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Miss. Yoko Yi
Nimen hao! Wo zai Guilin renshi nimen hen gaoxing!! (Chinese words for: Hello! Nice to meet you in Guilin!)
I had a wonderful trip to China! I very much am looking forward to returning for another visit, perhaps in 2008. Meanwhile, I will tell everyone I know/meet that China Odyssey Tours is an outstanding travel/tour agency. Please feel free to use my comments about your company in any way which you deem helpful to you. You may also include, if you would like, my EMAIL address in case any prospective clients want to talk to me about my experiences with COT. I assure you that everything I say will be positive!
All of your actions in setting up my trip were completely professional and extremely considerate of my special interests and desires with regard to itinerary, accommodations, etc. I could not have asked for more cooperative and effective and timely responses to all of my questions and requests.
During my travels in China, the Guides whom you provided were absolutely marvelous!!!! They were friendly, knowledgeable, professional, and flexible with regards to my ever-changing needs and preferences. All of the guides spoke English superbly well, but were also kind enough to allow me to speak some of my very poor Chinese (Putonghua) with them. My being able to speak some Chinese, however poorly, made my trip to China especially enjoyable. My guide Lu xiansheng (Chinese words for: Mr Lu) in Shanghai had a particularly impressive command of English coupled with a very fine sense of humor. Here he is at our small table where we had a great dumpling lunch:
Similarly, Chen Xiaojie (Chinese words for: Miss Chen) in Guilin also spoke English extremely well and seemed to understand most of my weak attempts at humor, whether in English or in Chinese....at least she smiled and laughed as if she understood my humor! :)
All of the guides were unbelievably punctual, in fact on most occasions they were at the hotel lobbies in the morning 15-30 minutes before our scheduled meeting times! All in all, Chen xiaojie was the best of all the guides whom you provided for me...but the others were not very far behind her.
In Beijing, Ting xiaojie (Chinese words for: Miss Ting) and my driver Chu xiansheng (Chinese words for: Mr Chu) were also very capable and very friendly.
The hotel accommodations were excellent and met my requirements quite nicely. The only exception to that is that the China East hotel in Shanghai was a bit far away from the area I would like to have been near...the Bund or OldTown. Of course, for anyone traveling by train, it would have been perfectly located, immediately adjacent to the Shanghai Train Station. The most luxurious of my hotels was the Bamboo grove in Suzhou....full of laowai though...mostly American businessmen!!!!! YUCK! As you'll see below, I took a few hours after my explorations of the nearby Suzhou neighborhood to sing a few songs with the lounge singers at the Bamboo Grove.
The Yangtze cruise aboard the "Snow Mountain" was perfect for me!!!! I was the only American on board, which was precisely what I wanted. A relatively small ship (104 passengers) I was able to become more familiar/friendly with the crew(and they with me) than on a larger ship. All facilities on the ship were top notch!!! The crew were especially kind to me with regard to my being "allowed" to converse with them in Chinese. I found that the larger/higher rated hotels (and probably cruise ships, as well) were more "insistent" on carrying out their business in English, even when one attempted to speak Chinese with them. This was particularly noticeable(and frustrating to me) in Shanghai. In any event, the SnowMountain was an excellent choice. Ohh, by the way, I Did get to enjoy having a Single cabin on the Snow mountain, for free...mian fei...no upgrade charge! Pretty good deal, huh!!!??? I think the fact that I boarded the ship five hours before any other passenger, and had the time to get to talk to and get to know some of the key crewmembers, helped make that free upgrade possible! :)
Here I am departing the Snow Mountain...saying goodbye to my dance partner Li Li from the previous night's show/party.
Virtually all the "normal" Chinese people I met during my trip (not associated with the tourist industry) were amazingly friendly and more than willing to let me try my Chinese language with them. That was true of this lovely Chinese family on the small boat trip up the Shennong Stream/Gorge:
The young boy spoke some English, and very well! Here he is, at my request, being "King of the World" (from the Titanic movie):
Again, thanks for everything, Yoko. I'll always have fond memories of China and the people I met there...
Yoko with Bruce in Guilin
The Guide in Shanghai
The Guide in Beijing
The boy on the Yangtze River Cruises
Bruce in Beijing