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  • A couple from Philippine had a great time in China in early July, 2009

    Client: Norman Pe Nationality: Philippines
    Tour Dates: July 3 , 2009 -- July 9 , 2009
    Tour Planner: Fisher
    Itinerary: Shanghai-Huangshan-Hangzhou-Suzhou
    Hi Fisher,
    Generally speaking, we had a great time in China. The entire tour went quite perfectly. The itinerary we put together was very well planned and spaced that there was always ample time for rest. Weather-wise, we were expecting some rains but it hardly rained during our tour - rained just 3 minutes in Hongcun and that was it. We however did not expect the sunny days to be too hot, but we were prepared for it.
    Our guides were all good. Cathy in Huangshan/Tunxi/Hongcun/Tangyue was very professional. She made climbing mountians seem like a breeze while me and my wife were both gasping for breath. The food arranged by your agent thru Cathy were all good. Cathy seemed very patriotic to her motherland. When we were in Tunxi/Huangshan, every time we opened the TV there were at least 4 channels showing movies about Chinese vs. Japanese in WWII. I think this instilled a lot of hatred by the current generation Chinese against the Japanese and they can be vocal about it. Cathy was very punctual and very attentive to even our tiniest request. During our free time in the morning before our transfer from Tunxi to Hangzhou, we took an additional tour to see the stone archway of Tangyue at Shexian County. This was easily arranged for us by Cathy. The hotel in Tunxi and atop Huangshan were both above our expectation, we were expecting something more basic and spartan.
    In Hangzhou & Zhouzhuang, we had Yolanda as our guide - despite her relative youth, she was the best guide we had. On top of her mastery of the historical info on the sites we visited, she was abreast with Chinese current events, film, media and global news and events - so well-rounded for such a young girl. During our free time, she gave us very sensible suggestions on which places to visit and avoid, where to eat (outside the covered meals). On her suggestion, we watched an evening show called West Lake Impressions (albeit pricey at CNY220/person) and we were impressed seeing all these performers walking on water (with stage set a couple of inches under the water's surface) - this show was produced and directed by no other than Jhang Yi Mou (the same person who did the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics). The overall effects and synchronized movements of the many performers were truly stunning. When in transit, we had a lot of interesting story telling which helped us understand the diverse culture of the other regions in China as our guide Yolanda spent a year teaching in Yunnan (Dali & Lijiang). My wife enjoyed gossiping with her about Chinese celebrities and international personalities. The food in Hangzhou can be improved - I think US$10 per meal per person budget in Hangzhou is not adequate. Better double it for tourists who will not mind paying extra like us. When me & my wife dine outside the covered meals, we normally spend CNY250~300 for both of us (as in Shanghai). Our transfer from Hangzhou to Suzhou via Zhouzhuang was on a private car and we used a relatively brand-new mid-size Chevrolet sedan. It was luxurious - leather seats, full appointment, the works. Honestly we thought they would use the same city-touring van. This is a great compliment for your partner travel agent in Hangzhou.
    In Suzhou, our guide May was also very good. Although she normally handles a big tour group, she admitted that this was her first time to handle a private tour with only 2 clients - her voice was deafeningly loud most of the time. She even booked an entire 20-seater fully airconditioned boat for our Grand Canal cruise for me and my wife, all to ourselves. In Hangzhou, when we cruised West Lake, we shared the boat with a bunch of very noisy Korean tourists but our guide handled the cruise very well. By far, for the fixed meal budget, Suzhou food was the best. We used a luxurious Buick minivan which took us around Suzhou. Our only disappointment is our hotel in Suzhou (although this was my choice). The Gloria Plaza Hotel, though rated 4-Star, has a front desk staff with very limited English-speaking ability, a customer service manager who looks irate when you request for assistance, and they do not provide free in-room internet service when practically all other hotels even of lesser class already provide free internet as standard. Gloria Plaza though has probably the best buffet breakfast (having both Chinese and western food) during our tour (in fact even better than the buffet breakfast of Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in Shanghai which is a 5-Star rated hotel). In all my trips to China, I will never forget that the best buffet breakfast (and presentation) is still with the Best Western Meiyuan Hotel in Hangzhou - truly world class, as though the food was prepared by a 5-Star Michelin Chef.
    In Shanghai, although our guide service was limited to transfers only, Cherry was very helpful in giving us all the info we needed. This was the first time we rode on a 430kph Maglev train to the city, and we were equally impressed with the 245kph commuter rail service on our transfer from Suzhou to Shanghai.
    We are grateful that Cherry personally went to our designated carriage and met us inside the chaotic Shanghai Main Railway Station, we would have gotten lost in the flood of people disembarking as many trains were arriving all at the same time.
    We are generally impressed with the quality of service that you have arranged for us for our tour. We will not hesitate recommending ETC/CFT to our friends and are likely to use your services again when we go on tour to another region in China in the future.
    Best Regards,
    Norman Pe