Personal Testimonials from 2005

From: Matthew Waugh
Sent: Tuesday, Dec 20, 2005 10:09 AM
Subject: RE: WAUGH - trip

Hi Chris
The trip has been great thus far. Ice fishing, huskie sledding, skiing at Mt Volchika and snowmobiling has been all great and you must recommend the next tourists to take a ride with 'Nikolai' the singing taxi driver organised by the tour co. in Eketerinberg.

From: stephen goble
Sent: Wednesday, Dec 14, 2005 7:27 AM
Subject: Trip!

Hi Chris!

Just a quick note to say what a great time i had on the Trans Mongolian! The two stops i did in UB and Irkutsk were fantastic and both the homestays with Rita and Olga were superb, especially the food, which was heavenly compared to the sort of stuff i'd been eating on the train as i'm sure you're well aware of!!

Steve Goble

From: Matt Meyer
Sent: Saturday, Nov 19, 2005 7:39 AM
Subject: Updates for infopack

Hi, Matt Mayer here, I travelled on train 3 in late September/early November. A big thank you for your help, everything ran very smoothly! Here are my collated notes on the infopack: corrections, comments and additions! Sorry it's a bit long.

The temperatures page (near the front of the book) has the old Beijing office address.
p3 - Shengen should be Schengen.

I also recommend the Jade Buddha Temple for a visit. Also has a good veg restaurant.
Can buy prepaid public transport cards which work on metro, buses, trams and even taxis. A single metro ride is 3-6y.
Must see the Bund in the evening, magnificent view!

p37 - Forbidden City is 60y, audio tour is 40y and very good. Lama Temple is 30y.
p37 - Temple of Heaven, it's should be its (sorry!)
Food: I like Megabite in the basement of Oriental Plaza (metro Wangfunjing), you buy a prepaid card and point at what you want, it's cooked on the spot

You get free lunch/dinner tokens for day 1 in the Chinese dining car, but the food is pretty insipid... bit of rice and gristly meat.
There's a duty free shop at Erlian on the China/Mongolian border
The Mongolian dining car (which rocks) also accepted Roubles. It's only open for a few hours after leaving Ulaan Batoor though. Main courses were 3000-5500tugruks.

Metro: 1 trip is now 13 roubles, 5 trips 60 roubles, 10 trips 105 roubles (pages 92,93,101)
p101 - Most of these prices seem to have increased 50-100%
p100 - Time Online is 40-80Rb/hour depending on time of day
The Stoleshniko cybercafe is shut, but there's a new one nearby called NetCity at 5/6 Kamergersky Per, M:Teatralnaya.
p103 - Red Square restaurant is repeated in text
Also recommend 'Buffet' at 10/2 Taganskaya Pl, Metro:Taganskaya. Felt quite upmarket but reasonable prices. Euro/Italian food, has a wood-fired pizza oven.

The AST Hof hotel breakfast is excellent! Laundry service and safety deposit boxes are way overpriced I thought though. (cheaper to buy new socks than get mine washed!)

Second class also includes breakfast (a rather good one)

p126 suggests there are ferries from St P, no longer true
p111 - Bloog should be Blood.
p115 St Issacs is 250r for museum (ie inside church) and 150r for collonade (ie climbing up to dome)
Peter's Tours do very good walking tours, guided pub crawls. Departures daily from Quo Vadis cafe or International Hostel.
Dacha cafe (on a side street off Nevskiy Prospect, I forgot to check the address) is a lively bar with music from 60s-moden rock and table football/foosball.

p120 - To avoid passing through Belarus, easiest way is to take train to Vilnius then bus to Warsaw or Berlin
p122/117 suggest you need a visa for the Baltics which is no longer the case for most travellers.

Best place to stay is Nathan's Villa Hostel - : no curfew, no lockout, free laundry, free internet etc.

Both of these pages need to be updated to Euros (but I didn't go to either :))

That's all folks, hope it helps!


From: Nicola Belfield
Sent: Tuesday, Nov 08, 2005 9:19 PM
Subject: thank you

Hi Chris,
Many thanks for your prompt and helpful reply. We have been very impressed with the service we received from 'Monkey Business'. If at any time you need
a customer reference for total satisfaction of service we would be more than please to furnish it.
Thanks again
two highly satisfied customers
Nicola & Roy

From: Nicola Belfield
Sent: Monday, Nov 07, 2005 8:46 AM
Subject: receipt


We travelled on the Trasiberian using your company this summer from St Petersburg to Beijing and had a really terrific time.

We are now working in China on pitifully low Chinese wages but our employer may refund some of our travel costs for getting to China if we can produce

From: Helen Edwards
Date: 28-10-2005 02:14 pm

Hi kelvin

We are home again after a fantastic trip of 2 months, the first part of which was on the Trans-Mongolian train. we were impressed with your company and its organisation and will recommend it to others. thanks again.

Helen Edwards

From: Charlotte Rance
Sent: Friday, Oct 28, 2005 5:18 AM
Subject: I made it home

Hi Chris,

I made it back home and I just wanted to say thank you. Kirsty and I had a fantastic time on the whole! It really was the trip of a lifetime. The homestays we did were fantastic, especially Nadia in Ekaterinburg (if there is any way you can get this passed on to her please do) and the trips we did were all great. (Big thank you to your MoMo's for the KGB tour!!!!!)

I must say that Olkhon Island was my highlight - we didn't really do much but it was fantastically relaxing.........................oh to be back there again!! Also Marian and Rob (the couple Kirsty and I did the first two trips with) were really lovely people - they are also life long friends now so thank you!!

We did get really quite ill between Ulanbator and Irkutsk though, wasn't so bad until we were stuck at the mongolia russia border for 13 HOURS!!!!!! (if this is some kind of record please let us know) anyway - the highs and the lows!!

So there it is - thank you, I had a wonderful time and will certainly recommend you to everyone I know.


From: Tony Castley
Sent: Tuesday, Oct 18, 2005 8:30 AM
Subject: Att Chris- re SRA trip

Dear Chris,

We finally got back home and them after a Rotary 4 day convention in Canberra, I'm finally back home and catching up.

Firstly we would all like to thank you very much for the excellent way in which you organised much of our trip and helped to make it so smooth and enjoyable.

It was an incredible trip, and we are still shaking our heads saying Wow!

From: Lesley Wilkins
Sent: Saturday, Oct 08, 2005 5:34 PM
Subject: Re: WILKINS - Feedback

Hi again, I have a couple of updates for your fantastic manual. (By the way, just about everyone in the whole carriage used my copy for checking different things about the train, trips etc, all thought it great!)

The cost of the boat trip back from the Lunch in the Weekend Retreat, on the walk around Lake Baikal from Bolshoe Goloustnoe, expect to pay 600 Roubles. I think it is different if there are more people, but I was on my own and didn't take enough roubles, so we walked back. Also, if the lake is just a bit rough, the boat doesn't pick you up. However the 16km is
worth it - the weather for me was great and the view superb.

The timetable for the number 20 returning from Irkutsk to Beijing must have changed, as all times quoted seem to be incorrect now except for the arrival in Beijing
at 0520! That's taking Moscow time, Beijing time, Daylights savings time, and all into account. I copied down the timetable that is actually in the corridor of the train, if you'd like me to send it to you.

If possible, could I have an address for the guides in Ulan-Bator (Undraa with Shuren) and Irkutsk/Lake Baikal (Elena with Ecce I think?), as I would like to
send them something small. I have Elena's email address and will send her a couple of photos.

Thanks again and best wishes

From: Andy McFarlane
Sent: 19 September 2005 18:20
Subject: Big Thank you

Hi Guys,

This is Andy McFarlane. You have been handling my travel arrangements for my Trans-Mongolian trip with MonkeyShrine.

I would like to say a big thank you for your services and like to give praise to Lena (may be spelt wrong sorry) who met me on arrival in Moscow and provided an excellent walking tour of the Kremlin.

I would also like to say a big Thank You to the lady (sorry don't know your name) I disturbed late Saturday night with a slight transfer problem. She really took the problem on board and even at the late hour got things sorted. Sometimes it is not until things go wrong that you can truly appreciate how good a company can be.

I can't say enough how happy I am with the service provided and I hope I will have the opportunity in the future to book further travel options with you guys. I will have no hesitation in
recommending your services to others.

Best wishes for the future.

Kind Regards
Andy McFarlane

From: mili
Sent: Friday, Sep 09, 2005 8:44 AM
Subject: Trip Feedback

Dear Andy,

Thanks again for helping us organise the Trans Mongolian railway trip. We thought it would be a good idea to give you our feedback of the trip. In all, we had a great time and really enjoyed the experience. My only overall complaint would be that my request for vegetarian food had not been passed along to all relevant parties, especially in Russia, where I got served lamb chops and sausages among other things!

From: Sarah Bergman
Sent: Thursday, Sep 08, 2005 11:17 AM
Subject: TransZip

Dear Andy,

The Trans-Siberian trip I took with Monkey Shrine ended up being overall wonderful. I don't believe I emailed you with my feedback, but I wanted you to know you did great planning and we had an amazing trip.

From: Ruth Malloy
Sent: Wednesday, Sep 07, 2005 5:05 AM
Subject: Collecting footwear in Mongolia

Hi Chris, You asked me to let you know how our collecting footwear in Mongolia turned out. We had a fantastic time. Undraa our guide was amazing. She got us an introduction to the curator of ethnic costumes at the museum where I was able to buy one pair. She took us to antique stores and the flea market.but alas we couldn't get anything there. We knocked on the doors of gers in the Khanuy Valley and got three pairs there. Through friends in U.B., we got two more pairs so we were happy. But it was just the tip of the ice berg and I hope to go back next summer -- if I can get some money.

Many thanks for your help.

Sent: Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 9:36 AM
p.s Hi Chris, I thought you would be interested in this mention of Monkey in the Globe and Mail in Toronto.

From: Anthony Cross
Sent: Monday, Sep 05, 2005 6:42 AM
Subject: RE: CROSS x2 - Vladivostok

Thanks for getting back to me; in fact just before I was about to check my emails this morning, the guide called us, and within half-an-hour she'd come to collect us - and proceeded to give us a very informative tour of Vladivostok (passing by the European architecture, beer guzzling students and an incident where some guys head was being pinned down on the bonnet of a car by the local maffia or whoever it was) - so all's well that ends well. Wasn't expecting the city to be situated in such gorgeous surroundings, so that's a bonus.


From: Carol Hurn
Sent: 25 August 2005 20:04
Subject: RE: HURN

Dear Chris,

One final post script on our voyage. We made it home in five weeks completely by train!

The transmongolian was fantastic but I didn't really take enough photos! Only five hundred still didn't do it justice. We particluarly liked Mongolia and would go again in a flash. We have been recommending your company to all our friends - the organisation was supurb, it felt like our own guided tour of the East.

If anyone wants a personal reference the homestay at Lake Baikal was great - lots of lovely food and a great Banya! (Sauna) All the guides were extremely helpful and pleasant. For anyone traveling ihn Europe as we did we would recommend German Bundesbahn online - which was also quick and efficient.

Thanks, Carol Hurn

From: karen allen
Sent: Friday, Aug 19, 2005 9:03 PM
To: MonkeyChina
Subject: trip

Dear Chris,

I have had a wonderful holiday through Russia and Mongolia. Thank you for making it all possible and for making it all so easy and trouble free. Every bit of the travel was
interesting and memorable and terrific. I am impressed by your efficiency, patience and organizational skills.
Thanks again,

Karen S. Allen

From: Linda J. Heidenreich
Sent: Thursday, Aug 18, 2005 7:44 AM
Subject: Re: ALLEN / HEIDENREICH : info

Hello Chris,
I am still slightly suffering from jetlag but I wanted to send an email to thank you for a most incredible and enjoyable tour package of two. We were not once left standing on the platform waiting for the mysterious guide and our local guides and homestays reflected the professionalism that seems to be your company's trademark. Everyone treated us so kindly and attentively that I return to my own land with a reinforced vision of the universality of human nature.
It was a refreshing, exciting, inexpensive, and exotic journey. Everyplace we visited and stayed was special from Tamara's wooden house in the village at Lake Baikal with guide Lyda; with guide Svetlana to the Buddhist temples and lunch in the yert around Ulan Ude, while staying in the apartment of the attentive Alexander; to the ger camp in the Gobi with the
most exceptional Mongolian guide Stengel and staff who lavished us with all the amenities. It makes one appreciate the joy of life on our incredible planet Earth!
Thank you for all your time and effort in your search for our own personal tour,
Linda Heidenreich
Jerome, Arizona

From: Anne-Marie Cervin
Sent: Wednesday, Aug 10, 2005 9:13 AM
Subject: Re: feedback

Anne-Marie Cervin and her group at Beijing Main Station
Hello Andy

we had a great Trans Sib trip thank you.

Only disappointment was no specific Trans Sib souvenirs! I think you were out of T shirts or caps and gave us CDs - this was a disappointment especially after completing the trip and seeing nothing else Trans Sib specific.

So I was just wondering if you now have Tshirts or caps available now as some of us would be keen still to obtain such items.

Best wishes
Anne-Marie Cervin

From: Vladimir Rabinson
Sent: Monday, Aug 01, 2005 9:59 AM
Subject: address of travellers

Hi Robert and David,

We have had this e-mail from someone you met on your trip who wants to contact you. As we never give out personal info I leave it up to you to contact this person or not.

Best regards,

>>Hello dear Monkey Business,

My name is Vladimir, I live in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
I'd like to ask you the e-mail address of two guys from England who were travelling with your company. On the 2nd of June this year my friends and me have met those two guys (Robert and David, about 23-25 years old, both studied medicine in Southhampton, England and then living in Australia several weeks or even months, I know that they had homestay in Ekaterinburg). We really enjoyed our time together, but didn't have a chance to change e-mail addresses (a little bit too much beer and vodka) and on the next day they left on the train. Would you please let me have their e-mail address or just say hello to them from Vladimir, Andrey, Marat and Denis from Ekaterinburg so then they can answer me

thank you in advance for your help,

From: Pierre Beeckmans
Sent: Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 12:13 PM
Subject: BEECKMANS trip

Dear Chris:

Our trip was deemed a success. Not without incident, of course, but still a success. I believe you invited comment, so here goes:

It is worth emphasizing the fact that US dollars must be post 1996. It is mentioned on page 51 of your book but it should be highlighted as many travellers are surprised by the rejection of their bills and it can make things very awkward if alternative sources of funds are not available.

We had booked two compartments, i.e 8 berths, for the five of us on the initial train . In the middle of the night the porter tried to introduce additional passengers on the empty berths and we had to defend ourselves vigorously. I wonder if this is a common occurrence. Eventually the porter ladies gave up their own space. We felt badly although it was not our fault.

In St. Petersburg the New Moon Cafe shown on the map near the hotel could not be found. However, a restaurant by the canal across from the subway station ( on the hotel side of the road underpass) was quite satisfactory. The menu had English translations with headings such as "Cold Shacks" and "First Messes" (Main Courses).

The food in Mongolia, Irkutsk and Moscow was fine. Dinner at the ATF Hof hotel was one of the best meals of the whole trip. Their breakfast was also very good. The only disappointment was breakfast at the Viborgskaia Hotel. Other West-European and North-American tourists were obviously similarly dissatisfied. Nothing we tried was really first rate. We did not try the liver stew. As for the dining car on the Irkutsk to Moscow train... my advice is stick to the soups, if they have any. The rest was pitiful.

Our guide in Moscow was absolutely first-rate. (Lena?) She took us on a walking tour of the old town and I paid her in US dollars. It occurred to me later that the fifty dollar bill may have been one of those rejected by the money changers. I would hate to leave her short-changed if she is unable to change that bill into roubles. Would you please enquire and if that bill is indeed useless to her I would want to take steps to pay her what she most definitely earned.


Pierre Beeckmans

From: Sara Olson
Sent: Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 9:04 PM
Subject: thank you!


Here we are with one last email to you, but not with any logistical questions, only to thank you for organizing our wonderful trip. We truly had a most lovely time and am thankful for the way you created a truly unique experience across the continent(s). We were able to meet people and see things- and most importantly hear amazing stories- while creating a few of our own. Everything was so smooth and easy, the accomodations fabulous and the people just brilliant and kind who taught us so much with their hospitality and wisdom and lives. I admit I was a bit teary after leaving the Elstei ger camp- they were so good to us.

Thanks again for all of your help, and for creating an experience that
I will always be grateful for.


From: Helmut Grossmann
Date: 13-07-05 2:39 am
Subject: I am back

Hi kelvin,
I am back from travel and want to thank you again and want to report a bit. Your brochure is a vital need for the travel esp. with the improved city and subway map on Moskau.
Mongolia was great!
On train 5 (the traders train, which i really enjoyed) from Ulaanbaatar on we had no hot water in the toilets, because it was already summer in early June I got told. But the water was still freezing cold, too cold for a hair wash.
On the Russian train its better to have a basin plug with you, to mix the cold with hot water from the samovar. But for that you need to have 2 containers! Because of nighttime on both border crossings there was no possibility to change any money on the platforms; esp. to get rid of left "tugruk" the next morning after we had been in Russia was impossible and no way to obtain any Ruble money. Little could be done in the dining car also. Maggi's moved already to Ritan Park



From: emer doody
Sent: Tuesday, Jun 14, 2005 2:39 AM
Subject: RE: DOODY: info

Hi Guys
My name is Emer Doody. Just wanted to drop ye a quick line to say thanks so much for all of your help. We appreciated your help with our queries re getting the Russian visa from Mongolia. There was no problem with it, but we did have to purchase their health insurance as our worldwide insurance was deemed not good enough!

Also, youre probably aware of pick pockets etc on the train, and i dont know if this scam is old or new, but within five minutes of finding our carriage onboard, a Mongolian man came into our cabin, claimed his bed, and said he was only going to be on the train until the following day. He disappeared five minutes later, and while my bag was around my shoulder the entire time,
he somehow managed to make off with my wallet and a digital camera. Im not sure if he really had a ticket, but his bed did remain unoccupied for the next 24 hours. Just thought ye might warn those that are travelling with your company. While only money was taken, because the train was about to take off, a policeman only took my name and passport number, so i couldnt
get a declaration form for my insurance company. Also, within 24 hours of leaving UB, the lady who was attending our carriage somehow "mistook" all our food for rubbish and threw it off the train (as you do. The bags were full of apples, litres of water, jar of coffee etc. Youd want to be eating non stop to get rubbish bags that heavy!). All in all a great trip, but for anyone else doing it ill be warning them to store their food and to trust no one!!
Thanks again for everything.

From: Stephen Geurts
Sent: Friday, Jun 03, 2005 5:25 AM
Subject: Re:Info-Pack Updates

Hello Monkey Boys or Girls,
My name is Stephen Geurts, and I took the train through you from Peking to Moscow back in December last year, and you asked if any updates could be mailed, to try. Well, I'm finally home from that trip and here are the updates from the pack I found.

The AST hotel now has an ATM machine, which helps for any initial cash problems right off the train.

The subway cost in Moscow would be well listed, and the combination tickets available where you can buy block rides as well.

The AST hotel has leaflets available for nightlife, though I know listing it could be a problem since they could change that quickly. It's helpful though.

The new culture map of Moscow is extremely easy to read. You may want to replace the old map with this version for simplicity.

List the new tourist guide fee at the Kremlin. You have to buy your ticket AND have to have a guide for additional. They'll negotiate a little and are better in groups from what we learned from them.

The 'Time Online' internet cafe by the Kremlin is still a good standard, but the prices have risen compared to the book and are based on what time of the day you go. Maybe have one of the 'momo's' take a quick walk down to check them for sure since I can't remember entirely. I think it was 30 rubles, 65
rubles and 75 rubles depending on the time.

And that's all I have written in my book. Thanks for the trip. The time was fantastic and flew by between the man smuggling silver bars, the ex-tank commanders and dressing up as a Baboushka.

Attach the baboushka picture [B:\Monkey\New web\photos\babouska.jpg]
I'm the one on the front right. Julian Cheatle, another monkey traveller, is behind me. The girl on the front left was travelling home to her parents for new years and the last two are Germans who had a cottage in Russia. Odd, I know. And why where they travelling from Beijing? I never asked.

Stephen Geurts