My name is Shelly Qin.
I am an optimistic and warm-herated girl working and living in Guilin, a small city famous for gorgeous landscape.
I am proud to be a member of the China Odyssey Tours as I do not feel alone with my team. It will be my great honor to help you to design an unforgettable China trip!
I am waiting for you! China always welcomes you!
July 23rd, 2015
July 16th, 2013
Hi Shelly, I have added more to the notes I have already sent you and *** them so you will know they are there. Perhaps you should forgot the previous notes and just use these? I am sorry it is so long!! It is a bit like reading a book and it is still not finished!!!
I have tried to be honest about everything and although there are things that we weren’t happy about, none of which you are responsible for, overall it was a very enjoyable experience and, as we have said before, we would recommend you and C.O.T. without any hesitation. It was all part of our China experience! When I finish my review with Beijing, I will summarise the whole trip for you and give some ratings on guides etc.
Day 1 – Friday 19, April 13 – our plane flight from Shanghai was on a new plane, it was a good flight, comfortable and the food was o.k. too. On arrival, we were met by Susan, who was a pleasant guide, very good and also knowledgeable. Our driver, Mr. Wey (? spelling?) was also very nice and drove well on all our trips. One thing I did find surprising was that he, and the other drivers later on, never came in to help with our luggage, though the guides usually did, as did Susan with my bag at the airport. He did, of course, load it all into his vehicle. We had a very nice large roomy comfortable air-conditioned van which gave us a good view point because we were higher up than in a car. Because of it’s size, we always had enough room and it was easy to get in and out of. A nice touch was to be given bottled water whenever we were in the van, even as soon as we first arrived.
The Reed Flute Cave was wonderful. We were amazed at how big the caverns were and how beautiful. We very much enjoyed our visit. The only thing that I was a little disappointed about was some small coloured bottles of oil I purchased in the shop there, with Susan’s help. They were not expensive as such, but, when we went to Yangzhou, I would have been able to buy them much cheaper there in the market place. I felt that Susan would know this and could have advised me accordingly.
Our room at Guilin Park Hotel was good. Well set up. Clean, with air-conditioning. Unfortunately, the air-conditioning was not cold enough for us most of the time. We did notice in China that Chinese people generally like temperatures warmer than we do. Even in your planes, the temperature was warmer than we were used to. Nice view of the swimming pool and surrounding area from our room. Breakfast was good, though mostly geared toward Chinese tastes. Staff were all pleasant. The bed was a good size but we found it very hard. One other thing we noticed in your hotels, was that there is never a top sheet provided for the bed. At home and in our hotels in Australia, we have our bottom sheet on the mattress, followed by a flat sheet on top, followed by the blanket or doona. We sleep between the top and bottom sheet. We were unable to have this in most of our hotels. No one seemed to be able to understand what it was we wanted. Most Australians would also prefer this I think. Not a big problem though.
***It is a large hotel geared to the tourist trade and had many tour groups in whilst we were there. The Buffet breakfast was more Chinese than Western (we do understand that is how it should be as we were after all in China), though we found plenty that we could eat. We noted that many guides and drivers also ate there. It was a very big dining room with many guests.
Day 2 – Saturday 20 April - Our trip to Longshen was interesting and enjoyable to view your countryside. The village and the rice terraces were stunning, we loved it all. The women were very funny in the shopping area trying to get Henry to buy a blanket and he did buy one and we also purchased a few other small items. I will send you some photos from there. The Minority women are very interesting, lovely, friendly and so happy and we were pleased to see them, although when you suggested them, we didn’t think it would be as interesting as it was. We did not see any bamboo lifts, which would have been interesting, even though we didn’t need one. It was a very misty day, however, so the terraces weren’t as visible as we would have liked. We still took many lovely photos. Lunch in the local house was quite good too.
***Extra information on Longshen – We found the walk from the foot of the village, up to the village, was quite easy to walk. Once we reached the village, it became more difficult and we had to be careful as it is very steep in parts and very uneven most times. We loved the village and the way it meandered around and the uneven ground, even though we had to be careful, and the narrow paths and the beautiful old buildings. As previously mentioned, it was misty and therefore quite cool weather but we were prepared. The views were stunning and well worth the drive and the walk. We would love to go there when the sun is out and see it all spread out before us. Maybe another time!
***That evening, Susan took us to a local restaurant. Menus were printed in English although most diners were Chinese. Unfortunately, not a great experience. We ordered spring rolls that never came. Susan queried where they were and then told us they were taking a long time because they had to roll the spring rolls up, which surprised us. When the dish came after a very long time, it wasn’t spring rolls at all, so the explanation made no sense. The staff were not happy but took the dish back and we didn’t have to pay for it. One of our main dishes was ordered as Pork Belly. When this particular dish arrived, whether it was pork belly or not we are not sure, but apart from the meat, it had many pieces of Li River fish with bones as well. We do not have bones in our fish dishes in Australia, unless we order a whole fish, and were unprepared for this and not happy and did not enjoy the meal. When Susan ordered for us, in Chinese, we thought she mentioned Li River fish, but did not know why. We suggested Susan order something for herself, but she said there was enough food for us all. We did not know the protocol for guides eating with us and whether we were expected to pay.
Day 3 – Sunday 21st April – Li River Cruise – Susan and Mr. Wey picked us up at the hotel to drive us to the Zhujiang Pier for our cruise. Once again, it was a very misty day and the scenery was amazing. We saw water buffaloes, stunning peaks and vistas all around us. We saw many interesting things on the cruise and took tons of photos. Once again, it would have been lovely if we had a clear day but the misty photos also turned out to be beautiful. Personally, I found the tip a little longer than I preferred but that is how long it takes to get to Yangzhou on the cruise. The buffet was o.k. It was very funny to see so many boats on the river all going to the same place. I think Susan said there is about 100 boats each day carrying about 180 people on board each! Incredible! They all dock one after the other, making it very crowded. When we arrived at Yangzhou, the market where you disembark from the boat and the West Street, were very busy and crowded. We had some funny times with people trying to sell us souvenirs. Everyone trying to outdo the other shop holder with lower prices. We are not used to being pursued by shop keepers when we decided against a purchase. Sometimes it was funny, other times a bit annoying. All part of the China Experience! We made a few purchases and were happy with them.
Yangzhou town was interesting but very noisy and busy. We were glad we were not staying in the town. We were a bit worried that we would be too far out of town but we need not have worried. There was a bit of a mix up with our transport to get to the hotel which was confusing. The trip out to The Tea Cozy was very interesting. The Tea Cozy was the only place we saw that had a large garden. It was perfect. Tranquil. The most beautiful surroundings and the hotel was gorgeous outside and inside. The garden with the stream and pond, flowers and trees and the way it was set up, was just perfect and just what we had wanted. We would recommend it to anyone. The people working there were unfailingly helpful and polite and pleasant and generally had very good English. It was cosy and was not cramped. Our room was on the top floor overlooking the garden, the river and the paddy fields. Lovely the way it was set up, comfortable bed, lovely traditional style furnishing, large room. The only downside was that it was five floors up and you had to walk that distance every time you went down to the garden/restaurant or out of the building. We didn’t mind too much, the room and view were worth it. The only thing that was concerning, was that there was no fire escape. If they had a fire in the stairwell, people wouldn’t be able to escape from the building. There was a return trip shuttle bus provided several times a day to go into Yangzhou by the staff and that was terrific.
The local farmer’s house was very interesting and we loved the family there. We have some lovely photos with them and will send you some of those too. I thought Susan said their house was 60 years old but I think I must have heard it incorrectly. Maybe 160? Shelly, could you please advise me of the house’s age. Susan was very helpful and informative.
The tour in the golf cart that Susan took us on was disappointing in that it was an old cart driven by a young woman who had no interest in us. It was like the whole thing was just something that had to be done. We didn’t feel Susan was too keen on it either and was something that had to be done. We didn’t really get to see a lot, though we did enjoy what we did get to see. At the end of the trip, we were expected to tip the driver, which we weren’t happy about as we felt we had already paid for this trip.
Susan arranged for us to go to the Liusanjie impression Show, through the staff at the Tea Cozy. It was not a very good experience for us. One other lady from our hotel also went with us. Her friend was also booked to go but was sick and couldn’t attend. So, the three of us were driven to the show. Incredible number of vehicles all going to the same place. People every where. We paid a small amount of money extra because the standard seats were all booked up. That was o.k. We waited about 10-15 minutes for the guide at the show to turn up, not really knowing what was happening. When the guide came, he did not speak English much at all. He was very hurried. He took the three of us into the show area. He sent the other lady off by herself, which wasn’t very satisfactory for her. We arranged to meet up at the end of the show so we would be together. The guide took Henry and I into the seating area. He directed us to the middle of one very long row of seats, which had no one sitting in them. Just about the whole row was empty. He directed me to sit in the middle of the row and then said Henry had to sit somewhere else! Henry refused to leave me. It was ridiculous as all the seats either side of me were empty. The guide wasn’t very happy and rang someone else. He eventually indicated that Henry could stay with me, but seemed to say it was our responsibility. It did not make for a good start to our night. The show itself was o.k. Parts of it were really good but it wasn’t really something we would normally go to see. It was, of course, our choice to go and see it so we are not blaming any one else. At the end, we left without any fuss and met up with the other lady and did not have to wait very long for our driver to take us back to the Tea Cozy.
Day 4 – Monday 22 April - We were very glad to have the extra day at the Tea Cozy, it was a most enjoyable stay. It was very interesting to see how people live and work. Things are very different to how we do things in our country. Some things we couldn’t get used to, others we liked. We enjoyed watching and taking photos of the rafting on the river, although we didn’t do it ourselves. We loved walking around the countryside and seeing the people in their daily routines. We found the people to be friendly and happy.
***Shelly – when we first arrived in Guilin, I suggested to Susan that we would love to meet you if that was possible. She replied that we probably wouldn’t have time and it was never mentioned again. So, I am sorry we didn’t get to meet whilst we were there.
Day 5 – Tuesday 23 April – Susan and Mr. Wey picked us up to go to the Guilin airport to fly to Xian. Our flight was delayed by two hours due to bad weather. Consequently, we arrived in Xian too late to go to the tombs that day. It was the only flight problem we had whilst in China, out of anyone’s control. We were met by Helen, who was by far the best guide we had in China. Her knowledge of her city is extensive and comprehensive. She was bright and happy, always concerned for our welfare and made sure we had everything we wanted and saw what we wanted to see. She told us many things about Xian on the drive from the Airport and was very interesting. She always had something to share with us about where we were going. She was with us every step of the way where ever we went. Our driver, Feng (?) was also bright and happy and looked after us well, although he spoke little or no English, which seems to apply to all your drivers. I do realise that they are not really supposed to converse with us. Not a problem as long as you have an English speaking guide. Once again, we had a large, comfortable, van with personal air-conditioning in the back for our comfort. We were also given as much bottled water as we required. This van, as was the one in Guilin, was not very old and of the high standard we expected for our trip.
The Mercure on Renmin 5 Star Hotel was quite nice. It’s position with the other hotels is unusual. Upon booking in, they offered us a bigger room that had two double beds rather than the King that was ordered. We accepted the bigger room. The accommodation was quite good. We have noticed that 5 Star accommodation, generally, in China is not quite to the same standard that we would find here, but was still quite good. The room was quite well set up and we had plenty of room. We had a buffet dinner the first night at the Azure restaurant of the
Sofitel Hotel. It had typical 5 star hotel restaurant prices, quite high, costing us approximately 1000 rmb for two buffet dinners and a bottle of Chilean wine. We did enjoy it though.
Day 6 – Wednesday 24 April – Xian – Helen and Feng picked us up to go to the Terracotta Warriors. It was a day with smog. Helen advised that there was an accident on the highway to the Warriors, so we went to the City Walls first. it was an interesting experience and we were able to see some Chinese people playing traditional instruments, at the bottom of the wall, from our viewpoint on the top. Lovely. Also kites being flown. Helen was an interesting and entertaining guide.
Terracotta Warriors – What an experience! Nothing really prepared us for how magnificent they were. We knew they were going to be good, but we were amazed. What an amazing find! We loved seeing the Warriors and everything else that was there. We went to the shop and were able to have our photo taken with the last remaining farmer who discovered the tomb and also purchased the book, detailing everything and had it signed by the farmer. As always, Helen was very well informed and happily shared her knowledge with us.
We went out to dinner that night at a Chinese restaurant with Helen, who returned to our hotel in the evening to take us to a restaurant. it was very nice.
Day 7 – Thursday 25 April – Xian
The Great Mosque – absolutely beautiful! We loved it and also Muslim Street was packed full of interesting things. Gao’s Courtyard was also fascinating and we particularly enjoyed the shadow puppets. Naturally, we purchased souvenirs!
Day 8 – Thursday 26th April - Hangyang Tombs – we were so glad we knew about these Tombs. They were unbelievable. It was wonderful to see that they are being so well preserved under glass and special lighting. It was a wonderful experience. Once again, Helen was excellent.
Unfortunately, it was then time to say goodbye to Helen and Feng and fly to Chongqing for our flight to join our Yangtze River Cruise. Everything about Xian was enjoyable.
Well, Shelly, will send this to you now and continue soon. Hope it is all worth waiting for! Hopefully photos will be coming soon too. If you have any queries about anything I have written, or don’t agree, please feel free to ask me any questions.
Enjoy your night.
May 16th, 2013
Our overall experience with China Odyssey Tours, through our Tour Organiser, Shelly, was excellent. Shelly organised our tour around everything we asked to see and more that she thought might interest us. We had private guides and drivers for our whole tour and would recommend this if you don’t wish to be with a big group. Our two week timetable co-ordinated five internal flights, without a hiccup apart from a weather hold-up, including hotel pick-ups to go to the Airports, then Airport pick-up and deliver and check-into our hotels. Shelly also co-ordinated our friends flying in from Shanghai, as we flew in from Guilin,for a cruise together on the Yangtze River.Our 14 day tour went from Shanghai to Guilin, Longshen, Yangshou, Xian, Yangtze River Cruise, Beijing, back to Shanghai.The only hiccup we had was in Beijing with the local office misunderstanding that we had specified no factory tours. When we contacted Shelly, it was dealt with efficiently and quickly, even though it washer day off and a long weekend. We mostly had air-conditioned vans, giving us good visibility and good leg room. Bottled water was provided every morning and more if needed. Thank you Shelly and also Helen, our Xian guide, we are sure the best in the business! Nothing was too much trouble for either of them. If we ever decide to return to amazing China, we will be in touch.