--which was then found and returned. Our family was not easy to deal with, as we had an age range of 2 to 80 years old, and some medical conditions requiring wheelchair, doctor's visits, or unplanned transportation to or from the hotel separate from family group. During our last few days in Beijing, we decided we wanted to change our schedule and arrange for a driver and guide for an additional evening and another half day at the last minute. Whitney worked quickly to get us a very reasonable quote for this additional service. I cannot imagine any one doing a better job than Whitney both in planning our trip and staying in daily contact during the tour to make sure everything was running smoothly.
Our tour guides in each city were also impressive. China Highlights clearly does an excellent job of hiring and training staff!
Jerry in Beijing was outstanding. I had initially thought I didn't need an English-speaking guide for airport pickup, but was so glad Whitney encouraged us to get it. Meeting Jerry after a long plane flight was a welcome relief and we learned so many interesting things about Beijing from him just on the drive to the hotel. He is very knowledgeable, and clearly spent a lot of time thinking about our trip and making an efficient arrangement so we could see many things in and around Beijing without spending a lot of time in traffic. On several days he responded quickly to requests to provide unplanned assistance, taking a child to a doctor, helping individuals to locate places to make particular purchases, etc. While very easy to get along with, he was always professional, efficient, and cheerful.
Patrick in Shanghai was also very impressive. He was so friendly and warm and funny, and also shared much fascinating information. He also had to deal with several changes in plans, and did so smoothly and with good humor. He did a great job helping the older generation find places they remembered and telling us about the history and culture of the city. He was very flexible and worked cheerfully to accommodate our repeated changes and requests!
In both cases, working with Jerry and Patrick was like travelling with a good friend, who is extremely well-informed and easily takes care of all the arrangements! These were truly excellent guides!
Ralph in Xuzhou had a challenging job as we were working on such a strict time schedule, but he was able to pull everything off smoothly! This was quite impressive as given the divergent interests and needs of the group, in every other city we ended up waiting for one family member or another, but Ralph kept everyone moving on schedule. We arrived at the Xuzhou airport and boarded a bus to Liquan. At my aunt's request, Ralph had arranged for lunch on the bus to be lao bing, a favorite dish of her grandfather. This was a real treat, and much appreciated, especially kind of him to be willing to do this as I'm sure it created a mess on the bus with all the crumbs. Some of the family members later complained that they were hungry and this wasn't a sufficient lunch. However, because Ralph was just following my aunt's request for lunch I certainly don't blame him for that. It was a great opportunity for us to enjoy this delicious food! Ralph's English ability was good and he was helpful. The following morning he provided interesting information about the area and showed us the highlights of the amazing Han tomb and terracotta warriors. This was such an impressive site, and without Ralph's efficient guidance we would never have been able to fit this in to such a short period of time. I am so glad we had the opportunity to visit the tomb and museum. I know there was some frustration related to one family member being ill and skipping the museum and meeting the bus by taxi. Because we had a fullsize bus reserved to accommodate not just the 17 family members on the tour, but local family members and officials as well, I understand it was not possible to drive the bus to pick up one person separately. Ralph was friendly and informative and did a good job.
Peter in Chongqing was also an excellent tour guide. His knowledge of religious history and culture was impressive, and made our visit to Dazu Grottoes much more meaningful than if we had visited on our own. In a few instances his English pronunciation was a bit hard to understand, but that was only for a few words (e.g. bodhisattva). When we were in Chongqing, some of our party went out to the bars on their own and became inebriated, and one was lost overnight. (This of course was no fault of Peter's--he gave us good information, and these family members just made some mistakes.) When we realized at breakfast that one person had never made it back to the hotel, of course we were all in a panic. Peter helped to work with the authorities to locate him--fortunately safe, just cold and hungover--and managed to keep the rest of us calm and reassured and occupied until he was located again.
I did not think I would very much enjoy the river cruise, but it was a great experience! Ruby and the staff of the Century Emerald were super, the accommodations were very luxurious, and the excursion to the Goddess Stream was absolutely amazing! The scenery was spectacular and we had a wonderful guide and boat driver (who was previously a boat tracker) who sang us traditional songs while we cruised the river. I would highly recommend this to anyone, especially if they could find the same local guide and boat driver.
The only disappointing experience was having to leave the cruise early, but I understand that weather and river conditions are unpredictable. There were some challenges with getting our luggage from the boat onto the bus but again this was partly our fault--if we had made earlier arrangements for a porter this might have been better facilitated. The cruise director did provide information the night before about this (in both English and Chinese), but not everyone paid attention apparently. (I know there was one Australian couple who had trouble too.)
Our bus tour to the Three Gorges Dam was interesting. Helen was the tour guide who met us in Yichang. She was also knowledgeable and had good English. She took us to a good restaurant and then to an interesting but small Feng Shui museum that had signs in English and a guide who could explain in English. She then got us to the airport and checked in.
When we arrived in Beijing we were so glad to see Jerry again, and the Bamboo Garden Hotel was such a spectacular place to stay. After all the travels, it was so nice to be back and it felt like coming home (but to a much fancier home than any of us have in real life)!!!
I could go on and on, but wanted to make sure I gave you feedback before more time went on. If you have any questions or want more specific comments about any of the tour guides, I would be glad to provide them.
Thank you so much again for putting together this amazing trip for our family. It allowed three generations to be together and learn more of our family history and culture. I know we created almost daily challenges for your staff! This was a logistically challenging trip to arrange and I cannot imagine how much effort you all put in to put this trip together for us. It was well worth the cost of the trip and I would highly recommend China Highlights to my friends and colleagues.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
What a memorable trip for the entire family, thanks to the arrangement and trip planning of the China Highlights! Whenever I look at Peter's mini-IPad , I think of you and the Shanghai 金外 灘。I can not Thank you enough for making the timely phone Call and booking the hotel for us before We winded down our China trip. It is indeed A memorable and precious experience. Marjorie
May I express our thanks to Whitney Liao of China Highlights whose expertise and care beyond the call of duty has made a once-in-a-lifetime China Reunion Tour of our extended family of three generations across siblings and cousins totally seventeen persons aged two to eighty, a roaring success. We had different needs, wished to explore little-visited sites as they relate to the grandparents of the eldest generation of our group, ourselves now grandparents. We visited distant places in the mountains outside Chonging, paid our respects at the common ancestral tomb in Xiaoxian, Anhui; we sailed down the Yangzi past the three gorges, during which trip we got off to visit the undamaged Song Dynasty Buddhist grottoes of Dazu, with their stunning and moving sculptures. In more urban experiences we saw the Shanghai house where us grandparents had been school kids, all relatively out-of-the-way spots. In Beijing of course the Great Wall, Imperial Palace and the Guozijian, that lovely tree-line road where imperial scholars geared up for official exams, still today echoing the sorrow and exhilaration of those days. It was a most difficult and challenging two-week tour to arrange, but miraculously Whitney and China Highlights with their unfailing support in mini-busses and English-speaking guides at every stop, made this a most memorable experience for us all, and we are still writing each other about it. Thank you, China Highlights! And thanks and hugs to Whitney!