A great trip taking in the highlights of China with time to relax on the Yangtze cruise and in Yangshuo. We didn't spend hours in airports waiting for flights (as many other trips do) although we spent long hours on overnight trains. There were only 8 of us but we all got on well and had a brilliant leader.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
The Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding at Chengdu - seeing the giant pandas eating/sleeping (the adults) or playing (the youngsters). The venue was very well laid out with lots of space for the many visitors. A good shop and post office.
The terracotta warriors at Xi'an were awesome, as was the Great Wall at Mutianyu.
The wonderful Karst scenery in Yangshuo.
- What did you think of your group leader?
William was fantastic. He imparted just the right amount of history, was a great organiser and took everything in his stride, particularly when changes had to be made due to train departures being brought forward and bad weather. He enjoyed his food so made sure that he, and we, always ate well in local inexpensive restaurants. When our Shanghai-Beijing flight got cancelled, due to bad weather, William was on hand to rearrange the flight. He was full of good tips - how much we should pay for shopping, laundry facilities (including arranging for the local guide in Emei, Patrick, to do all ours overnight). William knew everybody in all the places we visited. He always said "Follow William" - we did and had a great time.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
I totally endorse other reviews - don't take too much luggage. Most of the time, clothing and certainly undies dried overnight, in spite of the humidity. You'll need lots of space for the many items on offer. Our group started shopping in Beijing (we went to a shopping centre on our way back from Mutianyu) continued in Yangshuo and finished up in Shanghai; I'm not sure of the final tally of handbags we acquired!
Yangshuo - there are lots of options to spend the two days down time. We all took cycles out to the countryside, drifted down the Li River on rafts, cycled again to the Moon Hill. The cycles were in good condition and it was flat! I, and one other, did a cookery class with Peter (Meiwei cookery school) which was great fun; we started in the market (you don't want to know about some of the items on sale) then cooked some of the dishes we'd eaten in local restaurants. Do see the Impression Sanjie Liu show - by the man who created the Olympics Opening Ceremony at the Birds Nest Stadium.
The advice to take a sheet/silk sleeping bag was sound; take a pillow case as well! And do take an umbrella - apart from the rain in Beijing, it rained every afternoon in Yangshuo - short sharp rainfall but enough to get soaked.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
- Enjoy! It was a wonderful trip with a great leader and group.