Personal Testimonials from 2007

Everything went really well and the service I received from Monkey Shrine was excellent - I have no hesitation in recommending you to others.

Jim Eccles, December 2007

From: jim eccles
Sent: Friday, Dec 28, 2007 7:18 PM
Subject: Re: ECCLES : payment

Hi Chris,

Just to let you know I had a great time on my journey west from BJ to Lartvia. Everything went really well and the service I received from Monkey Shrine was excellent - I have no hesitation in recommending you to others.
Kind Regards,
Jim Eccles

The delight of finally seeing the Gobi Desert after hearing about it all your life.. and seeing the sun rise over it.. and spying your first camel

Kelvin and Cynthia Port, December 2007

From: Kelvin and Cynthia Port
Sent: Wednesday, Dec 19, 2007 6:07 AM
Subject: Re: PORT : Finally a report back!

Dear Chris.. you are more than welcome to use the photo's and comments.. there is so much more we could comment on....
... we just LOVED Mongolia.. we did our own thing there because we have friends there, but heard really good feedback about your Elstei ger Camp...
...The delight of finally seeing the Gobi Desert after hearing about it all your life.. and seeing the sun rise over it.. and spying your first camel and mongolian horses ...The gentle rock of the train so quickly puts you sleep!! I think it relaxes everyone!!
...The unexpected kindness of your newly befriended cabin mates... in our case the ex-army fellows from the middle east who spoke up on our behalf in the middle of the night when the very stubbon provodniks wrongly charged us for hot water, then refused to give us back the change!!..
...Eating bear soup at the Ushkani Cape.. then going for a superb banya and plunging into Lake Baikal only a few weeks after it thawed...
..Marvelling at how the scenery in Siberia doesn't change for days on end....
We could go on!!!
Merry Christmas..
Kelvin and Cynthia Port [see original feedback just below]

The train from Beijing to Ulan Bator was truly wonderful.  Quiet and peaceful, clean and very comfortable.

Hazel Slavin, November 2007

From: Hazel Slavin
Sent: Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 11:54 PM
Subject: Re: Safely home


Dear Andy and Chris

I feel bad because I've left it so late to write and thank you both for organising my trip.  Please accept my apologies and know that the next time I want to go - or anyone else does - the Monkeys will be invoked. You might want to know a little about the trip.  The train from Beijing to Ulan Bator was truly wonderful.  Quiet (only 5 people in the entire carriage) and peaceful, clean and very comfortable.  I had a working power point in the cabin. The Mongolian dining car looked mad and served a delicious breakfast. The Bayangol was fine and the staff very helpful.  There was a bit of a problem getting back to the station and I only caught the train with ten minutes to spare - but I caught it, sorry but I told off the local staff

Train 5 was completely full and there were only three westerners, Clare (one of yours) and Kevin with whom she shared her cabin.  We were next door and shared food, space, books and jokes.  Apart from one charming couple (Russian/Mongolian) re-locating to Moscow every other person was a trader with about 500kilos of luggage each.  The first day or two were fun.  After that it was really pretty awful.  There were literally hundreds of people running up and down the train all day and all night with arms full of jeans and sweaters and towels and jackets and boots and other apparel.  On some stations there were hundreds of people waiting for the train to come in and it made standing in the corridor and going to the toilet impossible for about an hour before we got to the station.  It was also very hard to get off the train because the doors were jammed full.  Once off, it was hard to get back on the train. Once  I almost didn't but the provodnista grabbed me and pushed some of the people out of the way.  On leaving Ekaterinburg the emergency stop button was pressed causing great consternation.  The police had to get dressed in their uniforms very quickly and stash away the towels they were selling!

The food was OK and the loos were very clean.  Electricity was a problem (it only worked when the lights were turned on) but we managed.  We had hot water and charming provodnistas.

As I said earlier, this was fine for a couple of days but it became annoying and wearing.  This was a pity - I was so enjoying the trip but the noise and activity made it anything but peaceful.  This must be a fairly new phenomenon because other people who I know who have done the trip hadn't experienced anything like this.

I have photos of all this if you want copies.

May I suggest that you warn people?  There may be better trains and next time I'll get one!

Warm wishes and many thanks


[We advise all people booking that 'Train #5 is a typical traders train and so the experience on this train is more local and authentic than other trains. Although many enjoy the typical local scene, some people feel the standards on train are lower than on other Trans Siberian Trains'. Read Helen's appraisal of train #5 'Traders Train' below - different folks, different strokes. ]

From: dylan schenkeveld
Sent: Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 1:01 PM
Subject: RE: SCHENKEVELD x3 - Beijing

Hello Andy,

dylan here.  Just a quick message to say that all was good on the train and we had an amazing time!  Thanks for all your help and our trip will never be forgotten!  Just wondering if you could send me that PDF file on the transiberean.  The one with all the maps and info on it.  I have deleted it from my inbox  and need it to make a photo book.  If you could send it again that would be appreciated Andy.  Take care

Kelvin and Cynthia Port

A great bunch of people!!! 

From: Kelvin and Cynthia Port

Sent: Wednesday, Nov 07, 2007 7:55 PM
Subject: Finally a report back!

Dear Chris
Can't believe it has been 5 months since we did the Beijing to Moscow trip.. and did we love it!!! A big thankyou for your excellent organising and info..We have certainly recommended you to anyone slightly interested in doing the trans sib!
We enjoyed all the stop-offs we had... LOVED Lake Baikal.. what a place!  we both were brave enough to take a (very quick) dip in it up at the Ushkani Cape.. inspired by some other monkey business travellers....who. by the way .. are a great bunch of people!!!   It was great not being stuck with a 'tour group' .. but equally super meeting up with the other moneky travellers every couple of days.. we never knew when we were going to bump into them again!
We enjoyed all the stop-offs we had... LOVED Lake Baikal.. what a place!  we both were brave enough to take a (very quick) dip in it at Ushkani Cape.

Kelvin and Cynthia Port, November 2007

We had an interesting few hours in Moscow on arrival.. having realised we had left a parcel on the train when we had got off in Ekat.. so we tried to locate anything resembling a lost property place... waving our hands around, and holding up a piece of paper with what we hoped was the russian equivlent of "we are looking for lost property off the train".....  So if you know any secrets of trying to locate lost property from the trans sib.. you might want to put it on the website!
The provodniks were truly frightening as we were warned..!! although they seemed to get friendlier the closer we got to  moscow.
Probably the only slightly negative feedback we would offer .. is that we felt the Ekat stop off was pretty over priced for what it was, but the walking tour was good, and hotel was resonable enough.  But there it is..we loved the trip, have some great memories and pics..
Happy Days
Kelvin and Cynthia Port

the guides everywhere couldn't have been nicer or more helpful.

HazelGower, November 2007

From: hazel gower
Sent: Thursday, Nov 01, 2007 6:57 PM
Subject: RE: GOWER / THOMAS : booking

Hello Andy and the team,
Just want to say thank you to you all for organising our Trans Mongolian trip for us, everything went really well and the guides everywhere couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. It was a trip to remember and think about for a very long time.
For anyone interested in the history of the Soviet period I can really recommend Lena at Marlis's KGB tour in Moscow, her knowledge and passion on the unimaginable horrors of Stalinism will be hard to forget. 
Just one little thing to watch out for - although the trains are running on Moscow time the dining cars sometimes seem to run on local time which can mean they can shut up shop when you least expect it.  Anyone coming by train from Berlin to Moscow may also find no dining car as we did. So be prepared!
thanks again for making such a great trip possible for us. 
Oleg Rezabek view of a Moscow metro, October 2007

Oleg Rezabek view of a Moscow metro

From: Oleg Rezabek
Sent: Friday, Oct 19, 2007 5:01 PM
Subject: Re: REZABEK MB21 04-09 Return Passport by Fedex


With a little delay, I wanted to tell you that everything was perfect during the trip and if you want I may let a good appreciation on your website.
I will recommend you.

Concerning the photos, I am putting them on my website. The address is

Thanks for everything and best regards,

From: David Parry
Sent: Friday, Oct 19, 2007 5:15 AM
Subject: Re: PARRY : Monkey polo-shirts

Hi Chris,

Our shirts arrived safely and we are very pleased to wear them to remind us of our wonderful TransZip trip.
It was all just as exciting as we had anticipated.  Thanks to your excellent organization, everything went very smoothly....we even experienced snow as we crossed Siberia on the way to Moscow.  Thank you so much for the hard copy book that gave us information about each stop as we followed our
We enjoyed lots of fresh air, exercise and homecooked meals, a great way to prepare for Moscow. 

David Parry, October 2007

We were well looked after in Irkutsk/Lake Baikal with a welcoming homestay and a very informative and friendly guide [Katya].  We enjoyed lots of fresh air, exercise and homecooked meals, a great way to prepare for Moscow. 
The Zarya hotel in Moscow was clean, friendly and in a good location, near the Metro, and served us a variety of foods for breakfast. We loved our Marlis Guide, Elena.
When we arrived in Ulan Battor, we were greeted by our guide, Maya, who gave us a good city tour and then sent us off to the Ger camp … the Ger experience was fun: we were well fed and we met interesting people..... an amazing experience!
Thank you again for bringing the tickets to our hotel.  It saved us a lot of bother that day.
We have been answering lots of questions about our train trip.  We have responded by showing our friends your book and telling them what a great job you "monkeys" did!

We wish you and your company continuing success.

David and Jennifer

Helen Tuxford and new friends on train 5 from Ulanbaatar to Moscow

New friends on train #5
from Ulanbaatar to Moscow

From: Helen Tuxford
Sent: Monday, Oct 08, 2007 11:35 PM
Subject: RE: TUXFORD : booking

Dear Chris,

I'm just writing to say what a fantastic time I had on my Trans-Mongolian/Siberian trip. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and am busy recommending it to everyone.

As a solo female traveller the excellent organisation of Monkey Business and your associates in Mongolia and Russia was very reassuring and made the trip particularly stress free.

Just a little bit of feed back for you:

The train [5] from Mongolia to Moscow was very interesting, with the local traders selling their goods at every stop - and would certainly recommend this train to other travelllers. I always felt very safe and the 2 female attendants were very helpful. After nearly missing getting back on the train at Irkutsk I quickly learnt that when they said the stop was 10mins, they really did mean 10 minutes!!

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and am busy recommending it to everyone.

Helen Tuxford, October 2008

Both the hotel in Moscow and the homestay in St. Petersburg were great, as were the people who met me at both stations.

The only negative feedback is about my time in Mongolia. The Ger camp was amazing, but ... we had less than 30 minutes in Ulan although we had been told the previous day that we would have at least 1 1/2 hours. Despite this I thought Mongolia was a beautiful place and certainly hope that I'll be able to go back and visit again soon.

As I said above, I am recommending this trip - and your company - to lots of people. I'm already thinking about doing it again in the opposite direction - but I think I'll be taking it a bit slower next time and visiting all the interesting places along the way.

Again, thank you for enabling me to have the trip of a lifetime.

Best wishes

From: shivanthi kandiah-evans
Sent: Sunday, Oct 07, 2007 9:30 PM
Subject: Thank you

Jamie Evans looking out across Lake Baikal from Olkhon Island

Looking out across Lake
Baikal from Olkhon Island

Dear Andy, We have been meaning to write you this thank you note for the past three weeks but have got caught up in all sorts of things including starting new jobs soon after we got back to Singapore - so apologies for the delay!
Thank you very much for organising a truly special trip from Beijing to St Petersburg for us!!! We enjoyed every second of it and we really appreciate the effort made by you and your partners to ensure that everything flowed smoothly. We loved the trains!! And we loved the places we were able to visit on this trip - while it is difficult to choose one place over another, we were very glad we had the time to spend a few nights on Olkhon Island - what a stunning place!!
The guides we had in Mongolia (Dava) and Irkutsk (Liana) were superb! Please do let their companies know that we benefitted greatly from the information they shared with us, and the excellent care they took of us. For the Olkhon Island part of our journey, we were joined by Alex (the driver) - he didn't just drive us, he put up the tents, helped Liana with the cooking, lit very welcome fires in the evening etc. We're pretty much cityfolk with limited experience of camping and both Liana and Alex made sure we enjoyed it! We couldn't have asked for a better introduction to these beautiful places.

Galena's Home, Listvyanka Homestay, Lake Baikal

Galena's Home, Listvyanka
Homestay, Lake Baikal

We enjoyed our homestays - both Galena in Listvyanka and Olga in Irkutsk - made us feel welcome and cooked some fabulous meals (and put to rest some misconceptions I had on Russian food!).
We also met some very interesting people, including our fellow Monkey travellers (especially Jon and Paul) who we travelled with for the major part of our journey.  
We hope so much that we can do this trip again - in the mean time we're recommending the route we took to our friends and of course booking through Monkey!
Two small suggestions: 1) could you find some way to squeeze in a Mongolian hotpot experience for the carnivores (such as Jamie), and 2) This is more for tropical beings like ourselves who don't quite get what "cool weather" means, you could emphasise that "late summer/early autumn" can actually mean some pretty cold and windy weather even if it is sunny during the days so bring something appropriate even if you don't think you need it :o)
Wishing you and the rest of the Monkey team all the very best
Shivanthi and Jamie

Dining Car with Paul and Jon 1 Sept 07

Dining Car with Paul and Jon

From: Paul Carrington
Sent: Thursday, Sep 27, 2007 1:57 AM
Subject: Re: CARRINGTON : booking

Hi. I've been home for nearly 3 weeks since completing my tranzip journey in Petersburg, and I just wanted to let you guys know how much of an amazing time I had. It was a trouble free trip and a truly memorable experience. The contacts at each leg of the journey were really professional, informative, and friendly. That was especially true of Svetlana with Aqua Eco (or whatever they're called) at Baikal. Thanks to you guys too for helping me arrange my trip. I look forward to travelling with you again!

Paul Carrington.

From: Gene Johnson
Sent: Wednesday, Sep 05, 2007 2:28 PM
Subject: RE: JOHNSON x2 - Trans Siberian Booking

Dear Andy or Chris,

We have retruned from our excellent tour on the Trans-Sib.  We wanted to give some feedback.
1. Baja in Ulan Baator was a good guide and we enjoyed the Ger experience.  The Natioinal History Museum was outstanding with English explanations on everything.
2. Tanya in Irkutsk was outstanding as was the homestay at Lake Baikal. At both places the food was excellent.
3. We were disappointed that the total border crossing was 13 hours and that we passed the Lake Baikal shoreline during the dark morning hours. [Unfortunately we have no control of the border crossing and train schedules, as you will have experienced these are working trains for locals and the opportunities for sightseeing are not always thought about, instead the Railways try to route the trains to arrive in major cities early in the morning.]
4. The flight back to Beijing with the Russian airline was excellent [Siberian Airlines direct flight from Irkutsk to Beijing]. 

Thoroughly enjoyed your service and would recommend it to our friends.  In fact, we may be interested in Valodavostok to Moscow another year. 

Thanks, Gene and Terry Johnson

what a fabulous, culturally enlightening experience it was

Adrian Sargeant, September 2007

From: Adrian Sargeant
Sent: Monday, Sep 03, 2007 11:53 AM
Subject: SARGEANT X 4

Hi Chris/Andy
A quick word to confirm we all made it thru the great adventure, and what a fabulous, culturally enlightening experience it was. Beijing & the Wall, the border crossing/wheelchanging exercise, everything we did at Elstei ger camp, and exploring Mosow & St P were highpoints. At Elstei, thankfully the local wrestlers were comparitively gentle on Kevin & I (the only volunteers to participate) We each have the hats and so will never forget donning the rather brief cozzy and facing up to the challenge. We attribute the ease of our passage to your excellent organisation and knowledge of the region, and I convey many thanks from all the team. Our 25kg of food we took was almost exhausted by the end, it was a godsend on days like when the train's kitchen cooker failed and their supply of dry bread & cheese ran out!
Great Work!
Adrian, Kevin, Sam & Rupert.

Pritchard Family, including children 4, 7 and 9 in their trans-siberian cabin!

2 adults and children
4, 7 and 9 in their
trans-siberian cabin!

From: Rachel Pritchard
Sent: Friday, Aug 31, 2007 12:20 AM
Subject: Thank you from the Pritchards


Thank you so much to Monkey Business for organising our Tran Sib adventure from Beijing to Moscow. Our three kids aged 4, 7 and 9 had a fantastic time from start to finish: they loved being on the train, even for 77 hours, making great friends with the other Monkey Business travellers. We all had a wonderful time at Elstei Ger Camp - an utterly unique and beautiful place. We met a nomad family, ate great food, rode feral horses and brushed up on our archery. Lake Baikal was another superb stopover with an excellent homestay. Joe swam in the lake in May, and our 7 year old son even dipped his legs in, a couple of weeks after the ice broke up! We can't thank you enough for all the help, information, excellent stopovers and superb planning. I would recommend Monkey Business to anyone travelling - with kids, or more sensibly, as adults!

Have a look at some of the press coverage we've had since making it home.
Daily Mail
BBC News

Thanks again, we really appreciate it!

Joseph, Rachel, Rowan, Rhys and Jenna Pritchard

See more of their photos on Flickr.

From: Keith Moynes
Sent: Thursday, Aug 23, 2007 4:48 AM
Subject: Re: MOYNES - Departure details

Dear Chris,

We've arrived back in Ireland and I just wanted to thank you and the rest of the Monkey Business team for all your great work and your assistance.  The trip was an  amazing experience, and everything went very smoothly.  The local guides in each place were friendly and knowledgable, and really added to our appreciation of the various places.  The infopack was extremely useful, and so much better than the Lonely Planet we were also carrying.
A couple of updates to the infopack which may be of use:
- Mongolia - Irkutsk section: we travelled on train 263 and not 363 as noted in the pack; departure time and subsequent timetable was slightly different.
- Timezones: Mongolia doesn't appear to have moved onto summer time this year (this may have been mentioned in the guidebook).
- St. Petersburg - Riga: the timetable for this was slightly different to the one noted in the infopack.
Anyway, thanks again for everything - our trip has generated a fair bit of interest among our friends, so I've mentioned Monkey Business to them.
All the best,
Thanks for all your hard work and patience.

Susannah Whitmarsh, August 2008

From: Susannah Whitmarsh
Sent: Thursday, Aug 23, 2007 3:43 AM
Subject: Many thanks


Dear Andy,

I recently got back from my fantstic trip on the trans Siberian and just wanted to say thankyou!

The trip was absolutely amazing- and yes Mongolia was definately a highlight. I was really impressed at the smoothness of the activities and trains that you organised and the way that it ran. So many thanks indeed. It was also great to meet others on the trip, using Monkey business as quite often we were kept together.

Tour company in Mongolia were excellent and really willing to change the programme to suit our needs. Defiantely do that again.

All in all, a really successful and safe trip so many thanks again. Thanks for all your hard work and patience. It really was a once in a lifetime experience. Oh and the book was fantastic. Very helpful, especially the metro maps for Moscow and St Petersburg.

Kind regards
Susannah Whitmarsh

Especially thanks to the homestays, who gave generous hospitality and shared private guidance to me

Lion, August 2007

From: Leonardo Yen
Sent: Monday, Aug 20, 2007 9:55 AM
Subject: Thanks for your excellent arrangement

Dear Andy,

I returned to Taiwan safely last week, and had a wonderful voyage as a result of your excellent arrangement. Especially thanks to the homestays - Tiana at Vladivostok and Vera at Moscow, who gave generous hospitality and shared private guidance to me. Please send my best wishes to all your staffs.

By the way, through Monkey's arrangement, 3 British girls accompanied me on the railway of trans-siberian. It is very interesting, although noisy sometimes.


From: sílvia martínez grau
Sent: Wednesday, Aug 08, 2007 3:10 PM

Hi Chris,

we are Jordi and Silvia, we met a couple of weeks ago, when we were in Beijing at the beginning of our trip. I hope you remember us.

Now we are in Ulan Ude, ready to leave to Irkustk, and everything's all right, we've been having a wonderful time (altough it was raining at the desert... but even that was great).

We are contacting you because we had some trouble in Ulaan Baatar, we left our mobile phone in the room of the Bayangol hotel. Do you think there is a chance for us to recuperate it? We guess this may be rather difficult, but if you would find it, we would pay the mailing to our address in Barcelona. We'd prefer it so much rather than buying another new, because of the information it contained.

We're sure you will do your best to help us, as we've seen how Monkeys do their job.
Altough we know we have a big request this time!

Please let us know something, we'll keep in touch.
Thank you in advance for your kindness,


Silvia Martinez

The food everywhere far exceeded reasonable expectations and accommodations were good

Jack Garrett, August 2007

From: Garrett, Ronald J
Sent: Monday, Aug 06, 2007 6:17 PM

Hello Chris and Andy...the old folks made it through the train trek in good shape, and have the utmost compliments for the Monkey Shriners. It was a grand experience and your arrangements were spot on. The guide in Mongolia, "Naki", is a prince!!! The food everywhere far exceeded reasonable expectations and accommodations were good. Train food is another story, as you well know. We are highly pleased to have made the journey and glad we met and engaged you folks, and have and will recommend you to others. You may, if you wish, quote Kay and me as satisfied clients.  Jack

From: Betty Abel
Sent: Saturday, Aug 04, 2007 4:16 PM
Subject: RE: Trans-Siberian traveller contact

Thanks Chris!

I've just returned home from the trip, and I'd like to thank you guys for all the organizing you did for us. We had absolutely no problems picking up our train tickets and vouchers, or finding our contacts at the train stations, etc.

Every one of our guides in Russia were very friendly and informative, and we really enjoyed meeting all of them. Also, I was pleased that none of them pressed us for a tip -- quite the opposite: at the end of each tour, they'd simply say goodbye and vanish! Anyway it was really nice to not have awkward situations.

Other than our accomodations in Ekaterinburg (which were just average), we were really delighted with all the places we stayed. We had such a nice vacation-within-a-vacation at the homestay in Bolshoe Gl... (I don't remember) on Lake Baikal, and we were so surprised by how nice our hotels were in Moscow, Suzdal (especially!) and St Petersburg. These were of a much higher standard than we had expected, and much higher than we had been organizing for ourselves. For 3 people travelling together for such a long time, it was really nice to have these little luxuries.

The only confusion we had was in Suzdal, where we didn't know what the agenda was, i.e. if/when we would be returned to the train station, and by whom. Our driver didn't speak, and our guide didn't know. Only as a last resort, we asked the concierge at the hotel - who was able to tell us. So my only suggestion would be to make clear who our contact is.

Anyway, thanks for doing all the arranging for us - it let us make the most of our trip!

From: Eleanor Belshaw-Hauff
Sent: Friday, Jul 27, 2007 1:15 AM
Subject: Initial Enquiry Form

I travelled with your company from Beijing to Moscow last summer and loved it!  My favourite thing about it was that although you provided options, nothing was set in stone, and the level of tours and services were fabulous.  I was wondering if you know of anyone similar who does tours of this sort (the tours for people who don't like tours!) for the Silk Road?  Thanks very much!

From: axelle girardot
Sent: Tuesday, Jul 24, 2007 3:43 PM
Subject: RE: Girardot/Huchet... questions en route

Hi Andy,

Thanks for responding so fast.  We'll speak to the guide in Ulanbaatar then... 

The trip is going very well.  We really enjoyed the stay at Lake Baikal, and it's quite nice to now have a couple days in Irkutsk to relax.  All local guides and homestay people have been very nice and helpful so far!

From: Will Rowberry
Sent: Monday, Jul 23, 2007 5:49 PM
Subject: RE: ROWBERRY x2 - Moscow Airport


Great stuff - thanks as always for all the useful information. About to head across the border - very sad to leave Mongolia

All the best


From: soncar paul
Sent: Thursday, Jul 12, 2007 11:47 AM
Subject: Re: HORSTEAD : Transfer

Hi Yeah!  Thanks for your quick response and your attachment.  Everything is going well, so well done for all your work and thanks again.

From: Craig N Birkelund
Sent: Thursday, Jul 12, 2007 3:46 AM
Cc: Rosak, Tatiana (US)
Subject: RE: BIRKELUND / ROSAK - trip

Hi Andy

I just wanted to let you know that we had a fantastic trip.  Everything went according to plan and we would recommend using your service to anyone we know.

I also wanted to make a special mention that both of our guides, Alvera (Irkutsk) and Elmy (Mongolia) - hope I got their names right, we're fantastic!!

Thanks for your help in organizing and setting up the trip.  Great job to you too!

Bob Buckie, celebrating with champagne at the Aisa Europe border in the Ural Mountains

Bob Buckie, celebrating
with champagne at the
Asia / Europe border

From: bob buckie
Sent: Friday, Jul 06, 2007 1:23 AM
Subject: trip

Chris - Bob Buckie here.
I meant to send some photos earlier.
I did a piece on the trip but unfortunately I did not get a story out of Monkey Business.   As I said, I enjoyed the village tours very much, followed by Nizhniy Novgorod. It’s a beautiful city, well laid out for walking, outdoor cafes, beautiful vistas, very romantic, interesting history etc.
I stayed at the Volsky Otkas Hotel - sparse, but probably the best location in town overlooking the Volga and close to everywhere.
As a matter of fact, I have hooked up with an ex-military fighter pilot here in Canada and we want to do extreme tours in that region i.e. supersonic flights, acrobatic flights, weightless experience etc. We are working on this just now.   Anyway, enjoyed the trip and welcomed the professional help you gave.   A piece of advice to any travellers: 'always get on the good side of your provodnitsa!'
That helped me tremendously especially when I had that little incident in Novosibirsk. Provodnitsa Vera knew me and had all of my luggage - with the help of another Russian traveller whom I befriended – packed and ready in Omsk, otherwise think I would have lost it, or at least some of it. Too many toasts of friendship on the train then I went to the wrong platform. All's well that ends well. The Ulan Ude stop was particularly interesting - enjoying myself (too) much.
Cheers - Bob 
From: Claire Mace
Sent: Monday, Jun 25, 2007 1:17 PM
Subject: Telephone number

Dear Andy & co

I travelled on the Transsiberian train via you in the latter half of 2005, and it was an amazing trip.

One of the things we did was take a trip to the Great Wall, and you recommended an excellent driver at the time.  I'm back in Beijing for a few days and wondered if you could remind me of his name and number so I could arrange to go and see a different part of the
wall? [Contact Mr John, who is an English Speaking guide, he will be able to arrange a car and driver for the trip to the Great Wall. His contact number is 13901123938.]

Hope all is well with the Monkey Shrine


Claire Mace

From: EWTA
Sent: Wednesday, Jun 06, 2007 5:31 AM
Subject: Email Address


Just a quick note to tell you we enjoyed the train trip. Everything seem to be well organized.

We want to send some photos to the guides and have misplaced some of the email addresses.

Could you provide the email addresses for the following:


Kind regards,

Jay Neves/Doug Boyd

From: Lara Naqushbandi
Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 7:31 PM
Subject: Thankyou

Hi Andy

Just wanted to let you know that we had a fantastic trip and really enjoyed ourselves in Irkutsk and Mongolia.  The accommodation, guides, and activities super exceeded our expectations and we had a really unforgettable experience. Everything was extremely well organised and went very smoothly.  Thanks again for all your help with our trip!


From: stostrowski
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 2:28 AM
Subject: Missed train

Just wanted to alert you that a Canadian man named Bob, who departed Beijing on the same day we did (May 9) apparently missed the train tonight during a stopover at Novosibirsk.  We believe he was headed to Ekaterinberg.  The provodnitsas have collected his luggage but perhaps you could alert the local operator in Ekaterinberg to let them know that Bob will be arriving later.



-----Original Message-----
From:    "Monkey Business Beijing"
Sent:    Monday, May 21, 2007 2:36 AM
Subject:    RE: Missed train

Hi Steve,

I hope you had a good trip to Moscow.

Thanks for alerting us about Bob's miss-adventures  ... apparently he had a few too many vodka toasts in Novosibirsk and got back on the wrong train!  His luggage was deposited in Omsk but luckily he speaks some Russian and so managed to get back on the right track, stopped in Omsk to pick up his bags and ended up in Ekaterinburg a couple of days later!

Kind Regards,

-----Original Message-----
From: stostrowski
Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 4:41 AM
Subject: RE: Missed train

Thanks, Andy.  Glad to hear Bob made out okay.  We were all very careful not to stray far from the train after that!

From: naomi goldstein
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2007 2:56 PM
Subject: RE: GOLDSTEIN : feedback

Hi Chris

Thanks again for agreeing so readily for putting us up in the hotel in UB. One night in a camp environmenet was stretching me way out of my comfort zone [during winter with no shower or toilet block open]; two nights would have probably broken me. The rest of the journey went very smoothly-we thoroughly enjoyed the train ride to Moscow and even the stone faced Soviet style management at the Mosow Hotel (Ostankino sp?) were wonderfully sterotypical.

Thanks for arranging the tour.

Naomi Goldstein


From: John Eyberg
Sent: Monday, Apr 23, 2007 2:21 AM
Subject: you are in my third book

I want to thank all of you for being such an important part of when my family and I travelled in 2004. Consequently, you are in my third book, Volume 2-"On the Opposite Side of the World: Sin Esposa," and I have attached chapter 4 for your review. I anticipate the book being published by the end of May. It has only taken me THREE years to get this written! Thanks again! "Juanito Hayburg"
John Eyberg

From: Suzanne Anthony
Sent: Wednesday, Apr 18, 2007 5:31 AM
Subject: RE: ANTHONY: Info-Pack

Zhaonan and Chris,

I have received the documents today.  Thank you so much!

I must say, I am quite impressed by the amount of information in the info packet.  I was not expecting it to be so comprehensive yet concise, so that was a nice surprise!   I have been a very independent traveler all my adult life, and I don't usually book many tours.  I hope I do not become hopelessly spoiled for the future!  ;-)

Thanks again for making it look so easy...


From: David Carter
Sent: Monday, Apr 16, 2007 9:53 AM
Subject: RE: CARTER : contact


[NOTE - This is reminiscence from 1995 - not the current situation!]

Morning Chris
I had a great time, met a huge number of people that kept coming back on the scene as I traveled back across Europe.

A memorable trip that I think if I made again, would just not be the same.
But I do recall 2 American guys who were traveling, who tried changing money with some Russian entrepreneur at one station which resulted in them being arrested, slapped about a bit, money confiscated and then sent back on their way. The Russian guy was not so lucky and was carted off by the police / security.

Trying Russian homemade vodka (perhaps not so wise in afterthought, but interesting at the time) with 2 Russian doctors who “joined” our cabin, along with 12 happy Moonsky travelers crammed into one compartment and then spending All night playing guitar and singing Russian folk songs and bad renditions of Beatles tunes.

Buying 4 cans of Coca Cola at some station in the middle of nowhere for $3 US each then selling them on the train for $10 USD each to some Coke thirst Americans.

Trying to chat up Olga and Volga the 2 Russian cabin attendants.

Transporting hot water in carrier bags from the Samovar to the “bathrooms” for a hot shower. The pioneer spirit comes out during the winter time.

Asking too many questions in the dining car about the trading of leather jackets and train food, and from a gold toothed “waiter” being told, this is Russian Business, shhhhh. With his big gold toothed grin.

Yes, had a fun trip which I’ll never forget.

Followed by a strip search by Russian customs when we crossed into Bealarus, with the cabin being pulled apart and having to provide receipts for all the foreign exchange that we’d made whilst in Russia.

I could go on but you’ve heard thousands I am sure.

Have a good day


From: David Carter
Sent: Monday, Apr 16, 2007 8:57 AM
Subject: Initial Enquiry Form


I travelled thru to Moscow with you guys back in 1995.

Just wondering if you keep old people lists, wanted to see about catching up with some people I met. On onward travels, I lost my luggage along with address book, passport and ID cards.

Overheard someone talking about their trip to Moscow so thought I'd surf the net and find a ctc e-mail for you.

Travelled in September / Oct 1995.



Craig Johnson and tranzip friends, train #9 "baikalsk" loco

New friends and the Loco

From: Craig Johnson
Sent: Friday, Apr 13, 2007 11:59 PM
Subject: Cheers and Bye Bye


This is my last night in Moscow and Ive had a great time allround.

Thanks for answering my Q's and the Guide book was very usefull. Tomorrow I head for Prague and then home. But as far as my monkey journey goes, Its over!

No regrets, No complaints! : )

From: Paul Harper
Sent: Friday, Mar 30, 2007 7:20 PM
Subject: RE: HARPER x2 - Beijing

Hello Chris, Andy.
Just a quick note to say that we survived the train trip and thoroughly enjoyed it. All our connections worked perfectly and the time spent in Russia was fantastic. Thanks for all your help, we will be glad to pass on your details to fellow travellers.

Paul & Erin Harper

From: Lynn Walton
Sent: Sunday, Mar 25, 2007 1:48 AM
Subject: Trans-Mongolian, Walton/Mayneord 07.02.07


Hi Chris

I just wanted to say thankyou for organising our trip on the Trans Mongolian in February. We had a great time. Even if we did have to live on bread and cheese because the resturant car broke down by the time we got to Russia.

I thought you would like a little bit of feedback. Firstly I think that the new book is a much better layout.

We found that there were no money changers at the border between Mongolia and Russia. We therefore had to wait until we could use an ATM at one of the stations. It would be useful if you mentioned in the book which stations have ATM's and where they are located in the station.

I hope that these comments are of use.

Thanks once again.


From: Rybak, Andrew
Sent: Wednesday, Oct 11, 2006 1:16 AM
Subject: tshirt request

Hi there monkeys

We booked a trans-Mongolian passage through you guys this past Spring. First of - it was amazing and thanks for all your efforts in making the trip unforgettable.

After traveling half way around the world, we had my girlfriend's (Katharine) backpack stolen on the first day of getting home to Canada. One of the things she was most upset at was loosing the Trans Siberian Polo shirt as a memento of the trip. Can I order her a new one? I would of course be happy to pay the cost of the shirt and shipping (to Canada)

Please let me know if / how I can arrange this.


Some feedback

* The whole trip was fantastic and all the guides were great....but a particular THUMBS UP for your Mongolian guide (ahhhh, drawing a blank on her name. starts with Z), Siberian guide (Svetlana), and Lake Baikal home stay (Galina)
* After crossing into Mongolia the train seemed to vacuum suction in the dust from outside and completely filled the train. It makes breathing difficult and everything was covered in a layer of dust afterwards. All part of the adventure
- but you might want to alert people of this in advance. I imagine anyone with respiratory problems would have found this very difficult. We ended up buying some surgical masks at one of the stops.
* We can confirm that there is a shower available for rent on the 1st class section of the train from Irkutsk to Moscow

Andrzej Rybak