Personal Testimonials from 2013

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


From: "Gil Thorncraft"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Wednesday, 27 November, 2013 5:23:18 PM
Subject: Trans Siberian

Hi Matt,
Back home at long last after an excellent 7 months holiday.
Thoroughly enjoyed the journey with the Monkeys across Russia. A bit too long perhaps but certainly interesting. The Russians are a strange mob but maybe 70 years of communism does that.......
Everything went well and the only foul up was in Moscow when the Google map link to find the appointed meeting place from my hotel took me on a large circuit arriving back about 100 metres from my hotel from whence I had started.
Otherwise all went well. The guides were excellent and easy to converse with.
Hotels were good if a bit above my usual standard but a bit of luxury occasionally does not go astray.
Thanks and regards
Gil Thorncraft

May I congratulate you and the agency for the professionalism.

Claire VDG, Nov 2013

From: "claire van de ginste"
Sent: Sunday, 10 November, 2013 7:47:18 PM
Subject: Transsiberian travel - update

Dear Saruul, Matt and Andy,

You were the three persons to organize my trip from Vladivostok to Moscow from 1st until 17th September 2013.

May I congratulate you and the agency for the professionalism. I really appreciated receiving the
guide book and the individual program with all the telephone numbers and names of persons to be contacted in case of emergency. I indeed needed the emergency number of my guide when I had to leave Irkutsk: the driver overslept and I almost missed my train.

For your recommendations on the train, may I suggest to add a cup for drinking water or tea or beer, to have a knife, a spoon, a fork and a bottle opener as well as a training suit to wear inside the train. When you arrive at destination you change into the normal travelling clothes. [a bottle opener is normally hidden under the cabin table, ed.]

The guides are well informed about their city and their English is good. I had a good time with them. The only negative point was that upon finishing the tour they just left me in the middle of nowhere. I have to ask for their directions to return to the hotel or home-stay.

The Amur River: well the river was 10 m above the normal level. Trains were running as normal. The river can still swell - I think at least two more meters - You said the train is a lifeline and indeed it is. Without the train, no exports, no money...

I am sending you some photos from the river.

Sincere thanks. I am sure you will have additional requests....

Claire Van de Ginste

Flooed Amur River

Flooded Amur River

Amur River in Khabarovsk

Amur River in Khabarovsk



This was a trip in the planning for five years and you helped make it happen.

Rob Voelke, Nov 2013

From: "R Voelkle"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Friday, 8 November, 2013 9:50:29 AM
Subject: Re: Moscow city tour - change of start time

Hello Matt,

Mike and arrived back in Dallas, Texas right on schedule..

All of the guides arrived at the trains and they and the drivers arrived on time and really worked to make everything work out.

The guide in Mongolia was super in handling the unexpected snow storm. He had a 4 wheel drive Jeep to pluck us back to town. The driver picked his way through the snow got out occasionally as not to drive off into a ditch and to make certain the gate was down and not get the drive shaft tangled up in wire. The Herdsman family provided the most delicious lunch.

This was a trip in the planning for five years and you helped make it happen.

From: "Rosie"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Thursday, 7 November, 2013 10:10:50 AM
Subject: Re: Rosie Thomas - Important change to Itinerary

Hi Andy,

Thank you for promptly arranging for us.

We are having a great time, visited the kremlin, red square and st basils yesterday and today we are going to venture on the metro to have a look at the stations and to the circus!

Thanks again, everything has been running very smoothly with no problems.


From: "Dennis De Santis"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Sunday, 13 October, 2013 11:59:56 AM
Subject: Fwd: Update from the tracks

Hi Matt,

Well, here I am in Moscow. Just one day remaining, reserved for the Kremlin. Thanks to you and the Monkeys across Russia for a fantastic trip. I'm sorry to see it end, and want to head back into Russia, away from the tourists and Dunkin Donuts lining the Arbat.



Our spanish guide was a very nice person  and did his work OK!! She speaks spanish very well.

Chino & Maria, Sep 2013

From: "Reginaldo E. Lejarraga"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Friday, 27 September, 2013 3:47:32 PM
Subject: Re: from the way

Dear Andy:
We arrive Moscow alright, our guide was at the train platform as you say.

In Yekaterinburg Our spanish guide was a very nice person  and did his work OK!! She speaks spanish very well.
After the city tour we went alone to a park with luck! Chino saw some other small birds.

In Irkutsk we did our nature excursion ok, with no many birds...but it happens...birds are not always waiting you!!! Ja ja The birdwatching guide we know that is difficult he speaks spanish, normaly they know english and that would be enough, the important thing are the city tours or other visits.

For the moment thats all..

THANKS, Chino & Maria

The tours with them were opportunities to talk about life generally, as much as viewing the sights.

William & Akiko, Sep 2013

From: "William & Akiko"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Monday, 16 September, 2013 5:24:20 PM
Subject: Eddis & Omura

Dear Matt,

A brief note to say that our trip from Mongolia to Moscow in the second half of July all went very well. Both the trains were on time, the transfers went smoothly, and we got on well with all the guides, and very much enjoyed our time with them. The tours with them were opportunities to talk about life generally, as much as viewing the sights. The visits to Elstei and Lake Baikal were both memorable, and all in all it was the trip of a lifetime. The only disappointment was that the "home stay" in Listvyanka was really just a guest house (with another party there at the same time). Our hostess provided modest but nice meals, but no attempt at conversation or interaction such as "home stay" implies.

For the record,
1. Both trains provided freshly laundered sheets, pillow case and towel sealed in a plastic bag. The trains were as clean as could be expected.
2. The second train (Irkutsk to Moscow) was air conditioned, with sealed windows in the compartments - because of the weather there was no need for the air conditioning and small windows in the corridor provided ventilation.
3. On the second train, the toilets did not vent straight on to the tracks (unlike the first) but into a holding tank, and thus they were not locked but could be used even when the train was standing in a station. Clearly a relatively new or refurbished train, although in other respects it seemed no different from the first one.

I think that is all.

Regards to all involved,
William & Akiko Eddis

From: "david ng"
To: "Monkeyshrine Andy"
Sent: Monday, 16 September, 2013 3:22:08 AM
Subject: NG x 2 Polny from Beijing

Dear Andy

Thanks for all your advice on the lost iPad. Also on the excellent organisation with the hotels, tours, guides and transfers at all our stop overs. We visited the Hermitage today and will visit Peterhof tomorrow.

Thanks again for your help.


From: "Tania Chin"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Thursday, 12 September, 2013 3:42:45 PM
Subject: Re: Update

Hi Matt and Andy,
We finished our trans-Mongolian trip a few days ago and just wanted to say thanks heaps for all the organisation you put into it. All the transfers went smoothly and the accommodation was always great and well-located. It was fantastic to have such an opportunity to spend time with and get to know locals on the trains. The guides we had throughout were very good, with Bayasaa in Ulan Bator and Konstantin in Yekaterinburg being real stand outs with their friendliness and sharing of local knowledge. So, thanks heaps again and I have already been recommending you to other people I'm meeting on my travels!
Take care,


From: "Jarrah"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Wednesday, 11 September, 2013 7:40:16 PM
Subject: Re: Sarah Monoury

Hi Andy

Thank you very much Andy. I really appreciate what you do for me.

Mongolia was beautiful at this time of the year. My photos are still on my camera, so they are small but I will show them to you.


From: "Ann-Elin Dyroy"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Wednesday, 11 September, 2013 5:07:59 AM
Subject: thank you!

I'd like to say thank you so much for organizing the trans mongolian railway for us this summer! It was a fantastic trip, a wonderful holiday, a great experience!

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience all the good moments at the trains, in the cities, with the guides, at the homestay at Lake Baikal, at the hotels... It was better than I could ever imagine :-) Please say thank you to all the guides and to Galina, the woman we stayed with at Lake Baikal... She made wonderful food for us! Especially the guide in Jekaterinburg was very knowledgeable, it was a pleasure to stay in "his" city,

We had a stopover in Omsk, where you do not offer any service. Here I really can recommend cafe Berlin in the city center, they have all the hot and cold fruit juices I could dream of in Siberia, and really tasty food. The literature house in Dostoevskogo street no 1 was the reason we went to Omsk, the guides only speak russian, but are so friendly and commited to the subject, that I have no trouble recommending the collection and exhibition on Dostojevskij. To me, this was the top experience on our trip (together with the homestay at Lake Baikal.)

Once again, thank you so much for making this dream come true! I'd really like to do it again :-)

Best wishes for Monkey Business and you from Ann-Elin Dyrøy

From: "Yvonne Chan"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Thursday, 5 September, 2013 9:11:03 PM
Subject: YVONNE CHAN - Thank you!

Hi Matt,

We are back from our (mini) Trans-Siberian holiday. It was loveyly and the weather was perfectly fine for us. We also met some new friends who are also customers from Monkeyshrine and shared some of our experiences. I will recommend to my other friends on the Trans-Siberian holiday arranged by your company.

Thanks again for all your help and arrangements which make our journey smooth and enjoyable.

All the best to you.
Kind regard

From: "Nicole Klarnet"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Thursday, 29 August, 2013 12:56:01 AM
Subject: Fantastic trip!

Hi Matt,

Sorry it's a bit late but we wanted to email and say thanks for organizing an amazing Trans-Mongolian trip for us through Monkeyshrine.

We really enjoyed the whole trip but the highlights were Mongolia and the guides, particularly Nasaa in Mongolia and Lena in Lake Baikal. We thought the trip was fantastically organized with all the arrangements running to plan and even the drivers checking that we got on our train without hassles.

We would recommend Monkeyshrine to our friends and we are happy for you to use this as an endorsement.

Nicole and Tony

From: "Gil Thorncraft"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Monday, 26 August, 2013 4:34:28 PM
Subject: Greetings From Lake Baikal

Hi Matt,
Seems like the system works. All ok so far.
Guided tour Vladivostok with the delightful Nadia went well and ditto for Listvyanka and Irkurst with the excellent and personable Tatania.


From: "Binnur Çaglin"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Monday, 26 August, 2013 2:34:23 PM
Subject: Re: Back to home, trip is over.

Hi Andy,

I would like to say thank you for myself and on behalf of the group. İt was quıte difficult, nobody can imagine how is it before. The organization is excellent detailed very carefully, I am so glad that did the deal l with you and your companies. It really was an excellent private train tour you arranged for us.

While time was approaching I was anxıous, worried that how it would be finalized. The group members just beieved me as I believed in you. I would like to say thank you once more to come to train station to say goodbye us. İt is kind.

Sergey [private tour leader] made my and also groups life easier. Without him can't imagine how communicate locals. Solved eveything. Did his best. He speaks my mother tongue in fluent even jokes. He was always at same mood, no angers, frustration etc.

Eveybody enjoyed concert at İrkutsk we all felt that life as if old days. Hotels in Novosibirsk and İrkuts are excellent
İn Vladivostok because of organizing your side thanks. Train attendants Sergey and his lovely wife Svetlane were very
good at their jobs. Our guides Armen well knowledged about country, explained us all details. But both myself and group members felt little bit hostily against our country. Even he tried control himself sometime one word in a sentence made us thinking that way. The guıde in Novosibirsk has more experienced, from morning till afternoon she managed everything. I am aware of that it was my cohoise Meridien Hotel in İrkutsk unfortunatelly it was very bad but I insisted on it to much.

Group members enjoyed the trip also me. And it was my first experience a trip and ended up in succes. I succeded it with your well organized program and help. Thanks, thanks, thanks.....

So it has been my dreams of years and my first experience to organize a trip. Thanky you for your cooperation and patient.



From: "Ciara Bowe"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Thursday, 22 August, 2013 6:08:32 PM
Subject: Re: BOWE / O SHEA / HEALY - Update

Hi Matt,

Thanks for your help and suggestions when organising the trip. I really appreciated your advice and both myself and the two girls were delighted that we chose to book everything through Monkey Shrine and will be recommending it if the opportunity arises.

The accommodation & tours everywhere were really good. We were particularly glad we stopped in Krasnoyarsk and Yekaterinburg - saw the real Russia with two excellent guides.

The only place that we felt maybe we should give not so positive feedback on was the hostel (apartment) room in Irkutsk. It was barely ok. It was really out of sync with all the other places we stayed in. Maybe we were unlucky, to be honest we all agreed we were more comfortable in the berth on the train and that's saying something! As I said maybe we were unlucky and the only reason it stood out was because we were so happy with all of the other hostels / hotels and this seemed like the odd one out. We just thought we should pass on this feedback.

Other than that we had an amazing time and enjoyed every minute!! Thanks again for your help and for the extra books!! It was all appreciated!

Kind Regards

Ciara, Ann & Mary

From: "Ruggero De Pellegrini"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Saturday, 17 August, 2013 9:00:32 PM
Subject: Re: Train to Lhasa

Hi Matt

I got my Tibet permit earlier than expected so I'm flying to Lhasa already tomorrow and I won't have any chance to meet you.

Thank you again for everything. It was a great adventure for me to get from Switzerland to China by train and your support was fantastic. I would recommend Monkeyshrine to everybody who wants to feel the real Trans-Siberian experience.



From: "damien joguet"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Thursday, 15 August, 2013 1:07:47 PM
Subject: Re: Damien Joguet - Trans-Siberian Enquiry

Dear Andy,

I m now in Vladivostok, everything is alright and waiting for the train this evening.
I just wanted to confirm you there is no train anymore between Harbin and Vlad as you already knew. I traveled by the daily bus, 12 hours, 500 RMB.

Have a nice day,
Damien Joguet

From: "Mark Quaid"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Thursday, 15 August, 2013 4:21:05 PM
Subject: Thank You!

Hi Matt, just a quick thank you from me and Andrea,trip went really well. From the early inquiries to getting final tickets to us etc you did a great job!

Thanks again.


From: "Lorna S"
Sent: Wednesday, 7 August, 2013 1:19:54 AM
Subject: review trip

Dear Matt

At last at home! After the transiberian we went in a family trip to Norway.

Thanks for all your work in helping us with our trip. Iit was a plesure meeting you.

The booklet you gave us was marvelous, we really used it.
Kim and I wrote the interesting things we saw:
Tiumen- oldest city in Siberia
Barabaskin - place of exile of Polish jews
Mariinsk - siberian gold rush
Illanskaia - water tower and museam

About the cities and tour agents:
Ulanbaatar - good service and tour guide. For me the two national parks were too much. I will have gone only to Hustai Natonal Park
Ulan Ude- very good service and nice food on the Old Believer House
Irkutsk - the tour city guide really nice .
Ekaterinburg - the best tour agency, extra information of the city and restaurants.

We really enjoy our tour and was a pleasure working with you and Monkey
Hope we can travel again.

A big hug

From: "Garry"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Monday, 5 August, 2013 9:43:59 PM
Subject: RE: My trip

I just wanted to give you some feedback on my recently completed trip.

My overall impressions are very positive and I had a great time but as always there is some room for improvement.

Beijing - It was harder to find your office than I expected - mostly because I was looking at your map and not your words but when I focused on the words I found you with not much trouble. The person who met us at the train was very good and helped us find the cabins etc.

Ulanbataar - Our guide here was fantastic. She spoke English reasonably well and had a reasonable knowledge of her environment, but more importantly to me she was warm and engaging and eager to help. She offered to help with bags (although I refused) and she made sure we knew exactly where to go at the train station when we left. She was pro-active in suggesting activities. She is an absolute asset to your company.

Russia - All of our Russian guides were knowledgeable and spoke English very well but for the most part they do not seem to understand tourism as well as the earlier guides. For the most part they were good guides but they did not extend the experience without questions from us.

Siberia - the first guide was personable and knowledgeable but did not help with bags on pick up. She was a good guide but could have added to the experience more by understanding tourists. The guide through the forest was also very good but he did not seem to understand my itinerary as the walk he would have taken me on would not have got me back to the home stay in any where near enough time to catch my Transport to Irkutsk.

Irkutsk - The guide through Irkutsk was very good and should be used more.

Moscow - The guide was very knowledgeable and also spoke English well. On the first day she collected us at the motel and finished the tour some way from the motel. She advised a place for us to meet her the following day, despite our itinerary advising she would collect us from the motel. I was comfortable with this as I can pick up directions quite quickly, but May - my traveling companion who I met on the tour - would have had absolutely no hope of finding her way without me. We both found this guide much better on the second day. I stress on both days she was a knowledgeable guide who spoke good English - it was the more personal issues we found wanting.

St Petersburg - The guide here reinstated our faith in Russia. She was knowledgeable and spoke good English but she was also pro active. She asked for instance what we were interested in and helped us arrange or find boat tickets and tickets to the ballet. She was wonderful.

If you have awards for guides of the year my votes would be for my Mongolia guide and my St Petersburg guide equally. They both greatly enhanced my experience,

As already stated I had a great experience that I will never forget and your company has done a great job of facilitating that. There is nothing wrong with any of the guides we had in terms of English language or knowledge but it appears to me that many of the Russian people have not yet fully grasped what a tourist is looking for.


From: "Tom Painter"
To: "Joanna (赵晓梅), Beijing Office"
Sent: Friday, 26 July, 2013 3:52:18 AM
Subject: Re: itinerary & visa update

Dear Joanna,

Great trip - thanks! Very interesting and friendly, top-quality guides along the way and I was impressed you managed to sort everything out so quickly before my departure.

BTW Sasha's Guesthouse in Listvyanka requested I leave a review for them somehow but I can't work out the best way of helping them - perhaps a testimonial on your site? pls advise - thanks!

Will definitely come to you guys again if I decide to do the whole trip :-)

All the best,


From: "Matthias Montag"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Tuesday, 16 July, 2013 7:53:23 PM
Subject: RE: Matthias Montag - Trans-Siberian Railway Booking

Hi Andy,

After an exciting yet relaxing trip, last night my wife and I arrived back in Berlin and after working three years in a Beijing home office, today I had to reluctantly start my 9 to 6 office routine again.

On our tour everything went really well, I would maybe have one or two small suggestions for improvements, but all in all this was a great and very well organized trip, thanks again for making it possible.

The tour guide in UlaanBaatar was a really nice guy with excellent English and we got along well, but during every meal, feeling obliged to make small-talk, sometimes we would have rather kept to ourselves.

Food was included on the train to UlaanBaatar and also on the train to Moscow. This was of course a pleasant surprise, however, it would have been best if if we had been informed in advance. But I have to say it was quite delicious. It was always the choice between chicken and salmon combined with a soup (no choice there) as starter. And the lady who served it even managed to smile which among russian train conductors seemed to us like an extra luxury ;-)

Hope everything is going well in Beijing!

Best regards,

From: "Maureen Sheahan"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Tuesday, 23 July, 2013 10:33:03 AM
Subject: Beijing arrangements

Dear Matt,

We wanted to write and thank you for the wonderful trip and arrangements.

Ching Ching (I’m hoping this is right!) was a very sweet and thoughtful guide in Beijing. We completely fell in love with the city. We also appreciate that you provided dinner the night we arrived.

The arrangements throughout the trip were very well done. Lena in Irkustk was a particularly wonderful guide, and people were kind and helpful and well-intentioned wherever we were.

Best wishes and thanks,


From: "John & Gretchen Morris"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Monday, 22 July, 2013 2:24:55 AM
Subject: Report on our Trans-Sib trip

Hi, Matt,

John and I both want to thank you VERY much for all of your planning for our train trip. It truly was a unique and marvelous experience.

Monkeyshrine’s planning for our Trans-Mongolian trip, Beijing to Moscow, could not have been better or more complete. Matt answered all our questions during the months of planning and arranged our individually planned trip to meet all our expectations. We very much appreciate how much we were able to experience, personally, of the Russian people and their lives during our independent travels.

Thanks again,
Gretchen (and John) Morris

From: "larry austin"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Saturday, 20 July, 2013 3:42:17 PM
Subject: Re: Visa

Andy, the paperwork was exactly what we needed, you saved the day! We are standing in the chinese visa center in London and your timely efforts will not be forgotten. Thank you again, Larry

From: "Mirella"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Friday, 19 July, 2013 11:41:04 PM
Subject: Re: Mirella & Rafael


Sorry for the late reply, there was so much to do in Beijing! We are actually leaving Beijing today and will spend two weeks traveling in China.

Thank you for all your help both prior and during the trip, we had a great time and fulfilled one of our travel dreams! We were very happy with Monkey Shrine, and we would certainly recommend it to others.

Thanks again for everything, this was an amazing trip!


From: "Meike Raßbach"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Wednesday, 17 July, 2013 9:17:11 PM
Subject: Aw: Re: Touren in Vladivastok

Hi Andy,
Now arrived in Irkutsk. Everything is going well. We are still quite happy! Tomorrow start to Krasnojarsk...

Best regards
Meike and Rainer

From: "Steve"
To: monkeyshrine
Sent: Wednesday, 17 July, 2013 6:47:03 AM
Subject: Thanks

Hello Matt,
just want to say I'm back in L.A. after a fantastic train trip across Asia and Europe. It just wasn't long enough!

Thanks for putting things together for me. For the most part everything went smoothly. I especially want to commend you for the hotels -- all were exceptional: Bejing, Ekaterinburg, Kazan and Moscow -- great locations, friendly and helpful staff and very comfortable.

I "lucked out" on the Trans-Siberian, having a "cabin" to myself all the way to Ekaterinburg! (and a very friendly "provideniya" in my coach.).

The guides in Beijing, Ekaterinburg, Kazan and Moscow were all top notch; the only downside was the tours were simply too short -- as I expected they are geared for large groups or for people who prefer very slow-paced excursions. Way, way, way too much "free time" for me; I'd have preferred seeing more sights, even if it meant paying more to go outside the cities. In Beijing, the friendly guide and driver very kindly took me by the Olympic venues to fill in some of the spare time; she couldn't believe that what she thought should take 2 days of sightseeing only took 6 hours.

I even lucked out with the weather: sunny and warm (i.e. hot) every single day!

Thanks again for your assistance in a memorable retirement vacation.



From: "Joanna Nelson"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Thursday, 11 July, 2013 5:39:44 PM

Hi Andy,

Just to let you know that we arrived in UB today. We're off to Nadam now - very exciting!

We'll send you some info and photos from Nadam at the end if our travels. It really was great!

Thanks again,
Joanna Nelson


From: "Robert Tocco"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Wednesday, 10 July, 2013 12:17:36 AM
Subject: Re: Robert Tocco: Trans-Siberian Feedback

Hi Andy,
I did have some fine examples of Russian hospitality and my trip was memorable. The location of the Bulgokov hotel was excellent! Thanks again for all your assistance and I will not hesitate to recommend you to other travelers.

Robert Tocco


From: "Christian Kaufmann"
Sent: Monday, 8 July, 2013 6:56:32 PM
Subject: Feedback to journey Beijing - Gobi - UB - Moscow

Dear Matt

As promised I would like to give some feedback on my journey. All in all I enjoyed it very much!

Gobi - Good place to get in contact with Mongolia. I liked it and would go there again.

Hustai National Park - I enjoyed this place most. Really awesome landscape, nature and wildlife. Superb views from hill tops! Nice atmosphere and staff. Very good and rich food. I felt really welcomed there. Moilt camp is a great place, simple but outstanding location, very nice staff, really good food. Ideal starting point for great hikes where you can see fantastic rock formations. Plenty of wild life to observe. Enkhee and I did a great afternoon hike there. I regretted to have spent there only one night! And unfortunately it was not possible to change the schedule as Enkhee and the driver had bookings. The homestay with family south of Hustai was in a great landscape, nice family, I enjoyed very much. Interesting drive from there to Molit camp

I enjoyed trekking with my guide Enkhee, she was knowledgable and helpful. I had a difficult time with her in UB when it came to define the trekkings because the itinerary in my program was unclear and contradicting in some points regarding driving vs. trekking. But finally things turned out positive.

I enjoyed the train from UB to Moscow very much. From Ulan Ude I had the compartment for myself, and later the entire wagon. There was no restaurant car attached, apparently due to a technical problem. It was not a problem because fortunately I had bought enough food in UB. There were always possibilities to buy food at train stops.

I can fully recommend Hotel Bulgakov in Moscow, very nice staff and excellent location, my room was even quiet.

So that's it. Thanks again for compiling this great journey.

Best regards, Christian

You made dreams come true! A trip that we will never forget!

Tom Wadsworth, June 2013

From: "tom wadsworth"
To: matt monkey
Sent: Sunday, 9 June, 2013 1:11:08 AM
Subject: RE: Trans Sib Trip

Hey Matt,

Don't know if you remember us, you helped us with booking the transiberian, just wanted to say thank you so much for all your help and answers! You made dreams come true! A trip that we will never forget!

Made a vid of our trip, thought you might like to see it, some of the timelapses were the places you recommended!

Japan to England Challenge: No Flying! from Tom Wadsworth on Vimeo.

Thanks again!

Tom & Sarah

From: "Jon Hayhoe"
To: "Beijing Office Andy"
Sent: Friday, 31 May, 2013 9:56:51 PM
Subject: Re: Trans Siberian Raiway

Hey Andy, Not sure if you remember but you directed me to the two ticket offices in Beijing, the second due to the fact that delegates staying in the hotel had closed the first place. You were so helpful for nothing and I'm very grateful for it. Just wanted to let you know.

I just wanted to say thanks again, I made it all the way to Latvia, and you got me started.



From: "Robert Chagnon"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Thursday, 16 May, 2013 2:23:15 AM
Subject: Re: Moscow local guide

The trip has been spectacular!
Anatolyi in Krasnoyarsk and Konstantin in Yekarerinburg were amazing! Nassa was so friendly in Ulanbator. The trains have been the experience of a lifetime. We are looking forward to our toir tomorrow after walking around on our own today. What a beautiful city.

p.s had great time with the group celebrating Victory Day in Russia. What are awesome people!

Victory Day Parade in Krasnoyarsk

Victory Day in Russia

Victory Day Parade in Krasnoyarsk

Victory Day in Russia

Victory Day Parade in Krasnoyarsk

Victory Day in Russia



All in all a wonderful experience for which we thank you.

Kingsley, May 2013

From: "Kingsley Ashford-Brown"
To: "Andy"
Sent: Monday, 13 May, 2013 2:44:01 PM
Subject: Trans-Zib Experience

Dear Andy,

Cindi and I had a wonderful trip from Beijing to St Petersburg.

Trying to think back now, Ulan Bator and the Ger Camp was most enjoyable and our guide Odka was a bundle. Travelling, some of the time, with Hugo and Marbella from Mexico was good and we also met other very nice travellers. The Bayangol Hotel was fine, although only Internet in the foyer (how we have come to judge things on Internet access these days!).

Guide Leana met us in Urkutsk, no problem and she gave Cindi and I, and another couple Anette and John, a very detailed tour of Litsvyanka and Lake Baikal. Olga at the Homestay was brilliant. Sasha, our trek guide, gave us a great workout on the hills, although being his first trek after the snows he was initially a little concerned about Cindi's trainers. But afterwards, tired but still in one piece, we met with Anette and John for a hydrofoil ride to the Shamen Rock and back.

No complaints about Angara Hotel in Urkutsk where we spent the one night. Leana walked us around the city centre and we had a nice lunch together with her.

On arrival in Moscow we were delivered efficiently to the Arbat House Hotel where we saw Hugo and Marbella for the last time, who were leaving with the same driver back to the station, bound for St Petersburg. Next morning we were met promptly by Ilya and given a very comprehensive walk around the key sites of Moscow centre. He couldn't join us for lunch as he wanted to rejoin his family in his dacha for the rest of the weekend.

A driver somewhat unceremoniously dumped us at the Moscow station on the evening of departure but we were in very good time and were able to find the St Petersburg train no. 2 without too much trouble, or stress. The Business Class cabin was a bit of an eye opener after living on the Middle East for years where we have no trains at all (apart from Dubai Metro) - too quick to really enjoy it. Our arrival in St Petersburg was easy and we ended up in the lovely Cronwell hotel. On the dot of ten Galina came to collect us for a tour of the city - what a knowledgable lady! We spent an enjoyable couple days there including visits to the Winter and Summer Palaces, despite some disruptions due to practising for Victory Day.

Our departure was equally painless with a lady from Marlis Travel making sure we got delivered to the ferry terminal for St Peterline without bother.

All in all a wonderful experience for which we thank you.

Best regards,

Kingsley & Cindi Ashford-Brown
(Sent from ship Finlandia)

From: "Alex Fricker"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Sunday, 21 April, 2013 8:33:13 AM
Subject: RE: ALEX FRICKER : Beijing office visit

Hi Andy,

So far the trip is great. Lake Baikal is beautiful I'm leaving for Irkutsk today, thanks Andy!



From: "Rob In Siberia"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Tuesday, 16 April, 2013 3:04:20 PM
Subject: So far, so good!

Hi Andy,

Just thought I'd drop you a quick note to let you know all going really well so far. All the pick up arrangements worked smoothly and Nadia our walking tour guide was excellent today. Looking forward to the train adventure proper starting tomorrow!

Best wishes, Rob.

Listvyanka was very picturesque and Irkutsk was unique with its wooden architecture

Michael Krumins, April 2013

From: "michael krumins"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 1:39:44 PM
Subject: Re: Re: Michael & Kymberley Krumins - End of the trip

Hi Andy,

We are now in Riga and this is the first real opportunity we've had to reply to you since finishing our Russian part of our journey. In answer to your question about the Autograph mini hotel. The place had a good vibe & was well serviced by friendly staff who could speak English. The room was comfortable and small bathroom did the job! All very good & location was great. Although when we ventured into what looks like an abandoned building with derelict looking stairs we were seriously wondering..... But once inside the front door of the hotel there is a different world inside! Breakfast was interesting .... each day was different depending on the staff on matter if we ordered the same thing it always managed to be something completely different.... All ok & quite edible! The guide who we met here did also mention that it must have been a difficult hotel to find! This guide like the one in Moscow was excellent!

Orel was a very different experience to all our stops in Russia. Listvyanka was very picturesque and Irkutsk was unique with its wooden architecture & Decembrist history while Moscow &St Petersburg were both amazing cities to visit (visually, culturally & historically). Orel was more a personal visit & allowed us to experience the real Russia ..... we managed to find the place where Mick's mother grew up but only to find an apartment block had replaced her house. Still worth seeing as we very welcomed by total strangers in our quest to find her house. The hotel there also a bit luxurious for us but as it had been so cold we enjoyed the facilities ESP sauna!! We loved walking around the town and getting the feel of local Russian community ... Turgenev' house & museum was a highlight.... We saw infrastructure that dated back to the start of the century ( original trams were still running since1914!!) & soviet inspired architecture from after WWII. Also post 1990 capitalist influence - Orel's own unique version of Maccas not found anywhere else in Russia... Apparently! The river was frozen of course and we watched people playing hockey in the ice and people fishing through holes in the ice. The fish/fresh food/ clothing market alongside the river on the Sunday ...... Just letting you know we saw an everyday community going about its normal routine. The only drawback for western tourists would be less English is spoken here - however in hotels/restaurants you would be ok as there is always someone that speaks English. Young Russians are keen to speak English as we found out in the supermarket .... They all wanted to know why we were in Orel of all places! (Mick was an oddity as they hadn't experienced a western tourist speaking Russian!) It was a highlight of the trip to spend time communicating with everyday people rather than the hundreds of service industry people. On our last day in Orel, a previously encountered young man who had helped us with our venture to find Mick's mothers house, went out of his way when he saw us in the main street to present us with a specially minted rouble commemorating Orel & the war! 1945.

Overall, as you might have guessed..... Very glad to have made the trip to Russia & thoroughly enjoyed the Trans Siberian part of the journey - the snow added to the atmosphere of the journey too! Each time we rejoined the train after our stops it was a different journey due to the different types of train - the Belorus train from Irkutsk to Moscow was excellent.... Staff were excellent & very helpful!

The group we travelled with from Beijing to Mongolia were great - We think the ger was the highlight of Mongolia too!

Thanks for all your assistance in making this part of journey fulfilling!

We would definitely recommend you & your company to fellow travelers & friends

Cheers & best wishes

Mick & Kymberley

From: "Ramdas Iyer"
To: "Matt Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Saturday, 9 March, 2013 9:02:45 AM
Subject: Ramdas Iyer trip

Simply fantastic. Thanks. All services seamless.


From: "Adrian Sargeant"
To: "Andy Monkeyshrine Beijing Office"
Sent: Wednesday, 20 February, 2013 4:24:56 AM
Subject: Re: Adrian Anthony Sargeant - Trans-Siberian Enquiry

Hi Monkey Folk
Several years ago yourselves organised the most wonderful custom tour from Beijing through Mongolia finishing in St Peters for my self and 3 others. The trip went like clockwork (all Moscow time of course), and the organising was faultless.

My wife and I are currently planning a visit to Hong Kong late June and from there visit Hanoi either for about a week then return, or travel there one way and exit for home at the end. I realise this is not the normal direction of your tours, but am wondering if you can offer us assistance/ suggestions for such travel.

[We do not offer any tours in China or indeed Vietnam. I can recommend two other companies that specialise in that area, both of whom have a similar set up to us. The China Travel Company and for Japan and Vietnam, try Inside Asia Tours]

Many Thanks

From: "Sue Anne Toms"
To: "Beijing Office Andy"
Sent: Wednesday, 20 February, 2013 3:08:36 AM
Subject: You won't believe that I'm bothering you again, but

Hi, Andy--

I hope all is going well with you and the company. I have a couple of referrals who will be emailing you sometime in the not-too-distant future about the Trans-Siberian ride, and after our pleasant experience (a family of 4 in 2008 from Moscow to Beijing), my husband wants to do it again, so we may join our friends when they do decide.

Meanwhile, I have taken your advice to get in touch with Chris of The China Travel Company and have gathered together a group to go by train from Shanghai to Lhasa.

I'd like to know the name of that hotel right across the street from the station where you put us up at the end of the ride coming in from Ulan Bataar.

Thanks as always for your input,
Sue Anne

From: Claire and David
Sent: Sunday, 27 January, 2013 6:46:16 AM
Subject: Claire nixon carter: Trans-Siberian Enquiry

Hello! We traveled with you in 2006! This was the best trip we ever had! En route we lost our sacred T Shirts from your company. Could you possibly replace them because they are so sentimental!
Yours Sincerely
Claire and David Carter

From: "Paul McDonald"
To: "Monkeyshrine"
Sent: Monday, 21 January, 2013 8:13:37 PM
Subject: Re: Paul McDonald - Trans-Siberian

Andy, you are a gem. I am in the off-duty guard's carriage, and a couple of days ago was lucky enough to see the epiphany celebrations at Baikal, a once in a lifetime event. Thank you so much, it has been a blast so far and your in-depth knowledge has been the difference.



It all worked out like a perfect dream, and I'd like to send my thanks.

Bee Ong, Jan 2013

From: "Bee Ong"
To: "Beijing Office Matt"
Sent: Sunday, 13 January, 2013 5:19:42 PM
Subject: Re: Geok Bee Ong - Beijing departure

Hi Matt,

The trip was absolutely wonderful. It was very helpful to have Joanna put us into our cabins; i would never have found the train on my own! She was also very thoughtful to ask the other people in the group (whom I had met for the first time during departure) to not leave the Moscow station until I matched up with my guide, as we had different guides and I was traveling solo. It all worked out like a perfect dream, and I'd like to send my thanks.

Your info pack was also immensely helpful. I thought you might like to hear about some experiences we had that differed from what was in that packet:

1. The Mongolia/Russia border clearance wasn't as bad as your pack suggested. In fact, the Russian officers were very pleasant and polite. They all said hello... can you please show me your bags.... thank you.... etc etc. We cleared through within just a few hours (I'm guessing about the same length as the China/Mongolia border clearance, although I fell asleep after getting my passport back!). We guessed it's because the train has far fewer passengers in the winter.

2. The Russian dining car was very expensive although the food was excellent. US$20 will only get you a 3-course lunch. A vegetarian soup and a bottle of water costs US$15!

3. The Mongolian car's food was terrible although all the books say it's good....

4. We could charge our electric stuff in our cabins at all times (when the generator wasn't broken) although all the books suggest this isn't quite possible. It might be because our 2 Chinese attendants were the very best! It uses a 2-pin round plug (European?)

5. Our 1st class cabins have a shower -- BUT it's a little trickle and in the coldest places, the plumbing gets frozen and you can get a flood in your bathroom. I suggest bringing wet wipes to substitute a full shower.

6. The air was very dry. Something to moisturize your nose might prevent a nose bleed.

7. The Chinese attendants spoke no English although they were wonderful. It would be helpful to bring a phrasebook or dictionary if you speak no Mandarin.

Hope that helps!


From: "Anne Dudte Johnson"
To: "Beijing Office Matt"
Sent: Monday, 21 January, 2013 4:38:18 PM
Subject: Re: ANNE Dudte JOHNSON / How was the trip?

You guys have been praised to the skies btw and two friends say they are committed to using you all in the future--maybe 2014 and others are intrigued. Let me know if you want to see photos.

The highlight, if I had to choose I know we would all say the train..

Anne Dudte, Jan 2013

The highlight, while actually were several technically, if I had to choose I know we would all say the train. There were not many people traveling. Our car only had six of us: We had a couple of impromptu parties with nasty Mongolian champagne and then some vodka bought from the Russian dining car. Good camaraderie and beautiful landscape. The temperature on the train was decent. Never got too hot. It was between 61 degrees (only once near dawn after Mongolian border) and 72. Mostly the temperature hovered between 67 and 71. So not too hot. Our two conductors pulled out all the stops for us and were very sweet. It was a good group. You can see the final group picture at the end with us, the conductors, bee and the Germans.

The Chinese car gave us free lunch and dinner coupons the first day. Lunch was two meat balls, sautéed celery and some rice. Yum yum but it was edible. Dinner was sparse so I supplemented with fried pork (not bad) and something else that was ok. And the Mongolian car was pretty. B and mother ate breakfast there and said it was ok. Dinner was some chewy meat. Whatever, it went down :) but our favorite was Vladimir on the Russian dining car. He had some really tasty meat soup that we ordered a lot. Mother ordered the mushroom soup was tasteless but evidently Bee said it was great and ordered it several times. Omelet red were tasty too and I ordered a side of cheese and butter and made myself a cheese omelet. We supplemented from our big bag of food. We brought some half bottles of wine and other stuff.

I still think winter is a great time to go. Beautiful, peaceful ...

Anne Dudte, Jan 2013

Pick up from train was efficient and our tour guide in Moscow, Lena (?) was knowledgeable and straight forward. We had thought about doing the kremlin tour but I guess that tour needed to be arranged in advance so we couldn't do that. So we did a tour of the metro system (one of fav things in Moscow) and did a walking tour from metro to red square. It was good. Bolshoi was fun and we met up with an old colleague of mine still based there for drinks after. So yeah everything went really really well. I still think winter is a great time to go. Beautiful, peaceful and while cold on the outside and we would have loved to have some vendor food but it was too cold for them to bear the cold. Oh speaking of which, I had a bear stew in st Pete that was good.

Well I'm sure you've heard enough. If you need any specifics from the trip for your business/feedback, whatever, please don't hesitate.



From: Brad A. Rymer
Sent: 19 December 2012 07:36
Subject: We made it home!


We want to THANK all of you. We just touched land again in the U.S.A. after sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on our journey back home.

It was truly an outstanding opportunity we were able to have and it wouldn't have been the same had you not been involved. We saw amazing things this past year, but nothing as amazing as the people we experienced them with.

Wishing you all the best,

Brad and Jenny Rymer


From: "Matías Carrio"
Sent: Thursday, 6 December, 2012 11:56:40 AM
Subject: RE: CARRIO / Trans-Siberian Enquiry

Hello guys...

You have been extremely helpful and without any doubts ... you are the best! excellent and very personalised service... not abundant these days...

Thanks and i will keep in touch...