Personal Testimonials from 2006

_______________________________________
From: catherine lawrence
Sent: Tuesday, Oct 10, 2006 4:33 AM
Subject: Hi from Don Lawrence!

Hello Andy, Chris and Patrick,

I had a wonderful time on every day of my "Monkey" trip, and the following visit to Vienna and Slovenia. Highlights were Mongolia, Lake Backal and Moscow (especially the home stay folks). Thank you and I hope we will cross trails again.

Sincerely,

Don Lawrence

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From: Sarah Mastores
Sent: Saturday, Oct 07, 2006 11:25 PM
Subject: RE: MASTORES x2 - Booking

Andy, I just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed out TransZip and thanks
for arranging everything so efficiently

Sarah

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From: Kaz Ross
Sent: Monday, Oct 02, 2006 5:56 AM
Subject: Re: ROSS X5 - Belated Thanks :)

Hi Chris,

This is a little late as I've been back home in Oz for a month now (crikey, time flies!), but I just wanted to say a big thank you on behalf of everyone in our group for the amazing job you did organising our trip. I bombarded you with hundreds of questions both before the trip and after we arrived in Beijing, and you were there with fast, helpful answers every time. You are a legend!!

What an amazing time. There are no words.

Huge thanks,
Karen (with Ben, Shannon, Tim and Fran)

PS - We were talking you up to a great couple we met on the train and they had similar praise for Andy. Please pass it on.

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From: gillian hadley
Sent: Friday, Sep 15, 2006 7:17 AM
Subject: RE: COOPER: Feedback

Dear Chris,

Thanks for that response, you really did address the issues. I would just like to say that despite the incident in Ulan -Ude, my Trans-Siberian experience was still a fantastic once in a lifetime event. I appreciate the work your company does and it sounds like you are working hard to constantly improve. Good luck in the future and thansk again.

Regards
Gillian Hadley

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From: Rainer Schuler
Sent: Thursday, Sep 07, 2006 2:38 PM
Subject: T-Shirts

Hi,
we have been travelling with Monkeybusiness in 1992, long time ago. Our memories are still alive and we always give away your address to friends. Now our Monkey-t-shirts are very old and we will have to throw them away. Is there a possibility to get new ones? Please send information about colours and prices. Maybe you can send your new programm too, we would like to go on a train-trip again.
Thanks a lot and have a nice day
Hilde Schuler

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From: andy stockhecke
Sent: Thursday, Sep 07, 2006 12:05 PM
Subject: Re: STOCKHECKE X4 :

Hi Chris,

we have returned alive and well from our trip. Everything went exceptionally smooth, your local partners seem to be very reliable. Doing the trip with kids was fine, they were very popular with many people we met. One small problem was that it was not always clear to your local partners that we are a family with relatively small children and therefore need to stay together. For example, in Suzdal, two hotel rooms were booked for us, event though the hotel did accept children in the parents room, and this solution would have also worked out cheaper than 2 rooms. In Jekatrinburg, two different homestays were booked for us. However, in both Suzdal and Ekatrinburg, we ended up staying in just one room, so everything was fine.

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From: FELIPE VICENTE LOPEZ DUGARRY [mailto:felili1303@hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, Sep 04, 2006 12:40 AM
To: beijing@monkeyshrine.com
Subject: LOPEZ DUGARRY - Feedback

hello andy!

well, now is sunday afternoon and at last i´ve got a bit of spare time to write to you!

in st petersburg the service was perfect, the train tickets were waiting for us at the reception of our accomodation. the train was the red arrow, a very nice and new train, we have even a lunch pack very complete for each of us! arriving moscow they were waiting for us as planned to take us to the hotel, the problem was that we were not allowed to have the room until 12:00 and we arrived at around 9:00. we had to leave our luggage there ( paying a fee per each item left ) and we went to moscow but it took us a long time to find our way as we thought we were at a hotel north-west of the centre and we find out that we were at the alfa hotel north-east of the centre! the rest was perfect, we were taken to the train on time, we arrive to irkustk and they were waiting for us, our guide was a lovely lady called helena ( if i´m not confuse!) who spoke a perfect english and was very nice, the accomodation at litvanska was perfect, brand new and very clean, food very good, the banya experience was sublime!
the following day we did the soft trekking, our guides were gema and his son dima, they didn´t speak too much english, but as 5 of us didn´t neither it doesn´t matter. they were very friendly and very hepfull. they did manage to give differents good meals while on the mountain! the trekking was wonderfull! although a lot of mosquitoes! the way coming back by the shore sometimes was a bit dificult and dangerous! to call that soft is a bit of a joke! at some point we even had to climb! some of us didn´t have good boots and it was a bit risky for them. but the views were unbelieveble! es a resume it was enjoyable but wasn´t soft! i think you should call it mild rather than soft, and advise people to wear good shoes and to be fit. we would have love to have another banya arriving at litvanska again instead of rushing to irskustk, we were very tired and that would have been wonderfull! may be you could offer another banya after the trekking, it´s only a couple of hours. so we were taken to irkustk, then again train to mongolia. so that is our trip in overview! it was a wonderfull trip we´ll never forget! and we are more than very happy with your services, personally i think is second to none! i would definitly recomend you! thank you again for everything! if you want me to expand some comentaries just tell me. as we say here = muchas gracias amigo !

have my best regards, felipe.

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From: Andrew Primrose
Sent: Saturday, Sep 02, 2006 12:04 AM
Subject:Thanks and feedback

Andy,

Firstly a big thank you for organising our trip. We had a great time, enjoyed the trip a lot, and made it back safe and sound.

I sent you a postcard from Vlad, but forgot from St.Petes - 1 out of 2 is not that bad!

A couple of comments and feedback which might be of use / interest;

St.Pete's - the Engecon Hostel, is more like a hotel than a hostel, it is spotless, brilliant, great location, shared bathrooms were the best / cleanest of anywhere we stayed. Friendly and helpful staff, late breakfast buffet (ideal if you want to enjoy the nightlife). Highly recommended, and a great place.

Moscow - renovation work at the AST does not disrupt much at all.

Ekaterinenberg - 2 of the guides were great (Nastya and Tom), wonderful company, very well informed, excellent English, good fun and a pleasure to meet.
However the 'rafting' was a farce, (there was barely enough water to float the 'raft'), so little water we grounded and a fisherman in wellingtons waded past staring in disdain at us flailing around in 3 inches of water.

Irkutsk - loved the place. The hiking was wonderful, the guide (Svetlana) was a gem - full of enthusiasm and kindness, loved the place. Elvira was also great fun for the brief time we spent with her.
The arrival time we had was wrong (06.47) by both local and Moscow times. Also the itinerary stated 'breakfast, then transfer' - we got well fed and looked after, but it was mid afternoon when we arrived.
Excellent food - Svetlana cooked better over a campfire than I can at home!

Vlad. - homestay was the best food / hospitality we encountered. The water was cut off one day - as apparently happens regularly, bit of a pain halfway through washing but all OK in the end.
The main hotel there has some useful information inside the lobby - cards / maps for various attractions (some of which do not appear to exist though...)

General - worth stressing that old UK passports are accepted with reluctance / suspicion.
Anything other than pristine currency notes get changed at 10%below advertised rate.
Passport photocopies not accepted by all police - they want to see the visa registration / white paper too.

Lenin queues - 500 roubles to the guard jumps you to the front. Otherwise get in the queue before it opens at 10.

Armoury / Kremlin - you need to get the Audio guide to get in when it is busy (just a way to get more money out of you)

Right, I need to start packing again, now that I have just about finished unpacking and catching up on a year's post.

All the best,

Andy

_______________________________________
From: Helen Riley
Sent: Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006 4:44 PM
Subject: RE: RILEY / CARTON - Moscow

Hi Andy,

Just to let you know the trans siberian trip was great, thanks for all your help, we had a top time and met a good bunch of people... everyone was amazing especially the conductors, we would do it again in a heart beat....

________________________________________
From: Michael Silver
Sent: Tuesday, Aug 22, 2006 12:24 PM
Subject: SILVER- accommodation arrangements in Moscow

Hi,

first of all, I wanted to say a big thank you. So far the experience travelling has been fantastic and I have every confidence it will continue to be so as I continue on to Moscow!

I did want to just ask if you could make sure something is clear when we get to Moscow and St Petersburg though.

Yesterday Sarah and I arrived at the homestay in Irkutsk to find that there was only one bed!!! We saw the funny side of it (didn't realised you were matchmakers too) and were able to sort it out without causing any embarrassment to our hostess, who is lovely, but it could have been a bit of
an awkward situation.

If you wouldn't mind please could you make sure that the homestays in Moscow and St Petersburg know that we aren't a couple! Sharing a room is fine, but I think I speak for both of us when I say we aren't comfortable sharing a bed!!

Apart from that tiny thing, the trip is fantastic!
Thanks for your undertanding,
Michael Silver

Sent: Saturday, Aug 26, 2006 9:44 PM
p.s Thanks for your speedy reply. Just to let you know things are fine in Moscow! Plenty of beds to go around, so thanks for making sure that that was okay. Still enjoying the trip and am actually quite sad it's coming to an end! Now I have to sort everything out for myself for Eastern
Europe!

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From: Michelle Noullet
Sent: Monday, Aug 21, 2006 2:16 PM
Subject: Fwd: Thanks AND A FEW MORE

Hi Chris,

Yes, echoing everything Venkatesh said. Would like to add that your handbook is GREAT and we really had time to read it when we were finally on the train. (Yes, I know you wish everyone would read it before and spare you the questions!)

Small error (I think) and possible addition:

1. The train from UB to Beijing leaves FRIDAY not THURSDAY...doesn't it? This led to great confusion, but happily we made the train anyways.
[the train #24 departs UB every Thursday - during the summer 2006 an exra server also departed on a Friday. ed]

2. Adding to Venkatesh's comments on border crossing, your info made it seem that the crossing could be anywhere form 2-11 hours. That made me think that the length of time it took to cross the border depended on how long it took...then we realized the time is actually factored exactlly into the train schedule.

Yes, the trip was great and much of that was because of the complete smoothness of your arrangements.

Thank you,
Michelle

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From: Sundar Venkatesh
Sent: Sunday, Aug 20, 2006 11:48 PM
Subject: Thanks

Hi Chris, We had a great trip on the Trans Siberian. Thanks for all the arrangements. Everything worked perfectly.

Hotels in Russia (at least the AST and a couple of others we checked) have two single beds to a room. And the beds, by design, cannot be brought together! That was a surprise.

We experienced a "train lag" travelling from Moscow to Irkutsk. Just the night before we got off at Irkutsk we set out watches 4 hours ahead, had a very early dinner and tried to sleep. Did not work.

Border crossings were smoother on the Russia-Mongolia border but we found the crossing from China into Mongolia a bit more challenging. At Naushki we could get off the train for a couple of hours and stretched our legs, bought some food and got back into the train in time for the immigration and customs check. At Sukhbatar we could do the same. At Zamin Uud on the Mongolian side going to China we had remain on the train for nearly 4 hours with the toilets locked. The ease on the Russian Mongolian border was contrary to what we expected reading the guide books as was the challenge crossing from Mongolia into China.

Paragon Hotel in Beijing was fantastic. Really good value for money.

We thought of dropping in to say hello and collect our t shirts. But we got caught up in the delights of Xue Shue (Silk) street. We did make a trip to The Tree. The Belgian beers were what you promised.

Michelle checked with one gentleman at The Tree, if he was a Monkey. He was not. But he did not seem surpirsed by the question!!

I must say Monkey is a bold name for an agency that travellers have to depend on every step of the Trans Sib. But that is from the use of the word in the English language. According to the Hindu mythology Monkey is a symbol of dependability.

Thanks again. We are thinking of doing Beijing Moscow.

With our best,
Michelle and Sundar

PS: Do you do China (different cities in China) on a train?

________________________________________
From: Sophie Rozsa
Sent: Sunday, Aug 13, 2006 9:27 PM
Subject: RE : PAGE / ROZSA - Beijing

Hi Andy,

Thanks a lot for arranging the transfer to the airport.

Even if the trip was not as smooth as it should have been, we still will have great memories of our trip and will certainly recommend Monkey Business to our friends for your great professionalism.

Kind regards,
Sophie & Fabrice

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From: Mike McTeague
Sent: Thursday, Aug 10, 2006 2:51 AM
Subject: Thoughts on our trip

Chris,

We had a great trip. Everything we did exceeded our expectations in both Mongolia and Russia. Thanks for working with us on the flight from Irkutsk. I realize it became a major pain in the ass. We appreciate your help and flexibility with working with the Russian airlines and the refund of the missed night at the hotel in Irkutsk. We got our money just fine from the Tree. Backpacking in Siberia was absolutely amazing. It was one of the highlights of our vacation. I think it is a must for any outdoorsy types that book your trips. We had a really great trip to Mongolia, but we do have a couple of recommendations that we thought might help you guys out. There was some confusion with Shuren in UB. They were adamant we only booked a 3 day Karakorum trip, instead of our 6 day trip. We had to be very firm, show them our vouchers, and insist they call you. I don't know if they ever did. We ended up going to the Shuren office in UB and the manager seemed very nice and accomidating, so we don't really know what happened. Another couple we met on a Russian Experience trip had a similar problem with Shuren. I don't know if there was a legitimate miscommunication or if they were trying to rip us off. We also had a lot of free time in our daily schedules during the Mongolia trip. We probably would have liked to do a little bit more during our days, with more packed lunches so that we could stay out, instead of coming back to the Ger for lunch. We ended up pushing our guide a little to do more treking, keep ourselves a little bit busier, and we ended up changing the schedules a little bit to fit our needs. I think this was a little uncomfortable to our guide, but it worked out in the end. We had a really great time, we just thought it would be good to have a few more options for daily activties for those of us who like to keep busy.

3 days of backpacking on Lake Baikal is the perfect amount of time. I wouldn't change it. Enjoy Mogolia.

We were very happy with Monkey Business and would definitely recommend you guys to anyone we know considering a Trans-Zip trip. The price was fair and the service was excellent.
Thanks again.
Mike

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From: Shirley McCulloch
Sent: Tuesday, Aug 08, 2006 10:10 AM
Subject: Re: Kazan

Hi Chris:

Yes, Kazan is quite an interesting place. It celebrated it's 1000 year old anniversary last year, and has a lovely old train station. The old town section, and the new mosque are quite lovely. So, it has the Tartar history, which provides an interesting perspective, and definitely worth visiting.

Train second class from Moscow to Kazan was fine, same standard as Russian train from Beijing-Irtusk.

Regards,
Shirley

________________________________________
From: julia deas
Sent: Monday, Aug 07, 2006 12:13 AM
Subject: RE: DEAS / NESBITT

Steven Nesbitt and Julia Deas on a snowy platform in Russia

Hi Chris

I'm writing a very delayed email to say thank you ever so much for organising such an amazing trip for us. Myself, Julia Deas, and my fiance,
Steven Nesbitt took the Trans Mongolian train from Beijing to Moscow with your company in March. We had an amazing time and it was definitly a once in a lifetime oppurtunity. We were so glad we took the Trans Mongolian as we felt travelling through Mongolia was the best part of our trip. I also want to thank you for the great organisation and the fact that at no point in the trip did we feel alone. From the minute we arrived in Beijing you gave us all the necessary information we needed to get around in a foreign land, all the way to Moscow where your Marlis travel representative met us. It was the perfect way to end our year away in Japan, and we've made many people jealous with our stories.

I do remember in your booklet you said to make any suggestions that could improve the trip or help people along the way. The only difficulty we had was filling in the customs forms at the borders. We were very lucky to meet a man who spoke about 10 languages including Russian, and Chinese, but for others as the forms have no English on, it might be useful to prvide maybe a page in the booklet with useful info to help you fill in the forms. Oh and also, advise people to take a knife and fork. A lot of the time we decided not to eat the food on the train so many of our meals consisted of bread and cheese bought from the vendors at the stops along the way. A Knife and fork came in very useful :-) I think I could write a book on the variations of bread and cheese along the train route now.

One more suggestion for those travelling in first class with a shower!! We had a flood in our cabin due to the fact that the drain hole became frozen
(understandable in -20 degrees). As all the other cabins were filled with goods to be sold by the train guards in Moscow, we couldn't change rooms. At first the train guard gave us a towel and said it's ok it's ok.....I had to insist no it isn't and as we couldn't change rooms, we did get a new carpet. hehe. It was quite funny but it did get a bit musty smelling!! Just a bit of advice, every now and then pour boiling water down the hole to defrost it.

Once again thank you for helping us with this amazing trip and taking the worry out of it and helping it to run so smoothly for us. We have definitly
been reccommending you to our friends in Japan who are still to make the trip back to England.

I know you probably have hundreds of photos emailed you.....but sorry...here's a few more. :-)

Thank you

Julia Deas and Steven Nesbitt

 

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From: Gill Penney
Sent: Wednesday, Aug 02, 2006 5:36 PM
Subject: trip

Dear Chris,
Ive just returned to Tianjin. The trip was amazing. Everything went very smoothly so thank so much for arranging things so well.
I took some photos in Ulan Ude that Id like to send to our guide. Unforunately, i dont have the travel agency's address. Would you mind emailing it to me? Our guide was called Svetlana.
Thanks!

 

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From: Dr.-Ing. Hans Kemnitz
Sent: Sunday, Jul 30, 2006 5:35 PM
Subject: Transsib

Hi Andy,

Brigitte, Renate and me booked a Transsib trip at your travelling agency MonkeyShrine in June 06. The route was Beijing to Irkutsk (8 - 18 July)
with stopover at Sajnshand, UlaanBaatar and lake Baikal. Now we are back home and we have to say THANK's for the nice tour.

It was a great travel, everything was fine (mostly). You organized the trip well; tickets had been ok.; guides friendly (the girls nice and charming), good English spoken - and sometimes even a little bit German.

And - surprise - the railway was operating successfully. Thanks for the adventure north of Naushki (14 of July). I didn't know, that we booked an upgrade as "flooden tracks". The bus trip to UlanUde - a good idea to break the monotonous train travel.

A special challenge (without speaking Russian language) was to persuade the administration of the railway company in UlanUde to add an additional carriage to the train for the passengers, arrived by bus. However we left UlanUde by night. (someone tried to inform Marlis help
line, but there were problems in using phone, language...)

Thanks in addition for sending Sana from Marlis Travel with a refund for "Hans lost in Moskau". And of course many, many... thanks to Sana for organizing the quick reservation in the AST Hotel for Hans !

To find the AST hotel in Moskau was not difficult. You announced the target Metro Station Bagrationovskaya in the Monkey book). And from there, barman Xenia (1 Espresso, 80 Rubel) showed the rest of the way. For travellers without the help of Xenia - and equipped with a GPS device,
it is valuable to know the full location data of the hotel as:
AST Hotel, Filyovskaya Str. 25:
N 55° 44' 43.4'' E 37° 29' 18.0''
Please publish these data in your Monkey-Travel handbook.

In summary, it was a great travel - nice people, great landscape, good organization. Thanks to MonkeyShrine and to the other travelling agencies, carried out the tour, as Shuren in Mongolia and Marlis in Russia. And of course thanks to the people, who were responsible for the success
of the trip: Andy in Beijing, Dauwa and Itschka in Mongolia, Elvira and Tamara at lake Baikal and Sana in Moskau - and thanks to all the other people in the background !
If someone asks me for a travelling agency, experienced in "Transsib", I will give them the MonkeyTravel address.

Best regards,
Brigitte, Renate, Hans

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From: A. Stolfi
Sent: Sunday, Jul 30, 2006 3:50 PM
Subject: RE: STOLFI : AST Hotel

Hi Chris,

I'm in Shanghai, ready to depart China. I just want to thank you and everybody at Monkey Business for making my Trans-Siberian trip a wonderful, problem-free trip. Everything worked smoothly, and I really enjoyed myself on this unforgetable trip. I have recommended and will continue to recommend your service to all who wish to make the same journey. Your info pack especially proved crucial many times, and many other tourists doing the same route yet through a different agency expressed amazement upon seeing how well-prepared I was with that info pack.

I do somewhat regret I did not have the time to make a stopover in Siberia, but you were right, the Elstei Ger camp in Mongolia was not to be missed! Next time (and there will be a next time) I will make an effort to get off that train and set foot on Siberian soil and explore a little!

Please extend my thanks to the MoMo's and the Shuren folks in Mongolia. Everybody did a great job! Thanks again,

Alberto

________________________________________
From: Joakim Hammar
Sent: Friday, Jul 28, 2006 4:42 AM
Subject: HAMMAR x4 - Moscow

Andy,

we are now back in Sweden. We had an excellent trip. Very well organised and very smooth.

Thanks a lot,
joakim

 

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From: Jacques Chea
Sent: Tuesday, Jul 25, 2006 12:08 PM
Subject: CHEA - Feedback

Hi Andy,

Sorry for this late reply.

I am happy with your response, and I thank you for this.

My trip to Russia is now over, and it was definitely overall very interesting. Claire and I got on well. You should continue doing this 'travel matchmaking'! Services booked through your agency proved to be fine.

Regards
Jacques

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From: Doran Amos
Sent: Friday, Jul 21, 2006 3:19 PM
Subject: Thank You

Hi Kelvin,

We would like very much to give you our thanks for all the effort you put in to sorting out our Mongolian visas. As I write this, we are sitting in an internet cafe in Irkutsk, where we would not be without your help! Apologies for the delay in getting this message to you, but I'm sure you understand it is difficult to get on the internet on the trans-siberian or in a ger camp in the middle of nowhere! Thanks again for all your hard work, I have been very impressed by the Monkey Business team and will definitely be recommending you to my friends.

Best wishes,

Doran & Rosie

[the embassy in Beijing was closed for Nadaam holidays and our office in Hong Kong managed to get the head of the consul in Hong Kong to open up the day of the Nadaam holiday!]

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From: Claire Montgomery
Sent: Wednesday, Jul 19, 2006 10:32 PM
Subject: Re: MONTGOMERY - Feedback

Hi Andy

I had a great time thanks. The Baikal trip was good - great accommodation and food with a good guide. All the homestay hosts were fantastic, with varying degrees of English and eccentricity.

I was going to feedback about the Ekaterinburg trip - Jacques and I ended up doing exactly the same thing in the end - the only difference in the trips is whether you raft down a stretch of river or walk by the side.

__________________________
From: Brian Meyers
Sent: 13 July 2006 23:37
Subject: Salut from this train rider

Greetings,

I came through the Hong Kong office and took the first Mongolian excursion you guys hosted back in June, 1992. I got a train ticket from Beijing and toured with Patrick, Vanessa and Guna (I hope you guys are doing well). Anyway, since it's the time of Naadan, I was surfing for information for nostalgic reasons and found your site.
It's been a long
time.

I have to say, the trip you guys organized was one of the best I've ever taken. It makes for one of those "would you believe, back in the day" stories that amaze all my friends and whatever audiences I can corral. Somewhere, I still have photos of Patrick modeling the traditional Mongolian wrestler's costume. I haven't been back, not yet, but Mongolia gets in the soul, doesn't it. It never really goes away.

Anyway, I'm an English teacher now at a public high school in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. I'm thinking that someday, when she's old enough, I'm gonna bring my daughter through. I can't wait.

Cheers.
Brian Meyers

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From: Bernie O'Hearn
Sent: Monday, Jul 10, 2006 3:08 AM
Subject: showers

Hey guys

I'm back in Canada and had a great trip.

Some info for you... There are showers on the two Russian trains that we were on. Not sure about the St. Pete's one as it was such a short ride. They cost around 130 rubles. They were not great but it was nice to be clean.

The internet cafe you recommend in St. Petes has moved. It is on the same street but a good 15 minute walk from where it used to be. The new address is 76 Nevsky Prospekt. It is a nice spot and the internet was quite quick.

Thanks for everything,

Bernie

 

__________________________
From: Hugh & Janette Clarke
Sent: Monday, Jun 19, 2006 10:44 AM
Subject: A GREAT BIG THANK YOU!

Hello to all the Monkeyshrine and Moonsky monkeys who helped us plan our trip on the Trans Siberian train leaving Beijing on May 24.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

We had a super trip and loved every minute of the trip. Your organisation and help was faultless and much appreciated. We didn't realize that 5 days on a train could fly by so quickly. Neither of us finished our books that we took to read and loved the changing scenery, landscapes and watching the people along the way, but maybe not the dust through Inner Mongolia and the Gobi desert. Nowhere is dust mentioned in any of the travel books so we don't know whether or not it is a regular happening at this time of the year or just a "one off".

We would also like to thank the Moscow and St Petersburg Mo Mo's, who were very helpful and supportive with extra Hotel accommodation, transport to and from the Stations and airport, and for supplying a wonderful tour guide to show us through the Kremlin.

The only mistake was one of our own doing. Booking the overnight train to St Petersburg was false economy and it would have been better to have stayed an extra night in Moscow and then caught an afternoon train to St Petersburg. Thankfully, Marlis in Moscow was able to extend our stay in one of the rooms at the Metrople for an extra late check out. When we arrived in St Petersburg we had to wait until late morning before we could get a room in the Hotel there.

Once again thank you for all the organisation and planning you did for us. We really appreciated your help and expertise. We had a wonderful experience and trip.

With best wishes from Hughie and Janette Clarke.

________________________________________
From: Peter Reijnhoudt
Sent: Sunday, Jun 11, 2006 10:38 AM
Subject: back home

Hi gentlemen,

We just arrived back from our trip through Asia and Europe in Palawan.

First we would like to thank you for the excellent service you provided to make our trip from Hong-Kong to Helsinki a big adventure with no headaches. Along the whole trip everybody of your Co. was there on time, or to bring us or pick us up from the train as well to help us checking in the hotel when necessary.

The hotels in Beijing and St. Petersburg (with our own Jacuzzi and sauna) where excellent. Good rooms, good locations and friendly staff. The hotel in Moscow was definitely the not the best one. I would prefer something more in the center of Moscow and some more friendly staff.
Moscow was anyway the least funny place to visit. Maybe they can start educating in school overthere how to laugh? This was also the meaning of other people we met.

The train itself was absolute big fun. Everything good organized and plenty of space and privacy if you wanted in the cabin we had. Food plenty available on the stations and the China and Mongolia restaurant. Forget the Russian, but ones again, plenty of food on the stations.

Ones again thank for the excellent and friendly service you provided us with and all the luck in the world with your business.

Best regards and cheers,

Peter Reijnhoudt
Haidee Rivera
Patrick Rivera.

 

________________________________________
From: Claire Nixon
Sent: Thursday, Jun 15, 2006 11:43 AM
Subject: Claire and David

Hi Andy,

Many thanks for the wonderful trip - very enjoyable and interesting sights!

Claire and David Carter

__________________________
From: Kathy Mueller
Sent: Tuesday, May 09, 2006 12:59 AM
Subject: update on St Petersburg Internet

Hi -

We're leaving for Amsterdam tomorrow, May 9th, and eventually we'll send more feedback on things that can/should be updated in your book for this season's tourists.

One important item is Internet access. We're using Quo Vadis, as suggested in your book. But it's moved to 76 Nevsky - the opposite direction from the former location in relation to Nevsky Prospect Metro, and closer to another stop on a different line.

Another alternative, which we would have preferred to save going out of our way, is at the Hermitage. The cost was 60 rubles per hour, instead of the 130 per hour that we are paying here at Quo Vadis.

Thanks,
Kathy and Erich

________________________________________
From: Alan Hawkes
Sent: Tuesday, Apr 18, 2006 6:20 PM
Subject: feedback

Hi Chris
journey over and all went extremely well,thanks to your arrangements made.A bit of feedback on the trip....
the chinese restaurant car on the China leg served only boiled mutton and boiled cucumber for lunch and boiled mutton and boiled cabbage for dinner...no other choice..it was YUK ! ....both meals were free with a voucher given ! Mongolian food was a set three course..not bad but $20 including one beer (only beer was cans from Korea ) seemed a bit steep, mentioned this to a Mongolian traveller after lunch who strolled off and came back with $10 in his hand for me from the restaurant car. On the Mongolian ? Russian border absolutely no foreign currency exchange whatsoever so had to rely on the Russian restaurant car to exchange (25 rbl-$ )......food on the Russian leg limited but edible,"steak" with an egg on it and fried potatoes(extra).....took ages to prepare we thought that the cook was waitng for the chicken to lay.....mind you when it did arrive it was served with a smile. Beer throughout from the conductor $1 a bottle from his stash (Chinese 11% good stuff ) My travelling companions were 4 Finns whose sole aim was to do the whole journey legless,an Aussie who winged about absolutely everything and a young English couple who were good company. Arrival at Moscow went without a hitch,was met and taken to the Tiflis Hotel,nice all round except for one amusing fact....after six days on a train the thought of a nights sleep without the noise of trains was something to really look forward to..............Alas not to be cos the Moscow Metro runs dirctly below the Hotel !!!! Your Moscow partners were great even arranged transport for me the morning of my departure at a cost far below the Hotel charge. All in all a great experience and a good trip.
Thanks again
Alan

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Fromjudy Wright
Sent: Sunday, Apr 16, 2006 4:33 PM
Subject: Trip Feedback

Hi guys,

We made it home in one piece and had a fabulous time on the Trans Mongolian.

Just wanted to say thanks, alll the arrrangements were great, as were the people. A very slick operation.

Our experience on the 'Baikal' were that there is a hot shower (it's in an ordinary looking carriage - in a converted compartment - as always you need to ask) It costs 102 rubles for 20 minutes - low pressure but good and hot - if you like your showers it's worth it.

They had computers on the train but not connected to the internet.

Enjoyed Lake Baikal but we came to the conclusion that we would have liked to travel on the circumbaikal part of the railway ( it sounds like a very
interesting journey) and just wondered if you had thought of including such an option.

Anyway we just wanted to say thanks to all concerned helped make it a super trip.
Regards
Chris and Judy

 

From: John Hunt
Sent: Monday, Apr 03, 2006 11:36 AM
To: beijing@monkeyshrine.com
Subject: Re: HUNT x2 - Booking

Andy,
Contrary to every-ones expectations at my office, we did not end up in one of the Russian Gulag holiday camps! The holiday was fantastic and everything went very smoothly from start to finish!. The guides were fantastic and everyone was kind and pleasant to us. The high-lite of the trip was at Lake Baikal and staying with the Russian family by the lake.
I want to personally thank you for the fantastic job you did in arranging the trip for me and i will certainly pass your name on to others as highly recommended.
Thanks the lot.

 

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From: Ben Gross
Sent: Friday, Mar 24, 2006 1:18 PM
Subject: Re: GROSS air ticket

Thanks for the news. The trip is going great so far, and if you believe it, I am on the train right now, able to send and receive email from my phone!

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From: :Lesley Wilkins
Sent: Tuesday, Feb 07, 2006 11:09 PM
Subject: Thanks for trip

Hi Chris and Andy

Just got back from Russia yesterday, so thanks for another great trip. Experiencing less than -16 from the top of St Isaacs in St Petersburg was unreal! Not to mention all the rest of everything. I really enjoyed Moscow; the homestay in St Pete's was excellent.

Keep up the great work!!!

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From: Andre Weaver
Date: Thursday, January 19, 2006 6:40 pm
Subject: travels

A friend of mine just asked me about my travels far, wide and often as they are. He was more particularly interested in the trip on the trans siberian. 1st words out of my mouth were," Monkey Business." I travelled the direct trans-siberian route, Bejing to Moscow as an alternative to flying from China to Europe. Best decision of the whole 9 month adventure. The trip was a riot of epic proportions, (what i remember of it).The people, the food, the scenery ...the everything really. The staff @ both the HK and Bejing offices were very helpful and really great people to boot. They sorted me out and were a were very helpful. It was my 1st (there have been many more) seriously extended trip and the 1st one to SE Asia. HK was a bit overwhelming and arriving on a one way ticket with the rest of the 9 months to figure out was certainly interesting. The HK office made organizing the Asia to Europe part an absolute breeze. And when I dragged myself into the Bejing office 5 months later I got the same fantastic service. It's been 13 years since that trip (June 93) and I still have the monkey vodka bottle and t-shirt to prove it. Glad to see the business has prospered and you continue openening the eyes to all those who seek out the beauty and adventure of this epic train journey.
cheers
Andre Weaver Vancouver Canada

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From: Barry Phipps
Sent: Wednesday, Jan 11, 2006 11:21 PM
Subject: Message from Internet

Dear guys,

Just wanted to let you know that I had a great trip from Bieijing to Moscow on the transiberian over the Chrsitmas period. Even though so many of my friends thought that I was mad going to Siberia in the winter I thoroughly enjoyed myself, saw lots, took heaps of pictures, met great people and am so glad that you advised me to do. Thank you so much not only for the advice but for the ease of organization. I have recommended Monkey Business to many and hope that they will take up my advice.

Best wishes and once again thank you so much.

Barry Phipps

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From: Ronald & June Van Buren
Sent: Saturday, Jan 07, 2006 11:22 AM
Subject: trip coach

www.monkeyshrine.com is the web site for an outfit that has extensive experience and credibility in providing travel from China to Russia. I've travelled with them. They get very high marks for organization and thoughtfulness. A really smooth operation.

Thought you should know about the best place to refer travelers.

Ronald & June Van Buren
Mesa, Arizona

 

__________________________
From: darren cooper
Sent: Sunday, Jan 01, 2006 1:51 PM
Subject: Re: COOPER / BRICE : Trans mon

Hi Chris .
We have been back over a week now and i still cant get used to it !
Anyway few things about the trip . We were lucky to have a really good crowd on the train from Monkey biz and there were a few messy vodka drinking sessions in the dining car !all great fun . We all loved the ger camp,really comfortable and good experience .Something you should perhaps be aware of though.At the end of our one night stay we were presented with a bill for odd things like bottles of water mars bars etc.For 3 small mars bars we were charged $9.00 .That is clearly taking the piss. The same product was 50c in the hotel.Also the guide gave us a slip of paper (after we had filled in the feedback forms)to say that each person should tip the guide $10.00 each .That went down pretty badly with the group .We were all going to tip him anyway but he ended up with less because we didnt like to be told to do it ,and felt that has was profiteering enough anyway from drinks and snacks etc. Listvyanka- superb .Excellent guide and excellent homestay .Nice little bar about 15 min walk away as well !
Our snow mobiling was cancelled in Irkutz .Not enough snow .We were given an alternative of dog sledding .This was only a 10-15 minute pull around a loop of gravel but have to say that it was bloody good fun ,really intense.Karen decided not to do it at last minute cos she is terrified of dogs and it looked too scary !!!Anyway, without us asking, the operators refunded Karens money which was cool but obviously we had paid substansially more than the $20.00 refund . Ekateringburg- Loved it ,so much history and we were lucky ,cos our guide for both city walks was Save (can't really remember his name-sorry)who was so brilliant ,new his stuff and enjoyed doing it . The snow expedition was pretty dissapointing .The full day was cancelled and so we only did a short walk ,the guide Tom was awful (save's brother!)and hardly said a word .so it was a bloody expensive trip for a short walk in the forest .We didnt see the ice cave either. Also have to mention that at two homestays (Ekaterinburg and Irkutz)they were unaware that karen is a veggie.We couldnt tell them cos they didnt speak any English .That was really shit on first night in Ekaterinburg because it was really late when we got to the homestay and we were both very hungry.Unfortunatly dinner was aplate of meat dumplings and nothing else.Anyway thought you should know this so you can maybe make sure it doesnt keep happening . Sounds like a list of complaints ! it is isnt i can assure you. i have sent a couple of emails off to recommend you to people who have been thinking of doing it . It makes so much difference to be picked up and taken back to the station ,not have to worry about booking accomadation and trips .Everyone knows its much cheaper to do it on your own ,but i still think your prices are very competative .also ,a girl we met was on the "Russia experience" and was far far from happy about her whole trip .
Anyway ,so a million thanks Chris ,we loved it all .Just a bit dissapointed with a couple of things and felt short changed on the dog sledding (snow mobiling) and siberian walk . The local operators are brilliant on the whole ,they all speak wonderful English and I think it all runs pretty smoothly. Thank you so much once again for the beer (really nice touch)and for the refund from the tiflis.If you can sort anything out for the dog sledding and Siberian walk we would also be obliged . Cheers Chris
Darren