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  • A couple from Venezuela did enjoy their trip to China in September of 2007

    Client: Robert and Ruth Bottome Nationality: Venezuela
    Tour Dates: September 7 , 2007 -- September 20 , 2007
    Tour Planner: Amy
    Itinerary: Beijing, Mt.Tai, Xi'an, Chengdu, Lhasa, Yellow Mountain, Shanghai, Guilin, Yangshuo, Hong Kong
    - Attn: Ms. Amy Tang
    From: Robert & Ruth Bottome – Caracas, Venezuela
    Date: December 27, 2007
    Dear Amy:
    First of all – and most important – please accept our apologies for not having written sooner. It’s that, on our arrival to Caracas, one hundred different situations were calling for our attention – so much so that the things that are really important – like writing to you – kept getting postponed and, then, postponed again.
    Second of all – but far more important – is that we want to thank you for having taken such good care of us on our trip to China – not just Guillin (where we were “in your hands”), but everywhere and especially your efforts to get us a berth on the train from Lhasa to Xining, to make up for the cancelled reservation for the trip from Xining to Lhasa. And THANK YOU so much for your lovely Christmas card.
    Third of all – and the least important – please find following comments on different aspects of our trip – what we liked the most and what we liked a bit less. (There was nothing we did not like. Yours is a wonderful country and a wonderful people and we loved every minute of our stay.)
    Organization: No comment. Everywhere we went, we were met. The guides were friendly, well-informed and went out of their way to provide good service. The hotel and restaurant accommodations were, generally speaking, excellent. And the tours well-planned. The exceptions were but three, two of them related to Xining:
    (a) the train reservation Lhasa which, we were told, had been pre-empted by a government official (although we later met other passengers whose reservations were honored),
    (b) the lunch we were promised, but did not receive, on our return to Xining, from Lhasa. The guide took us to the airport several hours before flight time and just left us there. (In all other instances, the guide accompanied us until we had been properly checked for the flight; also, it might have helped had she taken the trouble to point out the restaurant.)
    (c) The third had to do with the Hotel at the Yellow Mountain which failed to honor our very specific request for a “room with a view of the mountain”. (The same “explanation”: “a government official” had pre-empted our reservation – but we later met guests who arrived later than we, and who were assigned rooms with a view.)
    Guides: The best were your “Carol”, the young lady who was our guide at Chengdu and the young lady who took care of us in Lhasa. (We had been warned that a Chinese Guide would know little about Tibetan customs, culture and history. This young lady must be the exception to the rule, for she was a walking encyclopedia on everything Tibetan.) I am a little embarrassed that we don’t remember the names of all the guides. We did write them down along with our other notes, but that notebook has now gone “missing”.
    “John”, our guide to Beijing was most enthusiastic of all. And we were particularly struck by the fact that our guide in Taishan took the trouble to reimburse part of the cable car fare, because we were granted an “old person” discount.
    Some guides spoke better English than others. But we had no trouble understanding what they had to say.
    What we liked most: We have been asking ourselves – what would we suggest to a friend who is planning a one-week visit to China – what are things we most would want him to see and/or experience. To begin with, there’s no real answer to that question: we were in China and Tibet for a full month and we feel we have only begun to see, know and enjoy the country. But let us try (not in order of preference):
    - Beijing – Our first impression of China. Modern. Beautiful gardens. Extraordinary architecture. Excellent streets and avenues. We saw several other cities but, with the possible exception of Hong Kong, none so dynamic and well laid out.
    - the Great Wall at Mutianyu Section: fascinating. And we appreciated your suggestion that we see the Wall at a less-visited section.
    - Xi’an – The terra cotta warriors are impressive, very impressive. The photos do not really convey the strength and spirit of the thousands of warriors.
    - Lhasa – It was not just being on the “top of the world”: there’s a profound spirituality to most things Tibetan which one senses and feels, just be being there. Highlights included the Potala Palace, the Samye monastery and the Drepung Temple, among others.
    - Yellow Mountain – Also an extraordinarily beautiful place, with plenty of opportunities to walk around.
    - Guillin – It’s not just that this is where we were “in your hands” and that we had the pleasure of meeting you and Mr. Wu over dinner. It’s that Guillin is a warm, attractive, contaminant-free city. We just plain felt at home there.
    - Li River Cruise – extraordinary. The water show at Yangshuo was one of the high points of the entire trip. (We suggest that you strongly recommend to your passengers that they stay over to see that show; or, at least, that they stay for the show and return to Guillin after the show.)
    - Hong Kong – After Beijing, this was the city that impressed us most – for the beauty of its architecture, the excitement of a vigorous and prosperous city.
    - Tea: Until now, our world was limited mostly to breakfast and other British teas plus a single variety of green tea. We had not imagined that there could be so many different varieties of tea. The visits to the different tea houses were a revelation.
    - Acrobat show: The show at Shanghai was extraordinary. One of our “mistakes” was to have taken in the (less good) show in Beijing (instead of the Beijing Opera).
    - The Legend of KungFu at the Red Theatre in Beijing: A “can’t miss” spectacle.

    Others we liked very much:
    - Tai Mountain – Our first of three mountains. We walked up the stairs, enjoying the people we met along the way. Spiritually very moving.
    - Mt. Emei - Just walking around the hotel grounds and up the mountain trails was one of the highlights of our trip. The hotel was best of the whole trip. But we liked the Yellow Mountain more.
    - Huangshan – We enjoyed the town and it’s there that we bought our most treasured souvenir – an antique (?) pair of one-and-a-half meters high herons standing on a base which is a combination of a turtle and a dragon. (I guess that doesn’t tell you how beautify they are – please take our work for it…)
    - Shanghai – Extraordinary city. But a bit of an anti-climax for those who have seen Beijing.
    What we liked least: We have also been asking ourselves – what would we suggest to our friend that he could miss seeing.
    - the Hutongs: We saw residential areas in other cities that were much more interesting.
    - Leshan Giant Buddha – impressive, but not a “must see” in a country with so many other marvels.
    Loose ends:
    - We saw several of what appeared to be nice fish restaurants near the Great Wall at Mutianyu section. I think we might have enjoyed a lunch at one of those, rather than the “packed lunch” provided by the guide.
    - Many of our friends warned us that we would not like the food. How wrong they were! We loved it. We didn’t even take advantage of the “western breakfasts” offered by most of the hotels we stayed at.
    I am afraid that we have bored you to tears. I hope that some of our comments may be of some use to you in serving other customers.
    Hoping this letter finds you well - and fully recovered from your accident,
    with our best regards and our wishes for your continuing success - and, as we say in Venezuela, con un fuerte abrazo, nos despedimos
    Robert and Ruth Bottome