China Travel Agency - Discovery Your Way! (Since 1959)
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Dear Eva,
There were so many memorable attractions but the most memorable for me, Deborah, was the city of Lhasa, Tibet. Lhasa was one of those places that clings to my memory as a authentic people in a very unique situation. The pictures of the people of Tibet and how they dress and the customs were exactly how they look and live daily 24/7 as we have seen throughout our studies of your country and it's people.All of the tour guides that you had lined up for us, with the exception of the guide that picked us up from the ship, Victoria, to take us to the train, were very good. That guide, that we never knew his name as we were with him for just a couple of hours at most, didn't speak hardly any English, but he did take us to a supermarket to buy snacks for the train which we greatly appreciated! Our guide in Lhasa, Tsewang, was a genuine, caring Tibetan who cared so much about our every need. Fred arrived sick in Tibet from dissentary and was in bed most of 2 days. Tsewang was very very concerned and kept checking on him and went out of his way to rework our schedual so Fred could see the most important places once he felt better. Tsewang, although, didn't understand, evidently, that we wanted desperately to purchase 4 soft sleepers on the train back to Beijing. We had requested from the beginning through Eva Wang that we wanted to have one entire compartment to ourselves as we have done in many other countries, knowing that we would have to pay an extra cost for 2 extra beds. Eva informed us that that would have to be taken care of by our guide once in Tibet since the train tickets could not be purchased until 2 days before departure. We expressed to Tsewang several times before the purchase and after the purchase of the tickets that we wanted 4 soft sleepers taking an entire compartment. Tsewang always reconfirmed - oh yes - these are tickets for 4. We had noticed many times during our stay in Lhasa that he periodically would not understand what we would ask or comment on, which was ok and, understandable. Getting on that train and NOT having a 4 bed compartment turned our train ride into a nightmare of having 2 men that would change from time to time as the train would stop and one would get off and another "roommate" would arrive. This was, in our minds, not acceptable and was a huge mistake. All that being said, our best tour guides were Romi, in Chongqing, City, in Xian and Allen, in Beijing. They all 3 knew English very very well. They all knew so much about their cities and sites and culture and they all went out of their way to help us in any way they could. Allen seemed to have an passion about his city and his country maybe a bit more but they were all outstanding. That goes for Tsewang also, except for the train mishap! We really enjoyed all the hotels. The Shangbala in Tibet had a few issues like the shower was barely a trikle, but the location more than made up for everything! Probably the Guangzhou in Beijing was the best overall: good location, a good breakfast buffet, and a great staff! The hotels had a very irritating protocal when checking out. They would send someone up to the room to check and count every little object in the room before the checking out would be completed. At the Shangbala Hotel they actually accused us of taking an ashtray and charged us for it! Although the charge was minimal it is a VERY irritating way to end the stay. Fred went to check out of the Guangzhou Hotel in Beijing to get off to our flight back to the US while I was up in the room showering and a non-English speaking guy knocked on the door and basically stood in the room while I finished getting dressed and packed! Once we were gone he evidently counted and checked EVERY little thing in the room so we could officially be checked out. My suggestion would be that if the hotels are getting ripped off that much they should raise their rates a few dollars and not embarrass their occupants and themselves by going through such a protocal. China is the only place in all of our travels that did such a thing. Everything we did was just amazing. We would suggest taking Cipro medication at the very onset of a stomach virus! Fred entered Tibet with a terrible stomach problem that was a result of our final meal in Xian and he missed the first couple of days in Tibet.
Ballard


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