Operating since 1988 and registered in Hong Kong. Monkey Business is the most experienced operator specialising solely in Trans Siberian train trips and tours. We pioneered an online Trans Siberian Website for travellers in April 1997. We have offices in Beijing and Hong Kong and local partners in Ulanbaatar, Irkutsk, Ekaterinburg and Moscow, as well as guides and agents in other cities across Russia.
In the field
We understand it is important for all our staff to know our product, but also to visit the area frequently to keep on top of changes, and find new tours.
Our latest fact finding trip was to explore the north of Lake Baikal and BAM Railway, in August 2013. Saruul and Andy made that trip, on top of their evaluation trip to Mongolia in June 2013.
Matt's last trip to Russia was in the cold winter of February 2012 where he visited Lake Baikal during Epiphany, our new Siberian destination of Krasnoyarsk before heading west to Moscow and St Petersburg. His reaction, I love Russia in the snow.
Andre 'monkey-chief' made an in depth tour to Mongolia and Russia in September 2009 and a research trip to Tuva in Siberia in April 2012. Vanessa (Beijing Office) travelled to Mongolia in September 2009 and Zhaonan (Beijing Office) went to Mongolia and Baikal region in September 2009 and made a summer trip to the Gobi in 2013. Kelvin (Hong Kong office) made the trip for the first time in December 2006.
Despite our prominence in the field, we still remain a small company with just a handful of permanent staff, all of whom have first hand experience of the trans-siberian train trip and local specialist knowledge.
In no particular order here are the profiles of our key staff members.
Matt comes from Australia and has spent the last 11 years traveling, working and guiding around the world. He enjoys bringing different places and cultures to others, and sharing his wanderlust for a life on the road or rail. 'The secret to discovering new places and people is to leave your expectations and preconceptions at home.'
Oxford born and bred Andy has a background in tourism. He arrived in China in 1999 and spent his first 9 years in Beijing co-running the Monkey office, before elevating himself to a more flexible role as the webmaster. He has been to Mongolia and Russia on numerous occasions, always on the trans-siberian and always in winter - making his favourite place skiing in the little known Baikalsk region. When not working, he enjoys travelling the rest of Asia and the world trying the local food, and photography.
Chinese born Zhaonan will be known to most customers by her English name, Joanna. She has worked in our Beijing office since 2006. Apart from keeping control of the Beijing office and staff, she also tours to the main Beijing sights. She is an avid train spotter and is often found at Beijing Main Station early in the morning. In September 2009 she took her first trip with us to Mongolia and Russia, reporting, "I missed the food of my motherland!"
Vanessa was conceived on the Trans Siberian Train and after 22 years realised Mongolia was her calling in life. She first worked for Monkey in 2002 and came back as office manager in 2009. In the interim she has had near death experiences and studied the dark side of arts and photography. In 2010 she lived in Mongolia, studying 'Alcoholism and its role in the destruction of the Mongolian family'. Life is a cycle.
Andre first travelled on the Trans-Siberian in 1988 and started selling tickets for the return journey to Budapest from a hotel in Beijing the next year. After Mongolia's Independence in 1989 Andre helped develop grass roots tourism there with a local partner and sent the first independent tourists to Mongolia at that time. Mongolia is still Andre's preferred holiday destination.
Wise beyond her years Willy has been a key member of the office team in Beijing since she started in December 2009. Fluent in Dutch, French, English, Chinese, and dialects of Tibetan and Antwerpen and now learning the Australian language there aren't many people she can't converse with! Willy is Taoist, Vegetarian and a master of the Ouija board.
Kelvin is our Hong Kong office manager and is the longest serving Monkey, working full-time since 1993. Married to a Chinese wife, who is his third love after drinking red wine and gambling at Happy Valley. He is also our finance director! You know it makes sense.
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