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An American couple are more than pleased with our service for the trip to China in April, 2011Client: Nationality: United StatesTour Dates: April 11 , 2011 -- April 19 , 2011Tour Planner: SilviaItinerary: Lhasa-Gyantse-Shigatse-XianCheers! Silvia,
I apologize for having been such a lousy correspondent, and we haven't even sent you any pictures yet. Well, I've been busy "farming". I've been working in my community garden plot. We have been eating radishes, lettuce, spinach, and raspberries. It's a lot of work, but I am a farmer at heart.
So, as for the trip. The train was just the best! We met a lovely Shanghai couple in the next compartment and had wonderful conversations. We also met them in Lhasa. Sangpo, our guide, was a real sweetheart. His English was heavily accented, but we really had no problem with communication at all. He gave us lots of freedom. He got us to where we should go, and then he let us function on our own. That is actually what we like, so it was a real plus. Our only real regret about Tibet is that I wish we had stayed one more day - with no program at all. I just loved the cultural environment there, and I wish we had had another day to just savor it. Not to worry. We had a wonderful taste.
The hotel was PERFECT in terms of location. I hope that you will continue to use it. There was a bit of a problem in terms of temperature. It went down to O degrees Centigrade at night, and they had no heat! We froze! Luckily, we met an Australian couple who froze for a couple of nights and finally told the management that they just couldn't take it anymore. The desk people gave them an electric heater. They used it, and when we met them at breakfast, they told us that we could get it from their room. That totally solved the problem. I would just suggest that if you have visitors going to Lhasa - and that very nice hotel - in early spring in the future, you advise them to request a portable electric heater.
We are so happy that you included a side trip to Gyantse and Shigatse. We LOVED the stupa in Gyantse! We met a monk there who was so kind. I love Buddhist art, and the Gyantse stupa has it - in excess! We were happy campers. The hotel in Shigatse was not one that I would choose to visit again. It was certainly adequate. Good Heavens! My history in Asia is thirty-nine years old, and most of it was spent there when I had no money at all. I have stayed in hotels that didn't even have sheets (Burma), and the time that Renee and I went to Burma together, we slept on the floor in the hallway! It was Burmese National Day, and all of the hotels were full. So, it was not in any way a problem, but it just has a "tired" look about it. Perhaps when you send other tourists there, you might choose another hotel. Tashilunpo was way beyond our expectations. We loved it. That mountain road to Shigatse looks like the Great Wall! Gosh, we we able to look down into valleys and see multiple roads that we had traversed. Luckily, we had no problem with the altitude at all. In fact, I must confess. We smoke! I know, it's not good for health, and in the US, we are treated like pariahs! No one whom we know smokes. However, I think it helped us in Tibet. Our bodies are so accustomed to a lack of oxygen that we functioned perfectly. That is in no way an endorsement for smoking, however! Do NOT get yourself addicted to that dreadful habit!
Xi'an was great as well. Our guide, Joyce, did what she was supposed to do: she got us to where we wanted to go. However, I would not choose her again. Her English was adequate, but, quite frankly, she didn't have a whole lot of information at hand. She would have been appropriate for a group tour, but if you have independent travelers who have a particular interest in history and culture, she is not really the person who can provide the information that that kind of visitor wants. We rented bicycles on the city wall and loved doing that. We had lunch at a wonderful restaurant. Wow! It was really opulent! And, Sylvia, we can't thank you enough for the hotel up-grade that you provided. Gosh, that lobby and the wonderful pool with statuary that surrounded it made us feel like we were the "Emperor and Empress"!
So, in summary, it was a fabulous trip, and we are so grateful to you for everything that you did to expedite it. You were patient with our stupid questions, and you anticipated our needs. I would recommend you to anyone who plans to visit your country. If any potential tourists ask you for recommendations, please feel free to use our names. We were more than pleased with your service. (Hint: you can tell this to your supervisor as well. Ha!)
This was not a buying trip for us. Our house is FULL of Asian goodies. I'm so old now that I should be working on de-accession rather than accession. However, one should not make a foreign journey and come home empty handed. Well, we didn't! I bought a lovely Sakyamuni thanka in Lhasa as well as a solar-powered prayer wheel. When I first saw them in the Jokhang Market area, I thought they were the very worst example of kitsch. However, on our trip to Shigatse, the driver had one on the dashboard. The road is a totally frightening mountain passage. We were hanging on to our seats! But, we made the trip safely! I told Renee that we were going to buy one of those solar-powered prayer wheels even if we didn't think they were particularly aesthetically satisfying. We did, and it is in our kitchen window. It whirls away in the sunlight, and whatever one may hold in terms of religious belief is not really important. It serves as a wonderful reminder to us of the fabulous time that we had in Tibet, and the wonderful people who live there. I also bought a cricket cage in Shanghai. I'm not going to get into cricket fighting, mind you, but is a fun reminder of our time in China.
Well, this ended up being a much longer letter than I expected to write, but so be it. We want you to know that we have enjoyed our communication with you so much, and that we are gratetful to you in every way for all of the help that you provided.
Please don't forget us. I know what it is like to be involved in the tourist world. I work two days a week as a tour guide in Washington, D. C. Dealing with tourists is a kind of "window" on the human condition. We meet such a variety of people. However, I must say that after having done this for five years, most of the people I deal with are very pleasant. Good grief! They're on vacation! Why shouldn't they be happy? I trust that this has been your experience as well.
All of our very best wishes to you, Sylvia-
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