Personal Testimonials from 2012

After another successful and busy summer season on the trains, we have collated the feedback sent to our friendly Beijing office staff.


From: Patricia Currie
Sent: 4 November 2012 06:29
To: Beijing Office Matt
Subject: Thank you, Thank you!!

The hotels you sent us to were great, and the home stay in Listvyanka was fantastic.

Pat Currie, October 2012

Greetings, Matt, Andy, Zhaonan,
I have been meaning to write you a message about the trip from Moscow to Beijing that you arranged for my husband, Don, and me.
The trip you arranged for us was perfect for us. We were looked after when we needed it - especially appreciated being picked up at all our arrivals, and never needing to run the gauntlet of cab drivers (and whatever). The hotels you sent us to were great, and the home stay in Listvyanka was fantastic. Even had indoor plumbing and a shower!! Bonus! We were ok on our own for the times we had no guide, and enjoyed doing our own thing and exploring by ourselves.
I'm not sure whether it was a calculated move when you booked us two lower berths on the train trips, but it was fantastic from our point of view, and another bonus was that the lady in charge of our carriage on that train came and offered us a shower time after a couple of days. We would have happily paid, but they said no.
The weather was pretty much perfect for the whole trip. Not your doing, I guess, but take the credit.... We had one cold windy afternoon at Elstei Ger Lodge, but other than that, we rarely needed our warmer gear. In fact, it was downright hot in Moscow.

All the guides were very well informed and organized .. We really liked them all, and appreciated their knowledge and help.

Pat Currie, October 2012

All the guides were very well informed and organized - the one in Moscow was a bit young and inexperienced but was really informed about the historic sites. The others were real experts in their area. We really liked them all, and appreciated their knowledge and help.
I can't say we had a favourite place - we were pretty much dazzled by all the cities and sights. It was interesting to see the contrast between city and village life in Russia.
Again, thanks, to all of you - and the guides. I want you all to know how glad we were that we had booked the trip with your company.
Cheers!! Patricia & Don Currie



From: Jim Bray
Date: 16 September 2012 12:43
Subject: RE: BRAY / Moscow accommodation
To: Beijing Office Matt

Hi Matt

We particularly enjoyed sharing a few laughs on the walking tour with Olga in Moscow.

Jim Bray, September 2012

Well the Brays are now back home. I would like to thank you for all your organisation of our Trans Mongolian Tour.
Everything worked like clockwork and things were exactly as you had said they would be eg border crossings. At all stops the guides were present to meet us when the train arrived and ensured we were safely booked into our hotel before they left us. Each guide was so friendly and a delight to spend time with. They were knowledgeable about their city and proud to show us the sights. Nothing was too much trouble. We particularly enjoyed sharing a few laughs on the walking tour with Olga in Moscow.

We found Mongolia interesting rather than enjoyable, probably because it is going through growing pains and the infrastructure has not kept pace with the population growth. The road from the railway station to the Hustai National Park has to be travelled to comprehend its state. A memorable trip. Also three nights in the Gers was restful but a bit long for some of us. The Elstei Ger Lodge was probably the more enjoyable of the Gers. The meals were different but quite good. Our guide Nassa and driver Jackar certainly were great company and went out of their way to make our time at the Gers enjoyable.

You never knew who you would be sharing with but I can say each of our travel companions was friendly and we did not encounter any problems

Jim Bray, September 2012

I liked the way we travelled mainly at night so we did not lose daylight hours to sightsee in the cities. The four berth cabins on the train were interesting. You never knew who you would be sharing with but I can say each of our travel companions was friendly and we did not encounter any problems, even though they rarely spoke any English and me no Russian. It was certainly a journey, the memories of which will remain with me for life.

The Russian cities were spectacular and much better than I had expected. We enjoyed our time in each of the cities and could have spent even more time in each of them. The ladies did find the long drop toilets at the homestay difficult to manage but the area around lake Baikal has to be seen to be appreciated.

All the hotels you arranged were excellent value and the minor upset at the Melody was resolved. The main issue was the reluctance of the Receptionist to do anything however the Manager did take action very quickly.

Again, thank you for organising a great trip for us. It was outstanding and your organising excellent.
I will certainly recommend you, and Monkeyshrine, to anyone contemplating a trip such as ours.

Cheers

Jim



From: Moira Graham
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2012 08:07 AM
To: Andy, Beijing Office
Subject: Re: GRAHAM / Update

Thanks Andy – I panicked and found a ticket which will be delivered to my motel in Hong Kong. I will get back to you if there are any hiccups with this but it looks as though it’s all sorted out now. Thank you again very much for your help. I’ve had a pretty disastrous journey but everything organised by Matt and yourself has been 100% well organised and smooth sailing – my compliments to you and your group, and I have already recommended you to many friends. I had a great time in spite of all my problems.

cheers,
Moira



From: Galloway, David
Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 11:10 AM
To: Andy, Beijing Office
Subject: 2012 trip

Everything went very well. Really, nothing to complain about! Guides were great in every location and really added to the experience.

David Galloway, August 2012

Andy (and please pass to Matt as well, as he did most of the initial arrangements),

Wanted to thank you all for your help with our 2012 trip. Everything went very well. Really, nothing to complain about! Guides were great in every location and really added to the experience. All the locations were great as well—the only things that weren’t perfect (as if one can really expect such things!) were out of anyone’s control—AC breaking on the train (toasty 95F in our car all day!) and so on, but it adds to the adventure.

I am curious why you don’t offer a stopover in Perm—we arranged that ourselves and it was very impressive. You have the Kungur ice cave and the gulag museum, which were the main reasons we stopped. Just a thought. Or maybe since you offer one in Ekaterinburg it’s enough Urals to go on with?

[we visited Perm some years ago and decided the Kulag was too far to make a day trip worthwhile and the ice caves were not enough by themselves to warrant a visit. However, we can include Perm on a custom trip if you wish. Ed]

Again, thanks for everything and keep doing so well what you do! Hopefully, at some point I’ll get to do the trip in the winter, which is the next goal.

Best,
David Galloway



From: Andrew Moreton
Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 16:06 PM
To: Beijing Monkey
Subject: Re: MORETON Info BM 07-2012

Hi Andy

Thanks for your email - I fear my original message was a little too strongly worded and sent in haste and so my apologies for this.

The transfer situation was resolved pretty quickly on the return journey and our time in Moscow was very pleasantly passed.

Thank you for organising my trip, and despite one moment of weakness after a very long train ride, I had an excellent adventure!

Regards

Andy


From: Tom Carter
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2012 14:27 PM
To: Andy, Beijing Office
Subject: Thanks!

Andy,
What an incredible experience this has been! I have extensive travel experience and usually make arrangements on my own. However, this single experience opens new vistas of using on-line travel coordination. You've made it all so very easy! Thank You!

Tom


From: Charles Costello
Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2012 04:09 AM
To: Andy, Beijing Office
Subject: RE: Charles Costello - Train Tickets

Hi MonkeyShrine,
Im in Warsaw now, then more trains to Edinburgh. Had a great time; favourite stopover was Mongolia but I would have liked to do more stops in Russia (87 hours from Irkutsk to Moscow was a bit too long). I should have brought a Russian phrasebook, it is easy to get by but sometimes awkward on the longer train journeys.
Otherwise a really good trip and hassle free throughout. Thankyou for organising it!
Charles

From: Charles Costello
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 16:37 PM
To: Andy, Beijing Office
Subject: RE: Charles Costello - Train Tickets

Having a really great time so far on the train trip. Im in Mongolia now - I went with Daniel and the German couple to the Ger camp which was amazing.

Thanks,
Charles


From: Mercedes
Sent: Monday, August 06, 2012 23:52 PM
To: Beijing Office Matt
Subject: comments

First, congrats for the general organization of the trip.. Your info-pack was very useful, most of your comments and suggestions are very valid.

Mercedes, August 2012

Hi Matt and Andy,
As promised, here are my initial (and maybe also final) comments after the trans-si experience. they are not in any special order, other than the one the ideas come to my head.

First, congrats for the general organization of the trip, which only having experienced it can be fully understood in the degree of complication with train reservations, pick-up and tour guides, etc. etc. Your info-pack was very useful, most of your comments and suggestions are very valid.

The best hotels in my opinion were the Chekov in Ekaterinburg and the Giuseppe in Kazan. As to the least attractive, there are several so let us leave it at that.

Train: Obviously the trans siberian trip is not the Orient Express, but most people do not necessarily know about this and tend to consider them equivalent, with the luxury and "class" we all are used to seeing in the orient-express ads and films. It might be convenient to stress to the potential traveler that this is just traveling in a regular train.

The tour guides, with no doubt about it, the best was the one we had in Ekaterinburg. Others were from reasonable to bearable, but you do not really have much to say in that respect. All were correct and tried their best.

Services of Olga - Marly - in Moscow. In my emergency situation of being in hospital, having to change travel plans, etc. they were useful, even if nothing could be cancelled with a refund.

In general it was a very interesting AND TRYING experience but i believe that it would be advisable to warn your potential clients that the trip you offer, unless the extreme luxury train, is not a "glamourous" experience, albeit an interesting one it is indeed.

Thanks for your help and all the best
mercedes



From: Simone Russo
Sent: Friday, August 03, 2012 12:40 PM
To: Andy, Beijing Office
Subject: RE: info

Dear Andy,

Unfortunately the trip is over….I like to let you know that we liked it very much, it exceed our expectation and we enjoyed really a lot thanks also to your services provided.

Thanks again for your kind coordination.

Best Regards
Simone and Sabrina Russo


The whole trip was fantastic, so were the people met along the way in both Mongolia and Russia. Very good set up.

Guillaume, July 2012

From: Chalamel Guillaume
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 17:31 PM
To: Beijing Office Matt
Subject: Re: CHALAMEL / Mistake in Train ticket

Hi Matt,

Ok, well noted. Thanks a lot then!
Yes, I did enjoy it! The whole trip was fantastic, so were the people met along the way in both Mongolia and Russia. Very good set up.

Cheers,
Guillaume



From: Nigel McCarter
Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 21:03 PM
To: Andy, Beijing Office
Subject: Mongolia to Litsvyanko

.. spotting Sakers Falcon, golden eagle, quail, partridge, marmot and all sorts of flowers – a fabulous afternoon botanizing and bird spotting

Nigel McCarter, July 2012

Hi Andy
quick note … trip is going well, I'm impressed that we have been met on time in each place by ever so nice guides (our russian guide is sweetly bossy) and all has gone smoothly, co-ordination of drivers guides and clients have all worked. We are now in Irkurtz, heading to Moscow tomorrow.

Mongolia was a treat, although the tour wasn't quite what we expected; the food was ok, the people were lovely, the water supply and ornithological interest limited. Early in the morning we drove into the park, spotted Przwalski horses, vultures, visited neolithic sites, and arrived at Molstei camp at about 1 pm. We had a reasonable lunch; then when the guides went to sleep, we snuck off and had a splendid afternoon, walking up a valley to a pass, down one of the ridges above relict deciduous woodland, spotting Sakers Falcon, golden eagle, quail, partridge, marmot and all sorts of flowers – a fabulous afternoon botanizing and bird spotting, just what we wanted.

Next morning we travelled across to Elstei ger camp, which was almost totally devoid of birds or any botanical interest.

If Shuren are unsure as to where they should go, they should contact the Mongolian Ornithological Society – they have a web site. But there is absolutely no point in dragging visitors out to Elstei unless they want to go horse riding, it's barren and boring from the botanical/ ornithological point of view. I think Shuren's organization of the Nadaam festival worked well, we enjoyed ourselves.

Other notes:
There is now an ATM in the waiting room at Naushki station, which was useful because UB ran out of rubles; a shower and toilet stop cost. The money changer on the platform was offering rubles for yuan and dollars at 50% of the going rate. Ha. The border crossing took nine hours.

The flowers were fantastic, Lake Baikal Lily, grannies bonnet, various geraniums, plus some good birdwatching, woodpecker, nuthatch, gooseander..

Nigel McCarter, July 2012

Met by very efficient guide in Irkutz … the home stay was fine, but we cancelled the the camping as it poured with rain all Sunday-Monday and was very cold – I think the guides were quite relieved. Instead, we took the ferry across the lake to the circum-Baikal railway, and had an interesting walk along the tracks … summer flowers are in full bloom.

Tuesday, we completed the walk we would have done with the guides; again the summer flowers are fantastic. I don't think the walk needs a guide, the track is clear and obvious. The distance is not huge, the 20 km from Litsvyanko to Bolshie Koty through mixed birch/polplar/alder deciduous and pine forest took us 6 hours. The flowers were fantastic, Lake Baikal Lily, grannies bonnet, various geraniums, plus some good birdwatching, can't tell you all the species as I don't have a book, but we saw woodpecker, nuthatch, gooseander and several unidentified thingies. In other words, we could have done the walk without the guides, though we might have seen more with. [the guide is also very knowledgable on local life].

Irkutz is fine, again the guide, tour coordination is spot on. Hotel is good, looking forward to getting some clean washing.

Cheers

Nigel McC


From: Joao
Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2012 16:14 PM
To: beijing
Subject: Re: TOME - feedback

Omul - Local delicacy for sale at Baikal

Smoked Omul at Lake Baikal

Andy
Thank you very much for your email. Sorry for my late answer but I am still digesting how Portugal lost in penalties with Spain...we fully deserved to be in the final!

Once more thanks for having had the opportunity to tak with you in Beijing. It is always good to chat over our experiences. I am happy to hear you found my comments useful and I will be very proud if some of them can be taken on board and contribute to enhance the already high quality of your services. [Indeed, we are already using the Giuseppe hotel in Kazan].

To organise a month railway journey from Moscow to Beijing using nine different trains and stopping at nine different locations requires a highly specialised company. Monkey Shrine did it in a very smooth, comprehensive and professional way. Particularly we would like to point out the excellent support in Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Krasnayorsk, Irkutsk/lake Baikal, Ulan Ude and at the end Beijing! We also stopped in Ulan Baatar, Gobi desert and of course Moscow!

We will recommend for sure the Monkeys to our friends, requiring a company to organise a similar journey along the Trans Ural/Transiberian/Transmongolian railway lines!

I am attaching some photos for your perusal. I took +3000 photos so choosing is not easy... [see a selection on our facebook page. Ed].

João and Joana Tomé from Portugal

 



From: Achim Schmidgall
Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 14:59 PM
To: matt
Subject: Hi

Hi Matt,
I have arrived as planned in germany. It was a great journey which will stick in my memory for a long time. And who knows if I am going to do another leg of the journey at a later state. I would like to thank you for your contribution to the smooth running of the trip, the hostels were acceptable, the guides were professional, informative, helpful (Yenny Lena-greetings) and the transfers were there and always on time. The room in moscow was appreciated after 86 hrs on the train, especially the shower.
Thanks again, you know where to find me should you ever come to NZ
Achim



From: JK Tannous
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 02:55 AM
To: Beijing Office Matt
Subject: many thanks

Hello Matt,

The family at Peterhof Fountains

Family portrait at Peterhof

Greetings from St. Petersburg! We are wrapping up our Trans Siberian trip after 2 weeks in Russia, and we are headed to Finland tomorrow where we will switch over to Eurail. As we prepare to leave Russia, we want to tell you what a fantastic trip this has been. Up until now, we had only heard about the Trans Siberian but had never known anyone who had actually done it. Now we can say that we have done it, and you made it possible!

The entire trip has been smooth from start to finish. With our family of 6 and with the number of transfers we had, we expected a few glitches along the way. There were no glitches whatsoever! You had everything covered from beginning to end. We are so grateful for your service, and we will recommend Monkey Business to our friends in China.

A quick summary . . . . Staying at the Hotel Paragon was the perfect location for starting the trip in Beijing. It was such an easy walk across the street to get on the first train from Beijing to Ulanbaatar. We were pleased to meet Joanna and were very impressed by her English.

We decided to stay on the train during the changing of the bogies at the Mongolian border. Since it was late at night, most of our kids slept through it all. We found the entire process to be quite fascinating.

Our stay in Ulanbaatar was brief, and we don't regret that. The Miami Hotel was satisfactory. The service was not great, and the hotel was not very family friendly, but we were only there one night.

Girls on shore of Lake Baikal

Girls on shore of Lake Baikal

The transfer in Irkutsk to Lake Baikal went so well. Lena met us at the platform and had a van waiting for us. Sasha's Guesthouse was wonderful. Rita served a hearty breakfast each morning and made us feel very welcome. We really enjoyed staying at Sasha's and seeing beautiful Lake Baikal.

The train ride from Irkutsk to Moscow was long, but we found the Russian trains to be nicer than both the Chinese and Mongolian trains. We had a couple different Russian roommates along the way, but they were generally friendly and easy to get along with.

Arriving in Moscow at 4:11 a.m., we doubted there would be someone waiting to pick us up. We were wrong! There was a driver ready with a large van, and he took us to the Day N Night Hostel, which was very comfortable for our family.

In Moscow, we had a wonderful tour guide, Ilya, from Marlis Travel. Ilya spoke perfect English and was incredibly knowledgeable about Russian history. He took us all around Red Square and really gave us a greater understanding of Russian history. We highly recommend Ilya to any future tourists in Moscow!

.. this has been an amazing trip that has exceeded our expectations. We are so thankful that we have had this opportunity to see this incredible part of the world with our children.

JK Tannous, June 2012

Finally, you had e-tickets prepared for our train ride from Moscow to St. Petersburg. We were a bit skeptical about the tickets, but we didn't have any trouble boarding the train to St. Petersburg. It was the smoothest and nicest train by far.

All in all, this has been an amazing trip that has exceeded our expectations. We are so thankful that we have had this opportunity to see this incredible part of the world with our children. We know it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will long remember.

Thank you for all of your work in taking care of every detail of this trip. We are so grateful for your service and will highly recommend your company in the future.

Many many thanks,
Karen for the Tannous family

[see more of their photo's on our Facebook Gallery. Ed]



From: Bertha Wells
Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 12:21 PM
To: Andy, Beijing Office
Subject: Re: Thank you from Moscow

Hi Andy

We are in Canada at present and return to Australia in mid August.

Our trip has certainly been most memorable, thanks to your great organisation. Friends of ours are following our trip with interest, so I will pass your company name onto them for their future reference.

Kind regards and thanks for the memories, for our amazing trip and insight into this part of the world.

Bertha & Pat, Debbie & Mike


From: Malcolm Nicoll
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2012 3:47 PM
To: Andy, Beijing Office
Subject: Re: Queries pursuant to upcoming trip

Hi Andy!

Thanks a million. Your goodness is obvious without limits. Look forward to meeting you in Beijing on 5 March. I'll keep in touch in the meantime.

Kind regards,

Malcolm


From: Katharine Myres
Sent: Friday, February 10, 2012 1:43 PM
To: beijing office
Subject: thank you

Hi Matt
I was one of the group travelling with Erica Holland on the train from Beijing to Moscow, and I want to add my thanks and appreciation for your marvellous work.  We had a fabulous time, and all your people on the ground were unfailingly hospitable and helpful.  They were punctual and polite and we really appreciated them.

I hope you enjoyed your 'famil'.  Konstantin in Ekaterinburg told us you were expected.  I'm sure the trip for you was as enjoyable as it was for us.

Thank you again
Katharine


 

From: Peggy
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2012 8:45 PM
To: 'Andy, Beijing Office'
Subject: RE: Peggy Brenier - Trans-Siberian Enquiry

Hello Andy
My September trip was very good indeed. I enjoyed Lake Baikal stop (even if I didn’t do the walk as my ankle wasn’t fully healed) and had a very nice in Kazan also. I enjoyed Moscow a lot. The rest of the trip to Paris was nice too with a very hot day in Berlin. Great experience all in all, but then again, I love traveling by train so… could you give me a quote for [edit].

Thank you!
Peggy




Fun on camels in the Gobi

Ingrid and Peter in the Gobi !

From: Elisabeth Snowsill
Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2012 4:54 PM
To: Beijing Office Andy
Subject: RE: SNOWSILL / BUICK - Train Tickets

No... sorry to make you think we weren't enjoying ourselves.. that is not the case at all.. It's fantastic.. especially this time of the year.. train journey has been fantastic..  a real experience..  I have enjoyed it.  and the scenery on the trip from Irkutsk was breathtaking..  

alright. will talk later .. have a plane to catch..

Bye for now....

 


From: Kwai Seong Aw
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2012 4:43 PM
To: Andy, Beijing Office
Subject: Re: Aw Kwai seong

Dear Andy

The trip is smooth sailing except the Moscow train, I almost missed because the traffic in the city was too bad.

Your service is satisfactory and will consider next trip in 2013.

Thank you

Regards
AW

 


 

The guide in UB was amazingly helpful and the guesthouse at Lake Baikal was lovely

Damien Foley, Dec 2011

From: Damien Foley
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 6:44 PM
To: Beijing Office Matt
Subject: December Trip

Hi guys. Sorry I didn't do this earlier. It slipped my mind. Anyway, I made it home safely. Everything on the trip was great. I'll happily recommend you guys to anyone planning to do the trans-siberian trip. The guide in UB was amazingly helpful and the guesthouse at Lake Baikal was lovely. Thanks for everything.

Damien.

 

page last updated: 16th September 2012.