A lot of this vast impressive country is packed into the 19 days on the ground. As an overview of the country visiting many of the main sites with smaller ones besides I think Exodus and Dragon our excellent leader have achieved their aims .
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Most people cannot pick just one.
The Obvious :- Beijing and the Forbidden City- Great Wall- Xi'an- Terracotta Warriors and museum- Pandas ( not forgetting the Red Pandas too )- Yangtse - Mt Emei- Karst country- Tongli- Shanghai Bund
Less Obvious :- Cycling the 13.7 km of the Xi'an city walls and looking down on a school choir giving a concert in the playgound- Cycling into the country at Yangshuo and the farmer's wife cooking us lunch- Being approached by students in Yangshuo to practise their English - Eating Sichuan hotpot in a local restaurant where we were the only westerners and the object of much curiosity- 'Calvin Klein' the vendor in Yangshuo ( only the 8th Oct group will get this one ! )- just meeting the locals with a smile.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Dragon was one of the best leaders I have encountered in years of travelling. I think he read history at University and he was passionate about the history of his country past and present . He was so informative about life in China nowadays and during the lifetime of his parents under Mao, that his stories and anecdotes made the trip for me. I was speaking to an English couple on the boat who were with a large mainstream UK operator and were getting none of this.They were quite envious of our relationship with Dragon.
He was endlessly patient, ever helpful ,well organized and above all a thoroughly nice person .
We wish him well for his forthcoming wedding.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Dragon's informative handout at the start of the trip told us to embrace '' T I C ''
THIS IS CHINA ie ignore the pushing in, the smoking, the spitting, the crazy traffic , car horns, some of the toilets etc etc. After all this is only 3 weeks out of your life to enjoy a wonderful country so just remember TIC .
If you want 5 star luxury, can't embrace TIC and go with the flow, then this trip is not for you.
Pack lightly because there are many occasions when you have to carry your bag up stairs and through crowded stations. There is also limited space for the more corpulent cases under the bunks on the trains.
You may wish to bring a light sleeping bag liner and pillow case for the third and oldest sleeper train . . . although if you remember TIC, it was fun and part of the experience. Dont forget your pot noodles as all trains come with hot water boilers.
The suggested £400 spend is light. I spent around £550/600 but I suppose it does depend on how much beer you drink.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
I had a memorable time and would happily visit China again if Exodus want to sponsor me as Devon's Ambassador to China.
Only regret . . . . I didn't buy a Chairman Mao watch at a knock-down £3 from Calvin ! !