China Highlights www.chinahighlights.com provided the best guides that could be imagined. They were responsible for greeting us at the airport, getting us and our luggage to our hotels and getting us checked in. They then conducted our private tours of the local attractions providing us with a wealth of knowledge about their subjects. They provided us with tidbits of information about Chinese life, customs and rules you would not likely hear on a large group tour
Leon Long at China Highlights was our main contact and when one of our party forgot his glasses in an Xian hotel, he arranged to track them down and have them couriered to his office in Guilin where the tour guide then had then sent to our hotel in Yangshou.
This blog is about the guides, please see other entries on food, hotels, cruises and sights.
In Beijing we came through customs and were met with a sea of tour guides holding up signs. We looked for John’s name and met our guide Sean. Sean took us to our van and introduced us to our driver.
As would be the case with all our guides, Sean left us to our own devices for the evening. He said he would be back at nine am the next day to begin our sightseeing.
Sean then was our guide for the next 2 days taking us to Tianaman Square, the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Hutong area, Olympic Green, and the Great Wall of China.
He chose excellent restaurants with pre-selected menus. He did not eat with us until the last day.
Sean then took us to the airport and got us checked in for our flight to Xian, our next stop.
In Xian we had Rainy waiting for us. She took us to our hotel within the old city walls. Rainy took us the old city walls to ride bicycles and then to the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Gao's Courtyard, and the Islam district in Xian where she left us to wander on our own to shop and enjoy the sights.
She suggested the optional excursion to the Xian Opera House for a dumpling dinner and show. This was an excellent idea. The driver waited and took us back to our hotel.
Rainy then took us to the airport for our next leg.
We checked in and were on our way to Chongqing for our Yangtze cruise.We were met at the Chongqing airport by Jeff,our youngest guide who was just passionate about his city. Unfortunately our flight had been delayed by an hour and we hit rush hour traffic.
Jeff kept up a running commentary while we drove into the city. He had arranged a preset menu at a beautiful restaurant. He then took us to a supermarket to pick up some stuff for the cruise. He arranged our porters for the luggage and got us checked onto the cruise before leaving us.
After our 3 day cruise we were met in Yichang by Season who boarded the ship and then took us to our waiting van amidst the hordes of tourists disembarking from the ships. He showed us around Yichang as we had a few hours before our next flight. Once again our guide arranged our flight check in. We were now on our way to Shanghai.
In Shanghai we were met by Rainy (2) a 22 year old guide.
She was as charming as she was knowledgeable. She took us to the Bund Hotel in downtown Shanghai and arranged to meet us in the morning. Rainy then took us to the World Financial Centre, The Bund, and Yuyuan Market and Gardens. We then had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves to wander around Shanghai.
She then took us to the market and gardens. Lunch was at a restaurant in the market which was excellent. We had a variety of dumplings which were sooo delicious.
Rainy arrived the next morning to take us to the airport for our flight to Guilin.
In Guilin we were met by Vivian. She took us to lunch and then we checked into our hotel. Then we were off to visit the Reed Flute Cave and Elephant Trunk Hill.
The next day we headed for our cruise on the Li River. We were on the top deck which is reserved for small tour groups. We had the front table for the four of us. Once again, exceptional service. Lunch on board is a Chinese buffet which we were looking forward to, however, on the table was a menu which China Highlights had arranged for us as they had heard from other clients that the food was only average on the ship. We had seafood salad, mushroom soup ( the best I've ever had) and steak with potatoes and vegetables.
Vivian then took us to our hotel the Paradesa in Yangshou and ensured our rooms were satisfactory for us.
The next day she adjusted the schedule as we did not really want to go bicycle riding as it was 32 degrees and we also wanted to start the day a little later at 10 am.
She arranged a lunch which included beer fish which was absolutely delicious. We then went to the local food market.
Then off, once again, to the airport for our flight to Hong King. As this portion of the trip included clearing customs Vivian could not check us in. She waited, however, to ensure we got checked in and cleared customs before leaving the airport.
This was the end of our package with China Highlights as we headed off to Hong Kong and our own personal guide and tour.
I failed to mention the most important trait shared by our guides - a sense of humour!