Personal Testimonials from 2010


From: David Aston
Sent: 02 December 2010 18:29
Subject: Thanks you and some photos

Hi Matt,

Its a bit late but I thought I would drop you a note to say thank you for arranging our Trans-Mongolian adventure. Sally and I had a fantastic time traveling across china, mongolia and russia. The washed away tracks on the mongolian border, the naadam festival, ger camp and lake bakal were highlights but the journey was great throughout.

We will certainly be recommending to any friends heading in your direction. Thanks.

Both Sally and I are photography mad a documented most (almost all) of the trip. We have both made ifone photobooks which we thought you or future travelers might enjoy.

http://www.blurb.com/books/1563817
http://www.blurb.com/books/1552824

Keep up the good work and all the best.

Dave and Sally


I enjoyed the trip very much, overall. Everybody should do that once in their life!

Tihana Majcen, November 2010

 

From: Tihana
Sent: 13 November 2010 07:05
Subject: Re: MAJCEN / regarding the booking in Moscow

Hi Willy

Thanks for the message! I'm sorry I didn't reply earlier.

Yes, at the end everything turned out fine. I was annoyed when I learnt I had to leave the Lake earlier, I wish I stayed longer there but that's OK, it will just give me a reason to travel once again to Russia!

I enjoyed the trip very much, overall. Everybody should do that once in their life! The trains I took were very comfortable and clean! I was really impressed by that. I was glad to have chosen to travel in 1st class, most of the trip from Irkutsk to Moscow I was alone. The Rossiya train was especially nice!

The restaurant cars on the Russian part of the trip were very bad though. Very little choice, they weren't exactly clean, and the people working there had no idea about what decent customer service is. They basically threw the dishes on the table, and that's it. The restaurant car in the Rossiya car was also packed with all sorts of stuff that had nothing to do with food. Odd. I'd strongly recommend to anyone to bring their own food, and to buy as much as possible at the stops.

I liked the Lake Baikal view and little house in Bolshoe Goloustnoe! The landlady is a great cook, and my guide was a friendly and knowledgeable young woman, I think her name was Lena.

In Moscow, I also had a great guide sent by Marlis Travel, a lady named Diana.

I wish also I stayed one full day in Irkutsk, and not just a few hours. The city was very pretty, with some traditional old houses and some newer ones, from the 19th century. I think you should recommend it to your clients for a 1-day or 2-day stopover.

Thanks again for your help organising the trip!

I'll use your services should I do the trip West-East, next time. Lena recommended me to visit Siberia in January... ;-) Maybe I should!

All the best,
Tihana



From: Lesley Russell
Sent: 10 October 2010 11:17
Subject: RE: GORDON

Hi Matt,

Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to your company for organsing our trans sib trip. Yet again everything went like clockwork - service, accomodation and guides were fab, as before....We had a ball - now out there on our own for the next 5 months. Aaaargghhhh!

Cheers again,

Lesley



the train journey from Moscow to Irkutsk was like a four day picnic

Paul Roche, September 2010

From: Paul Roche
Sent: Friday, 10 September, 2010 11:17 AM
Subject: RE: ROCHE: trip

Hi Willy,

Just to let you know i made the connections and am having a great time, the train journey from Moscow to Irkutsk was like a four day picnic.

Regards
Paul


Just wanted to say many thanks for an excellent trip in August

Colin Cavendish-Jones, September 2010

From: Colin Cavendish-Jones
Sent: 08 September 2010 15:52
Subject: Re: CAVENDISH-JONES

Hi Matt,

Just wanted to say many thanks for an excellent trip in August. I was very impressed at how well-organised everything was and particularly pleased that the Melody Hotel in Moscow checked me in before 5:00am when I arrived.

I may be in touch again sometime as I'm seriously thinking about doing the Moscow-Vladivostok route in Winter (not this Winter, though).

All the best,

Colin

 


Our home stay lunch was fantastic. Both our guide Karine and also our host Lena were fabulous

Tanya Stacey, August 2010

From: tanya stacey
Sent: Tuesday, 31 August, 2010 1:29 AM
Subject: Re: STACEY: tours

Hi Willy,

We had a fabulous day today, our home stay lunch was fantastic. Both our guide Karine and also our host Lena were fabulous, we really enjoyed it and it was quite a highlight to 'mix with the locals'. Lena was genuinely happy to have us there and it wasn't just for the money. In fact, if we do come back to St Pete's in the next year we would want to stay at Lena's.

We have also booked a day trip with Karine for Pushkin on Wednesday. Karine seems passionate about Pushkin and we know she will be the right guide for the tour.

Thanks so much for following up.

Have a great day,
Tired Tan :)


Our trip was just amazing and so much of that was thanks to you and the monkeys!

Sally Sargood, August 2010

From: Sally Sargood
Sent: Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010 12:19 AM
Subject: Thanks!

Hi Matt,

I’ve been meaning to write to you for ages but unfortunately been crazy busy since returning. Our trip was just amazing and so much of that was thanks to you and the monkeys! Apart from the mudslide between UB and Irkutsk, everything went like clockwork and not only met but exceeded our expectations.

Sally Sargood ~ From Beijing to Moscow Photo Book

From Beijng to Moscow
A Trans Mongolian Adventure

The guides were great and Olga’s homestay was an absolute delight and a highlight of our trip. I particularly wanted to thank you for your effort in getting us on the #1 train. We had an older Russian lady and her 12 year old granddaughter in our carriage who spoke not a word of English and were actually the perfect roomies! The trip was fabulous – considering it was a 4 day train trip and we were grateful for the extra time in Moscow not to mention the extra comfort. We saw Chris (Howard) as he got in after his 5am arrival and he looked a wreck and had nowhere near the trip we did. 

I have put together a book you may want to check out.... http://www.blurb.com/books/1535080, I figured it would give you a good feel for our adventure. [See more of Sally's photos on her website, Where is Sally.]

So a massive THANK YOU for all your help. You were always so quick to respond, so patient and incredibly helpful in every way and Monkeyshrine have played a big part in a journey that we will never forget,

Take Care ☺

xo
Sal


From: Pascal Longeanie
Sent: 13 August 2010 16:22
Subject: Re: LONGEANIE: info

Hi Willy,
Just a message to tell you that I had an excellent trip (which ended in fact already 3 weeks ago).
Thanks for everythings,
Regards,
Pascal

 


From: Hilary Stockwell
Sent: 02 August 2010 19:54
Subject: Mongolia

IT’S BRILLIANT.  Rode on the plains today and it was AWESOME! 

Hilary Stockwell, August 2010

Hi Willy,

IT’S BRILLIANT.  Rode on the plains today and it was AWESOME! 

Do we tip our wonderful guide?  That’s the only question.

Hillsx

-----Original Message-----

From: Hilary Stockwell
Sent: 12 August 2010 23:09
Subject: Stockwells are off the rails

Dear Willy,

We are SO glad to be returning home this way, it really has made a difference to the end of our Chinese 2 years

The Stockwell's, August 2010

You are a Dutch genius!

Here we are, within a matter of an hour or so from leaving the train from Irkutsk, to find ourselves, in the lap of luxury, en-route to St. Petersburg.

You are a star and destined for the Nobel Tourism award for efficiency under pressure from awkward Brits!

We are having an amazing time.

Enough from me.  A full trip report will follow once we are home which should cure your insomnia.

We are SO glad to be returning home this way, it really has made a difference to the end of our Chinese 2 years.

A big hug to you and your lovely team.

Hilary, Richard, David and Chloe

-----Original Message-----
From: Hilary Stockwell
Sent: 15 August 2010 23:40
Subject: Travel update

Hi Willy

We have made it all the way to Brussels and just have the Channel to cross (tomorrow)

I must say that the last 2 days (i.e. with our own organisation) has been more fraught than that as organised by you –the pressure is really on when you are trying to make a connection and you know you have nobody else apart from yourself to blame if you miss it!!!!! Also, why is it that the further west we come and the more sophisticated the trains become, the less personal they are and the less people there are to assist – guess that’s progress too.

Anyway, no missed trains yet and tomorrow should be simple (famous last words!)

-----Original Message-----
From: Hilary Stockwell
Sent: 16 August 2010 14:55
Subject: RE: STOCKWELL: back home!

Hi Willy,

THANK YOU Willy for making the whole booking etc. painless and enjoyable.  You have been a star.

Richard Stockwell, August 2010

We are in Brussels.  It's been amazing!  Moments of weariness. Moments of murderous Motherhood.  Great spans of lovely book reading opportunities.  Wonderful views, interesting and varied people and generally a wonderful way to return after such a successful time in Shanghai.

THANK YOU Willy for making the whole booking etc. painless and enjoyable.  You have been a star and we will recommend you highly.

What are YOUR plans for the future.  More families, more Beijing Monkeys, more China?

Do tell.

Hilary, Richard, David and Chloexxxxxx



From: Matthew Caldwell
Sent: Saturday, Aug 14, 2010 4:09 AM
Subject: Re: CALDWELL / details

Dear Matt,

It is a week since we finished our big trip and I thought I’d give you some feedback.

.. our guide Khirlie was wonderful. This part of the trip [in the Gobi Desert] was one of our favourites, and the experience was wonderful.

Matt Caldwell, August 2010

1. The information and email correspondence from Monkey Shrine was impeccable. It is obvious that the company has a lot of experience and has recruited the correct staff to do the job. Can’t thank you enough in this area!
2. The pick up in Sainshand was great and our guide Khirlie (not sure if that is how you spell it!) was wonderful. This part of the trip was one of our favourites, and the experience was wonderful.
3. The UB pick up and Elstei Ger camp was similarly a great experience. The gers and food were excellent. The guide was very young and didn’t seem too interested in telling us too much about anything in particular however!
4. The Irkutsk pick up worked well and our guide was very knowledgeable. The homestay was wonderful and Galina’s house was everything that we wished it would be! The hike around Lake Baikal was very memorable and even though it was 15kms, both kids managed it well.
5. The hotel in Irkutsk was fine in all respects apart from the beds ... it was very odd to have such basic beds in a hotel where everything else was so modern.

Trans Siberian Travel - comfortable for children

Harry (5) and Maisie (8) relaxing
in their Trans Siberian cabin!

6. Train 339 from Irkutsk to Moscow was a big disappointment. The main fault with it was that it was filthy dirty. We have travelled all over S.E. Asia and beyond with our children and we are not averse to making the best of bad situations. We are far from being fussy travelers; in fact we love experiencing the authentic! Our experience of all the other trains was so totally different to this. They were clean, comfortable, had air con and power in the carriage, and I was sad to leave them at the end of the journey. I was looking forwards to the trans Siberian leg as the crowning part of our trip back, instead it has left a bad taste in my mouth. Unless people could be assured of not having to take carriages as old and filthy as this one, then I could not really recommend doing this journey, especially with children. All the other train numbers in the info pack are different numbers and nowhere is 339 mentioned. I would be very disappointed if you could have booked us on to a better train, especially as we were traveling with young children. I understand that you cannot possibly know what the state of all the different carriages you send people on will be like, however, it is your duty as a reputable tour company to provide the best and most up to date information. We would gladly have paid a surcharge or travelled on a different day if we could have avoided this train. [train #339 was a late change to the itinerary as train #9 IRK-MOS was cancelled, alternative and more expensive options are generally available. Ed]
7. The hotel and guide in Moscow were excellent and we only wish we could have spent more time here.

Many Thanks for making this a memorable trip - we catalogued it all at www.caldwelltraveldrivel.blogspot.com and made sure to add a link to the Monkey Shrine website!

Regards,

Matt Caldwell



From: paul edmiston
Sent: 11 August 2010 10:29
Subject: Re: EDMISTON - payment

Joanna,

We are back in Hong Kong after a wonderful holiday in Beijing / Mongolia. A spectacular experience with a couple of wonderful guides. Many thanks for organising this for us, it was really special.

Once again, many thanks for all the help you gave us. I would have no hesitation recommending Monkeyshrine to friends.

Best regards,

Paul



From: Marcia Herman
Sent: Friday, Jul 30, 2010 7:57 PM
To: Monkeyshrine Beijing
Subject: RE: HERMAN / question and comment

Dear Matt,

.. and still reveling in the happy memories of our trip. It all went well ... the guides were wonderful.

Marcia Herman, July 2010

We have been back almost 2 weeks now and still reveling in the happy memories of our trip. It all went well, pick-ups and deliveries were almost perfect, and the guides were wonderful. Two were exceptional and I would be glad to look up their names if you would like.

My son and I do have a question. In Beijing, we were approached by a young man trying to pull the 'seeing my art' scam. Thank goodness you had mentioned this in your information or else we would have fallen for it he was so slick. Our question is, what happens if one is lured into some place with such a person? Robbed, just pressured for money, beaten up,etc?? [not too scary, they just heavily over charge you for tea, or pressure you to buy something at inflated cost, you just need to stand firm. Ed]

My son did have a pick-pocket attempt in Ulan Bator but that was to be expected. All in all we stayed very safe.

Do you know of companies like yours that help arrange travel in other parts of the world?

[Koryo Tours for travel to North Korea | The China Travel Company for trips in China and Tibet. Ed]

Thank you.


 

From: Marion McMahon
Sent: 28 July 2010 21:37
Subject: Thank you

Hi Willy

Just want to say THANK YOU and congratulations to your team!!!

The trip was wonderful and met all my expectations.

I do have some suggestions for your consideration which may help you to deliver more to travellers

The trip was wonderful and met all my expectations ... Kazan should have to be a must for all.

Marion McMahon, July 2010


• Kazan should have to be a must for all - I had an 8 hour walking tour with a wonderful guide and really felt welcomed in their city. With its amazing Kremlin and lots of history with the Tartans and the Russians it certainly provided a great stop
• Home stay families need to be selected carefully I stayed with Svetlana and her family in Ulan Ude and had the best time - I cannot speak as positively however about the lady at Lake Baikal
• The train time from Irkutsk has now been changed meaning there is longer here - although a pretty little city I think Kazan would be a better option for most

Thanks again I will certainly recommend your tour and your company to others in the future

Marion



From: yarraluda
Sent: Tue, Jul 27, 2010 12:05 PM
Subject: Re: KORCZYNSKYJ: on the road

Everything has been better than we expected and indeed than we hoped for - especially your various reps and tour guides

Yarra Korczynskyj, July 2010

Hi Willy,

Here we are in Hotel Angara Irkutsk; our baggage is 'in store' and we have a few hours to ourselves before an Irkutsk Tour (thank you!) and onto the train this evening for the long trip to St Petersburg.
Everything has been better than we expected and indeed than we hoped for - especially your various reps/tour guides - all have been so helpful, full of info, punctual, happy to explain stuff several tims to sometimes-anxious visitors and nothing seems to be too much bother.

Svetlana and her 'helpers'/drivers in Ulan-Ude was marvelous; the tours in U-U were very special, though some might find them a little long & tiring. Yelena in Irkutsk/Listvyanka equally fabulous.

I must run 'cos they are going to cut me off again!

The Derevenka Hostel cabins were very interesting. People must expect however, pretty basic experience; but as usual - brilliant people!

Cheers!
Yarra (and Luda)



Relax at Elstei Ger Camp on the Mongolian Open Steppe

The Allen family relaxing at
Elstei Ger camp

From: allenericnina
Sent: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 9:08 PM
Subject: Thank you again for a wonderful trip!

Hello Willy! The reason we came to your office was to thank you in person, but I'll do it in writing too in case you want to add a "snippet" to your testimonial page. I know I had 1001 questions over the course of the 2-3 months of planning and you were always so patient and thorough when responding. This was my first trip in about 20 years to countries where I didn't speak the language or even know the alphabet (Ok, I did study up on Cyrillian a bit), so I was a little anxious. I am so thankful that we chose MonkeyShrine. It really took the stress out of our "wild adventure" to be met at the airport and train stations and to have most everything booked in advance. I loved having locals as our guides and learning so much about each place we visited. Everyone was friendly and knowledgeable and we really felt we could ask questions and do the things that interested us. All of our accommodations were just what we were looking for - a mix of fun and funky (but clean) hostels, nice hotels, camping, and the homestay. I love the variety offered by the packages you offer and your willingness to make changes. It was such a great experience. We will certainly recommend MonkeyShrine with no reservations. I'll attach a few pix in case you would like to use them, but I'm not much of a photographer and I don't have much of a camera!
Alles gute,
Andy Allen and family



Moscow city tour was just what I needed, the guide was great.

Benjamin Kanner, June 2010

From: Benjamin Kanner
Sent: Mon, Jun 07, 2010 1:25 PM
Subject: KANNER: Russia Registration

thanks willy! everything has been great, thanks again for puting it all together. the moscow city tour was also just what I needed, the guide was great.

Cheers,

Benjamin


 

From: Erin Mackie
Sent: Thu, May 06, 2010 11:16 AM
Subject: Re: MACKIE: papers

Everything has run smoothly and the guides, accommodations and arrangements have all exceeded expectations

Erin Mackie, May 2010

Hi Willy!

I'm now in St. Petersburg. The trip has been absolutely wonderful so far. Everything has run smoothly and the guides, accommodations and arrangements have all exceeded expectations- and my expectations were pretty high! Thanks so much for putting it together.

I'll pop into the office when I'm back in Beijing next week. Let me know if there's anything you'd like from SPB!

Cheers,
Erin


Oh my goodness we just LOVED the train journey and really enjoyed the folk in our group

Glenda Hinkley, May 2010

From:W & G Hinkley
Sent:Tue, May 4, 2010 at 1:01 PM
Subject: GREETINGS FROM THE HINKLEYS!!

Hello There Willy,

How are you?
We’re now back in Australia after the most amazing trip; 6 weeks away.

Oh my goodness we just LOVED the train journey and really enjoyed the folk in our group. The guides were fabulous, each of them very different, offering an interesting mix of personalities to each tour. We loved the fact the tours were walking tours.

Willy, I’m hoping you can assist. While in Mongolia the fab guide Dava arranged a pair of boots to be hand made for me. Dava and I have been sending emails and I did have her mobile number although I seem to have misplaced it; we now need to organize postage for the boots and it will be easier to chat.

Are you able to provide me with her mobile number please?
Thanks Willy.
Bye for now.
Glenda


From: Crazy Aunt Fred
Sent: Mon, Apr 19, 2010 1:23 PM
Subject: RE: PEARSON: info

The trip so far has been a success! I've been sick the whole time, but I woke up today and am feeling better for the first time. Mongolia was spectacular and Russia is so much fun. I enjoyed the train ride too, but I was glad to be off, five days is a long time.

Thank you Monkey business, next stop Poland!
Stephen

 


Our guide was excellent and we had loads to talk about as she has lived in London

Ashley James, March 2010

From: Ashley James
Sent: Sunday, Mar 14, 2010 7:38 PM
Subject: Re: JAMES: new itinerary

Hi Willy

Just got to hotel in UB to 'freshen up', bit of an understatement. We had a great time. Did some lovely walking at the first camp then the second camp was in thick snow. The driver did superbly but had to dig us out a few times.
Our guide was excellent and we had loads to talk about as she has lived in London.
Off to explore UB now.

Take care

Ashley & Tracy