Pam's Feedback on 30-Day China Tour

Dawn tells me she has met you and she says you are lovely. But I could have told her, as you were so caring and kind when I had the accident. What a drama! Guess you have to be ready for any awful things happening.
Client: Age: Unknown Nationality: Australia
Tour Date: April 4, 2013 - May 3, 2013  
FeedBack Date: June 13, 2013
Itinerary: 30 Days Shanghai, Hangzhou, Beijing, Datong, Taiyuan, Pingyao, Xian, Yichang, Yangtze, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Guilin, Longsheng, Yangshuo Tour

Hello Delia

Dawn tells me she has met you and she says you are lovely. But I could have told her, as you were so caring and kind when I had the accident. What a drama! Guess you have to be ready for any awful things happening.

I am feeling a lot better but back still bothers me more when sitting or standing for any length of time. Flight home was painful but much better to be laying in business class. Everyone has been absolutely wonderful to me. I shall never forget the kind people in China. I hope to return with my husband one day and finish seeing what I missed out on.

If you are ever in Melbourne you are very welcome to visit us. Just give us a message.

Thank you so much for all your kindness and concern.

Love from Pam

Hi Delia

We arrived home safe & sound last Saturday after spending the last few days in Guangzhou. I have attached the notes I made of the trip for your information. Thanks again for looking after us so well while I spent time in the hospital at Guillin. We will never forget this.

Hope you are well all the best to the China Highlights team. You did a great job for us on the tour

Ken Carol Stewart

CHINA TRIP, APRI, 4 –MAY 3, 2013
Thursday, April 4, Day 1
Missed flight due to mishap, rescheduled ticket & got onto China Southern ex MEL at 11.30 pm

Friday, April, 5, Day 2
Good flight to Guangzhou (Canton) then to Shanghai, transfer to Sofitel Hyland, excellent hotel & settled in. Group on a day tour, so we walked the streets to see some sights, meal at local noodle house. Good nights rest.

Saturday, April 6, Day 3
Caught up with Jim, Sue & rest of group at breakfast, all very good people, some from Emu Park, other from SA, Vic & NSW, total of 27.Bus pick through the tunnel to Shanghai World Financial Centre. Spectacular building, up to 100 floors, 480 metres  with towering views over the city. Overcast conditions not good for pictures. Then to Yuynan gardens, very good, picturesque & historic. Lunch at Seagull Palace, then to the French Concession area for a quick look at the cosmopolitan food precinct.
Sarah, our lovely guide too the girls for some department store retail therapy, shopping & lunch.
Boys went on a brewery tour led by Texan, Ike Wagh. First to Dean’s Bottle Shop followed by Kelly Hotel brew house, where Miller the brew master showed process with tastings, then to Boxing Cat Brewery with beers up to 9.2%.Some noise increase over the tour but no drastic personality changes detected.
Finished the day at Xintiandi Acrobat Show, good entertainment.
Sarah a very good guide, excellent English, top marks to the bus driver.

Sunday, April 7, Day 4
Free day. Excellent breakfast one of best on trip. Weather fine blues skies & sun out. Walked to The Bund for a good view towards the Financial District. Taxied to the Fabric Market for some hard, energetic bargaining, bought shirts & scarves. Lunch at noodle house off Nanjing Road, back to Sofitel for a nap, sundowners in room & good nights sleep.

Monday, April 8, Day 5
80 km bus drive through farming areas, fish & veges, with clusters of high rise accommodation buildings everywhere, to Tongli Ancient Village. Up to 1000 years old, boat ride through village in small oar propelled timber boats. Good lunch in village then to Sex Culture Museum (memories ?).
Back to hotel then buffet dinner in Oriental Pearl Tower Restaurant. Food very good, wine prices over the top, local beer 25 RMB, about A$4.00. Spectacular views over city.

Tuesday, April 9, Day 6
Early start, 6.00 am breakfast for Bullet Tran to Hangzhou. Electric train clocked up to 297 kms per hour, 180 km trip took 1 hour, unbelievable. Guide David met us at station for visit to West Lakes. A noce water precinct in the city. Walks then boat trips across lake.Then to Lingyin Temple, 1000 + years of history in rock carvings, spectacular Buddha & associated statues & displays. Went through 3 of the temples including the main one. On to Qinghefang Pedestrian Street, then Louwailou Restaurant for lunch, food average, fish full of small bones not edible to our taste.  with Tea Plantation & Tea Shop visit for tea tastings, majic qualities of tea then the hard sell to buy the magic properties. Overnight at Ramada Plaza, good hotel, nice room.

Wednesday, April 10, Day 7
Brekky OK, good shopping in morning, onto airport for China Eastern flight to Beijing. Flight 1 hour late then 2 hours, arrived Beijing at 5.00 pm, met guide Betty & transfer to Grand Mercure Zidan Hotel. A very nice hotel, boght beer  & snacks al local mini mart, quiet night in room, a bit flat, big day.

Thursday, April 11, Day 8
Good breakfasr, then onto a big day. Bus to Olympic site, Birdsnest Stadium, Water Cube other sites for basketball, cycling, tennis & others. Then to Muttianyu section of the Great Wall via cable car. Unbelievable to see & walk one of the Wonders of the World. Masses of people, plenty of picture taking.
Next to Shahe Cloisonne Factoty to see how it is made & buying opportunity. Lunch above in Xin SShuang Restaurant, very good. Back to town, some went to Kung Fu Theatre. We calle into market for fruit, drinks & supplies, back to hotel—a great day.

Friday April 12, Day 9
Bus to Tianamen Square, big & impressive. Mao’s Tomb building with long queues to pass by Mao’s embalmed body. People start queuing before daylight.

Walked through to the Forbidden Palace with buildings which seem to go forever, treasure houses, accommodation areas, long ancient history. Lunch at Jing Mian Da Wang. Onto Lama Temple, most impressive, huge Buddha carved from a single tree– 50+ feet high, quite astonishing.
Huttong tour through poorer area of city, rickshaw ride past Bell Tower into Chinese ladies home, a larger house taken away during Revolution, then claimed back later, a larger house worth RMB 8m to devoplers, but not for sale.Back to hotel for early night.

Saturday, April 13, Day 10
Busy, busy. Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Garden of History & Virtue, Li Heng Pearl Store (bought a nice pearl), all memorable visits, full of history & highlights. Xibel Restaurant for yet another fine lunch. Next to a market for further retail therapy, another chance to test the bargaining skills, by now getting a bit sharper, but, boy, are the traders persistent buggers.

Sunday, April 14, Day 11
4.00 am wake up call for flight north to Datong. Onto bus to the Yungang Grottoes an unbelievable series of Buddhas of all sizes carved into a limestone cliff, 1500 odd years of history well explained by our guide, Betty, amazing workmanship, all hand carved. Lunch at Luyuan Restaurant, different food style, very good. Next to Datong Nine Drahon Screen Wall, Ok, with clear signs of damage due to age & re location. Then to the new Huyan Temple built to old style over past 5 years as  tourist attraction, Datong a big coal production area with several power stations evident. Booked into Datong Hilton a nice hotel, very comfortable room, the best so far. Visit to Shanua Temple, very old, 1300 ad dynasty with original buildings plus buildings modern built to ’old style’ architecture.Datong in a huge growth stage due to a progressive Mayor, hi cranes everywhere, land cleared for more construction, new & under construction roads, bridges, amazing to see so much development. Datong 50 kms from Mongolian Border in Shanxi Province.

Monday, April, 15, Day 12
Good breakfast, onto coach at 8.40 am during peak traffic. Cars of all makes, lots of VW taxis with Buicks, BMW, Honda, Toyota, Ford, Mercs etc. Coach to Taiyan, 280 kms, first stop on way Kuankong Overhanging Temple built 14400+ year ago onto a vertical cliff face, amazing engineering. Climbed to top for great views & pictures. Dan built on river below in 1960’s for flood control. Onto Yingxian Wooden Pagoda built 1056, a Buddhist Temple. All wooden joints no metal fastenings at all, another slice if history. Lunch nearby at Hongtai Restaurant, spicy food typical of the area. Continued onto Taiyuan through farming country, corn, wheat, limited agriculture due to low rainfall, around 400 mm per year, into city with chaotic peak traffic, cars, buses, cyclists, scooters, pedestrians going in all directions. No apparent road rules, ‘if you see a gap, go for it’ seems to apply. Coach driver did a great job to get us near to the hotel entrance. Shaxi World Trade Hotel, very good.

Tuesday, April, 16, day 13
7.50 am departure for Pingyao, first stop Pingyao Ancient Town, built by Wang Family, business people, in 1792 as their private compound with surrounding wall. Just brilliant with great views from top looking over country towards mountains. Booked into De ju yan Guesthouseinside Ancient City wall, building 200 years old, small with 30 rooms, quaint ‘old style Chinese’ with spartan but comfortable rooms to match. Good lunch at guesthouse. Walked through Mingqing Street to Ancient City Wall, 2000years old, amazing to see. Went through Rishenghang Bank to see how finance was conducted all those years ago. Sundowners at guesthouse, best place for getting together so far, dinner at nearby restaurant & a bottle of Jacobs Crreek back at camp.

Wednesday, April 17, day 14
6.15 am call, simple breakfast, on board back to Taiyuan for easy drive to airport & flight CZ 6469 to Xian. Teary farewell to Michelle a very good guide. New guide, Ivy (Wen) met us at Xian, good guide, very clear on directions & good English. Bus drive to lunch. All luggage taken care of. Visit to Big Wild Goose Pagoda, 133 years old, very spectacular & a great history well explained. Next to Xian Ancient City Wall, 14 kms around, then to Muslim Quarters & market through to Great Mosque, a new experience, no entry allowed, call to prayers while we were there for men only attendance.Then to Sofitel on Renmin Square, the best to date with a wonderful room, lots of space & comfort.

Thursday, April 18, Day 15
Great breakfast, first visit the Terra Cotta Warriors, discovered in 1974 by farmer Mr Yen & others. Just amazing to see, no records as to when or why they were built, but estimated to Qin Dynasty, 221 BC.  
Warriors damaged in revolt after Qin died & have been re built following discovery from the damaged pieces.
Archeologists still digging & finding more relics. 3 pits to date No 1, 6000 infantry warriors, No 2, archers & cavalry, No 3, generals & officers. A big thrill to see this exhibition, one of the best highlights to date.Lunch at We Shan Zhai, buffet & set menu. Then to Banpo Museun, foundation remains unearthed of 6000 years old village. Jade factory next, all sell, sell, bought Carol a nice trinket. Back to hotel for drinks with Jim & Sue, the room service dinner.

Friday, April 19, Day 16
Early start for Yichang then to Yangtze for ship connection.Hotel transfer to airport to Chongquin & next guide Joyce who took us to Chexi Minority Custom Scenic area, folk singing & dancing, tasted corn spirit, waterwheels, visit to family home, farming area, lots of fruit & veges, hydro energy production area. Dinner at restaurant, then to the dock for boarding on Century Paragon soon after 7.00 pm. Brand new ship wonderfully appointed, good cabin with balcony, ensuite, plenty of room, 10.00 pm sailing.

Saturday, 20 April, Day 17
Good breakfast, very busy, look around ship, bars, pool , spa, gym, libvrary, many facilities. Busy river traffic, small powered barges carrying all kinds of cargoes, sand, coal, fuel, also many other cruise ship of all sizes. Sailed through Ziling Gorge, spectacular high cliffs, swim in pool, buffet lunch excellent..Shore excursion to 3 Gorges dam site & lock system. Enormous piece of engineering & technology. 1.5 million people re located, mostly farmers & folk with generations of history & land ties to the inundated areas, a lot of opposition but overcome with central government, no democracy here. Back to ship for Jim’s birthday celebration, Captains welcome, dancers & floorshow, all very enjoyable. Ship through the 5 locks system during the night, fascinating to see hoe the locks system works, took 4-5 hours to get through the full system.

Sunday, 21 April, Day 18
Lesser Gorges day. Ship sailed through several deep, high gorges, then transfer to smaller boats which went further, then onto smaller again boats to final point & return to ship same method of boating. Ken feeling poorly due to flu & chest infection, Carol unwell but not as bad. Sniffles & coughing has been with trip almost from the start & many have some form of affliction. Early night, skipped dinner due to unwell.

Monday, April 22, Day 19
Ken not well after restless night, stayed on board rather than taking optional Pagoda tour. Kicked back, taking pills. Good meals on board all buffet style, need to get in quick to get a feed, all staff attentive. Surcharge of RMD 150 each announced unexpectedly to cover tips to staff, but not Tour Director, Dexter who expected his individual tips, which we jacked up on. Nice day cruising with ots to see on the bank. Drinks at Peter & Keith’s place, good blokes. Happy Hour on Deck 5 & Captain’s Farewell Banquet, food very average. Embarcation Port changed from Chonquin to Fuling due to shallow water.

Tuesday, April 23, Day 20
Early start from boat for 2 hours coach to Chonquing. Farewell at rail station to Jim & Sue who returned to Oz for Jim’s treatment. Fast electric train to Chendghu, 2 hrs to go 400 kms with train speeds up to 197 kms per hour. Farming countryside with many clusters of high rise buildings 20 to 4o stories, cranes everywhere big bridges. Road & rail systems all in mixed in to farming activities. Actually saw a plow being pulled by a horse. Booked into Sofitel Wanda Chengdu another well appointed & luxurious hotel, nice room. Jingli Old Street Market, yet another market, nothing special from others seen.

Wednesday, 24 April, Day 21
Nice breakfast, Ken still seedy. Visit to Pamda Breeding Area, good to see these endangered anilals healthy & breeding well

Thursday, April, Day 23
Not up to excursions today, joined group for late flight to Guillin.

Friday, April 26, Day 23
Breakfast Ok. Decide to seek medical help at Guillin Peoples Hospital. Admitted for 4 days of treatment on Iv drip, oxygen & many tests. Very difficult for Carol during these days but terrific help from Deliah & Betty to get through this time

Sat, April 27, Day 24 to Mon, April 29, Day 26 under good care in hospital     

Monday afternoon paid the bill to get out of hospital & rejoined party for flight to Guangzhou & Royal Garden Hotel, not bad but not to standard of others on the tour. Food in hotel very average.

Tuesday, April 30, Day 27
Tour guide, Beatrice & visit to Chen Ancestral Shrine, drove through Beijing Road, incredibly crowded due to public holiday to Lienxing Restaurant for a good lunch. Sat in bus for 1.5 hours after 4-5 insisted on visit to another museum. Too hot to sit in bus, so returned to hotel via cab for rest up. Walked around hotel ares, saw some nice things, bought beer & wine for an early night.

Wednesday, May1, Day 28
Free day, nice brekky, feeling good. Went through market at back of hotel, all manner of things sold, live frogs, fish, snakes, eels, chickens, turtles all slaughtered & dressed while you wait. All types of meat, seafood, fruit & veges, then through to clothing, bags, hats, jewelry, footwear. Bought a few things then lunch at local street cafe for nice meal 28 yuan for two including soft drink. No English at all but we managed to communicate.

Thursday May 2, Day 29
2.5 hour coach ride to Kaiping Tour & Zili Village built by Chicago based Wang Family in 1880’s. Good to see, surrounded by rice paddies & farming. Nice lunch at restaurant in village. Back to hotel for average meal. Some went on dinner cruise, 280 RMB for 1 hour trip. Bought Chinese wine, very poor, looking forward to a good Aussie red.

Friday, May 3, Day 30
Enjoyed Happy Birthday in China. Sat around for the day, did bugger all, caught 8.00 pm flight home on China Southern CZ 321. Good flight marred by screaming infants. Gull bus to Geelong, pick up by Melissa & home by noon. What a trip.

China is an awesome country to visit, with contrasts between the old & the new at every turn, so many highlights, places to visit, things to see & experience
China Highlights did an outstanding job in planning & delivering the tour
Hotel accommodation mostly first class
Food of a high standard during the entire trip
Transfer arrangements between hotels, airports, trains & coaches all very good, considerable help with luggage from drivers & guides
Guides were excellent, enthusiastic, eager to make our trip enjoyable. Obviously some differences with skill levels of English. Betty was the guide we saw most of & was of great help to everyone, especially to us with our medical issues
Value for money, we couldn’t get better. How Jim wangled so much for the price remains a mystery.
Met & spent time with Delia of China Highlights whilst in hospital & she was fantastic to us. Couldn’t speak more highly of this young lady.
Travelling companions were all great, friendly & supportive. No strangers here only “friends you have not yet met.”
We found trip a little long, (not due to illness).